We are at the century mark of Beretta's history of automatic pistols. In 1910, Beretta's brilliant designer Tullio Marengoni began work on what would become Beretta's first automatic pistol, the Model 1915. Marengoni's brilliance is made manifest by the simplicity of his designs and by how well they worked. If Pietro Beretta's chief designer were to be reincarnated, what might he think of Beretta's latest offering?
The highly-efficient 9x19mm cartridge is a natural choice for the ever-growing field of subcompact pistols, and the first Nanos produced are chambered in the world's favorite centerfire pistol cartridge. There will also be .40 caliber Nanos, and the .40 S&W is the cartridge around which the Nano was designed. The Nano's manual also lists a 9x21mm chambering, and that will be for countries which do not allow military caliber pistols for civilians.
I'm going to dispense with posting the basics about the pistol because Beretta USA has done a superb job in making that information readily accessible online. I just want to share my impressions with you, after spending the past 10 days handling and shooting the Nano.
When I first saw photos of the Nano, I anticipated a Glock-like trigger. It certainly looks like a Glock trigger, doesn't it? It is not. It is not a two-stage "military" pull, with the first portion of rearward travel having little resistance which then comes to a point of greater resistance before the break. It is a true DAO trigger.
I know some of you will be disappointed, as was I at first. Generally, I am not a fan of DAO triggers on auto pistols, but I make an enthusiastic exception in the case of the Nano.
There are two basic methods of striker-release systems being employed in today's pistol designs- push release and roll release. The Glock is a push-release design, where a projection on the trigger bar engages a tang on the striker and pushes it backwards until the trigger bar gets to a point where it drops down and lets the stiker move forward to fire.
The Nano is a roll release design. The Kahr and XD (with qualifications) pistols also use a roll release. In this design, the trigger bar rotates a cam which engages the tang on the stiker, and release the striker by this rotational motion. I have little experience with Kahr and XD, but in the case of the Nano, I can say Beretta's design has yielded a smooth trigger pull. After firing nearly 300 rounds through the pistol, the trigger of the Nano has become a delight. And it can become even better, with a bit of judicious polishing of engagement surfaces (the process known as the 25 Cent Glock Trigger Job).
It took a bit of adjustment for me at the range, but once I became accustomed to the trigger, I was shooting the pistol well. Here's six shots of Federal 9BPLE through five holes at 20 feet.
As no fan of DAO triggers in autos, this surprises me. The Nano's pull is not overly long. It's smooth and gets smoother with firing/dry firing, and it's grown on me.
In a pistol this size, which is viable for pocket carry, a DAO trigger makes sense. Although I wouldn't recommend carrying a pistol without a holster, some do, and no thinking man would carry a Glock without a holster which covers the trigger guard. With a DAO trigger such as that of the Nano, I wouldn't hesitate to carry it in a pocket sans holster.
Speaking of holsters, I looked through what I had on hand and found that High Noon Holster's Split Decision is a perfect fit for the Nano, and would be a choice for those who favor IWB carry. The Nano, being very slim at .90 inch wide and with no external slide stop or disassembly lever, is a natural for IWB carry.
Here's detail of a portion of the firing mechanism. In the center of the pic is the cam which engages the tang of the striker. It rotates on a pin and is spring-loaded, the spring being visible on the pin. The spring pushes the cam over to the right, and it mates to the tang when the pistol is cocked. The head of this pin is what Beretta terms the Striker Deactivation Button, and pushing in this button moves the cam laterally, which then disengages from the tang of the stiker, thus decocking the action.
Ben Cook, Beretta's Tactical Product Marketing Manager tells me that in today's litigious society, it was necessary to incorporate this feature. They couldn't have a pistol which required the user to pull the trigger in order to disassemble the gun. I guess imbeciles have the right of self defense as well, so Beretta had to minimize the possibility of a negligent discharge as much as possible.
Someone had asked how much of a risk is there of the Deactivation Button being pressed inadvertantly. The chances are essentially nonexistent. It has to be pushed in directly over it's button, and pushed in to such a degree that I find it virtually impossible to be depressed accidentally.
A metal magazine follower is a welcome sight, and most likely necessary, given the minimal dimensions of the pistol. At center bottom of this photo, a stud can be seen welded onto the left side of the magazine. This stud mates to a channel in the grip frame and ensures that the magazine cannot be inserted backwards, and this is also a welcome touch.
Forum members have asked for photos comparing the Nano to other compact pistols. I had on hand a Glock 26, Walther PPS and S&W Bodyguard.
The Nano bracketed by the G26 and Walther PPS. One can begin to see how the Nano would excel in pocket carry, being shorter than either the G26 or PPS. Being lighter by about two ounces doesn't hurt, either.
The Nano with the Bodyguard
So far I've had two range sessions with the Nano, firing a total of 280 rounds consisting of the following: 100 rounds of Remington 115 grain fmj practice ammo; 100 rounds of Winchester's 124 grain RA9124N Nato; 50 rounds of Federal 9BPLE, a classic loading rated +P+; 30 rounds Speer's 124 grain +P Gold Dots, my current choice for 9mm defense ammunition.
I have said it many times in this forum and I will say it once again- defensive firearms are emergency, life-saving implements, and they must function faultlessly. I don't want to hear talk from manufacturers about "break-in periods". I demand that such fireams work, and do so right out of the box.
The Nano functioned perfectly. All 280 rounds fed, fired and ejected. The slide locked back after each magazine was empty.
It is very early to draw any conclusions, but this is the level of performance I require from such firearms, and I would expect no less from Beretta.
Also, I found that the Nano, like other Beretta pocket pistols, points quite naturally, and I was able to pepper targets center mass in rapid fire point-shooting. The smoothness of the trigger combined with the pointability of the gun has left me with a high degree of confidence of hitting my target under less than ideal conditions. The more I handle this little popper, the more I like it.
Fired cases from the four types of ammo used.
Options and Accessories
Ben Cook at Beretta tells me that there will be increased capacity magazines available. Magazines with capacities of 7 or 8 rounds would be welcome. And because the serialized part of the firearm is a sub-chassis, the portion of the frame the user sees and touches can changed without it becoming a new gun in the eyes of the BATFE. This means that if Beretta wanted to offer a frame which incorporates a housing for an integral laser, it could be purchased by Nano owners as merely another accessory. Ben referred to this as "Technology-Integrated Frames", so look for some interesting options for the Nano.
The Nano has a solid feel to it. There's nothing cheap-feeling or flimsy about the pistol. It's flat and dehorned and just feels like a quality product.
And if you want to really get an idea of the potential of the Nano, take a look at Ben Cook shooting 1000 rounds of ammunition through an Nano which has not one single drop of lubricant on it. Now, gents, that impresses me.
So, yes, after having spent some time with the Nano, I can recommend it. I want one myself. We're going to have to wait until the pistol starts to get into the hands of lots of shooters, to see how it does in the long run, but my goodness, this little pistol has certainly impressed me, and many of you guys know that's saying something when it comes to handguns for me.
My thanks to Matteo Recanatini and Ben Cook, and to all the good folks at Beretta USA for affording me this opportunity to review the pistol.
Oh, and what of the reincarnated Signore Marengoni's opinion of the Nano? Something tells me he would be delighted by it, especially after having shot it, and would likely want one of his own, to slip deftly into a pocket, just in case.
However, I think I'll stick with my G27.
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After reading your write up I'm really excited about the gun. Although I would have preferred a Glock like trigger as well, for a pistol of this size (potential pocket carry) a DAO type trigger does make a bit more sense. Roughly, what would you say the trigger pull weight is?
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Thank you for an excellent write up Para.
I see a Nano in my future. I really like what seems to be out of the box reliability, with no factory-stated break-in period. And I actually like DAO on a pocket gun for SD use.
Thanks for the excellent write up Para, very thorough. And great pics! I took interest in your positive remarks about the trigger, which I didn't expect.
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Great review. Looks like a nice gun. Beretta should have no trouble selling them.
Outstanding review. Thanks for taking the time to share all this. I was having a good feeling about this gun before, but this helps a lot.
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From your description of the trigger mechanism, is it correct to assume that full forward travel is required for reset?
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Great review. I'm glad you had the time to go through it thoroughly.
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I was only marginally interested in this pistol as of yesterday, but after your review I must say that the Nano is on my short "must check out" list. I can see having one of these little BUGs in my collection. Thanks for the wonderful review Para.
I'm very glad to see that the Nano works well, and that it will be available later in .40. Thank you for the review.
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Wow para thanks , not that I expected any less, great detail.
Now that I've read through your whole review, I have a couple questions for you to "compare notes."
I'm probably much like you, in that I don't shoot much in the way of DAO. You mention that you had a bit of adjustment, as I did. Did you find that a good amount of this was shooting slightly low? After about 40 rounds, I felt that I was anticipating more recoil for my first few mags. I was also breaking my wrist down, as I would with a Glock.
When I got the pistol home, I found that the only part of the mechanism that wasn't very smooth was the striker spring. That seems to have smoothed out considerably after the hundred or so rounds I got through here. Your thoughts?
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"I've got a mind like a steel trap, things wander in... and get mangled."
--Fabbrica d'Armi P. Beretta, dal 1526
Looks like a really nice sub campact. My only complaint with such small guns is the two finger grip which I personally am very uncofortable with. Is there something like a Pierce extender or such to allow for a full three finger girp?
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Thanks for the excellent review. The Beretta is on the list for sure. I imagine it will be a while before I see one in the LGS.
Para, thanks for the excellent review. I have been contemplating dumping my Sig 290 for the Nano.
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Great review. A Sig Forum world exclusive!
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Very nice review and outstanding photo spread. Any idea what price point retail?
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Excellent Para! If you have time, could you post an in hand photo? that would be great. Thanks.
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Great question, and one I am also curious about.
Given I carry an XD45 Compact most days, the DAO trigger on this little gun looks to be just right for me.
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