I have a hard time saying “Bersa” without immediately following it with “Thunder.” The .380 ACP Thunder has been a favorite budget concealed carry gun of the American shooter for many years. It’s not as tiny as the Kel-Tecs, Diamondbacks, and S&W Bodyguards that have come since, but it successfully replicates the classic Walther PPK for half the price with great reliability and accuracy. I’ve seen tons of Bersa Thunders at shooting ranges across the country over the years, tried out more than a few of them, and never heard a Bersa owner complain about parts breakage or the reliability of the guns. The .380 Thunder shoots straight because the blow back design allows for a fixed barrel. The only complaints I’ve ever heard about them are the long trigger pull in double action (duh) and the small sights. And that’s pretty much all I knew about Bersa, until this year’s SHOT Show.
Did you know Bersa makes a 9mm pistol with a 17 round magazine? I didn’t! For years, I thought they only made little sub compact pistols in minor calibers. The Thunder Pro HC is a full sized service pistol with a 4.25” barrel, alloy frame, ambidextrous slide, safety, and magazine release controls, and a Picatinny light rail. Bersa also makes the Thunder Pro HC in .40S&W, which cuts capacity down to 13+1. Thunder Pro Ultra Compact models are smaller versions of the Thunder Pro, with chopped barrels and shorter grips holding a few less rounds. Bersa even makes an Ultra Compact .45 that holds 7+1 rounds, yet is only 5.1 inches tall. The Thunder Pro HC and UC are traditional double-action/single-action guns with exposed hammers and big controls, and they have a reputation as underrated guns. Nevertheless, they represent older concepts of what a concealed carry pistol should be.
At the 2012 SHOT Show, Bersa released their first polymer framed pistol, and it is truly state of the art. The BP9CC reflects the new “slim is in” thinking and is less than an inch thick. BP9CC doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but it stands for “Bersa Polymer 9mm Concealed Carry.” Hey, at least they didn’t name it the Thunder Polymer, am I right? Its single stack magazine holds eight rounds of 9mm ammo, and the magazine release is ambidextrous. The BP9CC’s barrel is 3.3 inches long, it is striker fired, with a crisp trigger and a “fast” trigger reset of just a few millimeters. Dovetailed sights are a standard 3-dot setup, the front dovetail being a Sig specification and the rear being a Glock specification, so it should be very easy for night sight manufacturers to “mix and match” parts from their existing product lines to sell night sights for the BP9CC. The frame features a standard Picatinny light rail mount up front, as we have come to expect. There is no external “active” safety, but the trigger has an M&P style cam safety built into it. Bersa included a firing pin safety to make the gun “drop safe,” and an integral locking system that makes the gun legal to sell in those states requiring it. Like all Bersas the BP9CC is rated for +P ammunition, despite weighing only 21.5 ounces.
Stylistically the BP9CC reminds me strongly of a Kahr CW9. The trigger and the texture of the grip are different, but the grip angle seems identical to the Kahr and the slides are very similar. I haven’t disassembled a BP9CC to see how similar it is to the Kahr internally, but at less than an inch thick it stands to reason that Bersa employed some Kahr type trickery to keep the gun as slim as possible. There are two finishes available, the standard matte black and a two-tone version with a matte nickel plated slide, which is the one I would choose for superior corrosion resistance. The magazine release is truly ambidextrous, as opposed to a reversible setup which some companies will advertise as ambidextrous. Large buttons placed on each side of the grip can be pressed at any time to release the eight round drop-free magazine. Rifling in the barrel is polygonal, similar to what Glock uses. Early reports suggest that the BP9CC has excellent mechanical accuracy and controllability, which makes sense since it weighs just a tad bit more than the Glock 26 and has a slightly longer grip. You won’t need to buy an aftermarket pinky extender doodad to wrap your hand around the BP9CC.
Bersa originally announced their polymer pistol project way back in 2009, but the first examples of the BP9CC are just now finding their way into the hands of the American shooting public. What gives? Well, just as we have BATFE here in the states, the Argentines have a government entity called RENAR, the Registro Nacional de Armas. According to my sources at Bersa, RENAR approval to export the new pistol here took much longer than originally hoped. Bersa took the extra time to refine the BP9CC as much as possible, but the bottom line is that they were hoping to sell modern polymer pistols long before 2012. They say good things come to those who wait, and now Bersa’s patience is paying off for shooters here in the U.S. who want an affordable and super slim concealed carry pistol. With MSRP set at $429 for the matte black and $440 for the “duo-tone” nickel finish, chances are you’ll be able to pick up a BP9CC for around $100 less than its Glock or Kahr competitors, and that means Bersa is going to sell a lot of these little pistols.