Last week I got the chance to fire a couple of different guns from some of my students. Yesterday I reviewed the full size 9mms, today I want to talk about the two pocket guns I was able to shoot. I shot the S&W Shield, and a Beretta Nano. Both great guns by companies that have been around forever and make good products. The Beretta Nano didn’t get much attention when launched, and the Shield everyone is talking about non-stop. So, of course, I had to shoot it, given the chance.
The Shield seemed really well finished and looked great. The trigger was way better than its full-sized brother, the M&P 9mm. The gun is really small, I mean too small for me to get a grip on. I have big hands and fat fingers, so the pistol would move during the recoil of every shot. The controls were shrunk to fit the pistol size and I had a hard time operating the slide stop and safety. The student carrying the gun in class had the same issues, his hands were bigger than mine. He bought it for concealment and found it really easy to hide. It shot well and follow up shots wouldn’t have been a problem, if I could have held onto the gun. I have another friend with really small hands, and she loves it. It is the only thing she can get her hand around in 9mm. If you have average, small, or really small hands, I think you would like this gun. If you have bigger than average hands, then you would probably want something bigger. No one is quite sure why Smith and Wesson put a single-sided safety on this gun, but I think if you have a safety on a gun, you should use it. If you don’t want to use a safety, buy a gun without it.
Safeties have a tendency to do funny things. A Beretta 92 (M9) that the military carries have their safeties go on and off almost at the will of the gun (or Murphy). That made me super cautious of the safety on a gun. Now I will carry the gun on safe and learn how to flip it off as I draw. If you don’t learn how to flip it off all the time, it may get activated as you draw and then you are trying to shoot with a gun on safe. Guns like Glocks with no manual safeties aren’t unsafe, they are just different and you need to learn your gun, how it works, and how you want it to work. If you think it’s too slow to flip off a safety as you draw your gun, buy a gun without an external safety. (Yes, I know the Glock technically has an “external” safety on the trigger, but that isn’t the type I’m talking about here)
The Beretta Nano wasn’t as sexy as the Shield, in fact, it looked kind of ugly. The slide was huge and the grip was really small. It was easier to handle and manipulate than the Shield. It felt and looked bigger, but fit in a pocket fine. My fat fingers couldn’t get ahold of it. I could only use my middle finger to hold onto the pistol. My other two fingers wrap underneath and do no good. The trigger had a good double action feel to it and I could make hits at 10 yards without any problems. If it had a finger extension on the magazine it would be my pick by far. The owner of the Nano loved it and carried it all the time in a front pocket. He had average size hands and could easily get two fingers on the grip.
Both guns were shot in over 100 degree heat at the end of a long training day. The Shield I didn’t care for, but would like to have another look at the Nano.