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Bersa Thunder 380
Bersa Thunder 380 nickel.jpg
Bersa Thunder 380 with Satin Nickel finish.
Type Semi-automatic pistol
Place of origin  Argentina
Service history
Used by Ecuadorian Air Force
Production history
Designed 1995
Produced 1995-Present
Variants Thunder Concealed Carry (CC)
Thunder 380 Plus
Weight 20 oz. (560 g) Unloaded
Length 6.61 in. (168 mm)
Barrel length 3.54 in. (90 mm)

Cartridge .380 ACP (9×17mm Browning Short)
Caliber 9mm
Action Blowback
Muzzle velocity 1050 ft/s (Cor-Bon JHP)
Feed system Regular: 7, 9, or 10-Round single-stack magazine
Concealed Carry: 8-Round single-stack magazine
Plus: 15-Round double-stack magazine

Introduced in the late 1990s by Argentine firearms manufacturer Bersa, S.A., the Thunder 380 is a lightweight, relatively small semi-automatic pistol series chambered in the popular .380 ACP caliber.

It is mostly similar in design and appearance to the compact Beretta Cheetah pistol, however it does have a few similarities to the Walther PPK as well, although the Bersa sells for about half the price of a PPK.


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.

Intended market

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.

Design advantages

The Thunder 380 has a light aluminum alloy frame that reduces weight for easier carry, yet the pistol still retains enough mass (weight) to help tame recoil. 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.


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