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http://www.gunblast.com/Bersa_Thunder380-2.htm

Excerpt:

"Bersa Thunder .380 Auto Pistol Revisited

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

December 28th, 2007


I get a lot of email here at Gunblast.com, both from the "ASK JEFF" and "FEEDBACK" sections. Everyday, I answer in excess of 100 reader emails, covering every conceivable gun topic. Some of it is just fan mail, some of it is hate mail, and much of it is of the "what is my gun worth?" type of email. However, since writing about the Bersa Thunder .380 auto pistol over five and one-half years ago, I still get more mail regarding that pistol than any other gun review that I have ever done. Typically, someone reads the review, buys the Bersa, and writes in to tell me how much they enjoy the little pistol. The article is still in our ARCHIVE section, as are all our articles, and we get new readers everyday who are reading the old reviews and writing in about them. A great deal of the email from new readers is about the Bersa. Almost all of the feedback on that gun has been positive. I wish that I could state that about every gun that I have reviewed, but I cannot. The typical Bersa buyer is one who wants a good, basic, affordable pistol for personal protection. I have often recommended the Bersa, as it fills that role nicely. Chambered for the .380 ACP cartridge, the Bersa has adequate power, acceptable accuracy, reliable function, relatively light weight, compact design, and all at an affordable price. The Bersa performs better than many .380 pistols that cost twice its price, or more. With the volume of mail received about this dandy little pistol, and in light of recent advancements in .380 ACP ammunition, I thought an update on the Bersa was in order.

The Bersa Thunder shown here is a special version sold only through one distributor; Lipsey’s of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Lipsey’s is one of the country’s best gun distributors, and they offer many versions of firearms that are exclusive to them. This special version of the Thunder wears a matte blued finish to the steel slide and aluminum alloy frame, with the external controls gold plated. The pistol wears a good set of three-dot sights, and the rear is windage adjustable. The Bersa has one of the best double-action trigger pulls on the market, measuring a smooth seven pounds, five ounces on this sample gun. The single action pull measures four pounds, five ounces. The Bersa typically fires the first shot double action, with succeeding shots fired in the single action mode. Pushing downward on the slide-mounted safety lever lowers the hammer, with it falling safety against a steel block that rotates between the hammer and firing pin. The Bersa also has an internal firing pin block, which prevents the gun from firing unless the trigger is pulled. There is also a magazine safety that prevents the gun from firing without a magazine in place. Finally, there is also an internal key lock that prevents the gun from firing until unlocked with a key, to secure the gun from unauthorized use. The magazine release is located just above and to the rear of the trigger, and is easily operated by both right and left-handed shooters. The Bersa locks the slide open on an empty magazine, and the slide release is located just above the magazine release. On the right side of the frame is the take-down latch, which easily allows the owner to disassemble the Thunder for cleaning. The barrel is fixed solidly to the frame, with the coil slide spring fitting around the barrel. The Thunder operates on the blowback principle, and the slide is easy to operate to chamber the first cartridge from the seven-round magazine. Topping off the magazine after loading the chamber makes for a total loaded capacity of eight rounds.

The compact size and light weight of the Bersa makes it a natural for concealed carry. The Thunder weighs in at 19.7 ounces with an empty magazine. The overall height, including the magazine extension and sights, is 4.88 inches. The overall length measures 6.675 inches. The slide thickness is just .863 inch, and the width at the thickest part of the grips measures 1.290 inches. The Bersa has a three and one-half inch barrel. The Thunder fits nicely into a front pants pocket, and is also a natural choice for carry in a good concealment holster on the belt, whether in a nice leather holster or one of the inexpensive Kydex models available.

Earlier, I alluded to advancements in .380 ammunition. The .380 is adequate for most defensive purposes under ideal conditions with standard ammo, but we are not guaranteed ideal conditions in a gunfight. Where standard .380 ammunition is found lacking is in penetration. If you cannot hit the central nervous system of an attacker, you will usually not get an immediate stop. I prefer penetration above all else in a defensive pistol. Any caliber pistol that is reasonably carried concealed is a compromise in a fight. If given the choice, I prefer a rifle or shotgun. We carry pistols instead of rifles in our daily lives for convenience. It is hard to go through our everyday chores with a rifle in one hand, so we arm ourselves with a pistol, and hope that we never need it. Like all other concealable pistols, the Bersa .380 is a compromise. Buffalo Bore Ammunition has recently introduced three new .380 ACP loads that exceed the performance of all other .380 Ammunition on the market of which I am aware. Buffalo Bore has upped the velocity, and in one load the weight, over existing ammo choices in the .380 ACP. The goal is deeper penetration. Both the 100 grain lead bullet and the 95 grain full metal jacket ammo has a flat-nosed bullet to improve straight line penetration, while maximizing tissue damage. Their hollowpoint load uses a 90 grain Speer Gold Dot bullet that expands at .380 ACP velocities. In the solids, the cast lead bullet is the way to go, as lead is slicker than bullet jacket material, and results in "free velocity" when compared to the lighter jacketed load. I checked the bullet velocities from the barrel of the Bersa, with the chronograph set at six feet from the muzzle. Air temperature at the time of the tests hovered around the 42 degree Fahrenheit mark. The 100 grain lead bullet registered 1145 feet-per-second (fps). The 95 grain load clocked 1021 fps, and the 90 grain Gold Dot HP load registered 1094 fps. Keep in mind that all of this is from a three and one-half inch barrel. The performance greatly exceeds that of other producers of high performance .380 ACP ammunition. Also, examining the fired cases showed no signs of excessive pressure. Buffalo Bore uses low-flash powder in their defensive ammunition, so to see how well it works, I fired off a magazine full in the dark. As most serious social conflicts take place in the dark, the muzzle flash is a good point to consider. The flash from the muzzle of the Bersa was very low, and I could clearly see the outline of objects just as easily after firing the rounds as I could before. There was no "fire ball" as is often seen when shooting at night, just a bit of muzzle flash, akin to the weak firecrackers that we have these days. Buffalo Bore ammunition is not cheap, but what is your life worth? You can do your plinking with the cheap stuff, but I recommend you run enough Buffalo Bore through the gun to make sure that everything works well, and carry the Bersa loaded with the Buffalo Bore load of your choice."



The Thunder .380 compares favorably in size to Jeff's S&W Model 342PD .38.
 

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Thanks for posting the review. I've always wondered about the quality of these. I'd always lumped them in with the Llama's and the Firestorms. I guess I was wrong.
 

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That's why I like my Bersas (and why I'll keep them ). My Bersa 380 is more
accurate than my Sig 380 ( which I also will keep ) :)
Thanks for that update.
 

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My neighbor was just asking about this very gun he was thinking of buying. Does $249.00 sound like a decent price??
 

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Discussion Starter #5
muttmutt,

Checking prices for the Bersa Thunder .380 online, $250.00 does seem to be a fair, middle-of-the-road price. Some quotes I've seen are for more than that and some are less but a number hover around $250.00
 

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i've never actually shot the thunder .380.. but i know i was seriously looking at getting the thunder 9 a while ago.. the mags are on the high side on bersa guns.. and it only comes with one.. my cousin has a .380 however.. and it is definitely small.. very nice compact and well put together.. it would make a really good carry gun..

im planing on getting a px4sc in 9mm if they ever make it to the stores though.

i've not heard anything bad about bersa thunders.. the .380 has an especially good reputation.
you would probably be served well my one, certainly look like a decent value for the money.
 

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NCshooter26 said:
Thanks for posting the review. I've always wondered about the quality of these. I'd always lumped them in with the Llama's and the Firestorms. I guess I was wrong.
I have to second your statement NCshooter. As hard as I try, every once in a while a little bit of the gun snob comes out in me. Like you, I alway put Bersa in the same catagory as Star or Armscor. I've never had the opportunity to fire a Bersa but EVERYTHING I've read recently about the Bersa 380, and for that mater the Thunder HC, has spoken very highly of the product.

Huh.....so it doesn't have to cost alot to be good? Sounds a little like another brand of guns we all seem to enjoy.
 

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I work with a couple guys who bought the Bersa Thunder .380 locally for about $189. I was thinking that's a great price. I'll probably pick one up soon if I can get it for that price.

But for $250, I can get a Taurus millenium pro. I was wondering, if the prices are equal, which would be the better gun for the money. It might help to state that I'm looking for a good concealed carry pistol.
 

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Switch,
I've had a couple of Bersa .380's and they are excellant guns. Never had a problem with either and they'd eat anything. I also had a Llama .380 that was a tack driver. I currently have a Millenium Pro 111. As I've posted in other areas, the Pro had to be sent to the factory, but I think that was due to some overly hot ammo. Which is better opinion, as mechanically they are both great. The Millenium is a little larger, I think. The Bersa is external hammer and I like the DA/SA option. The main advantage of the Millenium is you can get a larger calibers in the same size package. The Bersa .380 is a little smaller than a 9mm Thunder or Millenium. I like the 9mm better than the .380, except for gun size, but really like the style of the Bersa a little better. If you can, shoot them both and see which fits you better. The 9mm will give you more ammo selection, and may be a little cheaper to shoot, and is more powerful (think 38 vs 38+P is about .380 vs 9mm) Other wise they are about equal quality and dependability. Honestly, if I get another .380, it will be another Bersa. The price sounds good to me, as the Bersa runs around $200 here.
BTW my PT111 is back and doing fine. Hope this helps.
 

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My 2 guns are a PT111 Pro and a Bersa .380 duotone. I have fired about 1000 rounds through both. The Bersa is a breeze to shoot. I am a novice shooter and can hit within 2" at 10 yards with this gun. I have had NO problems. I purchased the gun for my wife because I wasn't sure she could(or would...) handle my 9mm. Great price, too. Only $218.00 new. And, yes, the Bersa is more expensive to shoot, but, man, alot of fun!
 

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Thanks a bunch for the info Funshooter and Heyyodaddio. My local range wants about $250 for the Bersa .380, but I'm looking around town to see if I can find a better deal.

I've heard nothing but good things about Bersa.

EDIT: By the way, thanks for the good review Taurus_9mm!
 

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Just for giggles.... Gun Test's magazine and several other gunzines have done Bersa articles in the last few months. Decent articles by all the writers. Went up against a Walther PPK and the Bersa got higher marks.
Good reasoning for the higher marks by the Gun Test's staff.
Not knocking the Walthers. Just that for money,safety, and ease of use, the Bersa came off a bit better.
 

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Switch said:
Thanks a bunch for the info Funshooter and Heyyodaddio. My local range wants about $250 for the Bersa .380, but I'm looking around town to see if I can find a better deal.

I've heard nothing but good things about Bersa.

EDIT: By the way, thanks for the good review Taurus_9mm!
Switch, Davidson's has them ready to ship. My dealer that handles Davidson's is selling them for $225 plus a 3% cash discount making it only $218. You might want to check it out.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Switch said:
EDIT: By the way, thanks for the good review Taurus_9mm!
Quite welcome Switch, glad to be of service.
 

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You cannot go wrong with the Bersa 380. Glad to tell you of my experience.
 

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My wife bought a Nickel Thunder .380. She loves it.

I had one in the early 90's. Sold it to my brother, who sold it to a co-worker, who let my wife shoot it last year, who then got the Nickel version.

Clear as mud?

I still have a .380 (Kel-tec P3AT) for pocket carry when I can't get away with my MilPro.
 

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Switch,
If you can't make up your mind, you could get the PT-111 and the Bersa. Then you could get the Kel-Tec .380 for deeper concealment, but then you'd have to get the mini-revolver for deep conceal back up. :) See, I can rationalize a new gun.
Seriously though, I just stopped at my favorite shop today and they had a new black Bersa Thunder .380 for $249 & tax. They get $325 & tax for the PT-111.
 

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Here is my BT-380 compared sizewise to the PT-145. Very close except that the Taurus is significantly wider. Both hide well under a T Shirt.

 
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