The Beretta Nano, or the BU9 (Beretta USA 9mm) Nano, is certainly a mysterious and heavily avoided pistol for reasons I don’t understand after owning it. But lets talk about how all of this started. Beretta has been around for about 5 centuries. They have been building quality guns for the military and the civilian enthusiast since its start in 1526. With this history, Beretta has a huge tradition for producing guns with quality craftsmanship, accuracy, and durability that have set standards for performance. These qualities have only gotten stronger through the years. And with the new manufacturing methods and technologies, Berettas’ passion for developing some of the worlds best firearms has only become more obvious. All it takes is to look at the small details on their guns to get a clear understanding of the pride they still have in this tradition.
The Nano was initially designed by Beretta USA to answer the concealed carry market that has growing considerably every year. They listened to the complaints of some people about the demanded qualities they were looking for when they were looking for a pistol to trust their lives to. To name a few things people were/are looking for and how Beretta made these things happen:
-Small and lightweight: Used high quality metals and minimizing the width of the slide without sacrificing integrity and durability. Contoured the front slightly to aid in holstering and for asthetics. Kept the grip height to a minimum, while still allowing a good capacity for the size.
-A good solid grip that points naturally: Textured the grip with the familiar PX4 grip texture pattern, which uses tiny directional pyramids to add a gentle but secure grip. Angled the grip in order to provide a natural and relaxed point of aim, very much like a 1911.
-Low recoil: Built to withstand 40 caliber pressures, this pistol uses a recoil spring that is designed to shoot those hot +P loads you will need to in order to get sufficient penetration.
-Low profile sights: Made sights small but functional with rounded edges to prevent snagging.
-Make it snag-proof: Constructed the pistol without a slide stop or a disassembly lever.
Beretta no doubt has created a unique pistol that sometimes drives people away with its very aggressive differences from the standard designs. Some of the things Beretta did, caused issues in the design, which had a huge backlash that still haunts this pistol and the company to this day. Every company is judged by the quality and reputation of the products they produce. Beretta is no exception to this standard.
With the Nano being overbuilt, the recoil spring is so tight, that you risk having malfunctions if you don’t feed the pistol good hot practice ammo for the first 500-1000 rounds. This is actually a good sign, because it means that the spring will last a really long time, and it can handle really hot loads without punishing the pistol or your performance. I never had an issue with my pistol for whatever reason when I shot standard 115 grain ammo. I did have failures to feed when my recoil spring started to fall apart after some heavy shooting out to 1400 rounds. Turned out that it was a defective spring, which I am fine with, since I have shot enough guns to know that even the best fall hard at times. And yes that includes Glock. This is the reason that you should go past 2000 rounds before considering a pistol defect-free. I have had issues pop up past 1000 rounds, but before 2000 if there were defective. Anyways, I sent it off to Beretta and they replaced the recoil spring quickly. I had the gun back in a week from the time I sent it off. Their customer support is very helpful and ready to fix your problem, at no cost to you, as soon as possible. That is service that other manufacturers should strive for. I haven’t had any issues since, even with the new recoil spring, with 115 grain ammo. And I don’t expect any issues at this point.
I have the round count past 2000 rounds now and it is still impressive how controllable it is with hot +P ammo. The recoil is very mild and easy to get back on target and it doesn’t even feel like I am shooting hot ammo. This is one reason that I feel that this pistol would be good for women who don’t care for recoil in a pistol. I will warn you that if you try to correct this pistol, you will shoot lower and lower on your shots. The top-heavy nature of this pistol pays off when it cycles. Shooting fast is not too difficult because of this, and I recommend just rolling with the recoil and letting the pistol do its thing. You just have to hold onto it, aim it towards your target, and pull the trigger to the rear smoothly. All you need to do is learn to manipulate the trigger fast.
The Nano trigger seems to be a soft spot for a lot of people. It does come with about an 8lb pull, which can be uncomfortable with some people. People complain that you need to polish the trigger and get light springs, or the trigger is gonna make it hard to shoot. I definitely do not recommend that in the slightest. I feel like this is the reason people can shoot so well with this pistol. I have not had an issue with the trigger pull weight or travel. It seems like it works better than a Glock trigger in my opinion. Not necessarily in distance of travel, but in weight an feel. The short DAO trigger travel will smooth out considerably with time and usage. The trigger, though weighted throughout the pull, actually helps absorb the snatching and yanking of the trigger without disturbing your sights. This will typically result in more accurate follow-up shots. The secret to getting a good trigger (around 5-6lb), a smooth action, and a good shooting experience is to just fire the gun dry, and with live ammo. Also it is vital to use a good CLP like Slip2000 EWL and lubricate a few key areas. It doesn’t take much to make a difference. In fact I found the Slip2000 EWG to work best for this pistol.
- Firing pin block
- Rail channels
- Barrel hood
- Trigger return spring
Now mag changes are a little interesting to be kind. The button seems to require a little more pressure than is normal. I did however find that it does end up being a good thing so that the mag isn’t accidentally depressed while carrying. That being said, it does protrude a good amount to allow for easy access when you mean to use it.
Beretta did some cool things that I like about this pistol. One of the things they did was give this pistol sights that are easy to adjust and replace with just an allen key. They do have night sights available for this pistol as well is you so choose to upgrade your sights. The other thing they did was make the reassembly easy. They designed it in such a way that all you have to do is yank back the action firmly and the gun will lock itself back up. Also the pistol works off a chassis system, which is simple to take apart and put back together. this chassis is actually the firearm according to the ATF. It is the serialized part of the gun. You can change the grip to a different color in less than 5 minutes with this feature.
The last thing I wanted to discuss is the issue that seems to be unforgiveable to some shooters. This is the fact that Beretta took the slide stop off of this pistol. This was done because people wanted as small of a gun as possible. this was probably also due to people always complaining that the slide stops could snag, and perhaps Beretta just decided to remove it so there was no complaints. But the worry is reasonable in the case of handling malfunctions. I experienced this myself when I had the failures to extract.
I ended up developing a method for handling these situations, though. All you have to do is, use your firing hand index and middle finger to hold the slide just enough to relieve the pressure, and then use your support hand to push the mag release and trip the mag out. Then you can release the slide by lifting the shooting hand fingers, starting with the middle finger, and reacquire your shooting grip. This is the time which you can rack the slide as many times as you need to in order to eject the spent casing. Then of course you reinsert the mag, or a fresh one, and continue. Now I believe this is not that hard to deal with, since it takes the same amount of time to clear as it would if you had a slide stop. But I’m an oddball and I have a reputation for always finding a way to solve a problem. If there is a way, I will most likely find it.
Even with the few issues I have had with this pistol, it is not a bad pistol by any means and I carry it with confidence. I have had plenty of issues with other pistols as well, but I had them fixed and they are fine, just like the Nano now. These kinds of things should not deter you from considering the Nano for carry. I believe my success is based off using what I consider to be the best lube on the market (Slip2000), properly cleaning and lubing the proper areas with a CLP. This pistol comes with a smooth action right out of the box, with very good tolerances. Don’t discount this pistol because of some bad review or experience from a couple years ago. Beretta made a good pistol and they take care of their products and customers. The Nano comes at a very good price as well, at about $400. With all these good things about it, I wouldn’t sweat the small stuff. I trust the Nano, and I think you should too.
David served in the USMC for a few years, deployed twice and got wounded. Retired and moved to Alaska. Has a passion for reviewing and testing guns and gear of all kinds. Enjoys working to dispel myths and show that you can train and practice in a realistic, safe, and practical way.
Photos by Author