The Bersa Thunder 380, sometimes referred to as the poor man’s PPK, is manufactured in Argentina and since its debut in 1995, has gained a loyal following.
A very popular pistol, the Bersa Thunder is a copy of another very popular pistol, the Walther PPK. The PPK was first produced in 1931 and over the years has seen extensive use in European and South American police and military units.
The Thunder 380 is pretty much a hybrid of the Walther PPK and the Walther PPL. It is a blowback design, but combines an aluminum alloy frame from the PPL design and the stainless slide and barrel of the PPK.
Bersa controls include a safety/decocker lever, slide release, and magazine release on the left side. The take down lever is located on the right side in contrast to the PPK takedown by pulling down the trigger guard. The Walther has no slide release lever. The Bersa 380 trigger is disabled without a magazine installed.
Sights are three dot and are arguably more visible on the Bersa with the rear sights being adjustable and the front sight dot proportionally larger so all three dots appear the same size when lined up on target, a subtle advantage that helps improve target acquisition and accuracy.
Bersa Thunder 380 Magazines are all metal with six round capacity and have a plastic pinky rest extension.
Shooting the Bersa Thunder is surprisingly more comfortable than shooting the Walther PPK. The alloy framed Bersa 380 has less felt recoil despite being slightly lighter in weight.
It has a true double action trigger which means the hammer falls each time the trigger is pulled. Double action pull is smooth and follow up single action pull is about four pounds. The trigger action overall is smoother, lighter, and has quicker reset than a Walther PPK.
Dis-assembly for cleaning is straight forward. Rotate the take down lever on the right side of the frame. Pull the slide assembly rearward and then up to remove it from the frame.
Reassemble in the same manner but be sure to install the recoil spring with the tight end of the spring installed on the barrel first and the slightly larger diameter loose end of the spring at the muzzle end. Be sure to keep the take down lever rotated down until the slide assembly is properly seated on the frame rails then rotate the lever into position. Do not pull the trigger with the slide assembly removed otherwise the trigger bar can pop loose. If this happens then you will have to reinsert it by pushing it against the frame while moving the trigger to line up the hole and pin. I’ve included a great video by RealGuysReviews that shows how easy it is to take down your Bersa Thunder. Visit his channel on YouTube for more reviews.
Bersa Thunder 380 Take Down for Cleaning
The bottom line is the Bersa Thunder 380 is slightly lower in quality fit and finish, has a slide release lever, has better sights, has a better trigger, is more comfortable to shoot, has an original owner lifetime warranty, has an excellent reputation for reliability, and costs half as much as the Walther PPK.
You can find the Bersa Thunder 380 for sale online for less than $300.00. The model I like has a satin nickel finish for about $310.00. Don’t let the low price fool you, the Bersa Thunder is a lot of gun for the money.
Bersa Thunder 380 Specifications
Caliber: .380 ACP
Barrel Length: 3.5”
Sight: 3 Dot
Rear Sight: Adjustable rear
Finishes: Matte Black, Satin Nickel, or Duotone
Grips: Checkered Polymer
Construction: Alloy Frame/Steel Slide
Integral Locking System, Manual, Firing Pin
Weight: 20 oz.