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April 23, 2004

PRODUCT REVIEW: BERSA THUNDER .380

Want to know how this little beauty shoots?

Bersa_Thunder_380_L.jpg

Okay, I'll tell you. But first there's some backstory.

The German gun firm of Walther introduced a small pistol in 1932 that was to be very influential. Called the PP for "Police Pistol", it was a small and flat gun that was just perfect for concealed carry.

walther1.jpg

This wasn't anything new. There had been small hideout pistols in the past, guns that were supposed to be carried in a free pocket. But most of them were chambered for frighteningly underpowered cartridges. The PP was the first small pocket pistol that was chambered for a round that was actually adequate for defense, the .380 ACP. Eventually Walther made some changes to the gun and called it the PPK.

So many gun firms have pretty much followed the Walther lead. One of them is Bersa, which is the brand name for a South American company.

Yesterday I had an oppurtunity to try out the Bersa Thunder .380, a small pocket pistol that very closely resembles the Walther PPK.

It had been bought at a gun show for $200 USD when most new examples cost $250 or so. One of my fellow shooters pointed out signs of wear in the blueing, which convinced me that we were dealing with a gently used surplus gun. After a quick disaasembly I could see that the interior parts were like new, which shows that the owner made a really good buy.

One of the problems with Walther PP's and PPK's is that they tend to bite the hand during recoil. It's a rare person who can fire 100 rounds through one of them without feeling any discomfort.

But Bersa has largely engineered this problem away. The grip was comfortable, with an oversized beavertail along the back to protect the hand from the recoiling slide. The backstrap was pronounced, providing a firmer grip on the little gun. I'd have to say that it's one of the most comfortable blowback pistols I've ever shot.

It's been said that we are forged in our experiences, and I'm no different. I was very wary of the gun for the first two shots, waiting to see if I'd get bitten like I do when I shoot PPK's. Since I wasn't paying close attention to my sight picture, my aim was off. After I was convinced that the gun was a comfortable shooter I settled down and worked on accuracy.

Let me tell you guys, I was amazed! How does a 1 inch group at 20 feet sound? And shot off-hand by someone who never shot a Bersa .380 before?

This doesn't mean that you're going to suddenly become a fantastic shot if you pick up one of these babies. I was just having a good day. But it does go to show that the gun is capable of the medium range shots as well as the close up emergencies. That's very rare in a gun this size, and it's impossible to find in a gun that's as inexpensive.

If you're looking for a pocket pistol for CCW in hot weather, I say take a look at the Bersa Thunder .380. You can't do much better and you could certainly do much worse.

Posted by James Rummel