Bersa Thunder 380

By Walt Rauch - Last updated: Saturday, January 15, 2011 - Save & Share - 39 Comments

Handgun review photo: Left-side photo of Bersa Thunder 380, black

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Summary: Walt Rauch’s review of and rating for the Bersa Thunder 380, including a description, range report, specs, photo, MSRP, the average user rating and user comments. (Click here to see all of Rauch’s handgun reviews.)

Manufacturer’s Description

Black, with an extended magazine.

The satin stainless model.

The Bersa Thunder 380 double-action semiauto is chambered in .380 ACP. Manufactured in Argentina, the Bersa externally and partially internally resembles the Walther PP or PPK double-action pistols. The trigger mechanism is an amalgam of the Walther and the Beretta 92 designs. This compact pocket semiauto is what is commonly known as DAO; that is to say, the first shot can be fired as if it were a revolver, with a long, double-action pull on the trigger. Alternatively, the external rounded hammer can be pulled back or cocked for a more precise first shot from a lighter, single-action mode. The long double-action trigger pull weighs 12.5 lbs., while the single-action pull [hammer raised or cocked] is 5.5 lbs.

In either case, after the first shot, the slide cycles and the hammer re-cocks to single action. If you don’t want to fire a subsequent shot, you can safely lower the hammer by pushing down on the slide-mounted decocking lever, which also serves as a safety device. When you push the lever down, the body of the lever is located between the hammer and the rear of the firing pin so that the hammer can safely fall forward (this action should still be done in a safe direction because anything mechanical can fail).

The lever, once depressed, can be left in its downward position because it’s not spring loaded to return to its original position. If you do leave the lever down, pressure on the trigger meets with no resistance, and nor can the hammer be manually raised to fire. If you carry the gun with a loaded chamber, this type of safety means you are carrying the gun on safe.

There’s a magazine-disconnect safety, so if you remove the magazine, the gun can’t discharge. In addition, there’s an internal locking system operated by a special key located above the trigger in the left side of the frame. To fire, turn the key so that the lock is aligned with (F). When you turn it to the locked position (S), neither the hammer, trigger nor slide can be moved, nor can the pistol be disassembled.

The Bersa uses an external flat bar on the right side of the frame connecting the trigger to the hammer and sear. Vertical grasping grooves are at the rear of the slide. To load and unload, put the manual safety on (i.e., down) and insert a loaded magazine into the gun. Grasp the slide at the rear using the serrations. Draw back the slide fully to the rear and let the slide spring forward, chambering a cartridge. (Do not ride the slide forward.) You can now place an additional round into the magazine.

To unload, first remove the magazine, then retract the slide several times to ensure there’s no round left in the chamber, lock the slide back with the slide stop and look and feel to make sure there’s no round left in the chamber. This seems redundant, but it’s possible for the extractor to slip off the cartridge rim and leave a round in the chamber. If you look and feel, you’re sure.

The Thunder measures .75″ thick in the slide area, and the barrel measures 3.5″ long. The gun weighs 20 oz. and carries dull-black polymer impressed checkered grip panels with slight thumb swells affixed by a screw on either side of the frame. Both the front and back straps are grooved. The standard finish is a dull, non-reflective black; nickel or Duotone finishes are available.

In addition to grasping serrations at the rear of the slide, the Bersa sports a smooth-faced trigger. The front of the trigger guard has a hook or projection on its lower forward face. The Bersa has an external slide stop that gives the user an easy means to lock back the slide for insertion or clearing the arm. The magazine release is located right beneath the slide stop at the top rear of the trigger guard area. The Bersa comes with one magazine, which has cartridge witness holes in its body and a finger rest in the removable base plate.

Range Report
Pocket guns such as the Bersa are designed as personal protection guns, and while the Thunder 380 comes with a three-white-dot sighting system, it’s not meant to be used for precision shooting at 25 yards but rather as an emergency self-defense arm. This was all too well borne out when we did accuracy work at 25 yards. As noted in the table below, while the gun can shoot 2″ groups from a gun-bag rest at this distance, the norm for most all the shooting we performed was 5″ groups of five rounds each.

The rear sight is windage adjustable via a small screw that moves the rear sight blade, and this is helpful because various brands and bullet weights didn’t shoot to the same point of aim.

Here are our results at 10 feet from the rest over a Competition Electronic Pro-Tach chronograph:

Disassembly for cleaning is simple. After ensuring the gun is unloaded, lock the slide back using the slide stop. On the forward right side of the frame there’s a lever that resembles the slide stop. Pull down on this lever until it’s at almost a 90-degree angle. Now pull back and up on the slide, releasing it from the frame, and ease it forward and off the barrel against the pressure of the recoil spring.

Final Thoughts
The Bersa pistol is a workhorse, and while not as well-finished as some others, it provides most everything found in more expensive pistols of this design. There’s just no particular cachet attached.


Walt Rauch received a BS degree from Carnegie Tech and completed service as a Special Agent in U.S. Army Intelligence. Rauch was a U.S. Secret Service Special Agent and a Philadelphia, Pa., Warrant Unit Investigator. He now operates a consulting company for defense-weapon and tactical training. Rauch & Company services include expert witness testimony on firearms use and tactics.

Rauch is also a writer and lecturer in the firearms field. He’s published in national and international publications including InterMedia’s Handguns, several Harris Publications specialty magazines, Police and Security News and Cibles (France). He is the author of a book on self-defense, Real-World Survival! What Has Worked For Me, as well as Practically Speaking, a comprehensive guide to IDPA defensive pistol shooting.


The Specs

Caliber Capacity BBL OAL Height Width Weight
.380 ACP 7+1, 9+1 or 15+1 3.5″ 6.625″ 4.75″ 1.125″ 23 oz.


MSRP: $335

Note: Eagle Imports imports this pistol into the United States.


Posted in $251-$500, .380 ACP, Bersa, Compact, Eagle Imports, Semiauto, Subcompact • Tags: Top Of Page

39 Responses to “Bersa Thunder 380”

Comment from Greg Newman
Time December 29, 2010 at 11:11 am

Excellent pistol.
Shoots to point of aim.
Great pricing on these as a back-up for concealed carry.

Comment from Lothar
Time February 14, 2011 at 11:53 am

A mistake in the article claims the Thunder does not have a mag safety. It does have a mag safety and will not fire unless the magazine is fully inserted.

Comment from Walt Rauch
Time February 14, 2011 at 6:48 pm

Lothar, you are correct about the mag safety: The latest version of the Thunder 380 does have a mag disconnect. We will edit the review to fix it. Thanks for pointing that out!

Comment from Andy G
Time September 23, 2011 at 10:47 pm

Excellent pistol. Recently sold every gun I had and was feeling the itch. Instead of buying more expensive (read, at least twicemas expensive) pistols, I chose the Bersa. Has many features and feel of more expensive, high-end brands. No buyer’s remorse here, just buy the correct ammo for carry! I feel that the the Cor-Bon’s are best.

Comment from Peter Santiago
Time October 13, 2011 at 7:52 am

I think it’s called a DA/SA, not a DAO, since the hammer can be pulled back.

Comment from Mike Reed
Time December 16, 2011 at 10:13 am

Owned one of these a few years back, but ended up reselling it because it kept biting me between thumb and forefinger. Of course, I was new to handguns in those days and the problem may have been more my inexperienced technique than any inherent design flaw.

Comment from Michael DuMonte
Time March 8, 2012 at 11:48 pm

I”ve own my 380 bersa for awile now and this gun will never jam for you, great conceal gun, I love the way it shoots, great looking gun looks like it cost more than $500.00

Comment from Michael
Time March 12, 2012 at 12:14 am

bought a bersa 380 last year and it compares very well with other high priced guns, this gun has never jammed on me yet i have shot this gun alot and shoots real well , im looking to buy the bersa 45 cal.

Comment from Ryan
Time March 12, 2012 at 12:38 pm

I have owned the 7 shot .380 Thunder for about 3 years. I think it’s not only an excellent value, I think it’s an excellent pistol. I’d not be afraid to test it against .380 caliber guns costing twice as much. About 2 years ago, I purchased a new Bersa Ultra Compact Pro 9mm in Duo-tone. This 9mm holds 13 rounds and even though it weighs a wee bit more than my brother’s Glock, he and I both agree that the Bersa 9mm is manufactured with every bit the quality of the Glock and maybe even more!!! How about doing a review on the Bersa Ultra Compact Pro 9mm? I gave $292.60 plus tax, handling and shipping for my Nine. Total cost= $340.60 and I’ll put my Bersa 9 up against any 9mm – not saying my Bersa will win out but it won’t be embarrassed either.

Comment from Lee Shaw
Time March 18, 2012 at 4:03 pm

I have the Bersa .380 Thunder Plus with the 15 round mags. A few of the Plus models will drop the mag when fired or the side is slapped. Mine did! I sent it off to a gunsmith to install the fix (they know about the problem). No cost to me except postage. Since I have gotten it back it has never failed to fire or to feed or eject a round. OH! And the mag has never dropped out no matter how many rounds you run through it. Great little pistol now!

Comment from Claude
Time April 11, 2012 at 9:06 pm

The Bersa is a great pistol. I have shot mine a lot. The .22 version is a great companion and practice piece, also.

Comment from daveZ
Time April 22, 2012 at 12:43 pm

I just sold my Walther PPK/S .380 which I loved accuracy-wise, but couldn’t take the beating my hand would take from the short tang. Supposedly bersa has fixed this with a longer tang. any comments? I’d like to buy the bersa, but need to ensure that I won’t have the same issue.

Comment from Aaron Massey
Time April 25, 2012 at 7:00 am

This little gun feels superb in my hand. Fits well; didn’t get that “cluncky” feeling as with other guns. Granted it is a smaller gun than other more popular guns, but it was as accurate as any other $1,000 gun that “I” have used. Have been shooting my Bersa nearly every weekend for over 2½ years and can positively say I have never had it jam… Very satisfied.

Comment from RogerD
Time August 2, 2012 at 4:15 pm

I love my Bersa Thunder 380. I have a S&W 3913TSW 9mm and I like it too, but the Bersa actually feels better in my hand and its more comfortable and was a lot less expensive. I dont have a large hand so I guess that may be the reason. Sis in law loved the way the Bersa felt also. She had been using a Glock 9mm and was ready to give it up for one of these.

Comment from Gene Lester
Time August 13, 2012 at 1:06 pm

Of all the small 380s out there, I love this little Bersa the best. It is 100% reliable, easy to maintain, and although like most small pistols, not really made for target practice, it is surprizingly accurate at 7 yards. I had bought my wife a little PT22 pistol to learn to shoot, and we were out back shooting, and she wanted to try the Bersa. Well, she won’t give it back. She fell in love with it, and she is very good with it on the targets. Fortunately i have plenty of other pistols, but I will probably get another Bersa for CC.

Comment from RJ Lewis
Time September 26, 2012 at 2:32 pm

After many years, I finally got my Texas CHL. Since 2007 it has been legal to carry in your car and my “glove box” firearm has been a Ruger P89 with four 15 rd mags. For home defense it is my trusty Mossberg 12 gauge with 00 buck and my Beretta .40 cal pistol on the nightstand.

I have been looking for a good conceal carry firearm and have a S&W Sigma .380 (now discontinued for numerous reasons) a Bryco/Jennings .380 “tackle box” pistol, and and vintage ’60s Llama .380 7 round with a muzzle break on it.

None of what I have satified what I was looking for. I bought my wife a Ruger LCP which she carries in her purse and is very well suited for her but not enough gun for me. I read a number of posts and decided to look at the Bersa Thunder.

I checked out the standard, concealed carry, and plus models. Both the cc and plus had a few things I did not like. In addition, the original 7 round model has been around for over 40 years. It fit my hand perfectly and was fairly priced at the gun show (280 plus tax). I considered the plus because of the extra capacity (15 rounds) but the grip was a bit too bulky for my hand. I decided on the 7 round model and to get the extra ammo capacity was just a matter of buying an a few extra mags. I bought 4 more mags and a dual mag pouch which gave me a total of 35 rounds.

Inserting a fresh mag took about 5 seconds and I thought in a carry situation would I really need a 15 round mag?

In addition at the show, the Bersa Plus was about 90 dollars more for the gun (less tax) and there were no extra mags to be found anywhere. I would have to had to order an extra mag from Bersa and they were $42 plus shipping. There were bunches of 7 rounders for $22 each (Promags) at the show which were of good quality so I got 4, which gave me a total of 5 mags.

I have read there have been a few issues with the Plus as far as failure to feed the last round, the mag dropping out of the well, and the bulkiness of the rubberized grip.

Also, if you lose your Plus mag you are screwed, so buying an extra is mandatory. Other than in the military, I have only had to draw on someone one time and it was with a little .22 Beretta Bobcat.

As soon as I drew, the person took off running so the question of “firepower” for concealed carry self defense came into question.

There are those who will argue that the more and bigger the bullets the better. If you are confronted with an armed gang, I could see the logic, but again even if you have three 15 round mags you are eventually going to run out of ammo if you get into a sustained firefire.

To me accuacy is more important than magazine volume. If you are fully loaded with 7+1 and there are 7 perps and you hit one or two, I do not think the rest are going to hang around for long.

I suppose if this turns into buyers regret, I can always get the 15 rounder from Bud’s for $329 +35 for the FFL transfer and $50 for the extra mag or am I just being neurotic about the whole issue?

Comment from Ray O’Reilly
Time January 19, 2013 at 11:20 pm

I purchased a Bersa Thunder Plus 380 for my wife. Excellent gun for her. She loves it better than then the Ruger LCP. My problem is, I have only one 15 rd. magazine. My question is, will any other magazine like a 7, 8,, 10, 12 round fit in this wonderful pistol if I can’t find another 15 round magazine?

Comment from Don Deffenbaugh
Time January 28, 2013 at 1:54 pm

Just purchased it.It feels good in the hand and shoots straight. I’m looking forward to using it for a long time.

Comment from RJ Lewis
Time January 28, 2013 at 2:51 pm

Of all the handguns I own which include Beretta, Sig, Ruger, Bersa, Jiminez…Bersa wins hands down for price/performance. My CC is a Bersa Thunder .380 standard in a shoulder holster. I did not care for the CC or plus versions for various reasons. CC is a defensive firearm as opposed to hi-cap handguns which are more for military and offensive (LEO) use. I also do not care for the ultra-compact 9mm due to recoil issues. The .380 is the most popular and effective CC caliber. My 9mms are for my car and .40 cal for home defense. The .40 cal is a devastating round and puts the 9mm to shame. That is why LEOs have now gone to .40 cal because it can stop anything short of an elephant size person and the recoil is not much more than the 9mm.

Comment from Ron Joseph
Time January 28, 2013 at 2:53 pm

Of all the handguns I own which include Beretta, Sig, Ruger, Bersa, Jiminez…Bersa wins hands down for price/performance. My CC is a Bersa Thunder .380 standard in a shoulder holster. I did not care for the CC or plus versions for various reasons. CC is a defensive firearm as opposed to hi-cap handguns which are more for military and offensive (LEO) use. I also do not care for the ultra-compact 9mm due to recoil issues. The .380 is the most popular and effective CC caliber. My 9mms are for my car and .40 cal for home defense. The .40 cal is a devastating round and puts the 9mm to shame. That is why LEOs have now gone to .40 cal because it can stop anything short of an elephant size person and the recoil is not much more than the 9mm.

Comment from Terry
Time August 29, 2013 at 9:14 pm

I couldn’t be happier with my Bersa .380 Thunder. It is an excellent CC protection gun and very easily carried in a pocket holster. I was so impressed with it’s handling, safety and accuracy I purchased a second one. Due to the recent shortage of ammo I haven’t been able to experiment with many different types of loads. I keep it loaded with 102 gr. Remington Golden Saber BJHP for concealed carry. I have also used quite a few boxes of the cheaper Fiocchi 90 gr. JHP’s for target practice with great success. I haven’t had a single jam with either gun or either type of ammo. For the reliability and price, you just can’t beat this weapon.

Comment from Lawrence Nease
Time September 14, 2013 at 1:13 pm

I couldn’t be happier with my Bersa .380 Thunder. It is an excellent CC protection gun

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Time October 5, 2013 at 11:22 am

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Comment from alex mcarthur
Time October 18, 2013 at 1:32 am

both my wife and I like this gun. No problems at all. Nice , smooth and not on the quirky side.

Comment from Emil Johnson
Time November 28, 2013 at 11:04 am

Have had a Bersa Thunder .380 standard model for three years. It is accurate and dependable. I carry it loaded with either Corbon Pwrball or Hornady Critical Defense ammo. I also own a Bersa Thunder .32 which is also a great gun that I sometimes carry. I only use FMJ in the .32 for good penetration. Bersa makes a very good gun.

Comment from allan
Time December 12, 2013 at 10:57 am

the only handgun in history with external linkage connecting trigger with hammer – on the right side of weapon (pull the trigger and watch the linkage move on the right side)
uncommon unsightly impractacle low cost design with goofy ugly detailing. would rather own an old bersa high quality real handgun

Comment from john goglis
Time January 13, 2014 at 8:07 pm

RATE this weapon , well below standard and reliability.. I just received this weapon back from the manufacturer and the weapon ejector cover fell out .This is the poorest weapon I have ever fired.

Comment from Jeff Burke
Time March 3, 2014 at 10:29 pm

I have both the 380 and 380 Plus….not one hiccup! Love both…my wife enjoys the 7 shot. Quality weapon without paying a name brand premium.

Comment from Roger
Time March 4, 2014 at 10:40 am

I qualified for my CWP with a Bersa Thunder 380. I loved that pistol from the start. There is something about it that just felt right. I like the way it looks, feels and shoots. I researched that pistol in many ways. All the reviews and videos are overwhelmingly positive. Everyone I spoke to about it in person all had very good things to say about it. II liked the Bersa Thunder 380 so much I bought one. It was my very first hand gun purchase. I just do not know what the people who write bad comments about this gun are thinking or doing. This is an excellent hand gun. I’m thinking I would buy another, and another Bersa model, likely in 9mm.

Comment from Bob VanDevander
Time March 8, 2014 at 6:09 pm

I’ve had a Bersa thunder in the past, ” updated” to a Sig 238. Nice pistol shot well BUT had buyers remorse every night when I’d look up and see those iridium sights glowing down at me. So I bought another Bersa thunder 380, I’ve got the rubber grips that has the finger relief on the front side along with the clip extension, fits my hand very well, fires very well, and I don’t have buyers remorse . You can buy 2 Bersa Thunders for the price of one Sig 238, and in my book the Bersa is just as good of a postol

Comment from Craig
Time April 8, 2014 at 9:21 am

BERSA makes an outstanding firearm. You can put them up against the most expensive and feel great about your purchase. And the great thing is, you have funds left over to buy ammo. You cannot go wrong. I have several Bersas, in all different caliburs, and only once, did I have to send it back, and that my doing, not Bersa.

Comment from Anthony
Time April 27, 2014 at 8:41 am

I have a standard Bersa Thunder .380 and like very much. It was my first pistol and has been very reliable and easy too shoot. It made an excellent first CCW pistol because it’s safety/decocker offered some additional reassurance to the novicn not used to carry a loaded pistol throughout the day. If you don’t prefer it you can simply not use it. I liked having it because I am around children all day.
One of its benefits for the new pistol shooter is its weight and size. The grip with magazine has a extended tab allow for a 3 finger grasp. Along with the 20+ ounce of weight these help easily control the recoil of the .380 ACP. So that is my only criticism: this gun is too big and heavy to pocket carry. This is one of the largest pistols chambered in .380 ACP. There are many 9mm guns this size and smaller which a more experienced shooter may prefer.

Comment from Geoff
Time April 27, 2014 at 8:02 pm

I like the BT.380very much. the only reason I didn’t give it a higher rating I had two misfeeds in four mags fired, weather it was me or the PPU rounds used ???I’ll give another review after more shooting and different brands used.

Comment from Guillermo Lucas
Time April 30, 2014 at 2:05 pm

I own several pistols. Beretta, Sig P220 etc and also own the Bersa 380 Plus and the Bersa 45 UC Pro. The Bersa can compete side by side with any pistol costing hundreds of dollas more. The Bersas are very reliable, good looking, easy to carry and allows you to keep many of your hard earned dollars in your pocket without sacrificing reliability which is the name of the game in self defense. I have shot thousand of bullets through my 380 and 45 and NEVER had a malfunction.
Bersa is quality where it counts…..reliability!

Comment from ron
Time June 6, 2014 at 8:23 am

Good weapon for the money. Keep it cleen with a thin coat of oil. And your good to go

Comment from Rich
Time July 10, 2014 at 10:16 am

I own 4 hanguns, 2 S&W 3913’s for the winter and 2 Bersa Thunder 380’s for the summer. I love my bersa 380, it’s a good looking gun, well made, easy to carry and dependable. For the price of one S&W 3913 (If you can find one) you can purchase two Bersa Thunder 380’s. That to me is smart money.

Comment from RJLDDS
Time July 10, 2014 at 5:56 pm

The Bersa puts the Ruger SR-22 and Walther P-22 to shame. This is how a firearm should be made. The mags are a bit pricy but I got some very good quality Promags for about half the price. Considered the Bersa Plus but there were no mags to have except for the one that came with the unit. Since then, I have purchased a Bersa 22, and UC 9mm. Wish they would start making log gung.

Comment from Newt
Time October 9, 2014 at 3:20 pm

I’ve been thinking of getting another Bersa 380. I used to own and shoot the 383 years ago and it was the BEST pistol out of the 42 I had. If the current version is anything like the old 383, I will be pleased. On the 383 – 10 out of 10. We’ll see.

Comment from **********
Time October 10, 2014 at 7:30 am

The Bersa Thunder Plus that holds 15 bullets is nice. It shoots straight. Recoil is not heavy. Great gun for a Woman. My wife loves her Thunder Plus.

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