December 28, 2012

New Shooter's Review of the Bersa Thunder 380 Plus OOB



By new shooter, I mean less than a year experience. I was very fortunate to receive this gift this holiday season. In preparation for an overturning of the law in Illinois, I received a nice surprise gift. I figured I would share my 25 cents here.

Maintenance
This gun was easy to clean. I am very happy that the take down procedure is easy and takes less than 10 seconds. Under the barrel is a nice smooth part of the frame that is easy to clean versus other fixed barrel weapons. It won't take long to clean this gun, and I actually had fun doing it.

Reliability
I am questioning whether I put the recoil spring back in the correct way or not, as there are two different diameters on each end of the spring. If the position was incorrect, then that would explain a couple of failure to feeds and jams I was experiencing. This CANNOT happen in a time of emergency. Ever. The majority of shots (85%) did not jam and fired correctly. I am contacting the importer to see what the position of the recoil spring needs to be. It quite simply fits over the barrel.

Capacity
The Thunder Plus is the cousin of two other Bersa firearms of its class: the normal 380 Thunder and the 380 Thunder CC model. Both of the cousins have a 7 round magazine capacity plus 1 in the chamber. The plus has a double stack magazine with room for 15 rounds in the magazine plus 1 in the chamber. Breaking it in, I could fit 13 rounds into the magazine easily with no struggle.

Accuracy
The Thunder Plus is a fixed barrel gun like its counterparts. I was pleasantly shocked at the accuracy out of the box. I feel that the gun shoots a little low, but I will wait to put more rounds into paper before I make a windage adjustment. The grouping on target 1 was four "quarter" lengths apart (think the coin). With a quarter's diameter being roughly one inch (its 0.955 or something, I'll just call it 1.0) that means that my groups are at 4 inches at about 7 yards (21 feet, or roughly 6 meters). On target 2, my groups were at 3 inches apart at 7 yards. I was aiming at the heart and not center mass. My very first shots had a hit rate of 85.7% (12/14).

Recoil
Recoil was noticeable, but slightly less than a 9mm with a 5 inch barrel. I've learned a valuable lesson in materials: The 380 Plus is made out of all metal with an elastomer grip (rubber). The weight of the gun is around 24oz unloaded. I would rather pay the cost of a heavier gun in exchange for capacity and recoil reduction. The tang of the weapon (below the hammer) jolted against the part of my hand between my thumb and my index finger.

It stung and lingers, but it isn't too bad. For range shooting I am devising a foam strap I can wear that will reduce the impact against my hand. Recoil is manageable, and I am much more accurate OOB with the .380 caliber cartridge than 9mm. Well, 9mm shot out of a polymer framed gun anyways.

Cost
The weapon was sold at $393 US, including tax. Despite the low cost, there has been universal acclaim for the Bersa, a Walther PPK clone. I believe this is an excellent firearm for the value. Ammunition is expensive at 32 cents per round (might be inflated due to the gun control panic).

Verdict
2:1
The benefits of the firearm outweigh the negatives. I highly recommend it. I am devising a solution for range shooting to minimize chafing from the tang. The jamming may be correctable by positioning the recoil spring properly and/or breaking the gun in. The opposite hand thumb interacting with my trigger finger is a nitpick, and it will require muscle memory to keep it out of the way. For $400 US after taxes, you can't beat this bersa in terms of value. I recommend it, and I probably won't replace it for 20-30 years, if ever.

The gun was properly broken in after 1-2 trips to the range. I have not had stove pipes or jams since putting the recoil spring in correctly and breaking Hilde in.

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