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Handgun Reviews

Bersa Thunder .380 ACP

by Phil W. Johnston   |  November 11th, 2010 22

The Thunder .380 controls are all in the “right” places. All are handy and easy to acquire.

This job is full of surprises. One of them popped up this week when we wrapped our hands around a new little .380 semi auto for a couple days of shooting. It’s called the Thunder .380 and it’s produced in Argentina by Bersa S.A. This little rig generates a lot of bang for the buck.

The Thunder .380 is a small arm, measuring but 6.6 inches overall. It weighs 20 ounces and is just over an inch and a quarter wide. It’s available in two finishes–the attractive matte black of the sample as well as a satin nickel.

See The Bersa Thunder 9mm

The little Bersa sports a dual-action trigger that allows the first shot from a magazine to be delivered double-action with the subsequent shots going single-action. The pistol features an exposed hammer that allows the hammer to be manually cocked, moving the arm into single action, instantly. Out of the box the trigger isn’t bad. The single-action pull is around six pounds or so with little takeup and just a bit of creep. It’s good enough to allow some respectable shooting. The double action pull, likewise isn’t bad-probably about double the single action pull–but smooth and linear just the same.


Action Type: Semi-automatic pistol, blowback operation
Caliber: .380 ACP
Capacity: 7+1, 10+1 (with optional Plus magazine)
Overall Length: 65⁄8 inches
Barrel Length: 31⁄2 inches
Weight: 20 ounces empty, 23 ounces loaded
Sights: Fixed elevation, adjustable for windage
Stocks: Black composite
Finish: Matte black or satin nickel
Price: $248.95 matte black, $264.95 nickel


Operationally, the little Bersa has everything in the “right” places. The safety is located on the left side of the slide and it acts as a de-cocking lever when it’s fully depressed. The safety engages the firing pin when activated, as well. The pistol also features a magazine disconnector or safety as well, unfortunately. While we understand the motivation for these things, we prefer a firearm that acts like a firearm, should the magazine be unavailable for some reason. Weighing but 20 ounces it doesn’t make much of a club.

Field stripping the pistol takes seconds–if you’re slow.

The arm is shipped with one seven-round magazine. Additional magazines are available for a MSRP of $33.95 and Bersa also offers a Thunder 380 Plus, 9 round magazine for $47.95. The magazine release is located on the left side of the receiver, behind the pivot point of the trigger. Depressing the release nicely ejects the empty magazine.

The slide release is immediately above the magazine–again on the left side of the receiver–and it is activated when the last round from the magazine is fired.

Typical of arms based on this simple design, the Bersa is a snap to field strip. After verifying that the arm is empty and dropping the magazine, one simply rotates the takedown lever (right side of the receiver) downward and then pulls the slide back and upward.

The recoil spring is coiled around the barrel and remains there during the disassembly process. It takes about two seconds to field strip the Bersa and about the same amount of time to put it back together.

The Thunder .380 sports good sights with one white dot up front and a pair of white dots at the back. The rear sight is adjustable for windage but elevation is fixed. Out of the box, the rig was in the black at 10 yards.

Because the Bersa and similar arms aren’t designed as long range target rigs and most confrontations occur at the proverbial 7-10 yards, we elected to run this arm indoors at 10 yards for the entire session. The fact that it was near zero outside also had a slight impact on our decision!

At any rate, our ammo locker was getting low where the .380 is concerned, but we managed to come up with five loads that tend to mirror most of the ammo that is out there. We rested the arm on sandbags and again used our competitive shooting glasses to clear up the front sight.

at 15 ft.
ENERGY at 15 ft.
Smallest Largest Average
Black hills 95-gr. ball 878/43/13 fps 162.6 ft/lbs. 1.35″ 1.49″ 1.42″**
Cor-Bon +P 90-gr. JHP 995/123/35 fps 197.8 ft/lbs 1.01″ 1.91″ 1.55″
Remington/UMC 95-gr. 857/46/13 fps 154.9 ft. lbs. 1.12″ 1.45″ 1.22″*
Win. Supreme 95-gr. JHP 843/138/30 fps 149.9 ft/lbs
.73″ 1.39″ 1.12″
Win. BEB 95-gr. WinClean 846/69/17 fps 150.9 ft/lbs .60″ 1.58″ 1.16″
*=Three 5-shot groups. **=Two 5-shot groups, Temperature was 65 degrees, indoors, 40 percent humidity.

Throughout the limited range session, the Bersa didn’t miss a beat. When things quieted down, the little .380 averaged just over an inch and a quarter with all five loads, generating around 150 ft/lbs of instrumental energy, 15 feet from the muzzle. The exception to this rule consists of Cor-Bon’s great 90-grain +P load that leaves even this stubby barrel doing five fps shy of 1,000 fps, producing very nearly 200 ft/lbs of energy in the process. This load would be a natural choice for serious social work. Because our ammo was limited, we managed only to run 125 rounds or so through the Bersa–not a torture test to be sure. Still, the Thunder .380 gave no indication that it would perform differently after a thousand rounds, either.

Selling for less than $250–or about half the price of some of the competition–the Bersa Thunder .380 looks like a bargain any way you cut it. Clone or not, this one’s a winner.

  • WayniacKT

    I have a Bersa 380. It has become my always carry in the last year. With the new 380 ammo being so effective and this sidearm being so light, yet to too small to shoot well. It is possibly the perfect cc pistol.
    PS: You can remove the magazine safety quite easily. This will make the trigger pull MUCH smoother and lighter. BUT… I do believe removing it voids any warranty if you care about that.

    • WayniacKT

      THAT SHOULD SAY "yet NOT to too small to shoot well"

      • Luisa

        Yes, I bought the Bersa Thunder plus 380 at the last gun show in Houston and I love it! The only problem I'm coming across is that no one seems to have spare mags available. But I'm still looking… =)

  • Bob & Wife

    HIGHT , LENGTH, AND WIDTH of the Thunder is???? Also is it possible to buy a stainless steel barrel ??? I shot my own loads which sometimes are alloy (lead). Lead and steel barrels don't always get along, but, stainless barrels don't mind lead at all in any of my handguns! This is a handgun I would be interested in buying if I can shot my own reloads threw it.

    • Arch

      Bought a BersaThunder 380 last year and love it.

      As a hand loader I cast lead bullets out of wheel weights using Lee Precision 105 grain LRN. My practice is about 925 fps, but for an SD round I load 90 grain Hornady XTP to 1010 fps.



  • Jose Milano


  • John

    I really like mine. I have 300 rounds through it and it has never jammed. The spring broke in the inside right hand grip at 75 rounds. I sent it in for repair to a GS in colorado. They were aware of this flaw and seems to only have effected a limited number. It was sent back with the stronger spring and I have never had a single thing wrong with it. I imagine if I had registered with Bersa they would have made me aware? don't know. They were very helpful and fast with my repair. Less then a week. I was shooting oranges at 40 yards the other day and hit 6 our of 7. I use it as my cc and have zero doubt in its capability.

  • Darin

    I am writing this in hopes someone can help me with my Bersa 380. I bought it about two years ago and have never had a problem with until one day while in the field. I went to fire off a couple rounds at a targe only to have it jam. As I tried to pull the slide back, it completelly came off. After unloading and ejecting the magazine and putting it back together….the trigger will not engage. I cannot get the trigger to drop the hammer at all…I've tried manually as well…any suggestions???
    Thank you,

    • Guest

      more then likely its the trigger bar spring. Thats what engages the hammer. Any gun store should know what im talking about if you dont.

  • Taelyn

    I've been considering this for CCW lately, as has my wife, who introduced me to it. We fired one at a range recently and it kept firing down and left of target by a couple inches, consistently, while shooting reload ammo. It was a rental, though, so we weren't sure. Good to read this, we'll try to take a look at a new one and if we can, it'll probably be my next purchase.

  • Ripp Rippy

    Are there any magazines out there for the 380 thunder cc ? and where can they be purchased .

    • WayniacKT
    • Dix Bersa

      Yes, and you'll be surprised to know that it is the 9 round magazine. You have probably read that it won't fit the CC model. Not so. It is a perfect fit but the reason they said this is one very minor reason, that is that the finger rest on the bottom of the magazine extends past the rear of the butt. No problem! you can even trim a little off the extended base so that it will align with the butt. Now you can use both the 9 rd mag as well as the 8 rd mag. I use the 9 rd mag for my target practice and keep the 8 rd mag for personal protection ammo.

  • bradley brackin

    I bouht a bersa thunder 380 from a pawn shop for 200 dollars looks new though and the may ain't broke in. I picked up some may tec guardian gold 85 gr jhp+ p and they push 1032 fps and 221 muzzle energy.: I gonna use it for CC but still waiting on my back ground check .

  • Ray O'Reilly

    I have a Bersa Thunder Plus 380. I have only one 15 round magazine for it. Are there any other magazines besides the 15 round magazine that will fit the Plus? I can't find any 15 round magazines.

  • Henryy

    I used to have a Bersa 380 thunder (silver satin), I loved that little gun, BUT, it was stolen from me around. 2004'ish I shot at least 20 clips "rapid fire" it, never a problem, never ever acted like it wanted to jam. I will get another one under "the table" if I have to. Since obama and friends want to be dictators. Do like other countries in revolt, hide your guns and weapons, because they ARE coming for YOU !!!! P.S.—the government is coming after…you !!!!!!!

  • southtxcowboy

    I recently bought a bersa thunder 380 cc, I have shot about 100 rds through it and now the slide will not lock back to battery due to slide lock notch is worn. Is this a common problem, I am very disappointed it was supposed to be my carry gun.

    • elga

      definitely not a common problem – these firearms are known for NOT failing. definitely send that one in, sounds like a rare lemon. if it's just the slide catch, you can get a new one online for cheap:

  • Leroy Roberts

    I have a bearsa thounder 380. I have had it for 3years and ever time I go to the rang the spring come lus. Is there a way I can fix this. It has not had nomore than 500 rounds in it.

  • Ruben Sandra

    I am looking for a mag. 15 loader for Bersa 380 thunder plus and ammo for same. Doesnt need to be hollow points. Will use for target practice.

  • kyle

    Why doesnt mine fire? Bersa 380 thunder? Is the bullet not registering or what

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