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Old January 7, 2013, 01:28 PM   #1
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My first gun: Kel-Tec PF9 vs Bersa Thunder 380 vs Taurus 85 revolver

Hey everybody. I'm currently in the market for my first gun, and have spent a lot of time reading up reviews, watching Youtube videos, etc. I've narrowed down my search to three guns within my price-point (originally I had the Diamondbacks in there, but those are apparently really unreliable!) and was hoping to get some feedback from people who have actually had the chance to handle these guns in person, as my local gun store carries none of them.

Ideally, I'm looking for something for concealed carry, but I also want to feel comfortable taking it to a range to practice my marksmanship without destroying my hand. I've read some arguments regarding calibers and how much the 9mm costs versus the 380, but I don't think I'll be in a range often enough to worry about expense. Any idea which provides a smoother firing experience? I hear PF9's are snappy, but is it really that big of a difference from the Thunder? Is one better suited for a beginner like myself? And are they all good for concealment?

Sorry for all the questions, but I just want to make sure my first purchase isn't one I regret!

Thanks guys!
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Old January 7, 2013, 01:31 PM   #2
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the pf-9 with the stock plastic trigger will bite the hell out of your finger when you shoot it. it is very uncomfortable. there is an option for a replacement made by northwoods. even with the trigger, it's still not one i would put many rounds through at a range trip. just too much snap in a small package. great for ccw, not so much for range use. look at my link below where i am selling mine already upgraded.

the bersa 380 thunder is a fantastic carry piece, and a good shooter. definitely not a pocket gun like the pf9 tho. you will feel comfortable shooting it at the range, but the ammo costs get a little high with 380.

i have no experience with taurus revolvers, but their semis are terrible.
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Old January 7, 2013, 05:36 PM   #3
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Awesome, thank you guys! I guess the snap would probably be an issue for me, especially since it's my first gun and I want to practice shooting. I'll probably go with the Bersa.
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Old January 7, 2013, 06:18 PM   #4
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I like my PF9. I'ts small very concelable. I'ts my daily carry. I would not buy it for my first gun. I'ts light weight causes the 9mm recoil to be uncomfortable for range use. The Bersa Thunder would be a good starter
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Old January 7, 2013, 06:51 PM   #5
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Don't have experience with the others, but the Bersa 380 was my first handgun, never had a malfunction with mine, and its big enough for a range gun, though as mentioned too big for pocket carry(except maybe cargo pockets).
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Old January 7, 2013, 07:03 PM   #6
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I know it may be too early for you to tell, but have you decided what type of carry you would like to use? If you are looking at pocket carry then a smaller gun may be in need. However, as mentioned a small gun with a caliber such as 9mm will be a handful to shoot. The Bersa .380 would be good for other types of carry, such as IWB or OWB - I'm not sure how well it would pocket carry. Even a small pistol in .380 like the Kel Tec P-3AT or Ruger LCP have a significant kick to them due to their very small size - but they conceal very easy in your pocket with a good pocket holster. If you want very small for easy pocket carry, the Kel Tec P-32 .32 acp is a pussycat to shoot. The downside there though is that smaller guns, that is with tight sights, are going to be harder to hit your target. This is where a slightly longer barrel such as the Bersa comes back into play.
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Old January 7, 2013, 07:10 PM   #7
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I own a PF9 and a Firestorm, which is practically a clone of the Bersa Thunder.

The PF9 has the advantage of the more powerful 9mm Luger round. It also has no safety, as if it needed it with that looooong double action only trigger pull. I have practiced with it a lot, and I still can't shoot it accurately because of that trigger. It is okay for up close and personal type defense though.

The Thunder is only a 380 acp, a somewhat less powerful round. It has a very nice double/single action, with a decocker. You can carry it hammer-down, and still have a double-action first shot with subsequent shots single action. Personally, I don't like an exposed hammer. My Firestorm is a tack-driver, it's just plain fun to shoot, but I feel that the 380 is inadequate as a self defense round.

Sorry, but I just don't take revolvers for carry/personal defense very seriously, so they aren't on my radar.
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Old January 7, 2013, 07:30 PM   #8
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if this is your first gun I would choose something cheap and easy to shoot and learn on ... Id suggest a taurus model 82 off of gunbroker ...they are 4" 38 special revolver police trade ins from Brazil and you can pick them up for about $175 shipped.

They will be scratched and dinged but they function great and are a great training gun.

I have a PF9 and its not one you want to learn on.
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Old January 7, 2013, 07:40 PM   #9
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The Bersa

Try before you buy and all that but a .380 Bersa would be fine and with the right (pricey, yes) ammo it will work fine for you.

You will probably get a few more suggestions, mine is a revolver for a first gun. In .357 magnum and start with shooting .38 spl.

Learn the basics with a revolver and make your next gun a semi auto.

There is always Taurus-bashing in this forum as well as blind Glock-worship so get some real world opinion or better yet try then buy. Oops, already said that. Sorry.

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Old January 7, 2013, 09:44 PM   #10
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I wore some gym gloves with my pf9 last time at the range. 150 rounds no problem. It was fun and I felt like I could have shot it all day.
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Old January 7, 2013, 09:53 PM   #11
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Hey everybody. I'm currently in the market for my first gun, and have spent a lot of time reading up reviews, watching Youtube videos, etc. I've narrowed down my search to three guns within my price-point (originally I had the Diamondbacks in there, but those are apparently really unreliable!) and was hoping to get some feedback from people who have actually had the chance to handle these guns in person, as my local gun store carries none of them.
First gun? Go with the Bersa. Better yet, go with a Bersa 9mm.

The PF9 and especially the Taurus snub are specialized tools that require regular practice to become and remain proficient with. Not what I would recommend for a first gun. (This is completely apart from any trash talk you might hear about Kel Tec or Taurus.)

I have both a PF9 and a Taurus snub (though not that exact one).
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Last edited by lee n. field; January 8, 2013 at 12:49 PM.
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Old January 7, 2013, 10:23 PM   #12
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I put a hogue grip on my pf9 and it does wonders. Its still not the most comfortable gun but I take it everywhere. I work with my hands for a living so I suppose I don't mind the "bite".
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Old January 7, 2013, 10:43 PM   #13
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Bersa Thunder or the CC . Then when your ready can move over to a 9mm Bersa has a single stack poly frame 9mm weights around 20 oz. They also have a alloy frame 10+1 or 13+1 DA/SA 9mm the 10 round of course for the commie states and cities that think your a instant killer with more than 10 in a mag .
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Old January 8, 2013, 03:21 PM   #14
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The Bersa is a great little CCW gun.... Taurus I would avoid like the plague... I don't know if there revolvers are any better than there semi autos but my experience was the equivalent of throwing away money....
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Old January 8, 2013, 04:36 PM   #15
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I have a PF9, and carry it periodically. I like it a lot, especially after adding the KTADDONs grip material, which makes the harsh recoil more tolerable.

That said, I would not recommend it as a first handgun.

Kel-Tecs, while good guns, give more folks problems than just about any other gun that is sold in high quantities. A surprising number of folks simply can't shoot them -- and these folks are often quite effective with other guns. They always blame the gun, but I blame the gun/person interface: the Kel-Tecs just don't fit SOME hands.

The Bersa you mention would be a good choice, but it would be a better choice in 9mm, and they are available in that caliber. A bit larger than the .380 version but far easier to shoot (shoot well) than the other guns you mention -- and probably easier to shoot well then the .380 Bersa. (Smaller isn't always less recoil.)

The revolver is OK, but wouldn't be my first choice.
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Old January 8, 2013, 05:10 PM   #16
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I have owned 2 of the three guns at one time or another. Never owned the Bersa .380, just the 9mm. They all have roughly the same pros and cons.

Small, easy to conceal, inexpensive, decent self defense rounds

Limited capacity, sometimes unreliable (for some people, none of mine had problems)

Of the three, if I had to choose one, I would go with the Kel Tec PF9 again. The Taurus model 85 is a good gun, if you don't get a lemon. The Bersa 9mm just felt cheaply made to me and it was a bad purchase made out of mostly curiosity.

Have you looked at the Kel Tec P11? It is a little larger than the PF9 but it holds more rounds. (7+1 vs 10+1)
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Old January 8, 2013, 05:30 PM   #17
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I have the Bersa 380, Taurus 905(9mm revolver) and have shot the PF-9. I also have the mentioned Kel-Tec P32. The Bersa is a fine first handgun. You can get the magazine for the Bersa Thunder Deluxe(Deluxe model is discontinued, but the 9 shot magazine is still available)and you have a 10 shot 380. The Bersa is extremely accurate and well made. Mine has been perfectly reliable.

If you think you will carry your new pistol, consider the Kel-Tec P32. Its smaller, and thinner than the LCP & P3-AT. It locks open on the last round(the others dont) and its pleasant to shoot. 32ACP is still effective if shots are placed well. Kel-Tec offers a 10 shot magazine for the P32 making it a formidable pistol. Mine has been perfectly reliable, unlike my LCP.

Of the three pistols you mentioned, The Bersa Thunder with the DELUXE magazine is the one I would consider. Bersa also makes the Thunder 380 PLUS, which holds 15 rounds. That might be the way to go.

Also consider the Ruger P95. Its only a few dollares more than the Bersa Thunder, 15 shot and 9mm. Its an excellent pistol.

Last edited by weblance; January 8, 2013 at 05:37 PM.
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Old January 8, 2013, 05:37 PM   #18
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The bersa Thunder 380 wouldn't be a bad choice. Its a fairly easy gun to shoot and I personally own one in .22LR.

I'm debating between 9mm and .380ACP. 9mm is superior but if you can't shoot it accurately the .380ACP is the better choice...
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Old January 8, 2013, 05:42 PM   #19
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I have or had all three of your choices. I don't want to say buy this model but can say for a newer small grun shooter the pf9 make a good pocket pistol and recoil can be tough. I CC'd one for a couple years. Maybe change to the KT p-11. Its a little thicker and shorter with a 10 round mag and a trigger that stag's like a revolver. The taurus 85 is a model I CC'd for 20 years and still have it, great little revolver. One of my girls has a bersa CC . Thats the lighter smaller version and is easy to shoot and all around a good 380. I should say any of the 380 bersas. The taurus and the bersa will be around for your life time of use. With the KT's you may shoot it to deith but the p11 makes for a solid low cost defence pistol and also can use a s&w model 59 mag as a back up.
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Old January 8, 2013, 06:51 PM   #20
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Bersa .380
I bought one for my mom this Christmas and I almost didn't give it to her lol. It is one of the best shooting guns I have ever shot.

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Old January 8, 2013, 07:41 PM   #21
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my first gun I ever bought was the Taurus 85,it ran perfectly It was reliable and cheap...good luck
While my Taurus M85 was not my first gun, it froze up solid after 250 rounds and ended up costing me way more money if I would have just bought a quality gun to begin with. Steer well clear.

Out of your choices, I'd go with the Bersa in 9mm. Cheaper to shoot and more energy than the .380.
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Old January 8, 2013, 08:08 PM   #22
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First Gun/Revolver

My first gun was my Dad's service rev S&W Model 10 (he let me shoot while he was active and then passed it on to me upon retirement). Now I have only one revolver and all my other handguns are semi's.

However, I really believe the simplicity of training with that .38SP little gem allowed for my growth to where I am today (avid shooter and general firearms enthusiast). So I say go with the revolver for your first gun and then work your way up to semi's for added capacity (if you so feel the need--revolvers suit some just fine as their only handgun/s).
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Old January 8, 2013, 08:19 PM   #23
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+1 to the bersa...mine has over 1.5k rounds with zero problems, eats all ammo, and is a great value for the money

the pf9 is a great carry pistol, at least mine has been, doesnt hurt my hand, accurate, reliable, my carry when a 1911 is too big, but wouldnt be my pick for a first firearm
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Old January 9, 2013, 02:13 AM   #24
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I only have the PF9.
It is reliable, cheap, small, light, and powerful.
The perfect concealed carry pistol.

But it is not much fun at the range.

For fun at the range, get the most expensive, biggest, heaviest, wimpiest handgun you can find.
Carry it to the range in a padded suitcase.
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Old January 9, 2013, 07:12 AM   #25
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I have an old M85 that so far has been reliable and a fine shooter. I have a KelTec p3at that has not really left me with confidence, but is a fantastic backup pocket gun. Zero fun at the range. Have not shot Bersa's, but of the 3 have the most natural feel. When I first started CC I would have got one, but they didn't offer it in 9. I feel as a first gun it is very important to be a good range gun. That way you will practice with it until it becomes 2nd nature.

I have decided that I can conceal most anything IWB with a good holster, so my carry rig is a Glock 19 IWB and KelTec p3at in the pocket. Good luck.
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