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.
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 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
Grips: Pink Crimson Trace lasergrip
Safety: Thumb safety and integral locking system
Sights: 3 dot sights
Construction: Alloy frame and steel slide
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.