Sunday, August 24, 2014

Let's Get Small: Beretta BU9 Nano

I purchased a Beretta BU9 Nano back in April to replace my ailing P64 as an everyday carry gun. It has taken me some time to do the review because I just now got around 400 rounds through it, and I wanted to carry it a while before I passed judgement. Well, things are mostly good, but not without substantial worries and poor decisions on Beretta's part.

The first day I had the BU9, I put 150 rounds down it. Fifty were Winchester Ranger RA9T 147gr JHP, the other 100 were Federal 115gr FMJ. I had three jams with the Federal at random intervals, and today, after not barfing for over 200 rounds, it choked on a RA9T, but this exact malfunction is the only kind I've seen from it. See below:

Back in June, James and I disassembled the BU9 to see what was going on after it puked on the range. What we found is that the slide appears to have been machined for .40 S&W, and the 9mm case has very little contact with the extractor during recoil. I suspect that Beretta intended to do two versions, one 9x19 and the other .40 S&W, but they never did the .40, and never machined the slides for 9x19, since on paper it should still work. And 90% of the time, it does. As I put more rounds down it, it has become more reliable, and has been flawless with Freedom Munitions 124gr FMJ, so I'm going to stop carrying the RA9Ts and find carry ammo that is as close as possible to the Freedom Munitions load. This thing is very picky about ammo, and that's really not a good thing in a carry piece.

Accuracy, however, is pretty good. And it's pretty decent to shoot fast at defense distances. Here's a couple of IPSC silhouettes I shot after the match today:

Rapid fire from 7 paces

Rapid fire from 3 paces

The BU9 comes with a flush-fit 6-round magazine, and one 8-round magazine with a grip extension. I typically carry it with the flush magazine and top it off to seven rounds. With either magazine, it's very easy to hide and pretty comfortable to carry.

I added a Talon rubber grip to mine because the factory plastics are slightly slippery, but other than that, the gun is extremely well designed for carry. There are no external controls except the trigger and magazine release. The takedown lever has been reduced to a pin that rotates with the aid of a standard screwdriver or a cartridge rim. There is no slide stop with which to load or reload--racking the slide is your only option. I don't mind that, and the lack of external controls makes the gun quick out of a holster and nice to carry because it won't poke at you when you move about.

Would I recommend the BU9? Yes, but only conditionally. I'd probably get a similarly sized steel-frame Kahr if I had it to do over again just because of the reliability issues and Beretta's laziness in slide design. This isn't a bad gun, but if you don't want the headaches of a picky eater, I'd look to Kahr or Ruger (who now has a striker-fired LC9). I'll update as soon as I find a reliable carry round. Until then, T-zone hard.

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