Pink Pistols: Bersa Thunder .380 with Pink Crimson Trace Lasergrips

By Suzanne Wiley published on in Reviews

Before shooting an unfamiliar gun model, I read reviews to get a general idea of what problems I may encounter while shooting it. Generally, this means I get a preconceived notion of what the gun is going to be like. Sometimes the reviews are spot on and other times I find reviews to be really off the mark. Often, guns surprise me. Everyone raved about the S&W Shield, but I personally don’t like it. Sometimes I think I am going to hate a gun, but end up falling for it. As is the case in the Bersa Thunder .380.

The reviews on the Bersa were mixed. Many said it was a cheap gun, malfunctioned, and heavy with a bad trigger. Other reviews mentioned zero malfunctions, reliability and a great grip. However, all reviewers mentioned the accuracy of the Bersa Thunder .380 and I agree. The Bersa Thunder .380 is by far the most accurate gun I have reviewed in a long time. I achieved less than three-inch groups from 20 feet consistently.

At first, I hated the little guy—the slide-mounted decocking lever and thumb safety threw me off. With the thumb safety on, the Bersa Thunder .380 still allows for a full trigger pull. (Red means fire, Suzanne. Duh.) After realizing my operator error, we were off and running—sort of. I only got through one magazine without a malfunction.

The Bersa Thunder .380 holds seven rounds, which goes fast, especially since follow-up shots were right on spot. The gun’s 20-ounce weight and heavier alloy frame make this gun’s recoil way more than manageable. The fixed-barrel design also helps minimize recoil. My friend purchased this particular .380 for concealed carry, so to see if the gun could run through the paces reliably, I shot through each magazine quickly. I had three magazines with me—two Bersa factory magazines and one ProMag.

Crimson Trace’s grip is soft, smooth and comfortable.

Crimson Trace’s grip is soft, smooth and comfortable.

Shooting Winchester white box 95-grain full metal jacket .380 target rounds, there was only one time I did not have a stovepipe malfunction. Surprisingly, the only magazine that ran without issues was the ProMag and it only did it once. During this particular range visit, I preferred the ProMag. The mag spring was weaker, making the magazine quicker and easier on the thumbs to load. Not to mention the one and only time I did not get a jam was using the ProMag. Since I had no other types of ammunition to compare, I will not make a conclusive statement whether or not the gun’s malfunctions were because of manufacturing or ammo.

Crimson Trace’s instinctive activation laser grip only activated 20 percent of the time, but it didn’t matter. Lasers are a personal preference, and personally, I don’t prefer them. I was more concerned with the Thunder’s highly visible white dot front sight. It is important to note here the particular Bersa I was shooting had upgraded sights from Bersa. The first time my friend shot the gun, the front sight fell off and was lost at the range. Bersa gladly and apologetically replaced the lost sight quickly. The 3-dot sighting system is bright and aided a quick target acquisition.

Anyway, Crimson Trace’s pink grip is soft, smooth and comfortable. The extended finger rest on the magazine allowed a full and firm two-handed grip around the pistol.

I read many reviews complaining about the Bersa Thunder .380 trigger. The gun fires single- and double-action. The first initial shot may feel like it takes a long time, but it did not take me long to find the trigger’s breaking point and the trigger reset was helpful. Even though the Bersa has a heavy double-action trigger pull, I’ve encountered worse.

The 3-dot sighting system is bright and easily goes on target quickly.

The 3-dot sighting system is bright and easily goes on target quickly.

The placement of the controls on any gun is extremely important to me. I like being able to easily operate the safety and magazine release one-handed. Controls on the Bersa Thunder .380 include thumb safety, a slide lock, exposed hammer, and magazine release button. Bythe end of my range session, I was getting used to the stiff thumb safety—flip up to fire. However, I had to twist the gun quite a bit and use both hands to release the magazine. Since the point of this range trip was to help a friend break in this particular pistol, I concentrated more on the function of the gun rather than speed of reloads.

The owner of the Bersa finds the slide to be stiff. However, I didn’t have a problem with it. She trains and carries a revolver, so some semi-automatics are problematic for her. You can solve this issue by working the slide at home repeatedly to get used to the action.

The more ammo I started quickly going through, the more I wanted to run this pink-gripped pistol. It is a pleasure to shoot and helped me regain my confidence in being a competent shooter. I can’t boast about its accuracy enough. As far as reliability is concerned only time will tell. This particular Bersa Thunder .380 at the time I had shot it had only about 100 rounds through it. It was successfully used to pass a concealed carry course, but passed over as a concealed carry gun for the Charter Arms Pink Lady revolver due to the Bersa’s heavier weight. As it stands, would I recommend the Bersa Thunder as your number one concealed carry gun? Probably not, but I would be more than happy to take this accurately pink number off my friend’s hands.

Pros: Accuracy, price, low recoil, pleasurable to shoot, and concealability

Cons: magazine capacity, reliability, placement of magazine release, and awkward safety

Specifications and Features

Caliber: .380 ACP
Capacity: 7 rounds
Barrel: 3.5”
Trigger: Double/single-action
Grips: Pink Crimson Trace lasergrip
Safety: Thumb safety and integral locking system
Sights: 3 dot sights
Construction: Alloy frame and steel slide
Finish: Black
Length: 6.6”
Height: 4.9”
Width: 1.3”
Weight: 20 ounces

Do you own a Bersa Thunder .380? Have you had better luck running ammo through it? Tell us which kind in the comment section.

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Comments (15)

  • Steve Davis

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    I have a Bersa 380 and it is wonderful to shoot. The only problems I have are with the FMJ flat nosed target loads. They occasionally stove piped, but all the hollow point and FMJ round nosed bullets cycled through without a problem wether firing fast or slow.

    Reply

  • Alan McKean

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    I bought my Bersa Thunder .380 used, so I don’t know how many rounds have been through it. Added Crimson Trace laser grips. No malfunctions in 200 rounds. I love the weight, feel and accuracy. I emailed Eagle Imports with the serial number for the date of manufacture and asked if it might have problems (there was a time when Bersas had FTF and FTE problems). They replied with 2006 and said that there were no problems with that year. I love this pistol!

    Reply

  • John Martin

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    I bought a new Bersa 380 in early 2011 because I liked the size for concealed carry, and the grip was very good for my hand. I later added the Crimson Trace red laser grip, and found it made the pistol twice as much fun to shoot at the range. Transitioning from iron sight to the laser was no problem at all, and I feel I pay more attention to the target now. I feel my accuracy has improved just a bit. Comparing it to my Glock with under barrel laser would be unfair, since the Glock laser is green, and shows up great at an outdoor range in daytime while the red laser does not. My MAIN POINT here is to say I have NEVER had any failure by the Bersa to operate flawlessly, with NEVER a misfire or hang or (etc) from DAY 1. (I have never fired the Winchester rounds through it, so maybe that is the problem. I have fired just about every other brand through it.)

    Reply

  • Lou Jarocki

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    I bought a Bersa Thunder 380 with Crimson Trace Grips a little less than a year ago. Until that time I shot lights out with a long gun but couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn with a handgun. I bought the Bersa because it felt good in my hand. I love this little pop gun. It is lights out accurate. I can hit center mass at 25 yards consistantly and punch out the black at 11 yards or less. Now that is what you want a concealed handgun to do. I had the same feed problems when the gun was new but it appears to have been the tight spring in the magazines because I have put over 1,000 rounds through it and the problem has not re-occured. It seems that the problem occurs when you have a full magazine and one in the chamber and the gun is new and stiff. I like the laser sights becausee there are times that you can’t take a proper shooting stance and they make shooting off balance much more accurate. Hope this helps and stay safe.

    Reply

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