The Bersa Thunder 380 has been a favorite budget plan concealed bring pistol for well end two decades now. Is that a rare instance of good quality at a short price, or is it a typical example the “you acquire what you salary for”? After year of relentless pleading indigenous Bersa Thunder fans, we lastly got around to purchase one to discover our for ourselves.

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Hey everybody, i am kris Baker from where you have the right to order every the ammo you require with lightning rapid shipping. This is a Bersa Thunder 380. The a dual action/single activity subcompact pistol made in Argentina and also chambered for, girlfriend guessed it, .380 ACP.

I have been placing off reviewing this gun for a really long time. I an initial started hearing indigenous Bersa Thunder fans back in 2016 as soon as I to be doing a many videos about dual action/single activity pistols. They come out that woodwork again come ask why ns did not incorporate the Bersa in my .380 pocket Pistol round up a pair of years ago. Then, critical month, I covered the Walther PPK which is no a an excellent pistol, so I readily available several alternatives. Yet I didn’t cite the Bersa Thunder among them. So number of of friend — 129 by my last counting — discussed that oversight for me in the comments.

Apparently, I have been skip the Bersa Thunder for far too long. Therefore we lastly bought one the other day and I’ve been shooting it and now ns going come tell friend what i think of it.

Specs and also Features

Bersa provides a wide variety of pistols under the Thunder brand. The subcompact blowback-operated Thunder favor this one is available in .380 or .22 LR.

The Thunder I have here is the single stack version with an 8-round magazine and the simple matte black color finish. The gun only comes through one magazine, i beg your pardon was kind of disappointing. We bought a couple of preventive mags, but we couldn’t find any type of Bersa manufacturing facility mags for sale anywhere at any type of price. For this reason I had actually to will to ProMag brand magazines, which, generally, you have to never carry out unless you simply really like practicing break down clearance drills.


Fortunately, in this case, the ProMags didn’t provide me any type of trouble. In fact, i’ve only had a single malfunction in the 400 rounds i have fired through the Bersa for this reason far. It was a stovepipe format failure to eject that occurred when i was making use of the manufacturing facility magazine v Speer Lawman ammo.

That’s not ideal, but additionally not a transaction breaker as lengthy as it doesn’t keep happening. Otherwise, ns was pretty impressed with how this gun taken on at the range. I ran a few drills with it and managed to pull off some decent time (decent because that me, in ~ least). The sights space not bad for an easy three-dot sights. The behind sight has a blade insert that’s adjustable for windage through a little screwdriver. Together usual, i blacked out the rear vision dots through a Sharpie to get much better contrast versus the front sight. Both the front and also rear sights sit in dovetail cuts in the slide, so you can upgrade them later on if friend choose.

The trigger on this gun is surprisingly an excellent — especially the dual action. It’s not just great for a budget plan pistol, it’s a good trigger by any standard. A the majority of you guys understand that ns a substantial fan of dual action/single activity pistols. I shoot those an ext than any other kind of action. I’d to speak the Bersa Thunder has actually a cause on par with any factory create from Beretta, Sig, or CZ. The double action is smooth and breaks appropriate at 8.5 pounds. The solitary action measure up 4.5 pounds. For a lug pistol, it’s a really nice balance of easy to shoot once you want and easy to not shoot when you don’t want.


I’m not as crazy around the decocker/safety lever. It’s an installed toward the behind of the slide choose a PPK or a Beretta 92. However it’s kind of stiff and awkward to use. I have a difficult time decocking the total without fully breaking mine firing grip. That going to it is in even more awkward if she left handed because there’s no safety bar on the appropriate side that the slide.

In enhancement to the hands-on safety, the Bersa likewise has a magazine disconnect safety and also an integral trigger lock that works through an had key. Some shooters are, understandably, turned turn off by extraneous safety functions like these, however I found them to it is in pretty innocuous and also easy to ignore.

Bersa Thunder vs Walther PPK

The Thunder 380 has regularly been called a clone the the Walther PPK, but I don’t think that’s quite accurate. The two do have a lot of in typical in state of an easy design and also overall shape. But while the PPK has been mainly unchanged end its 90-year lifespan, the Thunder is a much an ext evolved example of a subcompact blowback pistol.


It’s gained larger and much more usable sights. The cause is lighter. It’s easier to disassemble for cleaning. The grip is far much more comfortable, and, at the very least for me, did not cause any of the concerns with on slide bite the I had with the PPK. And also even despite it’s a small larger than the PPK, the Thunder is a couple of ounces lighter thanks to a frame that’s made from aluminum alloy quite than steel.

So the a substantial improvement end a pistol that’s almost a century old, however the Bersa Thunder is not precisely cutting edge. It first came out in the mid 1990s. Considering the huge advancements we’ve seen in the concealable pistol industry in the last few years, that renders the Thunder it seems ~ a little dated by comparison.

Today, the concealed lug market is flooded with pistols roughly the very same size as the Bersa Thunder that space chambered because that the more powerful 9mm cartridge. Many thanks to exceptional ergonomics and also the truth that most of these weapons are recoil operated fairly than blowback, countless of them actually have less feeling recoil 보다 the Bersa. Lock are less complicated for beginners to discover with and experienced shooters will discover them more comfortable over long range sessions.

Budget Magic or Cheap Junk?

Some shooters will urge that castle have to lug a metal-framed dual action/single activity pistol. And also if that’s the case, the Bersa is amongst the very couple of subcompacts in existing production the fit that description. Yet I think the main reason the Bersa Thunder has produced such a huge following has a lot much more to carry out with the price tag. Most versions the the Thunder 380 have actually an MSRP of around $300, which place it amongst the most affordable brand-new handguns on the market today.

I really enjoy finding cheap guns that actually work. Because that example, my favourite micro-sized pocket semi-auto is the humble small KelTec P32. The looks and also feels choose a cheap item of junk. Yet it shoot far much better than many other bag pistols, and they’re generally surprisingly reliable. Having said that, ns am no the only person to an alert a solid correlation between new pistols under $300 and pistols that often tend to have serious concerns with reliability. Ns don’t dismiss budget plan guns, however I execute view them through a healthy and balanced amount the skepticism.


This particular Bersa Thunder 380 has been pretty trustworthy so far, but it’s just a sample dimension of one. Whenever i can, I favor to discover out if my experience is usual for a offered pistol. So I acquired in touch with several of my girlfriend in the shooting industry. Ns asked shoot instructors what they had witnessed with Bersas your students brought to classes. I asked friends that had worked behind total counters and rented the end Bersas in ~ shooting ranges. Normally, this type of informal survey will result in a pretty strong consensus as to whether a particular gun is finish garbage or not. In this case, the feedback I acquired was really mixed.

About fifty percent of the world I speak to owned Bersa 380s that have actually run just fine for hundreds of rounds. Or they maintained rental Bersas that functioned for years and also outlasted some an ext expensive and more reputable pistols. They normally seemed to think it to be a pretty an excellent pistol because that the money, even if the a small outdated.

On the various other hand, some of the instructors claimed they have actually witnessed numerous students struggle with Bersas the refused come function. A couple of them observed Bersas completely fall to piece after just a pair hundred rounds. Several of the total shop employees said that Bersa Thunders were among the guns customers brought earlier in because that warranty work many often. So, choose a most gun companies, the sounds choose Bersa has, in ~ times, struggled with consistent quality control.

Test Fire your Guns!

This was far from a clinical survey. These were just the general impressions from fifteen or so civilization whose opinions ns trust. I don’t desire to jump to any type of definitive conclusions around whether the Bersa Thunder is great or bad. But it’s a reminder of simply how crucial it is to check fire any kind of pistol before you count on it because that self-defense. That course, you want to practice and familiarize yourself with a brand-new gun. Yet you also want to examine whether it’s mechanically sound and that the method you grip the gun doesn’t cause any kind the user-induced malfunctions.

I personally try to fire at least 300-500 rounds with a new gun without any kind of problems before I lug it. Since I had actually that one fail to eject v this Bersa, I’d want to fire at the very least a pair hundred an ext rounds through it without see that problem pop up again prior to I’d really to trust it. Yet that’s a conventional I would use for any type of pistol, nevertheless of the price or the manufacturer.

The problem is, if you’re looking at the Bersa Thunder due to the fact that you have the right to only bought to invest $300 on a pistol, you probably can’t likewise afford to run 300 rounds through it simply to uncover out whether it works. And buying a much more expensive pistol doesn’t necessarily resolve that problem, since no firm is batting 1000 and also you still have to test fire it.


For some human being on a budget, it might make a totality lot more sense come buy something like a .22 pistol and 500 or 1000 ring of ammo matches a 380 or a 9mm and 100 or 200 rounds. Transporting a gun that shoots bigger bullets no really much of a advantage if it method you need to forego practice and also reliability testing.

If you’re no on a super tight budget, yet you’re looking in ~ the Bersa Thunder because you choose the idea of a .380 pistol that’s this size, friend might likewise consider the blacksmith & Wesson Shield EZ 380. It’s roughly the very same size as the Bersa Thunder and it has actually the exact same ammo capacity. However it has far less feel recoil. I think it’s an ext enjoyable to shoot and also it’s more novice-friendly, even if the lacks the cool-factor of the Bersa Thunder. These days, the straightforward model selling for approximately $350 come $400.

The Thunder 380 does have a lot to offer for a budget pistol. It’s probably one that the finest options obtainable in the sub-$300 range. If you obtain one that works and you don’t mind something it is a small on the snappy side because that a .380, the a really great value for a subcompact lug pistol.

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