Following in the Footsteps of a Legend.Bersa was founded in the 1950's by a group of Italian mechanical engineers who were also former employees of Beretta, but eventually found their way to Argentina and formed their own company. Since the beginning, this South American based manufacturer has developed a solid reputation for producing high quality handguns at an affordable price.
First introduced in 1994, the Bersa Thunder series is a semi automatic .380 caliber pistol based on the legendary Walther PPK. Though small improvements were made to the original German design, the basic foundation remains the same-- an excellent fixed barrel bowback system. Instead of tilting like a locked breech pistol, the Thunder's 3.5" barrel remains fixed solidly to its frame throughout the cycling process.
Blowback operation is ideally suited for these type of compact, lighter weight pistols chambered in smaller calibers. Unlike a locked breech design found on most 9mm, .40S/W and .45ACP handguns, the blowback action of the Thunder .380 is such that the mass of the slide, when combined with recoil spring resistance, is sufficient to retard the opening of the breech long enough for the projectile to safely exit the barrel (at least in theory). Nevertheless, the important point to understand here is that the pressure has dropped back down to a safe level.
The pistol is strong, well built, nicely engineered, accurate, visually appealing and very reliable. It has a matte black finish that is professionally applied and features a carbon steel slide paired with a hard coat anodized lightweight alloy frame.
A factory installed set of checkered polymer grips provides a firm grasp on the pistol while also increasing control and maneuverability. For iron sights, the Thunder wears an adjustable rear with a fixed post front that acquires the target well.
A seven-round magazine is included with the package. Arguably, the Bersa Thunder features one of the best traditional double action triggers of any compact pistol on the market. The double action first shot has a trigger pull that measures around 8lbs. Every subsequent shot results in a smooth 4.5lb single action pull. This handgun was designed with safety in mind and has therefore been fitted with four independent systems-- making it one of the most secure shooting platforms being sold today.
Depressing the slide-mounted safety lever simultaneously decocks the hammer while deactivating the trigger. The hammer comes to rest against a steel block that rotates between itself and the firing pin-- eliminating the possibility of unintentional discharge. The pistol is incapable of firing until the shooter disengages the safety.
The Bersa Thunder is additionally equipped with an internal firing pin block safety, which if dropped or banged, also prevents the gun from discharging. More importantly, it will not fire unless the trigger is physically pulled all the way rearward. Then, there is also a disconnect safety that prevents the gun from firing when the magazine has been removed-- which is one of the most highly underrated features on this pistol.
Though many states have various requirements prohibiting concealed carry in restricted areas, most do not forbid carrying a loaded magazine. When preparing to enter a place prohibited, the gun owner simply has to remove the magazine, leaving the gun legally locked-up in the vehicle-- carrying only the magazine inside.
The key concept to remember is that, even If a round has been chambered and the magazine has been removed, the gun will not fire. If a perpetrator breaks into the vehicle, the pistol cannot be turned against the owner-- or for that matter, used to harm an innocent bystander. However, the handgun is instantly operational as soon as you reinsert the magazine.
While it's always best to secure every firearm in a lock-box or vault, many do not have this luxury. Lastly, there is also an internal key lock safety that renders the gun completely inoperable, securing it from unauthorized use by children or legally prohibited persons such as a felon that may live under the same roof.
The magazine release is located just above, and slightly to the rear of the trigger. It is easily operated by both right and left-handed shooters. An extremely responsive slide release locks the slide open on an empty magazine. On the right side of the frame is the take-down latch, which easily allows the owner to disassemble the Bersa Thunder for cleaning.
The pistol's compact size and light frame make it a natural fit for concealed carry. Weighing in at only 19.7 ounces, the little gun still manages to handle recoil surprisingly well. Chambered for the .380 cartridge, it has adequate stopping power when loaded with hollow point ammunition and demonstrates above average accuracy.
Overall, the Bersa Thunder is an exceptional value and highly regarded by its owners. This handgun is well built and performs better than many .380 pistols that sell for twice the price.
Fixed Barrel Blowback Design- based on the legendary Walther PPK
Manual Thumb Safety + Decoker
Magazine Safety- renders gun inoperable when removed
Extended Slide Release
"American" Style Magazine Release- thumb operated button