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Old July 15, 2007, 04:38 PM   #1
David the Gnome
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My Review: Walther PPK/S vs. Bersa Thunder 380

Well I went to the range today and compared the Walther PPK/S to the Bersa Thunder 380.

Initial impressions and build quality:

First impressions are that the Walther is a much higher quality piece than the Bersa, as one would expect looking at the two price tags. Even without knowing the price differences you can tell which gun is the more expensive. The Bersa looks and feels cheap, especially compared to the all stainless steel Walther. When each gun is field stripped the Walther seems to be made out of much higher quality materials. The machining inside the Walther is a work of art. The machining inside the Bersa is not up to the same standard as that of the Walther. The designs are very similar but again, you can tell which gun costs more. There are many places inside the Bersa where corners are uneven and in general the workmanship looks to be of lesser quality than that of the Walther. Looks are not everything however.

I award this category to the Walther.

Assembly and Disassembly:

Disassembly of either gun is a relatively simple process. For the Walther you simply pull down on the trigger guard, move it to the side to hold it down, pull the slide back and lift it off the frame. This process takes about 2 seconds once you become accustomed to the pistol. On the Bersa, field stripping is very similar. Rather than using the trigger guard as the Walther does, there is a small disassembly lever on the right side of the gun in front of the trigger guard. This lever must be held down with one finger while pulling the slide back in order to remove it. This can be a little difficult at first until you find a comfortable way to both grip the gun, the slide, and depress the lever at the same time.

When reassembling, the Walther lines up perfectly and clicks back into place with little effort in a matter of seconds. The Bersa requires a little more attention to ensure the spring is properly aligned and when reattaching the slide a great deal of force and juggling is necessary to keep the disassembly lever depressed and get the slide all the way on.

In ease of assembly and disassembly I give the award again to the Walther.

Accessories and ease of use:

As far as accessories are concerned both guns are rather spartan. The Walther comes with two stainless clips, one of which is flat and the other has a comfortable grip extension, necessary for users with larger hands. This is all the Walther comes with, aside from the mandatory gun lock. The Bersa comes with one clip with the same kind of grip extension, a "key" to use on the internal trigger lock, and an external trigger lock. I tested this internal trigger lock and while it does lock the trigger so that it cannot be pulled, it also feels like you're breaking the lock each time you turn it. The Walther comes with no such safety device. Both guns are equipped with a decocker but the Walther is the only gun that can be fired without a magazine, the Bersa has a magazine safety to ensure the gun cannot be accidentally fired should a round be left in the chamber.

When it comes to loading the clips, the Walther is much easier to load than the Bersa. When inserting bullets into the magazine on the Bersa they have a tendency to shift about and tilt downwards making it very difficult to insert the last two rounds. The two magazines that come with the Walther are both easy to load, the magazine with the grip extension being the easiest of the two.

For accessories and ease of use the award goes again to the Walther.

Firing, accuracy, and control:

This is where the Bersa begins to really shine. One would expect that the considerably heavier Walther would recoil much less than the Bersa but this is not the case. The Bersa was much easier to control and recoil felt very light compared to the Walther. Felt recoil on the Walther is very rough. The steel frame digs into the hand after a few clips and really begins to irritate the skin. When shooting the two guns back to back the Walther felt like it was shooting a much more powerful round than the Bersa, even though the ammunition for both came from the same box. The smooth frame on the Bersa coupled with the wide grips made for a much more comfortable gun to shoot. I began to almost dread going back to the Walther for the next round of tests. By the end of the day, and nearly 150 rounds later, I could barely stand to shoot the Walther any longer. The Bersa felt like I could have shot it all day long and never fatigued.

As far as accuracy was concerned both guns shot nearly the same. Even though the felt recoil was much less on the Bersa it made no real difference in accuracy. Both guns were capable of a 2" group at 15 yards and both were pretty unpredictable at 25+. This is to be expected with guns of this size. Both pistols can fit in a front pocket, they were definitely not designed as target guns.

The winner in this category is by far the Bersa.

Comfort for concealed carry:

I am by no means an expert on concealed carry as I do not have my license. I can give you a general idea of the comfort levels of either gun when worn OWB in a pair of shorts and a t-shirt (as most users are likely to be wearing when carrying these guns). The Bersa, by nature of it's aluminium frame, is much lighter and coincidentally much more comfortable to wear than the Walther. There is something comforting about the weight of the Walther at your hip. You can always feel it there and that may be comforting to know, especially if you need to know exactly where you gun is at all times. The Bersa was more of a wear it and forget it type of gun. When wearing the Bersa you tend to forget you're even carrying a gun it is so comfortable.

The finishes make a big difference to some people. With the Walther there is no fear of the stainless steel rusting or wearing off. The Bersa has an aluminium frame which is not likely to give you problems with rust, the slide however is blued steel and will require some attention to ensure it remains rust free.

This was a tough decision, probably best left to each user's personal taste. I give this one to the Bersa, based on my own preferences for carrying.

Conclusions:

The results of this comparison still baffle me. Despite the Walther being a much higher quality firearm and carrying a pedigree most weapons can only dream of, when it comes time to pick a gun off the table my hand innevitably drifts towards the Bersa every time. When it comes to protecting yourself with a firearm you want the weapon that's most comfortable in your hand. That makes the Bersa the clear winner in my book. When you factor in the immense savings you get with the Bersa versus the Walther it seems almost a no brainer. If you were to polish and smooth the frame on the Walther along with installing a thicker set of grips, it may shift my choice back to the Walther. When you factor the added costs of doing these things it makes no sense to choose the Walther over the Bersa.

Plain and simple, when it comes to out of the box performance and comfort the Bersa wins hands down. For once, you actually do get more than you pay for.

-Just as a side note, I'm still very happy with my Walther. I plan on smoothing the frame and I have new grips on their way here already. I hope to redo this comparison once these modifications are made. I will most likely keep this Walther for the rest of my life. That's just how likable it is, despite its shortcomings I still want it in my collection.

Last edited by David the Gnome; July 15, 2007 at 05:50 PM.
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Old July 15, 2007, 05:37 PM   #2
Dave R
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Great review. Thanks for sharing your impressions with us.
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Old July 15, 2007, 07:23 PM   #3
xrocket
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Very well presented. I was curious about both of these guns and I appreciate your observations. Just curious ... are you keeping both?

Good shooting
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Old July 15, 2007, 07:35 PM   #4
Walter
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David, nice review. I think you covered all the pertinent points very well,
and it just goes to show that the "name" on a gun does not necessarily
make it a better shooter.

I've carried a PPK concealed off and on for 10 years, and it's a pretty
good gun, although it does have a tendency to buck pretty good with
full-power self-defense loads.

Your review tends to make me want to pick up a Bersa myself, especially for
the difference in the price. Thanks again for the good comparison.

Walter
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Old July 15, 2007, 07:36 PM   #5
kristop64089
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I'll always want a Walther, they are a classic.

But, as an everyday "git-r-dun" gun, my Bersa is the top dog. If I have a quick errand to run, it's the one I grab.

They may be "cheap" and whatever you want to call them, but none of this has effected the performance or life of mine.
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Old July 15, 2007, 07:41 PM   #6
DGindlesperger
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Had a Bersa thunder .380 great gun.
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Old July 15, 2007, 07:43 PM   #7
David the Gnome
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Thank you all for the compliments.

xrocket, I will be keeping both guns. I still love my Walther, even if it wasn't the winner.
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Old July 15, 2007, 10:31 PM   #8
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Thanks for the great review. I hope to own both one day.
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Old July 15, 2007, 10:42 PM   #9
Playboypenguin
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Thanks for the review.

It is always nice to read other people's opinions.

I have shot the Bersa and the PPK/S. I found the Bersa to be the more uncomfortable than the PPK/S. However, I found the standard PPK to be just as comfortable as the Bersa. I just do not like the metal back strap on the PPK/S. It digs into my hand. I prefer the wooden wrap-around grips on my PPK.
Quote:
The Bersa looks and feels cheap
Quote:
inside the Bersa where corners are uneven and in general the workmanship looks to be of lesser quality than that of the Walther
That is what kept me from buying the Bersa. It is just too cheaply made for me to trust my life to it. I have always felt when something looks cheap and feels cheap it usually is just that...cheap. That does not mean it will not function flawlessly up until the day something in it breaks, it just means it is more likely to have something break. I want the best quality version of something I can get. I decided to pay pay the extra hundred bucks and get the nicer PPK.
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Old July 20, 2007, 11:11 AM   #10
YounGun24
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I always wanted a Walther PPK, but I just couldn't afford it. The guy at my local gun store also said that the PPK has a tendencey to bite your hand. So when it came time to make my first handgun purchase last month, I knew I wanted a .380 ACP, and after trying out a few, the Bersa Thunder 380 was my choice. It's very comfortable, and I hope to enjoy it for many years.

Great review!
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Old July 20, 2007, 11:53 AM   #11
Playboypenguin
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Quote:
The guy at my local gun store also said that the PPK has a tendencey to bite your hand.
Did he add the fact that it was only the old Interarms versions that bit and that the new S&W models do not have that problem?
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Old July 20, 2007, 01:56 PM   #12
gmarr
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I had a PPK/S for a couple of years and sold it to another officer I work with. I really didn't like the 'hammer-bite' I got from it, and the trigger pull was awful. About a year ago I picked up a Bersa and couldn't be happier.

It may not be as 'finished' as the PPK, but it's at least as accurate and no hammer-bite. Also the trigger pull is much smoother. I shoot Corbon loads and am pleased with the accuracy and one-handed recoil.

Definitely pick the Bersa over the PPK.
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Old July 20, 2007, 03:25 PM   #13
Playboypenguin
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Quote:
I really didn't like the 'hammer-bite' I got from it
That is why the S&W version is the one to have in my book. No slide bite.
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Old July 20, 2007, 04:04 PM   #14
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Pretty good review. The one thing missing is discussion of reliability but that may be something that takes a while to evaluate.

I haven't shot a PPK/S so I cannot comment on it. I do have a Bersa and carry it often during the summer so I have confidence in it. Just because something is not as finished or refined does not mean it is unreliable. I don't carry the Bersa because it is cheaper (that's a bonus). I carry it because it is reliable and I like the way it carries and shoots. It replaced a Kimber Ultra Carry II as my summer carry weapon of choice because it is more reliable.
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Old July 20, 2007, 04:16 PM   #15
David the Gnome
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Neither firearm had a single failure during testing. Based on that alone they tie in reliability. Long run, we'll have to see.
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Old July 20, 2007, 04:18 PM   #16
Lunker
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Playboypenguin,

What is the S&W version of it?
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Old July 20, 2007, 04:28 PM   #17
Playboypenguin
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Quote:
What is the S&W version of it?
Before S&W started making the PPK line it was imported by Interarms. Those are the ones that had the slide-bite issues. The newer S&W models have an extended tail which prevents that problem.
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Old July 20, 2007, 11:43 PM   #18
Lunker
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Muchas gracias
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Old July 22, 2007, 03:10 AM   #19
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I had both a Walther (accurate but hard to shoot) and a CZ-83 (worth the money, just got tired of it and sold), I got a Browning BDA - that's the best .380 I've shot. I used it for carry until I realized how valuable it is and bought a Makarov for carry. like it!
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Old July 22, 2007, 11:21 PM   #20
Ivory Grips
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Good Review!

First time I handled a Bersa I liked it. And the first time I shot one I loved it! Plus it's a good looking gun, with a good looking price tag.
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Old July 23, 2007, 08:29 AM   #21
abarth
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Thanks a lot for the unbiased comparison review. I am glad that I save my money and got the Bersa instead. The Bersa may not have the best polishing job nor the most durable coating, but I read that the slide is made of 4140 alloy steel and the frame is made of 7075 aluminum. AFAIK, those are decent material for making pistols.
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Old July 23, 2007, 12:40 PM   #22
elprofeloco
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Bersa for me

Good review, much more detailed than mine:

I had Interarms version of PPK/S - it was not a good shooter for me: would not reliably feed some good quality ammo (many JHP, some FMJ using two factory mags). No problem for me w. hammer/slide bite, though. I sold it.

Much later I got a Bersa Thunder .380 - love it: great price, unfailingly reliable, accurate. True, finish on PPK/S is better than Bersa - but not nearly enough difference in finish to make up for reliability and price superiority of the Bersa.

For the same money I'd take a Bersa over a PPK/S; given that the Bersa is much less costly than the PPK/S, it is no-brainer for me.
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Old November 15, 2012, 10:57 PM   #23
lel
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Bersa /w wide grips more comfortable than PPK ?

Well Dave, why not buy wider grips for PPK ? That's what I did and I wouldn't trade it for a Bursa. The skinny plastic grips were intended for a slim conceal/carry, if you don't like them there are beautiful wood /w thumb rest grips available.
PS - extended beaver tail on recent PPKs eliminates the old Walther bite.
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Old November 16, 2012, 10:05 AM   #24
PeterGreg
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forget both and buy a Sig P232
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Old November 16, 2012, 10:35 AM   #25
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Nice review and comparison. I know my Bersa .380 is looked down upon by a lot of folks, but it is one of the most reliable little guns I have ever met.

Actually, I have the "plus" version coming in a few days as well, with 15-round capacity
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