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Old April 26, 2019, 10:17 AM   #1
stinkeypete
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Initial impressions: Bersa Thunder .380

I have a new dog, find myself in the woods more than ever, and we like to plink. After a while, the .22 gets a little stale. Without doubt, a nice .22 is the best “walking plinking” pistol out there. But what’s the second best?

As the caliber wars loop back around to “let’s try to sell .380s now” I happened to see a Glock 42 and a Shield EZ .380 at one place. They looked nice.

Another place had both a Ruger LCRx in .38 and a Bersa Thunder in .380 at good prices so I bought them both.

I used to have a Bersa 18 years ago, but that was in the middle of my “big bore” phase and as my walking around gun was a .45 Colt Blackhawk, the Bersa and it’s PPK pal were traded off. I hesitated only at the Bersa, because I liked it but didn’t see the purpose.

This is a report leading up to the first range visit.

1. Strip the slide and admire the simple blowback design. It looks like my tt Olympia clone’s big brother. How can it not be accurate?

2. Hornady One Shot. You guys are right, this stuff is awesome sauce. I just tried it and I give it 10/10. After removing the grips, I squirted One Shot in to all the moving parts, let the yellow gunk sit then drain, wipe. After the 3rd iteration, no yellow gunk. I lubed the rails liberally with Shooters Choice synthetic “grease.”

Trigger went from “really good” to “Wow. Excellent factory trigger!”
Fit and finish are very solid!

3. Range... the only item backordered on my last online purchase was 25 yard Slow Fire targets... but I’m just here to do pattern some shotguns and sight in a couple of pistols.

25 yards, shooting at a 100 yard rifle sight-in target taped to a shotgun pattern paper. I expect to need the 4x4 foot backing paper.

Five shots offhand, 25 yards, Winchester white box. I shoot with one hand. Recoil is brisk- it’s not a .22

Walking down to my target. Huh. One shot is smack dab in the one inch diamond bullseye of the target. The other 4 are scattered about it, within 6 inches. Pure luck Bullseye. I am grateful no one else is around to see it ot I would be forced to say “yep, this one shoots fine” and go home.

Another 5 Down range. The group is still centered. The bullseye, although giving great confidence and feeling about the gun, is still luck. Less luck though, as the gun seems sighted in, out of the box.

Switching to the Aguila .380 I got for $12 a box... different recoil, sparks fly out of the muzzle, the group seems to open up, but right out of the box, the adjustable sights are smack dab on.

Interested as to what the difference between the Winchester and Aguila ammunition preferences might be, I shot 5 Aguila with my hands on sandbags. Change of grips gave a slightly different point of aim but I put 5 shots in to a 4.5 inch group at 25 yards, brand new pistol. I decided to stop. Other shooting chores to do.

Before leaving, I taped up one of the round circles of cardboard I keep in my range bag. They are the 11.5 inch bit of cardboard from under frozen pizzas.

The “5 ring” of a 25 yard nra precision pistol target is 9.66 inches.

5 shots, 3.75 inch group outside edge to outside edge. All shots would have been inside the “8 ring”.

Rather than tempt fate with more shots, I will simply report that the Thunder .380 is exceeding my expectations for accuracy, even using cheap factory ammunition.

I’ll get back to it soon with some official targets to post pictures of... when my only task is to concentrate on accuracy testing.

Bersa Thunder .380- $249.99

It’s not “good for the money”, it’s just good. This one is a keeper.
Very good dual action trigger, very good single action trigger.
Very good accuracy for a non-target pistol. Well under 4” groups at 25 yards.
Adjustable sights.
Hammer/de cocker/safety for those of us that like to see the hammer down and blocked.
Overall design is simple, controls are simple and positive
Enough kick to keep it fun, not so much to make it sting.
Not a hitch in operation so far.

The beaver tail was grinding my thumb a little. Shooting glove, callous, or a bit of sandpaper may be in order.
It tosses the spent cases on the ground, all over the place.

The Thunder is a big win.

The Ruger LCRx... wasn’t grouping that well this day with only one type of cheap factory ammunition. Sights also were on target or very close. It’s not fair to say much more as ammunition can play a big part in accuracy and I got lucky with the Bersa. On the other hand, very good pistols have lucky days far more often.

I’ll say this about the LCRx- double action trigger is so smooth and cams such that shooting double action is fun! I think the double action is outstanding and the single action is very good. I like the light weight, the high tech approach to a 1930’s era look, the ugly grips ain’t that ugly and they feel really good.

Recoil is brisk but not punishing, I like seeing the hammer is down and seeing the rims of ammunition (or not seeing brass) as a visual indication of being safe or unloaded.

I like how the brass falls out in to your hand. Fun change after 20 years of single action revolver (or semi auto hunting for spent brass.)

It will be fun to see what I can wring out of it with some different loads.

There you have it: my plinking/walking around pistols that are not .22lr are the Bersa Thunder and the 3” LCRx in the useless .38 Special cartridge!

What’s your walking/plinker?

Last edited by stinkeypete; April 26, 2019 at 10:23 AM.
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Old April 26, 2019, 10:35 AM   #2
HighValleyRanch
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Quote:
I’ll say this about the LCRx- double action trigger is so smooth and cams such that shooting double action is fun! I think the double action is outstanding and the single action is very good. I like the light weight, the high tech approach to a 1930’s era look, the ugly grips ain’t that ugly and they feel really good.
Try some of the Buffalobore .38 +P Outdoorsman in you new piece. That will wake the neighbors! Mine has a mix of the BB, snake shot, and SD for around the property.

Note, you can cut that hogue grip down on the bottom.
Did this one with bandsaw and belt sander.

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Old April 26, 2019, 12:25 PM   #3
tarhealcracker
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I liked my Bersa Thunder .380 so well I bought a Bersa Thunder Plus as a companion piece. The Plus holds 15+1 rounds. It's nice but the regular Thunder just feels better in my hand. Both are keepers.
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Old April 26, 2019, 03:07 PM   #4
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My woods, ranch, and trail riding gun is usually this S&W Model 63 .22LR. If we head into hog or black bear areas (we live at the base of the Smokies), then the Uberti .45 Colt goes in the holster. Nice review on the Bersa!
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Old April 26, 2019, 07:18 PM   #5
bacardisteve
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I love my bersa uc pro 45 acp. I have owned it for 12 years now and the only thing that wore out was the recoil spring needed replaced at around 2k rnds. Probably about due for another but irs getting close to 5k rnds now.
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Old April 26, 2019, 08:19 PM   #6
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Let's remember that we are in the Semi-Automatic handguns discussion area, and the topic of the opening post is "Initial impressions: Bersa Thunder .380."
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Old April 27, 2019, 07:54 AM   #7
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Yeah. I was thinking the same thing myself. They call it highjacking a thread me thinks.
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Old April 27, 2019, 08:04 AM   #8
stinkeypete
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I should not have mentioned the other thing!

Semi-Auto, carry around hiking and plinking... not a .22...

I considered quite a few before I picked the Bersa. Doesn’t make my choice the only possibility.

Instead of saying “very accurate”, I took it to the range and shot at 25 yards and told you how it grouped offhand.

I was hoping it would inspire people to pace off 25 yards and shoot at some pizza boxes and report!

Semi-Auto! Not a .22! Yes, we already know your .22 is a tack driver.

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Old April 27, 2019, 12:23 PM   #9
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The shop at the range where I shoot sells a LOT of Bersa 380s. And none of them seem to come back with defects.
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Old April 27, 2019, 12:28 PM   #10
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I've been saying for some years now that the Bersa 380 is a great little gun. I've owned two or three over the years and let them go as trade fodder only to later lament the decision. often called the poor man's PPK, they are top performers in my experience and in .380 have performed better than my one sample of Walther PPK. now, if they'd do away with that damn turn key lock on the new guns...
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Old April 27, 2019, 05:16 PM   #11
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Let's remember that we are in the Semi-Automatic handguns discussion area, and the topic of the opening post is "Initial impressions: Bersa Thunder .380."

OP in his last sentence asks, “What is your walking/pinker?”........so I responded.
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Old April 27, 2019, 08:18 PM   #12
larryf1952
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I don't live near any woods anymore, so I don't have a walking "woods" plinker. I do, however, have an older Bersa 383A that predates the Thunder. I bought this little Bersa back in about 1992. I put quite a few rounds down the pipe in the first few years that I owned it, but, as my collection grew, the time spent with .380's grew less and less.

Even so, I finally pulled the old Bersa out a couple of months ago and was pleasantly reminded of what a neat little .380 these guns were (and are). I ended up running 600 rounds through it over the course of a few weeks. My wife, who hasn't shot a handgun in 25 years, came along during one range session and drilled the bull on her first shot at 25' with the Bersa. Nice single action pull, no malfunctions, sights dead on. Just like the old days.

Sometimes, what is old is new again.

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Old April 28, 2019, 07:20 AM   #13
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I picked up a used Thunder CC not that long ago for $150. I dont live in an area where I can just walk and plink, unfortunately, but it never stays home on range day, that's for sure. It's just fun to shoot, and I'm as accurate with it as I am with my bigger 9s. Love my little Bersa!
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Old April 28, 2019, 08:14 AM   #14
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Enjoyed your post on the Bersa!

A number of years ago, I bought a Bersa Thunder CC that was used. I loved it but the previous owner had "bubba'd a "trigger job" and the first time I fired it, the it went from Date SA, the SA trigger was waaaaay too light - for a CCW gun. Took it back to the dealer, explained things and he took it back o questions asked.

I've done the various calibers - am mainly a revolver guy - but have had 45acp, currently have a 9mm Shield for carry. I'm older now and was looking for a "plinker semi". I wanted .380 das I reload, cast my won and have plenty of 1 X fired brass that I've accumulated. I went with a S & W EZ - love it - lBUT 0 at the same time, I spotted a vintage Beretta 84 in the case and it followed me home as well. It was still in the original box - appeared unfired.

Long story short - there are those that don't like .380, but I have fallen in love with the cartridge as far as plinking and can killing - just a good cartridge to have fun with and I got fed up with 22s years ago during the "shortage".

Back to the Bersa - when I bought my EZ - I looked at one they had in the case and while the EZ and the Beretta "got my attention" that day, a Bersa is on my list as one that I want and the next semi .380 the I'll purchase. I never thought I would have an addiction for the .380s - but hey - life is shortened whether you are "woods walking" or just plinking - a nice little .380 cnn "fill the bill". :-)
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Old April 28, 2019, 08:35 AM   #15
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I enjoyed your post and it sounds like you got a winner with your Bersa. Never shot a Bersa but have looked at pretty hard. I have a .380 and figure one is enough. I may have to look at Bersa other calibers.
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Old April 28, 2019, 12:57 PM   #16
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So, you used to have a Bersa Thunder, sold it, and just recently bought another. Funny, I sold mine some years ago. I felt I had no real use for it. Too big for what it is (there are much smaller .380s for CCW, or similar sized 9mms), too expensive to shoot a lot of .380 just for fun (and I was of the mindset that recoil and noise = fun, so it wasn't as fun as 9mm and .38+p, let alone .45ACP and .357mag), I don't love .380 for self defnse, and of course, I had to have a slotted need for a gun to keep it at the time. Now, most small 9mms are uncomfortable to shoot more than a box of ammo at a time, while .380 isn't my favorite defensive cartridge, it can do well with proper ammo choices, it is a good size to be fun to shoot in .380 (relatively mild enough for the small package, with enough recoil to be fun), and most importantly, I have more than enough guns to fit most niches I can think of so the only real reason for me to buy a new gun is because I want it. As I remember, it was accurate, reliable, and reasonably fun to shoot. I did have the issue with the beavertail you mention, but only after 75 rounds or so (and I do sometimes wear a shooting glove now). So, over the past few years I've periodically found myself eyeing another Bersa Thunder. Over the past few months, it has become more and more difficult to resist. At this point, I'm only torn between another regular Bersa Thunder .380, or go with the slightly smaller Thunder CC. Oh, and do I get another two-tone nickel frame/blued slide model or one that is all nickel.
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Old April 29, 2019, 08:48 PM   #17
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Nice write up. I like my Thunder classic also.

As stated, .380 is a bit on the expensive side to plink with but it is mild and fun to shoot. Every now and again I will see 50-round boxes for around $15 and I'm all over it.



A good value; you could do worse.
The .22 version (Thunder/Firestorm) is fun also!
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Old April 30, 2019, 08:11 AM   #18
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Over the years I had no interest in a Bersa in any caliber, but a friend gave me a .40 Thunder Pro Compac that's outstanding. It's as well made as any of my Sig's, has a great trigger both in DA as well as SA, and is amply accurate for carry. Groups with my tweaked handloads using Norma 135 gr JHP's run just ~1.5" at 10 yds from a modified Weaver Stance...ie. not supported. I really like the pistol, keep it primarily for night stand use now, but do carry it on occasion. I can't speak for Bersa's entire product line, but the one I have is truly a great pistol. YMMv, Rod
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Old May 2, 2019, 04:45 PM   #19
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I had a Bersa Thunder and also had a Thunder CC. I liked them fine. Got rid of them (not unusual) in favor of PPK/S which surprisingly was slightly smaller than the Thunder CC,though heavier and also Sig P238. Didn’t mind the internal lock but never quite liked the aluminum feed ramp. Don’t know if it would have ever been a problem but Stephen Camp used to write about the more extreme hollow points dinging the feed ramp on Bersas. I never experienced that, though. We’re I to get another, it would be the matte finished Thunder CC, for sure.
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Old May 2, 2019, 05:19 PM   #20
stinkeypete
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The little bit of frame under the steel feed ramp looks like a feed ramp, but it isn’t.. the feed ramp is part of the steel barrel.

There are several youtube videos showing how the “aluminum feed ramp” is a misconception!
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Old May 2, 2019, 05:47 PM   #21
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Stinkypete - you may well be correct. I don’t have one to look at but that’s not my memory. That not being my memory is absolutely not evidence, lol.
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Old May 2, 2019, 05:55 PM   #22
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While I don't have the Bersa Thundes, I am using Bersa Thunder 8 round magazines in my Sig P230! With a slight modification, they have been working perfect, except for reliably locking the slide back on the last round.

That's how close the Bersa is a copy of the Sig.
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Old May 3, 2019, 07:49 PM   #23
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do you notice if the first round in the magazine sits at a more "straight shot" or more reliable feeding position as compared to the Sig mags? I don't have the PPK in front of me but I seem to recall that the Bersa has this over the Walther as well, basically an improvement on both the Walther and Sig.

it also has a mag catch which the others don't, which improves the design further, and a much better trigger. Walther's is about 13 lbs which tend to suck and Bersa's is 9 lbs which is perfect.

...and of course Bersa offers a very wide variety including the exceptional Plus models (16 rds.), it reminds me of what Sig did with their P series.
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Old May 3, 2019, 08:20 PM   #24
HighValleyRanch
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The angle of the rounds look identical to the feed ramp, but the bersa sits a touch higher.
But functionally, both have been working 100 percent.
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Old May 3, 2019, 08:26 PM   #25
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so the Bersa is a straighter shot, thanks for confirming. that probably aids with modern hollow points too.
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