Quality Time with the Bersa Thunder 380

Feature | Quality Time with the Bersa Thunder 380 | bersa thunder 380 plus magazine

May 25, 2018 / Comments (95)


The Bersa Thunder 380 is recommended for people who are new to guns or are looking for a small but dependable caliber. The concealable, lightweight Bersa Thunder 380 specs come with features that any gun owner would like to have in their concealed weapon. Read below to learn more about the specs, operability, shooting and ammunition, and some personal magazine recommendations.

Bersa Thunder 380 Review

The Specs

The Specs | Quality Time with the Bersa Thunder 380 | bersa thunder 380 specs

Contrary to the floating barrel in recoil-operated handguns, the Bersa Thunder 380 barrel is in a fixed position and has a smaller feed ramp.  The external hammer is positioned ergonomically and is capable of single and double action firing even for people with smaller hands.  Bersa Thunder 380 magazine capacity is at 7+1, although you can also get the 8+1 magazine with the extended pinky grip.

Safety Features

Safety Features | Quality Time with the Bersa Thunder 380 | bersa thunder 380 review

The safety selector lever can also be used as a decocking mechanism. The firing pin safety, once turned on, ensures the gun will not fire if it gets dropped.  The key-activated trigger lock adds another layer of security as it prevents unauthorized people from using the gun. The magazine disconnect safety will also keep the handgun from firing if the magazine is not inserted well.

These safety features in the Bersa Thunder 380 are meant to mitigate negligent discharges, especially during assembly and maintenance.  They may appear to be cumbersome and unnecessary to some people, but these additional features little to no impact on its overall operation.



The Bersa Thunder 380 can handle nearly every situation anyone can get thrown into, even if you are a newbie.  The smooth slide travel during the blowback action appears to be balanced. This is enough for shooters to make multiple shots on target without overcompensating for any recoil.

Once you put in the time to familiarize yourself with the gun, assembly and reassembly, reloading, and clearing stoppages become a lot easier.  Maintenance is also quite easy as the gun breaks down into 3 major parts. The carbon collection points are easily accessible for cleaning.

Shooting and Ammunition

Shooting and Ammunition | Quality Time with the Bersa Thunder 380 | bersa thunder 380 magazine

As with any DA/ SA handgun, it is important that you already know the feel of both single and double action modes. The trigger pull of the Bersa Thunder 380 is a smooth 9.5 pounds and a predictable 4 pounds in single-action mode. On the range, the trigger resulted in consistent grouping from 3 to 25 yards.

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Except for some hand-loaded cartridges, the gun was able to handle most ammunition.  You might notice the reduced noise and recoil, so make sure you call a cease-fire before proceeding to fire again.  If there are any bullet jams, simply hammer it out before continuing on shooting.


Drawbacks | Quality Time with the Bersa Thunder 380 | bersa thunder 380 barrel

Perhaps the biggest drawback was the failure to feed stoppages, which happens a little too often. The unassisted feeding results in a smaller feeding ramp, which may be the culprit.  After testing it with various types of ammunition and getting some action drills in, you can mitigate the problem by only using a Bersa Thunder 380 magazine. It also helps if you maintain the gun well.

Magazine Recommendations

The following are ideal self-defense ammunition when choosing to carry a 380 handgun like the Bersa Thunder. The ballistic technology in the recommended ammunition is enough to make the Bersa Thunder 380 just as deadly as other defensive calibers:

  • Speer Gold Dot .380 –  the ammunition sacrifices some expansion for deep penetration. In tests, it can reach anywhere from 11 to 13 inches of penetration as compared to other Bersa Thunder 380 magazine options.
  • Federal HST .380 – this ammunition only penetrates about 8 inches in tests, mostly due to the heavier bullet and larger expansion. The bonded core bullets are consistent with its integrity and expansion through hard barriers like denim and drywall.
Quality time with the Bersa Thunder 380 | bersa thunder 380 plus combat

Compensating for the ballistic gel bounceback, the average penetration here was just under 12 inches at 11.71. Thanks to AmmoQuest for sharing these results.


Watch this gun review on Bersa Thunder 380 by Honest Outlaws below:

The best way to decide if the Bersa Thunder 380 handgun is for you is to test it and actually spend some time familiarizing yourself with it at your local range.  We hope this article helps settle the debate on large caliber handguns as personal protection and home defense handguns.  The best gun to have will always be the one that you have on you. If it happens to be a Bersa Thunder 380, you will feel confident about its performance and reliability.

What did you think of our Bersa Thunder 380 review? Let us know in the comment section!

Up Next: Beretta A400 Xplor | Gun Carrier Shotgun Reviews

95 Responses to :
Quality Time with the Bersa Thunder 380

  1. John Edwards says:

    I have had my Bersa Firestorm, because we live in California, it’s the only model that I could get, and I haven’t had too much time to practice with it. I appreciate the info about the Speer Gold Dot. I’ve only had it for about 6 months, and I would really appreciate any info that you could give me, or where I can go on line to acquire that info. Thank you so much for all the info that was in the article, and I’m gonna keep it for reference.

    1. Dave says:

      Same here in Redding. Got the Bersa Firestorm .380. First thing I did was add CrimsonTrace grips.
      While I find this to be an accurate shooter, I believe the laser will get me back on target even faster.
      The .380 ammo is even better today than it was back in the mid 70s when I purchased a FIE/Garcia Mod D .380 to use as a backup. Since most shootings are close range, there is nothing wrong with a .380. Just be prepared to put a second shot on target just in case the first didn’t do it.
      Of course, I recently bought a wheel gun (S&W Mod 60 SS .38Spl 5 shot and a couple of speed loaders). I was lucky and found it being sold on consignment which helps me bypass some of the CA rules by just transferring title since it, and many others are no longer available.

  2. Wayne says:

    After 7 yrs with 3 Versa. 380s, my wife and. I have experienced 2 malfunctions. We are instructors and both time the cause was the same person limp wristing. Many detractors say .380 is not enough bullet, which with the right ammo and practice is false. Others say Bersas are cheaply made which with as many as we have sold and as many rounds we have put through ours I can say HOGWASH. We use ours as primary carry and know it will go BANG every time.

  3. Dean Gilbert says:

    I have a Bersa Thunder .380. Never had a feeding problem nor a fail to fire. I’ve put well over 1000 rounds of various ammo
    through mine without a hitch. I carry it concealed when going out with a suit and tie and you’ll never see it. (Unless the need arises). I trust my life on it. Great little gun and extremely dependable.

  4. David Jordan says:

    I have a Thunder, a while ago the frame slide cracked right by the hammer. I sent it back to Bersa who replaced the gun FOC….good service. I have a problem with the grips coming loose, solved by a spot of LocTite on the screws…..the gun does fail to feed on occasion.

    1. Mikial says:

      Appreciate your candor on this. Frankly, it doesn’t sound like a gun I would depend on for my life.

  5. Collette Ray Phelps says:

    I love the 380, I am looking for something like that for me, as I just moved to this town that has a lot of trouble here. I am by myself and am really wanting something for me, I think this would be perfect. If it comes in Red, that would be awesome.. Thank you,

    1. Custom gun says:

      Collette I can assure you that you won’t find a better value for your money. View my post here to see what I think of mine. I love it, and can guarantee you will not be disappointed.

  6. Tommy Nichol says:

    I had trouble with my Bersa when I was qualifying for my CHL. It kept jamming. It was because of an aftermarket magazine. Never had problem with factory magazine.

    1. Chip Payne says:

      I have one and I changed from Hollow Point to Ball ammo and it stopped it. Also I heard if you use a little fine sandpaper right where it feeds that will help. Last thing you need is a jam.

  7. Chip Payne says:

    I have a Walther PPK .380 and the Bersa and I need to sell one, it will be the Walther. Bersa fits in my hand better and is lighter and believe it or not a lot more accurate.

  8. Frank McCrory says:

    Have had a Bersa Thunder about three years and the only FTFs were because of hollow points. Love the gun and it is my carry weapon.

  9. Custom gun says:

    I have had my Bersa Thunder for at least 10 years now and can’t tell you how many thousands of rounds I have put through the little guy. Initially I experienced an occasional failure to feed correctly, but as a professional gunsmith it was little work to polish the feed ramp. After that I haven’t experienced a single failure to feed, even with hollow point ammunition. Being my carry pistol I want something that will provide 100% reliability every time I pull the trigger. Another plus, is the accuracy, with a fixed barrel there is never a doubt that the round will go where I aim it, each and every time. Yes, I love my Bersa Thunder.

  10. Michael Beals says:

    I have a Bersa 383A which is like the precursor to the Thunder. In the many years since I acquired it, I have had 2 FTF’s, which were caused by the ammo I reloaded when I was starting out as a reloader, That OAL I knew nothing about at the time. This is a daily carrier for me and I have no problem trusting it with my life.

  11. jerry young says:

    My wife has carried a Bersa thunder for the last 2 years and loves it, I thought about getting one to replace my Taurus PT 380 backup gun and now Bersa has come out with a double stack version I think I will, I got to handle one at our last CCW class, unfortunately I did not get the chance to shoot it yet but maybe I can at our next class if there is time during our range session, it seems to fit my larger hands better than the single stack Bersa.

  12. Patrick Sommers says:

    I bought a Bersa Thunder a year ago because I love the safety features, especially the de-cock because I like to carry in a hot status. Fires very smoothly and as mentioned the balance on it keeps me on target. I did notice a personal problem that I need to correct, that being after the long trigger pull when the first round is double action I have a tendency to fire the second round unintentionally due to the now reduced trigger travel as the pistol cycles to single action. My bad. I did have a FTL recently at the range caused by a long spring under the right butt cover coming out of contact with the upper assembly (not a gunsmith so don’t know what’s called) causing the trigger assembly to disconnect. I feel Bersa could engineer this better so the spring is more solidly attached rather than simply being seated in a groove. If you have one check it out and you will see what I’m talking about. I plan on purchasing a second one to keep in my pickup as well as the one I keep in my Blazer. I also plan to try using the Speer ammo that was recommended. Thnx for the good informative article.

  13. Bill Hager says:

    have had mine for almost 9 yrs love it no problems yet

  14. Mike says:

    I have an old 1980’s Bersa Thunder i bought from a friend. It came with 4 Bersa Mags. I was an competitive shooter in the Army, and a marksmanship Instructor. When i took my CC class there were 52 shooters of which i scored more points with my Bersa than anyone else. I even out shoot a guy with .22 ruger with a 4 inch barrel.. My instructor was impressed by my choice of .380 pistol. The first thing he mention was the fixed barrel and safety features. He thought for sure i would have a .45 or 9mm. I have Never had a FTF or jam! .

  15. DavesNotHere says:

    Love my Thunder as well. A few bits of advice for those of you having issues- 1. Never use Promag magazines- Bersa factory or MecGar only. Any review that states they used “aftermarket mags” i.e. Promags and then says the weapon jams, I instantly attribute that to the Promags- out of spec junk. 2. Keep the wrist locked- this one is subject to limp wristing feed issues more than most. 3. It’s not a 1911- don’t grip it like one- if you’re holding it too high the slide could rub against your hand and slow the slide velocity. 4. Keep it clean, and a little bit of grease on the slide rails. 5. Polish the feed ramp. Do these things and I predict your issues will disappear.

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