Breacher's Custom AR9, Breacher's Custom Lil Nina, AR Pistol, lead

The growing focus on compact, bug-out guns over the last year hasn’t gone unnoticed. There are offerings in a variety of calibers that collapse, fold, and break apart, making for a great pack or truck gun. The newly announced Ruger PC Charger is a great example of these types of guns, as is the Springfield SAINT Edge EVAC Takedown Pistol, which we just reviewed. The list goes on and on. But today we have something that caught our eye on Instagram: It’s the 9mm “Lil Nina” AR pistol from Breacher’s Custom Guns.

The Work From Breacher’s Custom

Based out of Scottsdale, Ariz., Breacher’s Custom Guns specializes in some pretty unique builds. A lot of Breacher’s work pushes the boundaries of compact; the Lil Nina was the first to grab our attention. Breacher’s owner James Zampier talked to us about what went into the Lil Nina build.

“I came up with the idea a while ago when I wanted to push the envelope and see what could be run, be the shortest possible, and be reliable,” Zampier said. “The problem I encountered is the Maxim SCW brace was only made for an AR-15, as it comes with a modified bolt. So I inquired about OEM possibilities with Maxim and became an OEM dealer so I could order exactly and only what I needed.”

Zampier said he only ordered the parts he needed. Once he had them, he linked up with a machinist friend and they figured out how to make it work. After testing and getting the appropriate weights right for ejection and reliability, he ran with it. After that, Breacher’s moved to pushing boundaries further and further.

Breacher's Custom AR9, Breacher's Custom Lil Nina, AR Pistol, dual

“I also saw a problem with 9mm barrels and complaints of mis-feeds, double feeds, compacted rounds causing over pressure, etcetera,” Zampier said. “I decided to start modifying my own feed ramps and polishing the cone, entrance to the cone and the chamber itself. After some time on a lathe and testing, I figured out an angle that worked great and didn’t have too much case exposure.”

As for barrels, after running it for thousands of rounds, Zampier had a local company in Arizona machine barrels for him. The company used his design, then he had the barrels black Nitrided. It’s a nice touch on an already impressive package.

Other Lil Nina Features

All of what Zampier mentioned above factored into the Lil Nina build, but there’s a hell of a lot more that went into it. One of the first things that stands out is the Fab Defense Folding Pistol Grip. It’s an attention-getter that serves a purpose. Zampier said he’s used the grip for some time now.

“It opens people’s eyes of how compact these guns can get,” he said. “Due to the popularity of the grip, I decided to also design my own out of aluminum, which will be Skeletonized and patented. These will be available for release later in the year.”

Breacher’s Custom also utilized a Mean Arms EndoMag adapter. It takes a Magpul PMAG and makes it run 9mm by swapping out the guts of the mag.

“While building a gun for SHOT Show to display at the SLR booth, I thought the 30-round mags were too long and set to modify it into a 20-round insert,” Zampier said. “I’ve tested these a ton and sometimes they need massaged a little bit. However, usually after a little filing or adjustments they tend to run great.”

AR9, Lil Nina AR Pistol, folded grip

Zampier mentioned the Maxim SCW Brace and the Modified KVP Bolt for it, but there’s a lot more involved. The Lil Nina also uses Breacher’s 3-inch HandGuard by SLR and Breacher’s 2.5-inch Custom Barrel; yes, 2.5 inches. Other features include an SLR Rifle Works Receiver Set, an SLR Linear Comp, an Ambi Bolt Release Modified for SCW clearance, a Breacher’s Raptor SL Charging Handle, a Timney PCC Single Stage Trigger, KNS Pins, and Magpul Pro Irons. There’s also three features from Battle Arms including an ambi safety, enhanced TD pins, and a mag release. All of that boils down to a 20.25-inch pistol extended, or 15.5 inches collapsed.

How Do You Get One?

There are probably a couple of questions on your mind. First: What’s the MSRP on something like this? The Lil Nina runs about $2,400 with no optics. Some might scoff at the price, but Breach doesn’t use any cheap parts. As Zampier told us—and we thoroughly agree—”Buy once, cry once.”

Current wait times at Breacher’s Custom are between three and four weeks. Zampier expects those to go up slightly. Opting for a Cerakote finish also adds a few weeks. Zampier said he uses the experts at Deadlock Coatings for all his Cerakote work.

“They do some amazing work and I don’t even want to try and mimic what they do,” he said. “Between SLR Rifle Works components, Deadlock Coatings Cerakote work, and my ideas and mods, this makes for a killer build that runs reliably and looks fantastic.”

“I see other companies that just hammer out guns left and right and use Mil-spec parts; I just see quantity, not quality,” Zampier added. “The pride and passion in my builds makes for a truly awesome weapon. Each weapon gets tested with two or three mags; this way we can fully vouch for the build and know you’re going to get the best possible product around.”

For more information, including contacts, please visit

Up Next

Dr. Dabbs: Real COVID-19 Facts and What They Mean for Americans

From wearing masks to testing to the death toll numbers, our resident doctor talks...