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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Subcompacts, in particular 9mm subcompacts, are a different animal from full sized semi-autos or even compacts 9mm's. These pistols, serving almost exclusively in a self-defense role, should ideally be super reliable. Yet physics works against this because these pistols must do their job of cycling a service caliber within a very confined space. The smaller the pistol, the bigger the challenge! Therefore a M&P Shield with a slide length of 6.1" has to work harder than a full sized M&P. But a Beretta Nano with a slide length of 5.6" has an even bigger challenge. This is the reason a break-in period is more important for smaller pistols, for it allows some wear to smooth out the cycling action and thus improve reliability.

But there are some steps that can be taken to eliminate those FTE's, FTF's, stovepipes and double feeds before these ever occur by prepping your brand new firearm. Here are my suggestions that I have done on my Beretta Nano:
  1. Field strip the firearm and carefully and closely examine it with a magnifying glass. You are looking for small metal burrs on moving parts, rough edges that house moving parts and could impede part movement, and machine marks and burrs on critical parts such as extractors. Remove any burrs and excessive machine marks and make smooth.
  2. Almost every gun guy knows to polish their feed ramp. It makes sense to go a bit further. There is a chamfer around the chambers of almost every semi-auto that assists with chambering rounds. This chamfer should be sanded smooth with increasing grits - 180, 220, 400, 600, 800, 1200, etc. Then polish the chamfer, the feed ramp and inside the chamber with Fritz, Mothers, etc. I spent hours of TV time doing this. The reason - anything you can do to reduce the friction involved in chambering and extracting cartridges will improve a small pistol's ability to function reliably. Don't overdo this and change the tolerances, you just want to smooth the surfaces. A smooth-as-glass feed ramp, chamfer and chamber will achieve this.
  3. Establish control over lubrication. You can't do this without removing the factory lube/protectant. Use a degreaser of some sort. I use either denatured achohol or Simple Green (a degreaser used by many gunsmiths). Next choose a top lubricant/protectant. How to choose - select a product that has excelled in comparison to other products, such as the comprehensive corrosion/lubrication comparison of 46 products (Google this if you are unfamiliar with this exhaustive test). After reading this I switched from Archoil to Hornady One-Shot, but Frog Lube is also a good choice.
  4. Dry fire. While watching TV do some dry firing with snap caps to protect the striker. Put about 1,000 dry fire "rounds" through the pistol, but the more the better. In addition to dry firing, manually cycle the slide as many times as you have dry fired. This will substantially smooth the action, making for a more reliable pistol.
I also improved my Beretta Nano's trigger by doing trigger/striker work which lightened and shortened the trigger (Youtube shows you how), making shooting more accurate and pleasurable.

Don't get carried away with home gunsmithing, but there are many practical steps that you can take to improve your firearms without doing inadvertent damage. Hope this write-up helps others shooters with their subcompacts.
 

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Very interesting. I'm curious why i have never had a issue with any sub compact ive owned
 

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I have over 1k through the bersa. The Walther has about 100 the lcp probably 6-7 hundred. I have not modified polished or made any changes to any of my handguns.
 
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