You’ve probably heard the word nano a million times, but what exactly is a nano? In any form of measurement, distance, time, weight, etc., a nano equals 1-billionth, as in nanosecond or nanometer. A nano is very small and Beretta wisely chose it to name its first Micro-Compact 9mm semi-automatic pistol. While the new Ultra Compact isn’t as “nano” as some of the competition, like the Kimber Solo (which is considerably smaller), the Ruger LC9 (a bit lighter and narrower), or the Kahr CM9 (awfully close); compared to their designs and construction, the new Beretta is practically in a class of its own.

Gun Details

The first things you notice about the Nano are its compact dimensions—a mere 5.63 inches in length, 4.17 inches in height, and 0.90 inches in width. The Nano is also light at 18.27 ounces (empty). Capacity is 6+1. The gun’s shape is eye-catching too, with a striking configuration to the slide that sharply angles into a tapering contour toward the muzzle, making it a natural for quick re-holstering. The Nano ideally fits the average hand, with a flat base plate magazine to tuck the little finger under. A large curved triggerguard makes getting to work quick business even wearing a glove and there is still ample room for a two-handed hold with plenty of clearance behind the muzzle of the 3.07-inch barrel.

It is in the Nano’s construction where traditional gun design and future technology theoretically collide. The Nano’s one-piece polymer frame is merely a molded technopolymer shell surrounding a separate stainless steel fire control sub-chassis containing frame rails, trigger, and striker firing system. This sub-chassis is removable and serial numbered; i.e., it is “the gun” for all intents and legal purposes. This feature will allow Beretta to offer affordable interchangeable exterior configurations, grip styles, optional colors, and specialized frames with built-in accessories like a laser sighting system. As to how many options, how much and how soon, that remains to be seen.

The Nano is rather conventional otherwise employing a striker-fired, short recoil system; the latter is based on the John M. Browning design, which uses a linkless barrel with a solid camming lug and squared breechblock face to engage the slide. This is combined with a Glock-style toggle trigger safety and automatic striker block, de rigueur with almost every new semi-auto design these days. To help mitigate harsh recoil from the lightweight 9mm, Beretta uses a double recoil spring; one wound around the guide rod, another around the plunger.

The only external indications of the gun’s condition are the action of the automatic striker block, which rises up though an opening in the top of the slide when the trigger is drawn to the rear, and a loaded chamber indicator, which is almost too subtle to notice. When a round is chambered the extractor protrudes just slightly outward from the slide. Other than that, the gun has no obvious tells; the trigger position appears the same (fully forward, toggle extended) whether the slide has been cycled or not, while a Glock, for example, has two clearly different trigger positions between “at the ready” and “discharged.” The Nano also has no external (manual) safety or even a slide release lever. The design is as uncomplicated as possible. All it takes to strip the first round from a magazine on the reload is pulling the slide slightly to the rear and letting go, which basically makes it ambidextrous. In a pinch (one handed) the slide can also be released by lightly pushing its front edge against any hard surface and you’re good to go. There is also an easily depressed magazine release that is reversible, so southpaws don’t have to go wanting, and the Nano does not use a magazine disconnect; it will discharge a chambered round with the magazine removed.

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