The Bersa Thunder 380 is a very popular concealed-carry handgun.
It was designed with South American civilian use in mind, taking into account countries which prohibit private ownership of military calibers, .380 being the most powerful cartridge available to a lot of civilian markets. It is made out of a lightweight aluminium alloy frame, making it more useful as a concealed carry weapon. It also bears considerable resemblance to the Walther PPK.
Due to the small frame, the pistol is very well suited for female firers, and males with smaller hands. The magazines, however are designed with an extra section of grip, so that all fingers of the firing hand are accommodated. The blowback, fixed-barrel design theoretically aids accuracy, and it appears that the vast majority of Thunder 380 users report favorably on that issue. The nearly straight-in alignment of the chamber and the topmost cartridge in the magazine seems to be responsible for the pistol's reliable chambering and cycling. The frame features a long rearward tang over the grips, which effectively protects the shooter's thumb web from hammer-bite or slide-bite. There are several safety features built into the Thunder 380: a slide mounted manual safety and decocker that blocks the hammer, a magazine disconnect safety that prevents firing if a magazine is not inserted, a long double-action (DA) first trigger pull, an inertial firing pin, and (in some models) an integral key-operated trigger lock. Some versions also feature an automatic firing pin block. The pistol has a rear sight windage adjustment.
History and MarketEdit
Preceded by the Bersa Modelo 383 SA, Modelo 383 DA, Modelo 83, and Series 95, the Thunder 380 is part of the current Bersa product lineup that also includes the Thunder 22, Thunder 22-6, Thunder 32, Thunder 380 Plus, Thunder 9, Mini Thunder 9, Mini Thunder 40, and Mini Thunder 45. A variant of sorts is sold by another importer, Firestorm SGS of New Jersey, wherein the pistol is assembled from parts manufactured by Bersa and marketed as the 'Firestorm 380' and 'Firestorm 22'. An even lighter variant of the Thunder 380, called the 'Concealed Carry' model (or 380CC), and a 15 round capable "Bersa Thunder 380 plus" were released by Bersa in the United States.
The Thunder 380 is intended for general civilian use. This conceptualization might be appreciated in the context of handgun use and law in many South American countries, where the Thunder 380 is quite popular, and .380 ACP is frequently the most powerful cartridge allowed to civilians. Nevertheless, a number of military and law enforcement forces have included Bersa 380's in their tables of equipment, including the Ecuadorian Air Force.