In August 2011, unofficial word leaked out that Beretta was jumping into the subcompact gun market with the Nano pistol. In September of the same year, Beretta officially announced the new handgun. Since that time, there have been more than one Beretta Nano review, updates to the product line and even some torture testing. In this article, we will provide you with all of the latest information on the little handgun.
General Information and Specifications
The Beretta Nano is a striker-fired, 9mm pistol with a polymer frame. The magazine holds six for a total of seven rounds. The guns are completely made in the United States.
As of the time of this writing, the Nano is not available in any caliber other than 9mm. However, that may change in the future. While the company will not discuss future plans with regards to caliber, I can’t help but thinking a .40 caliber Nano would be a good selling handgun for the company.
The Nano uses a modular chasis, similar to that of the SIG SAUER P250. The chasis is the “firearm” part of the gun, meaning that you could buy multiple sizes of grip frames without going through an FFL. Depending on which frame you wanted to use, you would merely drop the chasis into the frame and head off to the range.
It is unknown if Beretta will eventually make different sized frames to match the varied hand sizes of shooters. However, Beretta has introduced a variety of frame colors that would allow you to change the gun to reflect your mood, attire or other whim. More on that later in the article. For now, being able to remove the internal chasis is simply a way to make detail cleaning easier.
This Beretta has several nice features not typically found on subcompact guns. For example, the magazine release button is reversible. This allows the owner to move the release to the right-hand side of the frame for easier shooting if he or she is a south paw. The release is not ambidextrous, meaning that it can only be used on one side of the gun at a time.
In many subcompact pistols, the sights are minuscule and hard to use. Adjusting them is difficult at best with some companies’ guns. The Nano, however, has low profile, but very useable sights in a three-dot configuration. Additionally, the sights are easily adjustable using a hex wrench only – no gunsmith or cumbersome sight pushing tools needed. This adjustment method is a jump ahead of many full sized pistols.
The Nano has no external levers to snag on clothing while you carry the pistol concealed. For many people this is a huge plus. Drawing a gun for self defense is generally done in haste, and having the pistol catch on clothing could have disastrous consequences.
This tiny Beretta has a unique button on the right-side, rear end of the frame. This recessed button is a “striker deactivator” that the shooter can use to release the striker without pulling the trigger. Think of it as a more accessible version of the Smith & Wesson M&P deactivation lever located inside the handgun. I love the M&P, but dislike the way they designed that lever. Kudos to Beretta for coming up with a better method of achieving this function.
Glock set the standard in polymer pistols, but some people feel that pressing the trigger to deactivate the striker for field stripping is dangerous. No doubt, unsafe people handling firearms have shot themselves and others by pressing the trigger on a gun they “thought” was unloaded. Whether this is a useful feature or a legal dodge is a matter of opinion. As long as it does not introduce malfunctions into the Nano’s performance, I don’t mind it.
Beretta states the shooter has to use a small punch or ball point pen to press the button. Presumably, normal handling would not deactivate the striker. Beretta undoubtedly did extensive testing to ensure the striker could not be accidentally deactivated when shooting or handling the pistol.
While the pistol is relatively small and light, it is not the lightest entry in the subcompact 9mm pistol market. The Nano weighs about 17.7 ounces unloaded. As compared to the Diamondback DB9 (11 ounces), Kel-Tec PF-9 (12.7 ounces), Kahr CM9 (15.9 ounces), Kimber Solo (17 ounces) and Ruger LC9 (17.1 ounces), the Beretta is the heaviest of the bunch.
As mentioned before, the Nano frame is made of polymer. Beretta calls the frame material “Technopolymer,” which is likely just a marketing term for the specific type of plastic used. The polymer is fiberglas reinforced, which is a standard method of strengthening the polymer and is used in other weapons.
Stainless steel is used for the internal chasis construction. The slide is made of 4140 chromoly steel and is finished in a matte black called Pronox. Pronox is a metal nitriding process, which helps the metal to resist corrosion. Tennifer and Melonite, used on other modern pistols, are similar processes.
Beretta has set the list price at $475. Street price has run from about $400-435 until the recent run on all kinds of guns and ammunition. During the past several months, these guns have been selling for close to published retail prices.
- Caliber – 9mm
- Capacity – 6+1
- Overall Length – 5.63″
- Overall Height – 4.17″
- Overall Width – 0.9″
- Barrel Length – 3.07″
- Weight (unloaded) – 17.67 oz
- Sights – three dot, low profile
- Sight Radius – 4.92″
- Frame Material – Technopolymer, a fiberglas reinforced plastic
- Slide Material – 4140 chromoly steel
- Slide Finish – matte black Pronox
- MSRP – $475
Of course, all of this is for naught if the gun isn’t reliable. But, the folks in Maryland (that would be Beretta USA of course) have done a variety of torture tests on the Nano handgun. They’ve run a lot of ammo through these guns and even done mud and other torture tests on them. One example is the following video which shows an employee repeatedly running over the gun on asphalt and then shooting it to show it still works. Fairly impressive.
Varied frame colors for the Beretta Nano were introduced at the 2013 SHOT Show in Las Vegas. Beretta representatives told me of the new colors in the previous year at the 2012 SOFIC in Tampa, FL. At that time, they indicated the Nano was selling exceptionally well, and that they were bringing out the new colors in response to demand from consumers.
The new colors include Ranger Green, Flat Dark Earth, white and Rosa. These compliment the original black colored frame. All of the new frame colors still come only with a slide finished in the matte black Pronox.
Additionally, Beretta is now making two round magazine extension kits for the Nano. The extensions protrude below the magazine well, adding to the grip length. The two extra rounds is attractive to many, and having a little more grip for people to hold onto is likely a benefit for some shooters (see below for more information.)
As time progresses, more accessories have been introduced for the Beretta Nano. Here are a few of the things that are currently out there to enhance your pistol. If you run across others, please list them in the comments below.
LaserMax CenterFire Laser – This red laser aiming unit mounts under the barrel of the Nano without the need to modify the frame or call in a gunsmith. It is a custom-fit unit, not a generic laser with some kind of universal mount.
Activation of the laser is via a push button on the side of the unit. The laser is a constant, not pulsing, unit. The CenterFire runs on one 1/3 N lithium battery, and should power the unit for more than five hours of actual use. The entire unit only adds 0.5 ounces to the overall weight of the pistol.
The CenterFire is similar in appearance to the Crimson Trace Laserguard, though the method of activating the units is different. The LaserMax is acticated by tapping a button on the side of the unit. The Laserguard adds a button switch to the front of the pistol’s grip and is activated by gripping the gun. Both methods have their pros and cons.
MSRP on the CenterFire is $129 and it comes with a one year factory warranty.
The CenterFire is already available for the Smith & Wesson Shield, the Ruger LCP and the Ruger LC9. The Nano is the fourth model in the series. Currently, the lasers are only available as red. However, LaserMax does manufacture green lasers, so it will be interesting to see if the company makes a CenterFire with a green laser.
Crimson Trace LG-483 Laserguard – Longtime laser manufacturer Crimson Trace makes one of the “grip activated” Laserguard units for the Nano. These units mount under the barrel, similar to the LaserMax CenterFire above, but have an integrated switch that is placed on the front of the gun’s grip. When the gun is grasped normally, the laser automatically activates.
MSRP is $219, which is significantly more than the LaserMax unit. However, for the additional money, the shooter gets the grip activation and free batteries for the life of the product. If the shooter keeps this laser unit for a long time, the free batteries can certainly make up the price difference between the two products.
Eight Round Magazines – Beretta announced they will now sell eight-round magazines for the Nano. These new mags will extend the overall grip length while adding two more rounds to the total capacity of the pistol. The bottom of the magazine has what looks like an oversized bumper, which allows them to squeeze a couple of extra cartridges into the gun. Hopefully, the company will also come out with a “plus two” kit so current owners can upgrade existing magazines. MSRP is $38 each.
Talon Grips – If you want to have a better hold on your pistol, especially with wet or sweaty hands, these kits might be what you are looking for. The Talon Grips kits are decals applied to the surface of the Nano, creating a surface that better adheres to the hand. The decals don’t move once applied but can be removed without leaving residue according to the company. The kit price is $14.99 but drops quickly depending on the quantity ordered.
Trijicon Night Sights – The standard Nano comes with non-illuminated, three-dot sights. Many people, however, prefer tritium illuminated night sights. Trijicon makes three-dot, tritium sights for the Nano. Beretta sells these sights on their own website for $105 for the set. However, they are not listed on Trijicon’s own website. As these are relatively new, I expect that the Trijicon site merely hasn’t been updated to list them. Beretta is selling these Nano night sights for $105.
Grip Frames – Since the Nano is a modular system, Beretta sells grip frames individually for only $39. These can be had in the original black, or in one of the colors mentioned above. All are the same price, and they swap out very easily.
Holsters are becoming easier to find for the Nano pistols. At this point, a shooter can find scabbards in leather, nylon and Kydex for their handguns. Also, the holster styles being offered are much better today that they were at the introduction of the gun. Outside the waistband, inside the waistband, appendix, shoulder, pocket and other kinds of holsters are all available for the Nano. Price points vary, but there is something for every budget.
Click here to head over and see our updated list of holsters that are now available for the Nano.