Inexpensive, but reliable, accurate and powerful handguns are not common. Occasionally we get more than our money’s worth. Bersa handguns are among the best buys on the market. Although the Bersa line retails for less than many competing designs, they have proven both reliable and accurate.
These handguns have given Americans on a budget peace of mind and good protection. A competent shooter can defend him or herself well with the Bersa pistol.
The Bersa is well made of good material and gives the bearer pride of ownership. Modern production techniques have given the Bersa a smooth operating mechanism that rivals that of any handgun at any price. Bersa pistols are widely used by police and military in Argentina. Argentina, of course, has a good handgun heritage, having given us the FMAP .45, a close copy of the Colt 1911, and the FM High Power 9mm as well.
The .380 ACP
The Bersa .380 ACP pistol features an aluminum frame for weight reduction. As a result, the pistol is lighter than most double-action first shot .380 ACP pistols. While larger than the Kel-Tec type or Ruger LCP pistols, the Bersa has several advantages. It is much easier to shoot well than the diminutive pistols so popular these days. The reputation of the Bersa pistol for reliability is spotless.
This pistol features a double-action first shot mechanism. The initial trigger press both cocks and fires the pistol. After the first shot, the slide cocks the hammer and the pistol is ready for subsequent shots in the single-action mode. The safety lever is slide mounted. The safety may be used as a decocker to drop the hammer or the pistol may be carried safety on. If carried in a proper holster there is no reason the Bersa could not be carried safety off.
The manual of arms is as follows:
- Take safety off if the safety is deployed
Many working people simply cannot afford $500 or more for a serviceable pistol, but their need for personal defense is real. The Bersa .380 ACP pistol gives them a quality choice. Accuracy can make up for power; the reverse is seldom true. The Bersa is a very accurate handgun. While the double-action only polymer frame pistols—which often lack usable sights—produces patterns at 10 yards, the Bersa is quite accurate well past 15 yards. As an example, I recently tested a number of loads in a Bersa .380 I keep on hand for reference. A compact pistol, with a fixed barrel, is often very accurate. My results follow.
Bersa .380 ACP Accuracy
75-foot groups measured in inches
|Winchester USA FMJ||3.0 inches|
|Winchester 95-grain SXT JHP||2.5 inches|
|Winchester 95-grain Silvertip||2.75 inches|
|CCI Blazer 95-grain FMJ||2.65 inches|
|Speer Gold Dot JHP||3.25 inches|
The Bersa is obviously not only accurate enough for personal defense, but for all around recreational shooting, taking out a reptile or even for putting food in the pot if need be.
The Bersa Thunder Pro
The Bersa Thunder pistols have been around for well over a decade. Offered in full size, and compact versions in 9mm, .40 and .45, these pistols feature a double-action first shot and decocker safety. My favorite example is an Ultra Compact .45 version with stainless slide. The pistol features well-made polymer grips, external extractor and a loaded round indicator.
The trigger breaks smoothly at 14 pounds in double-action mode. The single-action trigger broke cleanly at about 6 pounds with modest backlash. The sights are well designed for personal defense.
The pistol features a different safety mechanism than the smaller pistol. I like this innovative feature very much. The safety is ideally located on the frame for rapid manipulation. By pressing the safety downwards, it acts as a decocker. The safety activates in the on position when the safety is up. Pressing downward takes the pistol off safe. This is the ideal safety for those wishing to deploy a double-action first shot pistol. Unlike slide mounted safety levers, this safety is very fast to use.
The Bersa features a short grip housing, double-column magazine that holds 7 rounds giving the pistol an 8-round capacity. The pistol sets well in the hand and fits most hands well including several of our female raters. In firing the pistol, recoil was not unpleasant despite its light weight of 27 ounces.
Most of the loads I fired in this pistol have been 230-grain standard pressure loads. The Bersa .45 rang the bell with these loads, producing good results on the steel gong at 50 feet. During the test program, the Bersa .45 fed, chambered fired and ejected with every load tested including a number of wide mouth hollow point loads. The pistol is omnivorous feeding anything I cared to stuff in the magazine. The Bersa is fast into action, and I was able to get good hits using the smooth double-action first shot trigger. At a long 20 yards, the Bersa proved accurate enough for a compact .45 caliber pistol.
25-yard groups, Bersa .45
|Winchester 185-grain Silvertip||4.0 inches|
|Winchester 230-grain PDX 1 JHP||2.85 inches|
|Federal American Eagle 230-grain FMJ||3.5 inches|
|Speer 230-grain Gold Dot Short Barrel||3.2 inches|
If you are looking for a handgun less expensive than the SIG or Heckler or Koch and you have not gotten on the polymer frame boat, the Bersa pistols have much to recommend. They get a clean bill of health and a hearty recommendation.
Have you shot one of the Bersa handguns? What did you think about it? Share your experiences with us in the comment section.