Sunday, February 16, 2014

Beretta Nano Review, PART UNO.

Disclaimer: this is not the place to debate whether or not people should be allowed to carry guns. In the United States, the Second Amendment to the Constitution guarantees this and even in compliance with the law, I am licensed to carry one concealed. If you live in another country and take issue with "gun culture" or have the belief in gun restrictions, I respect that. However, I will delete any comments that are not relevant to this review. Be sure to obey all applicable laws and relevant safety practices when deciding to purchase, carry or fire any gun.
I'm not a gun nut, nor crazy about pocket pistols, but this is going to be the beginning of my fourth pistol review on a gun several months ago I would have never considered buying. Beretta has been in the weapons business for nearly 500 years and has done a lot right. The PX4 Storm compact, a former sidearm of mine, was superb for shooting on the range. The grip and accuracy were second to none. However, getting my finger slashed on the safety while qualifying for my CPL (partly my fault for failing to familiarize myself with the gun, but it was still very sharp nonetheless) as well as actually carrying something that weighed and was as thick as any duty gun. The protruding controls made this uncomfortable even when I managed to carry it.  I traded the Beretta, and took a bath on it, for a Ruger SR9c, which is still in my collection to date. It is also an extremely competent gun with the irony of more safety features than many kitchen appliances. The external safety, loaded chamber indicator, slide lock and other controls are good on paper, but in practice require training to use in a fight. This is more than comfortable in an outside the waistband holster, and hides well in an in the waistband one although size is still an issue. There are times when a smaller pistol is in order, especially under dress clothes. Yes, I know there are holsters out there what can make hiding a bigger gun easier. In practice, these are expensive and/or not always available locally. Besides, I've yet to see anything that can make a piece thinner, lighter, or less obtrusive. Many of these hybrid holsters have clips that are visible on the belt. To me, these scream "gun!". Eventually, I may purchase a kit or make one myself.

A Facebook conversation with a family friend suggested the Smith and Wesson M&P Shield to address some of my concerns.  Availability and price as of this writing made it prohibitive on my budget, and nice as it may be, the Beretta Nano was available for about $150 less after some haggling. I got it for $399 with tax and laying away for several months. Made of steel with a glass reinforced composite frame, this piece weighs a pound and a half loaded with seven rounds. The sights are low profile and fully adjustable with white dots. These aren't everyone's cup of tea, but they're easy enough to see and may get the obligatory sight paint over spending $100 on night sights. The gun is blocky, black and basic. There are no controls short of the magazine release, a takedown lock, a decocker and the bang switch. The slide only stays open when the magazine is empty on an empty chamber. The slide release is a slot screw that opens using the edge of a shell casing, and the decocker with a ballpoint pen. There are no edges to snag, unlike most other Beretta models making this in theory better suited for concealed carry. There is no magazine disconnect, so the gun will fire without a magazine and a round in the chamber! The grip is aggressive on the back and front and smooth in the center, which may necessitate adding something to provide traction.

The box comes with two magazines, one with a flat floor plate and the other with an extended one for a better grip (perversely, both are six round capacity, but this is in line with the gun's purpose), the gun, a trigger lock, manuals, along with a warning from the Massachusetts Attorney General and a manual. As with all Beretta pistols, it has the plastic puck that keeps the case from crushing in on the truck ride from Maryland. Yes, this gun is made in the United States. Soon, Beretta will be opening a new factory in Tennessee, but I digress.

Ideally, the gun should be cleaned and go to the range before carrying it. To field strip the Nano requires a ball point pen and the edge of a shell casing. You need to press the decocker with the pen and use the edge of the shell casing to turn the slide release. I wouldn't go as far to say this strips down as easily as a Glock, but it's easy nonetheless and leaves you with the spring, slide, barrel and frame. Unlike the Ruger, there is no pin  to remove. The frame is removable to exchange for something pink or maybe even with a different grip pattern, as the mechanism inside is legally the gun and has the serial number. Personally, I'll stick with the current black frame and add some Talon grips if need be.

Carrying this piece in an Uncle Mikes in the waistband holster, size 1 nearly ended up with the gun on the pavement at Meijer's. The holster came apart in short order, making this unusable until I stitch or goop the clip back on. As of right now, I'm using the in the waistband holster for my SR9c with much more favorable results. This is the suede tuckable Blackhawk holster and it makes this gun disappear under a uniform or dress pant. It also fits into the pocket of same, but a holster must be utilized for safety's sake. I do not recommend Mexican carrying ANY gun for this very reason. If you can't buy a holster, leave this gun at home. Off my soapbox. In part DEUX, I'll take this to the range to fire some rounds through it. I know these guns like 124 grain rounds, but since they've been made out of unobtainium as of late, I will be using the more common 115 grain rounds. I believe the gun will work fine as with my last Beretta, but this remains to be seen. Maranatha!

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