With concealed carry in mind, I took 3 popular 9mm sub compact pistols to the range for comparison: the Ruger LC9, Beretta Nano, and the Glock 26. Some may disagree with my inclusion of a double stack pistol in comparison against two single stack sub compacts, but that is exactly why I included it (to compare a double stack 9 against a single stack as well as one single stack to another).
Right off the bat, the most notable difference between the three models (without firing any of them) is the grips. As the Glock is a double stack pistol, it has a bulkier (and more angular) grip than either the Nano or the LC9. The little Beretta and slim Ruger both measure .9in in width (compared to the 26’s 1.18in). While the LC9 is equal in how narrow the grip is to the Nano, it feels slightly more top heavy.
This isn’t entirely surprising considering the LC9 is the lightest of the three sub compacts. It weighs a slight 17.1 oz, as compared to the Nano’s 19.97oz and the 19.75oz Glock (note: as the Glock holds more rounds than the other two, while loaded it is the heaviest pistol in the comparison). While the Ruger is the lightest, it also is the least comfortable to shoot. The heavier Glock and Beretta are easier to keep steady and feel well balanced. The weight also seemed to be a factor in perceived recoil.
The Glock 26 has the least noticable muzzle flip and recoil. This, in combination with the larger grip made it easier to keep rounds on target while firing. All the sub compacts in this article have short barrels (26: 3.42″, Nano: 3.07″, LC9: 3.12″), but the increase in felt recoil was more significant in the slimmer Beretta and Ruger pistols. It took me a few rounds to get used to the difference, but the snap isn’t so wild that it is a great challenge to keep rounds on target. It does make the LC9 and the Nano less enjoyable to put rounds through, though (although, in a CCW pistol, a fun range experience means less to me than accurate range performance).
Another of the most significant differences between the Glock, Nano, and Ruger is in their trigger pulls. The Glock 26 has the lightest trigger pull that broke nearest to the front of the pull. I feel it contributed to being able to shoot more accurately with it. The Nano has the longest and heaviest trigger pull of the three. It was further back than I had anticipated, but it is relatively smooth, well, smoother than the LC9’s trigger, that is. I struggled the most adjusting to the pull of the Ruger LC9’s trigger. It doesn’t break quite as far back as that of the Nano, but it was more crunchy and unpredictable, to the point that it detracted from my ability to keep shot groupings as small as with either the Beretta Nano or the Glock 26.
In fact, my most accurate and precise groupings were shot with the Glock 26. While the grip of the Nano fit my hand well, the long trigger pull and increased muzzle flip contributed to not being able to keep quite as tight shot groupings as with the Glock. However, my performance with the LC9 was the least accurate and precise. The increased felt recoil (due to the light weight of the small pistol and its short barrel) as well as its uniform trigger were factors in that outcome.
Another difference to note between these three sub compacts is the difference in sight picture. The Glock 26 features a notch and post sight. Compared to the three dot sight pictures of the LC9 and Nano, I find it slightly more difficult to align quickly. However, it isn’t so great of an issue as to impair my ability to put rounds on target with it. It may be a product of my experience with shooting 1911s with three dot sight pictures, but I found I had no trouble whatsoever with maintaining sight alignment with the Beretta Nano’s large white three dots. The Ruger also features a 3 dot sight picture, but the dots are rather small, and that made it somewhat more difficult for followup shots.
The Nano performed well for me. I put 200 rounds through it without lubrication and I didn’t get a single error, misfeed, or jam. Using the same ammo, I did get one jam with the Glock 26, which I thought was ironic. I think that the Beretta is competitive within the market of pocket size (sub compact) 9x19mm Parabellum handguns. But, which do you prefer?