Handguns > Semi-Auto

Beretta Nano

The Nano is small enough to conceal, yet large enough to shoot effectively.


Among the new crop of compact, lightweight semi-automatic pistols designed for the armed citizen who carries concealed is the Beretta Nano, a polymer-frame, single-stack semi-automatic pistol chambered in 9 mm Luger or .40 S&W and made in the United States.

Weighing slightly more than a pound unloaded and with an overall length of less than 6 inches, the striker-fired Nano is about as small as a major-caliber firearm can be without significantly compromising shootability and handling. The Nano is less than an inch wide, which makes it ideal for traditional inside-the-waistband, appendix or ankle carry. The Nano’s size and mass fills a practical niche between true sub-compact “pocket pistols” and mid-size semi-automatics.

A serialized stainless-steel sub-chassis insert houses the moving parts of the firearm’s lower half. The polymer grip frame is removable and can be retrofitted with replacement units to accommodate different grip sizes, though none are currently on the market. The grip-mounted magazine release can be reversed to accommodate left-handed shooters. The entire handgun was designed to be snag-free, which results in few, if any, sharp edges to catch on clothing.

The Nano does not feature a manual safety, but instead relies on various passive safety features, including a striker block and a trigger-drop safety. The striker block prevents forward movement of the striker unless the trigger is fully engaged; this rising block is visible on top of the slide as the trigger is pulled. The trigger-drop safety will be familiar to Glock shooters—it uses a small blade in the center of the trigger to disengage the safety when the trigger is intentionally pulled.

A striker deactivator allows the user to disassemble the Nano without pulling the trigger; it is recessed into the polymer frame and can be depressed using a small object such as a ballpoint pen. The long, deliberate double-action-only-like trigger pull will give additional comfort to those who are uneasy with the lack of a manual safety. The trigger breaks cleanly and consistently at 8 pounds and, much like a revolver, does not get noticeably lighter when reset. The grip design is comfortable, but does not accommodate the shooter’s little finger due to its compact size.

The slide catch is internal and cannot be engaged or disengaged manually; it functions by locking the slide to the rear when the chamber and magazine are empty. It is released by manually pulling the slide to the rear on a loaded magazine or with the magazine removed.

The majority of the Nano’s weight comes from a 4140 steel slide which houses a 3.07-inch barrel. Both the slide and barrel are coated with a black nitride finish Beretta calls Pronox. The factory-supplied three-dot sights are highly visible and are secured in their milled dovetails via 1.3 mm hex screws—the sight radius is 4.92 inches. The sights are drift-adjustable for windage, although our sample required no adjustment with any load tested. The Nano uses dual recoil springs, which caused some problems during our testing. The section of the recoil spring guide that captures the larger diameter spring broke after six rounds, rendering the pistol inoperable. Beretta quickly replaced the firearm, and no further issues were encountered.

The cam-operated, tilt-barrel, locked-breech design functions like most semi-automatic handguns. The chamber is fed from a chrome-finished six-round-capacity, single-column magazine with a polymer base plate. A slide-mounted extractor doubles as a visual and tactile loaded-chamber indicator. The Nano can be fired without a magazine, a welcome feature in a firearm designed for serious defensive use. Reliability is paramount when it comes to a carry gun and, other than the recoil spring guide issue, the Nano functioned with 100 percent reliability with various bullet designs throughout our testing.

The gun is fairly easy to disassemble. First, unload and then depress the striker deactivator. Then use the rim of a cartridge case to turn the slot-head screw on the frame’s right one-quater turn counterclockwise. Finally, pull the slide forward off the frame and remove the recoil spring assembly, which allows the barrel to be removed from the slide assembly.

Accuracy was excellent with a variety full-power loads. Recoil was mild though muzzle flip was evident due to the Nano’s light weight and fairly high bore axis. Though perfectly comfortable and controllable in 9 mm Luger, the Nano would be a handful in .40 S&W. The Nano is ideally suited for its intended purpose: a major caliber defensive firearm for everyday concealed carry. It’s small enough to conceal, yet large enough to shoot effectively.

Manufacturer: Beretta USA Corp. (301) 283-2191; www.berettausa.com
Caliber: 9 mm Luger (tested), .40 S&W
Action Type: recoil-operated, center-fire, semi-automatic pistol
Frame: fiberglass-reinforced polymer with steel insert
Slide: 4140 steel with black nitride finish
Barrel: 3.07"
Rifling: six-groove, 1:15.75" RH twist
Magazine: six-round-capacity detachable box
Sights: three-dot, fixed-blade front, square notch rear adjustable for windage and elevation
Trigger: double-action-only; 8-lb. pull
Overall Length: 5.63"
Width: 0.90"
Height: 4.17"
Weight: 20 ozs.
Accessories: hard case, lock, spare magazine, owner’s manual
Suggested Retail Price: $475

Beretta Nano Shooting Results

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11 Responses to Beretta Nano

Subvet wrote:
March 02, 2013

For those who feel the Nano is over-engineered, spend some time at the range and you will feel differently. The over-engineering allows for a more comfortable and accurate shooting experience, which means everything should you ever have to use your firearm to defend yourself or others.

mark wrote:
February 12, 2013

You will want to upgrade to a stainless guide rod asap. My plastic one lasted 75 rounds. Steve Bedair makes a stainless replacement.

Caligula wrote:
January 23, 2013

Per Beretta, the Nano was over-engineered so that it could easily be offered in a 40 cal option. That's why it's fairly hefty for it's size - more than Kahr PM9 or Kel-Tec PF9.

Sean T wrote:
January 19, 2013

I just bought one today for Gun Appreciation Day – I have been looking for a small backup gun and came across this one. The place I bought it also has a range, so I put 100 rounds through it – no problems and it was great to shoot, I love it!

Richard S wrote:
December 31, 2012

Received my Nano 6 weeks ago. Finally got in on one of the 8 round magazines and added the LazerMax sight. Took the set up to the range last week for a quick trial run. Only fired 100 rounds but no malfunctions occured. Need to get used to the long/firm trigger pull, but that will come. A great addition to my 92FS

Randall S wrote:
December 30, 2012

Just purchased a Nano after weeks of reviewing. I like the smooth lines, heftyness for less recoil, adjustable sight for windage, smooth trigger pull, ease of disassembly, use of any ammo so far. All for street price of $425 with two boxes of ammo thrown in.

Paul B wrote:
December 18, 2012

I have read other articles that state the 40 cal will not be avaiable until sometime in 2013. They are having much success with the 9mm and are currently trying to produce enough to keep up with demand.

Nate R wrote:
December 15, 2012

I believe the 40 cal comment is inaccurate. Although the Nano concept lends itself to the possibility. Looking forward to receiving my Nano.

N. Unya wrote:
November 10, 2012

Where are you getting the information that the Nano is available in 40 caliber? Although it's been talked about ever since the Nano came out, and Beretta says that the 9 mm was originally built for the 40 caliber, Beretta’s website still only shows it to be available in 9 mm.

Ernesto Valdes wrote:
November 07, 2012

How buy one live Puerto Rico 00953 Thank

Mike Vaughn wrote:
September 29, 2012

When can I buy one in Calif?