As a writer, I continually dig for information. I also test handguns to a degree that would not be possible if this were simply a hobby.
As a trainer, I see how handguns perform on the range. My students choose a wide range of firearms, and many show up with handguns that are not appropriate for the task of personal defense. Some—and most could afford better—have chosen the cheapest gun. Others choose a firearm too weak, and many have chosen a handgun they cannot control well. Among the best choices I have seen is the Bersa Thunder 9 Ultra Compact Pro. This handgun is a compact double action first shot handgun with a 13-round magazine capacity, a positive manual safety, good sights and features that mark it as a desirable defensive handgun. Yet, now, the handgun retails for less than $400. That is a fair price. I cannot state this more strongly—the Bersa is not a cheap gun. It is an affordable pistol designed as a service handgun and presently in service with police and military forces in South America. The pistol also carries a lifetime warranty.
Well known as a reliable handgun, the smaller Bersa .380 ACP pistols are well worth their price. The larger 9mm handguns are in my opinion a superior choice for the caliber, capacity and hit probability.
The Bersa Pro 9mm (sometimes referred to as the Mini Firestorm or Thunder 9 in the past renditions) is an excellent design that builds upon proven mechanical features. The slide is similar to the SIG type, with a barrel hood that butts into the ejection port for lock up. The ejection port is large enough to eject both spent cases and to clear a full length cartridge or dud round. The frame is conventional aluminum construction. The trigger action is similar to the Beretta with an exposed drawbar on the right side of the frame.
The action is smooth enough for fast hits at conversational range. The trigger features a modest over-travel stop. A long double-action press fires the pistol. After the first shot, the slide cocks the hammer for subsequent single action shots. The single-action trigger breaks about just over five pounds. The safety is an excellent design. The safety lever is fully ambidextrous. Shooters may press the safety upward to decock (lower) a cocked hammer. The safety is on when up, and fire is down. A frame-mounted safety is much faster and more ergonomic than a slide mounted safety.
The pistol’s frame features modest finger grooves. This gives a good fit when firing the pistol. The sights are good examples of combat sights. During the test period, the sights proved well-regulated for 115- to 124-grain 9mm Luger loads. The 147-grain loads struck slightly higher on the target in relation to the point of aim. I lightly lubricated the pistol before going to the firing range for this Shooter’s Log test program. I accomplished much of the test firing with a handload using the Hornady 124-grain XTP and enough TITEGROUP powder for 1,000 fps. This load has proven reliable and accurate in everything from the Bersa to an HK P7M8 and a semiautomatic UZI carbine. If the 9mm will not function with this load, which generates about 1,110 fps from a 5-inch barreled Browning High Power, it is probably sick! The Bersa draws smoothly and comes on target quickly.
During the firing test, the author and several friends and family members participated in firing the pistol for this Shooter’s Log evaluation. I should note that my personal example is an older handgun, and the finish has worn to a degree from use and carry. The pistol’s use has not been tabulated as well as some of the other long-term test guns but clearly this lightweight 9mm has well over 1,0000 rounds fired through it. There have been no malfunctions of any type. All who fired the pistol found it comfortable to fire. The slide rides lower in the hand as is the case with many double-action first-shot handguns, making the Bersa controllable in rapid fire.
Switching to Winchester’s white box USA with the 115-grain JHP, I settled down to be all I can be. Combat groups were excellent. Firing the pistol from a solid braced barricade, I found that given shot groups at 15 yards measured two to 2.5 inches when the shooter did his part. The Bersa 9mm is clearly accurate, reliable and a good buy. For the individual searching for a defensive handgun that will not break the bank—or a good reliable handgun regardless of price—the Bersa 9mm gets the nod.
Specifications and Features
|Thunder 9 Ultra Compact Pro|
|Overall Width||Width: 1.45″|
|Weight Unloaded||23 oz.|
|Sight, Front||Interchangeable SIG Sauer type|
|Grip||Checkered Black Polymer|
|Finishes||Duotone or Matte Black|
|Construction||Alloy Frame/Steel Slide|
|Safety||Integral Locking System, Manual, Firing Pin|