With over one million Bersa handguns sold in the United States we decided it was time to take a look at their classic, the Thunder 380. Bersa: Over One Million Strong.

Weighing-in at just 20oz and with styling similar to James Bond’s iconic Walther, it’s easy to see why the Thunder 380 is a popular carry model, but looks and weight alone don’t explain the success.  For a handgun to survive the American concealed-carry market for any length of time it has to be reliable, practical, and simple.  While some may call the alloy frame and Walther-esque styling dated, or complain that the gun doesn’t come ready for a reflex sight, Bersa has made a gun that works and works well, and as the saying goes, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”.

A fixed on the barrel on Bersa Thunder 380 ensures both accuracy and reliability.

A big part of the reliability and accuracy of the Thunder .380 comes from the fixed barrel design.  Similar to workhorse Makarovs of Eastern Europe only the slide moves after firing.  The micro-polished barrel is locked in place and remains in constant geometry with the magazine.  If the first round fed the second will too because the path is exactly the same.  The elimination of moving parts and locking surfaces also makes the slide easy to rack.

While certainly light weight, the alloy frame provides just a touch more weight than rival polymer .380 handguns and as a result provides a relative reduction in recoil.  Brownings’ baby .45acp is remarkably pleasant to shoot.  Adding further comfort is a stock shape and size that while perhaps ideal for small-handed shooters still provided enough real estate for my larger hands.  Controls are also smartly placed within easy reach of hand sizes both large and small.

As you can see from the specs below, this isn’t one of those micro guns that leaves you wondering if it’s safe to shoot.  The Thunder .380 is an actual handgun:

Caliber .380 & .22 LR
Action DA/SA
Capacity 7+1 or 8+1 (.380), 10+1 (.22)
Barrel Length 3.5″
Front Sight Blade Integral with Slide
Rear Sight Notched-Bar Dovetailed
Finishes Duotone, Matte Black, Cerakote Nickel Satin Aluminum
Grips Checkered Polymer
Construction Alloy Frame / Steel Slide
Safety Intergal Locking System, Manual, Firing Pin
Weight 20.00 oz. (.380), 18.90 oz. (.22)
Length 6.6″
Height 4.7″
Width 1.3″

A current market price of around $300 makes the gun as light on the wallet as it is in the hand.  Those looking for style can choose from a myriad of color options.  More than 23 models are currently listed on Bersa’s Eagle Imports website including models chambered in .22lr.  If modern is your thing Crimson Trace makes a laser grip for the gun.

Despite spending most of our time with fancier and flashier guns, the Bersa Thunder .380 is an undeniable contender in the concealed-carry market and can also serve as a fun range gun to both teach and learn with.  If you’re concerned about rumored failures, a lifetime warranty is provided to the original purchaser.  The limit of the gun’s endurance has however been found.  According to one article sometime around 50,000 rounds a spring may break.  If you want to test that for yourself you’d better get started, and perhaps a good friend at an ammunition company.