LC9 vs Nano.
Since we received our first Beretta Nano, I have wanted to do a comparison review against the Ruger LC9.
Unfortunately, time and competing responsibilities kept me from that until now. Unfortunately, now that I
have the capacity to do the review, I noticed that quite a bit has already been written. As I read through
the various articles and postings across the web and compared them to my own observations, I noticed a
common theme that I thought would make an excellent topic on which to elaborate.
Before we dive into that, let's get the obvious stuff out of the way. Both offerings are compact 9MM recoil-
operated, lock-breech, semi-automatic designs. The only significant difference in design between the two
is that the LC9 is hammer/main spring fired vs the Nano's striker fired arrangement. This article won't
delve (too deeply) into the technical differences between hammer/striker designs, but will instead focus on
the implications of those designs and platform specific features for these purpose-built concealed carry
offerings. The principal implications of these design approaches center around the safety and action type.
The LC9 is double action only hammer/main spring set up. The hammer is concealed underneath the slide
and is partially cocked when slide is racked. The LC9 employs a slide locking safety and when combined
with the fairly hefty 7lb pull there is little chance that this weapon will be accidentally discharged if
afforded even the most basic of safety procedures. The Ruger also contains an external slide stop/release.
These features contrast considerably with the Nano. Again as a result of the striker design, the Nano
contains no side mounted safety, instead utilizing a trigger mount safety typical of striker fired pistols. It
also uses a striker block which is not fully disengaged until the trigger is fully engaged. The Nano has no
external slide stop/release but the slide will lock open on an empty magazine. Once a fresh magazine is
inserted and the slide pulled back and released the weapon is again ready. What to me is a truly
innovative feature of the Nano is its action. The pistol is neither single nor double action. I have seen many
refer to it as a double action only when in reality there is no hammer due to the striker design. The Nano's
striker is not "loaded" or under spring tension when the chamber is loaded or the slide is racked. Instead the
steady pull of the trigger places the striker under tension and raises the striker block until the trigger
"breaks" (consistently at 8lbs).
Our sales experience indicates that the LC9 is a more popular selling firearm which we attribute to its more
visually pleasing aesthetics in addition to its slightly larger magazine capacity (7+1 in the LC9 vs the Nano's 6
+1). The LC9 also comes with a "finger rest" magazine floor plate to extend your grip whereas the Nano
doesn't provide this option out of the box. However an 8rd magazine for the Nano with finger rest can be
purchased separately. It should also be pointed out that the LC9 is .5 oz lighter (unloaded).
Now, as I have pointed out in the past, many concealed carry side arms have removed or minimized
features intended to enhance the practice of concealed carry. Eliminating these protruding controls helps to
eliminate the chances of the weapon becoming entangled on clothing at the worst possible time. So it is
with the Nano. Where Ruger elected to include significant (read "redundant") safety features, Beretta chose
instead to focus on the intended primary use of the weapon and reduce the features and complexity which
were not directly beneficial to its concealed carry purpose.
This really got me thinking and brings us to the primary focus of this comparison: Intended use.
We see loads of folks coming in interested in purchasing a handgun. Typically our very first question of the
prospective buyer is: “is this your first handgun?” quickly followed by: "what will be your primary use?" We
have seen an incredible explosion in the number and variation of recent firearm designs and the concealed
carry market has enjoyed more than its fair share of new weapons. That said there are some very specific
criteria that should be considered of any concealed carry weapon. The users experience and comfort level;
frequency of carry; his or her physical characteristics - I know several considerably sized friends who have
no problem concealing a full size Beretta 92F and still other friends who need something the size of a Nano
or LC9 to effectively conceal. The final set of considerations are really focused on the fundamentals of
concealed carry and potential confrontation. Any armed conflict will include lots of factors (adrenalin, fear,
anxiety, time of day, weather conditions, clothing and so on). In my view the primary function and purpose
of the concealed carry weapon is to dissuade any potential adversary with minimal fuss and independent of
the litany of armed conflict factors.
Considerations for accuracy, optics and magazine capacity all take a back seat to things like weight and
physical characteristics. Given this shouldn't the features of any concealed carry sidearm be entirely
focused on this purpose? I believe it a dis-service to focus on robust features as a deciding factor when
selecting any firearm. The decision should always point the prospective user to the weapon that effectively
addresses their need.
By now it should be apparent that I rate the Nano as the "winner" of this comparison. But what is probably a
better way to score them is that the Nano is more “appropriate” for its intended purpose. Can both be
effectively employed as a solid concealed carry sidearm? Yes, of course, but the Nano does so with a more
sharply focused design for its intended purpose. In my view the Nano is also of a higher manufacturing
quality. Parts enjoy tighter tolerances and the design results in a simpler handgun. Many casual observers
have noted that the gun feels "top heavy" but this extra mass in the slide contributes to less muzzle rise and
in a compact 9mm that should not be under appreciated.
Bottom line - If you looking for a general purpose plinker, hunting handgun, hi-capacity combat sidearm or
home defense hand cannon, look elsewhere. If you want a sharply focused, concealed carry defense
weapon, the Beretta Nano is an excellent choice.