Beretta BU9 Nano Sub-Compact 9x19mm Semi-Automatic Pistol

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn and Boge Quinn

May 25th, 2012




Click pictures for a larger version.









Reversible magazine release.









These days, we are blessed with a great selection of very compact pistols for concealed carry. Typically, when a person makes the decision to go heeled, he (or she) will choose a full-sized semi-auto pistol, such as a Glock, 1911, M&P, XD, Beretta 92, Taurus, Ruger P-Series, or a compact version of these same pistols. Soon after starting to carry these full-sized guns, they will begin to leave it at home or in the vehicle more and more, until they realize that they are found unarmed more often than not, and will begin a search for something a lot smaller, such as a Kel-Tec, Ruger, Kahr, or Taurus 380. These are all good pocket guns, and are small enough to always be there, but none would be my first choice if I new that I was likely to get into a gunfight.

What was needed, and what the market demanded, was a good, reliable, lightweight pistol somewhere between the duty-sized pistols and the pocket guns. At first, most manufacturers took the easy way, and shortened the barrels and grip frames on their full-sized pistols, giving us compact guns that were too thick. However, a couple of years ago, most major pistol builders started offering slimmer, lighter pistols that were still chambered for serious pistol cartridges such as the 9x19, 357 Sig, 40 S&W, and even 45 ACP. One of the most-anticipated of this new breed of carry pistol is featured here; the Beretta Nano.

The Nano was announced several months ago, and is now in full production. The Nano falls into that “just right’ size category of pistol that is almost small enough to be a pocket gun, and could be with the properly-sized pocket, but is still large enough to be easily fired accurately. The Nano is slim, and that is vital to most of us who will carry it concealed on a daily basis. That is an important point. Unlike most of us who start out packing a large handgun, the Nano and its like are small enough to always be within reach. If you can’t reach your fighting gun when needed, it is useless to you. The Nano is less likely to be left in the glove box when you stop off at the local Stop & Rob for a jug of milk on your way home. The fact is that most of us who carry a concealed handgun do so with the thinking that we are not going to need it today. If we knew we were heading for a fight, it would be best to avoid it completely, or to carry a rifle or shotgun. If we need a defensive pistol, it will happen quickly and without much warning. Therefore, we must have a gun within reach at all times; at the grocery store, ballpark, Church, restaurant, at work, or anywhere else that we might be found. The Nano and other such pistols offer a good compromise between power, ease-of-shooting, and concealment.

The Nano is built with a sub-frame, or chassis, which fits into the polymer frame. The idea is that it can be removed and installed into a frame of another configuration, if desired. The Nano has a push-pin decocker that allows the striker to be decocked without pulling the trigger for disassembly. At the right rear of the slide, just in front of the windage-adjustable rear sight is a hole through which the striker safety passes. Most striker-fired pistols have such a safety to prevent firing unless the trigger is pulled, but on the Nano, it passes through the top of the slide. There is also a blade safety lever inside the trigger blade. The magazine release is in the preferred position, just behind the trigger guard, and is reversible to use from either side. The Nano is externally very smooth and snag-free, as a good concealment pistol should be.

Critical specifications for the 9mm Nano are listed in the chart below. Weights are listed in ounces. Linear dimensions are listed in inches. Trigger pull is listed in pounds of resistance, as measured with my Lyman digital trigger pull scale. Height includes sights and magazine base. Maximum width is measured across the top of the frame.

Chambering 9x19mm
Weight with Empty Magazine 19.7 oz.
Trigger Pull 5.7 lbs.
Barrel Length 3.08"
Barrel Diameter 0.566"
Overall Height 4.28"
Overall Length 5.63"
Grip Thickness 0.918"
Frame Width 0.94"
Slide Width 0.94"
Maximum Width 0.94"
Trigger Reach 2.6"
Magazine Capacity 6
Magazines Supplied 2
Accessory Rail No

I fired a variety of ammunition over the chronograph to check velocities, with the results listed in the chart below. Velocities are listed in feet-per-second. Bullet weights are listed in grains. JHP is a jacketed hollowpoint bullet. DPX, Buffalo Bore Lead Free, and Double Tap Tac-XP are hollow nose homogenous copper bullets that are made by Barnes Bullets. Guard Dog is a FMJ with a soft plastic core to promote rapid expansion. FP is a frangible, pre-fragmented flatnose bullet. FMJ is a full metal jacket roundnose bullet. FMJ-FN is a full metal jacket flat nose Buffalo Bore Penetrator bullet. PB is Pow’RBall, a specialty bullet from Cor-Bon. Glaser is a pre-fragmented bullet. Velocities were taken at an elevation of 541 feet above sea level, with an air temperature of ninety-four degrees Fahrenheit and a relative humidity of forty-one percent. Velocities were recorded at ten feet from the muzzle.

Ammunition Bullet Weight Velocity
Buffalo Bore Lead Free HP 95 1377
Buffalo Bore Lead Free HP 115 1171
Buffalo Bore FMJ-FN 124 1201
Buffalo Bore JHP 115 1269
Buffalo Bore +P JHP 115 1300
Buffalo Bore +P JHP 147 1044
Federal Guard Dog 105 1111
Double Tap Tac-HP 115 998
Double Tap FMJ 147 1001
Atomic HP 124 1122
WCC NATO FMJ 124 987
Fiocchi FMJ 115 1057
Cor-Bon Glaser 80 1592
Cor-Bon JHP 115 1303
Cor-Bon Pow’RBall 100 1286
Cor-Bon +P DPX 115 1123
Cor-Bon JHP 125 1256
Stryker JHP 115 1007
Stryker FMJ 115 1056
International Cartridge FP 100 1067

Functioning was one-hundred percent with this Nano. Every round fed, fired, and ejected perfectly, from the standard-pressure ball cartridges to the high-performance hollow-points. I am really partial to the new high-performance ammunition that uses the Barnes homogenous hollowpoint, such as the Buffalo Bore Lead-Free stuff. It expands quickly, yet does not come apart, penetrating deeply in flesh and bone. The Nano is listed for limited Plus P ammo use, with Beretta recommending the use of standard pressure ammo for most shooting. That is a good idea, saving wear on the pistol by using standard ammo for practice, and just enough of the good stuff to know that it will function well for social work. Accuracy was good with every load tested for accuracy. I ran the little Nano for combat accuracy, hand-held on a standard human silhouette target from seven yards out to twenty-five. It was easy to keep all shots in the vital zone at all distances, and hitting rapidly was easy, thanks to the excellent sights and trigger pull. The Nano’s slide locks to the rear on an empty magazine.

The Nano has a very good trigger pull; smooth and releasing at an average of just under five and three-quarters pounds of resistance. As on most striker-fired pistols, the striker is reset by the slide. The sights are easy to see in good light, but a set of Trijicon tritium night sights or an XS tritium Big Dot front with Express rear would be a good addition for a carry gun. Hopefully, Crimson trace will build a laser for the Nano, for use in the worst lighting conditions.

The Beretta Nano carries a payload of seven 9x19mm cartridges at the ready, and would be a very good choice for a concealed-carry pistol. It is competitively priced with a suggested retail of only $475 US at the time of this review. The Nano comes with a hard plastic case, lock, instructions, and two six-shot magazines. The Nano is compact, reliable, accurate, and made in the USA.

Check out the extensive line of Beretta firearms and accessories at

For the location of a Beretta dealer near you, click on the DEALER FINDER at

To order the Nano online, go to

To order quality 9x19mm ammunition, go to,, or

Jeff Quinn

Got something to say about this article? Want to agree (or disagree) with it? Click the following link to go to the GUNBlast Feedback Page.

Click pictures for a larger version.



Nano comes with hard case, instructions, lock, and two six-shot magazines.





Steel six-shot magazine.





Disassembly is easy, requiring a pointed object to decock the striker, and a cartridge rim to turn the latch.