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Old November 4, 2012, 07:38 PM   #1
cogito
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Nickel flaking off on brand new Bersa Thunder 380

I bought a Bersa Thunder 380 for my wife earlier this week and have taken it to the range twice, for a total of 300 rounds (standard ammo -- Remington, etc..).

I cleaned it after the first trip with Hoppes 9, nothing soaked, just a patch wipe down. Then today, I cleaned it again with the same method -- and nickel started to flake off at the back of the slide (where the hammer strikes) as well as on the trigger draw bar (where the slide runs right over it).

Here are some pics:
http://i50.tinypic.com/29wys7.jpg
and
http://i50.tinypic.com/2l8aqhl.jpg

According to Hoppes, their solvent can be used on nickel -- so long as the contact is brief (i.e. wipe on and off vs soaking). I've also read on a few forums that this shouldn't damage the nickel (though not everyone agrees).

Well, I'm wondering if the Hoppes is responsible for the nickel flaking off or if it is a factory plating issue. In the future, I'll avoid Hoppes for nickel guns, but should I contact the manufacturer for a replacement? The gun, after all, is only 4 days old!



Thanks.
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Old November 4, 2012, 07:51 PM   #2
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Most likely the nickel started to flake from the pistol working then the hoppes got underneath it and the flaking became more apparent. I wouldn't sweat it most semis get wear marks in areas from cycling.
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Old November 4, 2012, 08:16 PM   #3
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I have a Thunder 9 UC with a nickel slide and avoid Hoppes and any cleaner with contains ammonia because I have heard of this issue. You could try and contact Bersa as I have heard of them replacing slides because of this. Sorry to hear your troubles. It sucks to have a new gun that is messed up. Good luck.
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Old November 4, 2012, 08:29 PM   #4
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You get what you pay for. Improper nickle plating. Should not happen on a brand new gun. Should not hurt the function of the pistol. Call customer service.
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Old November 4, 2012, 08:32 PM   #5
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Quote:
According to Hoppes, their solvent can be used on nickel
Probably depends on how thick the nickel plating is. Bersas probably only have a thin coating, so once it works through a spot and loosens the nickel, it goes downhill from there.

Bersas are reliable, functional guns, but the fit and finish is not the best.
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Old November 4, 2012, 08:39 PM   #6
Walt Sherrill
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Nickel will develop microscopic cracks (not generally visible) that will let ammonia-based cleaners into and under the nickel plating.

Because MOST guns have a copper base under the nickel, Hoppes and other cleaners that have an ammonia component, will get under the nickel and attack the copper, causing the nickel to flake away in those areas. Check with Bersa and find out if they use a copper foundation for their nickel plated finishes.

If Bersa uses a copper base, I'd avoid using anything with ammonia.

(I've got a nickel-plated CZ; happily, CZ doesn't use a copper under layer.)
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Old November 4, 2012, 10:42 PM   #7
lee n. field
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Quote:
Nickel flaking off on brand new Bersa Thunder 380

or if it is a factory plating issue.
probably that.

I have read that that happens with Bersas. My .45 Ultra Carry has its nickel flaked in a couple places. When I got it it had not seen a great deal of use.

If it bothers you, bug Bersa. If you're the first owner, it should be covered under warranty.
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Old November 5, 2012, 12:09 AM   #8
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Most nickel guns DON'T have a copper underplate.
That is a bad plating job. It happens. Hoppe's had nothing to do with it. Contact Bersa.
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Old November 5, 2012, 07:16 AM   #9
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It's an issue with the plating, specifically, the pre-plating clean and activation cycle. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
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Old November 5, 2012, 10:42 PM   #10
cogito
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I contacted Bersa, and they offered to send me replacement parts, or send the gun in to a gunsmith and have them replace the parts.

I also contacted the FFL who sold it to me, as the distributor, Davidson's has a lifetime replacement guarantee. He said he would contact Davidson's and let me know what they can do since they are now out of stock on that exact model. Maybe I'll hear from him tomorrow.

Is there any risk taking the first option, as that would mean I would be replacing the slide?

It suck to have to deal with this as the flaking so far is very minor, but I don't know how much worse it will get.
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Old November 6, 2012, 08:37 AM   #11
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My comments earlier about nickel plating didn't make the point that a copper undercoat or base is common with glossy, polished nickel finishes, which are typically electroplated in the older, more traditional style. (Old S&W revolvers are a good example...) I've seen plenty of those older type finishes degrade; I've seen few of the newer Electroless nickel finishes go bad.

Electroplating is an electrical process, with the nickel finish applied to a charged object. Electroless nickel plating is a chemical process with application through deposition. Of the two, the Electroless process apparently allows a more even, uniform coat, and makes for a harder, more durable finish. It doesn't require a base coat of copper to speed the process. The Electroless finish just isn't as "pretty."

I didn't think about that when I first replied, but the more-matte finish you often see in guns like the Bersa (and probably with my satin nickel CZ), and the Star Firestar and newer Star guns (they called it Starvel, I think) is generally the Electroless nickel finish, which is a different process, and doesn't require the copper foundation. Given this, the problem described -- as others have suggested -- is probably due to improper application. That also probably explains Bersa's willingness to make it right.

As I understand it, electroless nickel processing is a much more difficult process because of the harsh chemicals used and the related environmental protection issues. Waste disposal is complicated and expensive, and some places, it's just not allowed.

Anybody can pretty easily electroplate, using kits from Brownells or Midway, but electroless nickel finishing is a more technical and difficult process. Midway has a good "how to" video on electroplating on YouTube. I don't think that is practical with electroless nickel finishes...
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Old November 6, 2012, 10:01 AM   #12
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Forget the #9 and use Ballistol.
It works just as well and there's no issues w/nickel.
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Old November 6, 2012, 10:24 AM   #13
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Looks like exactly what happened to my Bersa 45 UC. Started to chip at the rear of the slide under the hammer, like yours. As well as a bit under the slide, beneath the firing pin housing and a bit under the front end of the slide.

Not a huge deal (aside from cosmetics) and can pretty much be expected. Told the buyer when I sold it. Was of no concern to him at all and took no loss on price from it.

It should stop chipping as soon as it wears a bit.
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Old November 6, 2012, 03:10 PM   #14
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Even shiny electroplated gun finishes seldom have copper underplate. Most gun manufacturers plate nickel directly on steel. Bumper chrome shops used copper underplate.
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Old November 6, 2012, 04:25 PM   #15
Walt Sherrill
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Quote:
Even shiny electroplated gun finishes seldom have copper underplate. Most gun manufacturers plate nickel directly on steel. Bumper chrome shops used copper underplate.
That's probably true, nowadays, as electroless plating seems to be the most widely used method. You don't see many shiny nickel finishes on new guns... The emphasis seems to be highly polished stainless.

Visits to the S&W and Colt forum will give you references to Colts and S&Ws made in the 70's and 80's that had copper base coats, sometimes visible (on cylinders and front straps) in areas where the nickel plate wore thin with use (or cleaning.) The few I've owned were from that period, including a 6" Python I now regret having sold.

I have talked with people at companies who do nickel plating on firearms and some of them use copper undercoats. In fact, the last slide I had refinished (by Jack Fuselier, in Texas) was, I think, nickel plated over copper.

Jack is now retired, and I can't find his web page (where he described his process). He redid a slide for me, a couple of years ago, and the slide dimensions changed slightly -- and was so tight after plating that I really had to work with it to get it to fit back on the frame and function properly. (It had been a well-fitted and tight gun before the plating, and was not previously nickel plated.) Electroless nickel apparently builds up less on the metal, and is an even-harder finish.
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Old November 6, 2012, 09:52 PM   #16
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I kinda picked up where Jack left off. I plate a lot of Keltec slides.
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Old November 8, 2012, 09:31 AM   #17
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Common problem inherent with the finish from one manufacturer to another?...or indicative of one manufacturer's poor quality control?
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