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Old October 12, 2012, 11:05 AM   #1
pgdion
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How to replace bulged barrel on Bersa Thunder 380

I'll try to make a long story short but was at the range the other day with the new Bersa Thunder 380. It shot really nice and sighted in quickly. I was shooting the 95gr WW box and it was doing well. I passed it to my son to give it a try and he grabbed the cheap Russian ammo I had bought as a backup in case the Winchester didn't work well (was ball instead of flat point).

Well he got a squib on round 4 and didn't notice (argh! ), had a funny shot, looked the gun over, thought it was ok, and shot round 5 at which point the slide stuck back. Talking with him after he said lots of smoke came out the breach but thought it was the dirty Russian ammo.

Looking it over after we got home I was able to figure out what happened. The barrel has a funny area inside and I am sure it is bulged. New barrel is no big deal but does anyone know how they deal with this? I can't get the slide back over the bulge in the barrel (even though it looks slight) so I can't remove the slide to replace the barrel. Do you try to force it past the bulge or do you have to cut the slide off? Barrel is $28, no big deal. Slide is $50, not the end of the world but if I have to destroy the slide then the total bill hits $100 with shipping. Ouch!

I'm hoping someone has been here before, I hear this is not that uncommon.
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Old October 12, 2012, 04:00 PM   #2
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From the description, it sounds like the barrel is bulged enough to prevent the slide from operating.
And also from allowing the slide to come back enough to be able to be lifted off of the back of the frame for removal.
So, you might as well give it a try and force the slide rearward over the bulge.
One way would be to use a piece of hardwood, with a hole through it of barrel diameter.
Place that over the barrel and against the front of the slide and whack away on the wood.
What's to lose?
The worse that can happen is that the slide cracks at the front and you'll need to replace both barrel and slide, as you say.
Hopefully, the barrel will yield instead.
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Old October 12, 2012, 08:04 PM   #3
Dfariswheel
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Best option is to send the gun in to the repair station and let them repair it correctly.

Here's a schematic:

http://www.stevespages.com/ipb-bersa-thunder380.html

One option to prevent damage to the slide, is to pull the slide as far back as possible and attempt to saw the barrel off behind the bulge.

This will allow getting the slide off undamaged, but might cause problems with removing the barrel.

The barrel is removed by driving out the retention pin and PRESSING the barrel out of the frame.
DO NOT try to drive the barrel out, this will very probably damage the thin barrel support area of the frame, ruining the frame.
Years ago, a lot of people converted Markarov pistols to fire the .380 and one company sold a simple barrel press device.

This press was two thick steel plates joined with threaded rod.
The rear plate has a hole that would pass the rear of the barrel and this end was put on the frame around the barrel with the hole positioned to allow the barrel to come out.

The front plate had a brass washer to protect the muzzle, and the two plates were joined with threaded rod held on the plate with nuts.
As the nuts were alternately tightened, the barrel was pressed out the rear of the frame barrel support.

To install a new barrel, the device was reversed so the solid plate with the brass pad was at the rear and the plate with the hole was on the front of the frame barrel support with the barrel sticking through the hole in the plate.
With the barrel aligned so the retention pin cut is aligned with the hole in the side of the frame, the nuts were alternately tightened and the new barrel was pressed into the frame.

My advise, bite the bullet and send it in to the repair station.
Unless you're a qualified pistolsmith there's too high a chance you'll spend money on a barrel and something will go wrong. At least the company will get it right.
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Old October 12, 2012, 08:07 PM   #4
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Yep, that's exactly where I'm at. The slide won't go back far enough to be able to lift it off. That's what I was thinking, pound on it and hope I can coax it over the bulge. Then I could just cut the barrel off. I like the wood dowel idea.

I was just thinking, wonder if I drilled the barrel out first so it was thinner. Maybe it would give then. Looking down the barrel, I think it's a small bulge.
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Old October 12, 2012, 08:15 PM   #5
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Dfaroswheel, you just gave me a great idea (and it wasn't sending it in, that would be the smart thing to do but . . . ). I can tap the barrel and screw in a threaded rod that I can use as a press to push the slide down. I did find there is a shop I MN. Maybe I'll try your first suggestion and call them for an estimate. If they can save the slide, it might be cheaper. Tough when the whole gun cost only $250.
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Old October 12, 2012, 11:27 PM   #6
James K
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Maybe I am wrong, and if so please correct me. I don't think driving the barrel backward and out will work, because there is a cross pin to keep it in place, and that crosspin can't be reached with the slide in place. And you can't remove the slide since you can't get it back past the bulge.

So here is what I did with a Walther PP, with the same problem. I first removed the grips, magazine and all the internal parts I could get to to protect them and make it easier to pad the gun. Then I pulled the slide back as far as it would go and wedged it in place with a piece of wood inserted in the magazine well.

Then, I hacksawed the front of the barrel off as close to the slide as possible using masking tape to avoid damaging the slide.

Then I set up the gun in the padded vise in the drill press and used a drill bit smaller than the barrel OD and drilled straight into the barrel. Then I used a Dremel tool to grind away at the bulged part from the inside until the barrel was very thin and collapsed when I drove the slide back over the bulge.

Tedious, but it worked OK and didn't damage the slide. (Whew!)

So the OP's idea will work, but it is something that needs to be done carefully and with a lot of study before starting on the drilling.

Jim
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Old October 13, 2012, 12:01 AM   #7
Bill DeShivs
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Why not just file the bulged part down, and remove the slide?
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Old October 13, 2012, 06:06 PM   #8
Dfariswheel
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Why not just file the bulged part down, and remove the slide?

And sometimes people think of a simpler method

Driving the slide forward over the bulge will almost certainly damage the slide. The most likely damage would be to the barrel hole in the slide muzzle.
That hole will probably be expanded and would then be a very loose fit on a replacement barrel.

And as above, you can't drive the barrel out with the slide on the frame because of the barrel retention pin.
And last, remember what I said about NOT trying to drive the barrel out, or risk probable damage to the barrel ring on the frame. The barrel ring is thin metal and easy to distort.

Last, again, your best option is to send it in to the maker for repairs.
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Old October 13, 2012, 08:01 PM   #9
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I guess I am confused. I read the original post as saying that the bulge is behind the front of the slide (i.e., inside the slide) so the slide won't retract far enough to allow it (the slide) to be removed. If I read other posts correctly, the others have read it as meaning the bulge is ahead of the slide so the slide can be retracted and lifted up but can't be moved forward over the bulge.

If the latter, the slide can be pulled back, the bulged part of the barrel cut off and that is the end of the problem. It is when the first condition occurs that things get tacky and another approach is necessary.

So, which is it? Am I just hopelessly confused or can I get it straight?

Jim
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Old October 14, 2012, 06:05 AM   #10
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Had one do exactly the same thing. Sent it to Colorado Guns Works and they replaced the gun under warranty on behalf of Bersa.
They will tell you to never use WWB ammo in a Bersa.
Good Luck with what ever you decide.
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Old October 14, 2012, 06:27 AM   #11
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It was the Russian ammo, not the WWB that caused the problem.
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Old October 14, 2012, 08:34 PM   #12
Dfariswheel
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I guess I am confused. I read the original post as saying that the bulge is behind the front of the slide (i.e., inside the slide)

And you're exactly right.

Note to self about reading comprehension and over-ramped speed reading.
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Old October 15, 2012, 07:57 AM   #13
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Either way, get it to the authorized repair facility. Mine was replaced under warranty. All it cost me was the shipping to Colorado Gun Works.
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Old October 16, 2012, 02:55 PM   #14
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The slide is off!

Got the slide off!

Hi everyone, sorry for the long delay getting back. I ended up getting sick and got stuck in the hospital for a day . Luckily everything checked out ok (heart & lungs) and I'm feeling a bit better now.

Yep, it was the russian ammo that caused the problem. By the way my son describes it, he got a squib round but didn't realize it. The WWB was shooting awesome (I've heard both good and bad on it's performance in the Bersa). The Russian ammo was Kyp4 and most of the print on the box is in Russian (or something like that).

And yes, the bulge was inside the slide so that I could not pull the slide back all the way.

Thanks for the great suggestions. James K, that was a great idea. I thought of trying to do something like that but wasn't sure how to get in there. That would have worked well. Dfariswheel gave me a good idea though. I'll take pics and post what I did. Mine would only work if the bulge was slight and luckily mine was.

To get mine pushed pack I took a 6" long 5/16 bolt that was threaded the entire length, 2 washers (one thick one), 2 nuts, a 2.5" long piece of 1/2" sch40 PVC pipe, and 2 1/2" Craftsman wrenches (must be Craftsman ).

To make the press I threaded one nut all the way down on the bolt and then stacked on the 2 washers (the thick one goes on first and is to ensure the washes wouldn't distort under the stress). I slid the pvc pipe over the barrel and then inserted the bolt through the barrel. The other nut goes on the other end of the barrel but the edges on the nut looked like they might rub against the inside of the slide and hit the feed ramp so I files all of the edges off of it so it was round. Doing this it now placed all of the stress on the back side of the barrel. The rounded nut now fit perfectly in the slide and threaded onto the bolt at the base of the barrel. This one just threads on with your fingers until it goes up a few threads past the end. Then all I had to do was hold the bolt with one wrench and twist the nut down toward the barrel. Twisting the nut down pushed the barrel back over the bulge in the slide. Worked like a charm. 2 important things to remember.

1) Grease the slide well so there is little friction. I used wheel bearing grease as I figured it probably had the highest sheer/load strength.

2) Don't forget to hold the take down lever down as you press the slide back on the barrel.

Here are a couple of the pictures ...

Thanks everyone for the feedback and great suggestions!
Attached Images
File Type: jpg IMG_9788.JPG (41.1 KB, 55 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_9789.JPG (47.1 KB, 50 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_9790.JPG (51.1 KB, 51 views)
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Old October 16, 2012, 08:39 PM   #15
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Glad to know that worked. I think it would not have worked if the bulge had been larger. The accuracy might suffer a bit because the slide (with the sights) is not as tight on the barrel as it should be but that could be gotten around with welding the inside of the slide muzzle. Or maybe just trading the gun now it works OK.

That gun may even have a barrel bushing, I am not sure. Many pistols have bushings because the hole in the front of the slide is used to machine the inside of the slide; some guns, like the M1911, fill the gap with a bushing that can be removed. Others, like the BHP, have a bushing, it is just fixed in place and not normally removable.

Jim
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Old October 18, 2012, 08:07 AM   #16
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Would have been interesting to mike out the slide's barrel 'bushing' ID before and after, to see if the slide was distorted during the process.
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Old October 18, 2012, 12:53 PM   #17
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Yea James, I agree.

Wish I had seen your post before pressing the slide. Your solution is I think the best albeit time consuming. But time is hardly the critical factor here. On the plus side, it took very little torque to push the slide back over the bulge so hopefully, along with the greasing, the barrel was coerced more than the slide was.

No measurements from before but I was thinking I can check the clearance over the front part of the barrel and see if there is any slop.

At least the worst case is I just have to buy a new slide too. At least the Bersa will be up and running again as soon as I get the new barrel.

You know what surprises me ... that this would be covered by warranty as it is so obvious what happened. But I guess to some companies a good service reputation and happy customers are more valuable then some barrels and slides. Oh well, I'm ok with not having sent it in .... my fault, my fix.
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Old October 18, 2012, 03:07 PM   #18
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Companies in any field who repair their products without worrying overmuch about assigning blame have happy customers.

Those companies who insist that the customer must "prove" the problem was the fault of the company before servicing it tend to have unhappy customers.

In the modern era, when any customer dissatisfaction can be spread to thousands of potential customers with the speed of light, it is a good idea to have happy customers.

Jim
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Old October 20, 2012, 02:23 PM   #19
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Now all you have to do is sand the bulge off the outside of the barrel so it clears the slide good, spray paint, and put it back together, Good as new !!

Think about it, there are many bubbas out there that would do just that and say no harm was done to the gun, then trade it in so someone else gets a "good deal" .
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