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Old January 14, 2013, 12:31 AM   #1
db4570
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Who has carried the S&W 3913, PPK, Bersa Thunder 380, and a 5-shot snubby J?

I am narrowing down my choices in a small auto, having carried a 5-shot snubby J frame (Rossi), and being familiar with its carry comfort and concealability.

Originally I was leaning toward the Bersa, because I thought it was essentially a very reliable but rougher clone of a PPK. But studying the dimensions, it is also a bit bigger, and I'm wondering if that makes any real difference in CCW?

But then a Smith 3913 (or 908) was recommended to me, and it looks great, and I like the full 9mm part of that. But I'm concerned it's getting too big, and I haven't found one to try on.

I really like the way the PPK seems to disappear in my waistband when I tried it in the shop. (And the Beretta Tomcat and Ruger LCP were even better in that regard, but are disqualified for not meeting my criteria below.)

I don't know if there is a real-world difference in the carrying comfort and concealment of one of these guns over the other, and would be interested in educated comparisons from those who have carried at least a couple of these models. I would be carrying IWB, under well-fitting clothes.

I also am cautiously interested in other recommendations in either 32 ACP, 380, or 9mm. I have strict criteria:

Must be DA/SA or (grudgingly) DAO, must have a thumb safety that flips UP to fire, the same as my Beretta 92, must absolutely be no larger than the Smith 3913, and be renowned for reliability and ruggedness. Metal preferred over plastic, extra points for classic good looks.

NO SA (1911).

Thanks for any suggestions!

David
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Old January 14, 2013, 05:42 AM   #2
oldandslow
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db, 1/14/13

I have both the SW 3913/14 and a SW 642 revolver. Since my hands are medium large, size 8, I prefer the larger 3913/14 pistol. I can get all my fingers on the grip with no problem but can't on the 642. I carry an extra mag on my left side which is flatter than a speedloader with 5 rounds. I carry IWB for both. I have no experience with the Bersa or PPK. If you can get your hands around your choices I"m sure one will feel just right. Good luck.


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Old January 14, 2013, 06:25 AM   #3
seeker_two
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Question: Do you carry your Beretta with the safety on....or rely on its DA trigger for your first shot? If the latter, then you have quite a few options to select from. If the former, not many at all.

If compact size & metal frames are a must, I'd look at the .380's from NAA and Masterpiece Arms.
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Old January 14, 2013, 06:30 AM   #4
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The 3913 and a 442 are my main CCW pistols. The 3913 actually conceals a little better IWB due to its width, but the 442 is a good bit lighter.

I don't think you'll be "under-gunned" with either, but the 3913 has more rds on board, an (argumentatively) better round, and better sights. I choose it over the revolver when I'm dressed for it.

I've never gotten used to the feel of plastic guns, so it works perfectly for me. And either one is very reliable.
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Old January 14, 2013, 12:32 PM   #5
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Quote:
Must be DA/SA or (grudgingly) DAO, must have a thumb safety that flips UP to fire, the same as my Beretta 92, must absolutely be no larger than the Smith 3913, and be renowned for reliability and ruggedness. Metal preferred over plastic, extra points for classic good looks
You just described the 3913. There is your answer.
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Old January 14, 2013, 12:56 PM   #6
db4570
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Dang! You're right. I did just describe the 3913.

But- I still might like to go smaller. I guess what I'm looking for is the experiences of people who may have carried both a 3913 as well as a PPK, or one of the others, and can give me their opinions. Like, "There is basically no noticeable real-world difference in carrying the two", or "The 3913 felt like carrying a brick after being used to my PPK" (or J frame, or whatever).

The reason I mention my snubby 38 is that it's my only point of reference for something that is nice to carry.

So I would love to hear some real-world comparisons.

David
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Old January 14, 2013, 04:58 PM   #7
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The increased ammunition performance and selection of ammo for the 9mm 3913, over the PPk .380, is well worth the increase in weight and bulk. It just isn't ENOUGH of a plus for the PPK's more compact size to get caught with such a lower performance weapon when you could have had 9 rounds of 9 in the 3913 on you.

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Old January 14, 2013, 05:05 PM   #8
carguychris
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Dang! You're right. I did just describe the 3913. But- I still might like to go smaller.
Then you want a S&W CS9 Chief's Special. It's a M3913/3914 shorn of one round's worth of grip length and 1/2" of barrel length.

Please note: unlike pretty much all other S&W 3rd-gen pistols, the CS9 was offered in matte blue or stainless finish with the same model number. Keep this in mind when you shop for one.
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Old January 14, 2013, 05:08 PM   #9
Dragline45
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I have carried two J frames, a 640 in .38 and a 3" barrel model 60 in .357. I also carried a PPK for a short stint. Currently I carry neither.

The J frames are great guns, ultra reliable and easily concealed. But, and I mean a big but, they are not the easiest guns to shoot. I am a pretty good shot with just about any pistol, but the J frame is a tough gun to master. Combine an extremely short sight radius, heavy DA trigger, small grip, and minimal sights, it makes for a tough shooter. Now that's not to say I did not shoot the J frame well, it just took a whole lot more concentration to pull of some good groups. Then I picked up a Ruger SR9C and lost all confidence in the J frame. The ease at which I was able to shoot it under stress and in rapid fire completely trumped the J frame. Throw in the fact it conceals just as easily IWB, holds more than double the amount of rounds, and ability to reload quicker, and it was a no brainer to dump the J frame.

As far as the PPK, they are extremely accurate for their size. I shoot the PPK as well as some full sized pistols. It makes a great carry gun IF you get one that works reliably. They are indeed a crap shoot, you might get one that feeds all kinds of ammo and doesn't hiccup, or you might get a jamomatic. Mine would occasionally fail to feed and I lost confidence in it as a carry gun.
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Old January 14, 2013, 05:26 PM   #10
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I am Not trying to create a flame war here. Though I will give my honest opinion that I have formed from 15 years of carrying. For 5 years I carried a full sized 1911 cocked, and locked. Being a taller, and slimmer person it was doable. Though dressing around the gun here in Texas was hot all summer to say the least. Then I moved to the Bersa Thunder 45 UC. I ended the carrying with the safety on due to the fact that it was DA/SA, and the first pull was pretty hard anyway. I keep my finger out of the trigger guard when drawing. I used the safety as decocker only. 5 Years later I skipped the safety altogether. I went iwth an M&P 45 full sized.

After enough time I purchased a P64 in 9mm Makarov. It has been my pocket gun ever since. It has the same profile, and look as a PPK. Same safety as well. DA/SA. First trigger pull DA is around 12 pounds, and long. SA is around 2 pounds, and no more than minor touch. I then came into a Glock 26 I carry it IWB with one in the chamber.

If you wish to cut cost, while still getting a good reliable gun. That you will be able to find ammo for even in the ammo droughts. The P64 fits your description. I was able to find ammo for it at close to 9mm Luger prices when purchased online in bulk. Not only that it was at a time when all of the places had the dreaded words (OUT OF STOCK NO BACK ORDER) with all standard ammo. 9mm Luger being one of those. .380 auto was like trying to find hen's teeth. It took a year to be able to find .380 auto. In that time I made 3 orders of 1000 round of 9mm Mak that shipped out the same day I ordered, and arrived 3 days later.
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Old January 14, 2013, 07:27 PM   #11
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Usually I carry either a full sized px4 40 cal or sometimes I carry a Bersa Thunder 380. For the 380 Thunder, I'd recommend the Galco thumb break holster, because the holster will stop the gun's decocker/safety and hammer from rubbing the spare tire. I carry for defense rounds alternating Buffalo Bore +P HCN and JHP rounds. I practice with the cheaper ammo and only fire the +P when I want to cycle to new ammo (every 6 months just to stay familiar with the higher recoil and pop). Do not use the hard on gun steel casings or flat nosed jamming ammo on the Bersa. Everything else it gobbles ok. The Bersa 380 had problems using non-Bersa magazines. The Bersa mags did fine. Some hate the decocker/safety, some love them. To each their own. If you get the duo-tone, don't use Hoppes #9 on the satin finish (read the warnings on nickle plating). #9 on the internal barrel is ok. The LCP and TCP are much more snappier than the Bersa Thunder 380. My favorite 380 is the Sig P238 for ease of control and slightly less recoil. But I can't get past the cocked/locked feature relying on the flip safety that is then a light single action pull away from firing. Many have done it for years ok. I'm just ot one of them.

Last edited by bt380; January 14, 2013 at 07:34 PM.
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Old January 15, 2013, 12:18 AM   #12
db4570
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Quote:
Then you want a S&W CS9 Chief's Special. It's a M3913/3914 shorn of one round's worth of grip length and 1/2" of barrel length.
Yes, I do. Originally I thought the CS9 was the same size as the 3913, but now I'm comparing the two, and the CS9 is definitely smaller. I think this may be the one.

They seem scarce right now, though. If anyone sees one, let me know.

Quote:
After enough time I purchased a P64 in 9mm Makarov... If you wish to cut cost, while still getting a good reliable gun. That you will be able to find ammo for even in the ammo droughts. The P64 fits your description.
At first I thought, who is this guy with his weird Polish PPK that shoots a round I've never heard of. Turns out, that's a pretty cool little gun, and although I originally doubted one could find ammo for it anywhere west of Moscow, it turns out it's in pretty decent supply, even now! Whooda thunk? I may keep my eyes open for one, just to have something weird. Is is totally reliable, safe, and built tough?

It's a decent round, too, about half way between 380 and 9 in power. I am not crazy about an odd cartridge, though, from a practical point of view. I would like to be able to pick up ammo at Wally World or someplace else with limited selection in an emergency if I need to, and I'm guessing that's not an option with it.

Thanks! Keep the ideas coming!

David
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Old January 15, 2013, 02:04 AM   #13
TennJed
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If youmlike your beretta 92, why not look at a beretta 84? 13 rounds of 380 in a mini Beretta 92 package.

It is a fine fine gun

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Old January 15, 2013, 09:52 AM   #14
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I'll throw in my pennies...
I carry a ppk pretty much everywhere I go, I have a don hume open top OWB and it conceals under a t-shirt all day long, no problems. I would like to have more power and am currently looking at other options, but even if I go bigger, it will still be the go to summer gun. Mine *knock on wood* has been 100% since the day I got it, and like others have said, is very accurate.

I also own a 3913, but currently don't carry it because it is my wife's, it is the ladysmith version, and I don't have a holster for it. BUT, it is a great shooter, and I'm sure it would hide away just fine.

Like has been pointed out already, I think the CS9 is the gun for you, I wouldn't mind one either.
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Old January 15, 2013, 11:24 AM   #15
carguychris
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...why not look at a beretta 84? 13 rounds of 380 in a mini Beretta 92 package... It is a fine fine gun
While I agree wholeheartedly that it's a fine gun, the 84 is not substantially smaller in any dimension than a double-stack 69-series Smith. A M3913/3914 has nearly the same width and height but is thinner; a CS9 is smaller all the way around.

The single-stack Beretta 85 is comparable to a M3913/M3914 in outside dimensions and should be slightly lighter. (I don't have time to look up the weight specs, but an 84 weighs a few fractions of an ounce less than a M3913, so the thinner 85 should be lighter still.) However, an 85 offers no advantage in capacity, it fires a lower-powered cartridge, it has less aftermarket support, and the slide is substantially harder to operate.

Having fired these guns back to back, I feel qualified to compare them in detail. In the plus column, the 81-series has more traditional frame-mounted down-for-safe safety levers, the BB and earlier variants can be carried cocked and locked, they have less felt recoil (for me at least), and substantially less muzzle flip due to the much lower bore axis. The BB and earlier pistols do, however, lack a positive hammer-blocking decocker; to use the DA mode, the (very small) hammer must be manually thumbed down. Trigger quality goes to the Smith by a hair. The Beretta has a stiffer DA pull weight but the stroke is shorter, and the BB and earlier variants have a half-cock position to lessen the stroke even further. OTOH the SA pull of the Smith has less creep and the reset is shorter and more positive, although pull weight feels roughly equal. Accuracy goes to the Beretta- most shoot almost like a target pistol- but both are more than accurate enough for defensive work. Then there's the issue of mag disconnects; almost every DA/SA S&W has one whereas only a few Berettas do- but they DO exist, I've handled one!
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Old January 16, 2013, 09:24 AM   #16
db4570
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Yeah, I love the Cheetah, especially because I'm a Beretta guy. (Although I've never actually handled one). Two things nix it for me.

1. The safety is the opposite of my 92. I want to be 100% comfortable with handling the safety automatically on both.

2. It's big for its power.

Now that my "pre-ban" 92 is effectively outlawed in NY, this may all be moot, anyway. MFers.

David
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Old January 16, 2013, 10:10 AM   #17
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I carried mine for years and liked it. I decided to just get a shooter and switched to a G26. They were about the same size & weight and the G26 had the same trigger pull shot after shot.
Since I didn't practice as much as I thought I was practicing, my second shot was off in an altercation one day as it went from DA to SA. That was my deciding factor for switching.
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Old January 17, 2013, 11:58 AM   #18
pete2
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I have a 642 and an LC9. I thought I might carry the LC, it is easier to shoot than the 642, much better on follow up shots. It is totally reliable so far. It's about 3 oz. heaver than the revolver and it seems larger in a pocket. I think I've gone back to the revolver for pocket carry anyway.
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Old January 18, 2013, 09:46 AM   #19
db4570
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Question for m&p45acp10+1 re: the P64. Is the safety also a decocker? Is it the exact same footprint as a PPK, as in will it fit in the same holster, etc.? I am really starting to get interested in this thing...

Thanks!

David
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Old January 18, 2013, 10:16 AM   #20
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I have CC'd a 642 and a Cheetah plus several others, both smaller and larger. It depends on how you dress, but for me, being able to wear baggier clothes to the office, I find I can comfortably CC any of them and there is very little difference. The only thing that is noticeable is the weight but a good belt solves that. I have CC'd a Beretta Bobcat up to a 5" 1911 IWB and felt fine. I tend to CC something in the middle of that range like the Cheetah. I worried about size and concealability also at first but found that realistically with the right clothes I can CC pretty much anything, even in the summer. What does help is using a lighter nylon holster. They suck for re-holstering but they add nothing to the size of the gun and can be tucked up tight to your side with a good belt. You forget the gun's there.
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Old January 20, 2013, 09:32 AM   #21
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DB....my wife has carried a Bersa Thunder 380 for many years now. It is one of our favorite guns. The gun provides low recoil, is fun and easy to shoot. It is a reliable gun unless you feed it steel ammo, then it tends to have malfunctions. It never malfunctions with Brass so stick to a good ammo.

With that said she just recently switch to the 5 shot snubby and I will be taking over the .380. We decided on this for a couple of reasons. With a revolver you do not need to worry about misfires or jams and there is no thinking in using them. Just draw and pull the trigger. Under a time of stress it would be very difficult for most people to clear a jam in an auto loader unless you have a lot of practice. I wanted something to would take that out of the equation for her should a situation ever arise.

The snubby is much easier to conceal as well. A bit smaller than the bersa and easy to put in a coat pocket or her purse. When I carry the .380 I generally wear a paddle holster with it. It is a bit big for a pocket but still a great pistol.

One other thing....we like the Bersa so much we picked up one in .22 caliber also to have some range fun with.
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Old January 21, 2013, 12:35 AM   #22
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I carry an M&P in my pocket ... Light and easy to put my hand on without brandishing. I also do not carry a reload for it, as I find my big clumsy fingers it is not something I do well with that small, light revolver. If I think a reload may be in order I carry my 3913 as BUG. I find both very good for my CCW needs.
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Old January 21, 2013, 12:37 AM   #23
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Old January 21, 2013, 11:00 AM   #24
db4570
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This is getting more and more difficult.

The Bersa is about perfect, but bigger than it should be. I originally thought it was the same size as the PPK, but it turns out it's significantly larger.

The Polish P-64 looks really cool, about the size of a PPK but a bit more powerful and 1/3 the price. Put the more I research them, it looks like they have an older design that doesn't have adequate safety mechanisms to protect against accidental discharge from either dropping, or from the hammer catching and falling. I just don't think I'd be comfortable with it.

So while I'm on the subject of the PPK, let's talk about it. Everything I read about it says it is finicky at best, and downright unreliable at worst. Even the people who love and praise them say things like "It's a great gun, precision made, blah blah blah..." but eventually get around to their little disclaimer like "and mostly reliable if I only use (Exotic Brand X) ammunition". Or, "It only stovepipes about once per box." Like that's OK. One guy actually defended it by saying that his was 100% reliable if he thoroughly cleaned it after every two mags he shot through it, claiming that was all anyone ever needed to use it for anyway. Can you imagine if some inexpensive brand did this, like a Kel-Tec or Bersa? These same people would be trashing it. So, no thanks on the PPK. No wonder James Bond wanted to hang on to his crappy Beretta .25.

The Smith CS9 seems to be almost the Holy Grail. Small, 9mm, metal, safe, same action as my Beretta, decent looking. But, they are scarce, and a bit on the big side. If I find one at a decent price, I am going to get it to try for a while at least. But I'm a little spoiled by the tiny size of the PPK and others in that range, so we'll see.

David
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Old January 21, 2013, 12:07 PM   #25
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You might take a look at a Bersa Thunder 380 "CC" model. It is a modified Bersa Thunder with a 3.25 inch barrel, very thin profile, reduced rear tang, smaller controls and integral low profile fixed sights designed as a concealed carry weapon. It has its own eight round magazine (not the regular 7 round Bersa magazine), alloy frame, and only weighs approximately 17.5 ounces with empty mag in place. It is still slightly, just slightly, larger than a PPK/S but much lighter. It is thinner than the PPK or PPK/S though the grip. I have one and also a PPK/S and must say both have been perfectly reliable - so far - in a modest amount of shooting. A caveat being that all my shooting has been with full metal jacket as that is what I prefer in .380.
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