Bersa is prepping to launch two new handguns for 2016, a streamlined double-stack .380 ACP for concealed carry and a longslide competition-ready 9mm Luger pistol. These guns fit nicely into Bersa’s catalog of hard-use yet affordable handguns.
Bersa’s concealead-carry guns have been making short lists for years and with good reason. They’re based on a simple, proven design with a strong track record for reliability and they’ve got nice triggers for fast, accurate shooting.
Thunder Combat Plus
They’re a service pistol manufacturer at heart and it shows even with their commercial products—and it’s especially clear with the new Thunder Combat Plus. A hybrid based on the Bersa Thunder Plus and the Thunder Combat, the Thunder Combat Plus is an enhanced version of their standard .380 merged with their large-frame double-stack .380.
The Plus features are obvious. The slightly larger grip gives the gun a fantastic 15+1 capacity–the best in its class for .380 pistols–while only adding .05 inches to the grip width. It’s also just a half ounce heavier, unloaded, compared to the single-stack version with its 8+1 capacity.
The Combat features include a matte black finish, a low-profile slide that’s less prone to snag on the draw, broad slide serrations, an olive wrap-around rubber grip, a rounded trigger guard for smooth holstering and a shorter beavertail for comfortable carry all day.
Critical dimensions remain the same and it should work with existing holsters. It’s 6.5 inches long with its 3.5-inch barrel and it’s even the same height at 4.7 inches tall.
With an MSRP of $419 the Thunder Combat Plus is extremely competitive and should be available in stores in the mid-$300 range.
Thunder 9 Pro XT
At the other end of the spectrum is Bersa’s Thunder 9 Pro XT, chambered for 9mm Luger. Out of the box it’s ready for the range with an extended, 5-inch barrel, fiber optic front sight and fully-adjustable LPA rear sight. Bersa teased this pistol last year and will have it stateside for 2016.
It has ambidextrous safety/decocker and slide release levers as well as a reversible slide stop, making it a good option for both right- and left-handed shooters, especially competition shooters, who often have to shoot both strong and weak-side in matches.
A full-size gun, the Thunder 9 Pro XT feeds from 17-round standard-capacity magazines and will be offered with 10-round mags as well, and includes five magazines in the box, enough to take it straight to the races.
One of the things that make these guns such nice shooters are the good factory triggers. They have double-action/single-action triggers with an 8- to 9-pound DA trigger pull and a sub-5-pound SA trigger pull with a very short, positive and easy-to-find reset. With a lot of competition guns sometimes trigger work is a forgone conclusion but with the Thunder 9 Pro XT that might not be the case.
Other changes make it stand out from their standard Thunder Pro series. The pistol doesn’t have an accessory rail to reduce holster drag on the draw, the frame is serrated for extra traction with a thumbs-forward grip and the gun has a two-tone black and silver Cerakote finish. Cerakote is a solid upgrade from the regular Bersa finish, with better wear- and corrosion-resistance properties.
These semi-custom upgrades and accessories do make the Thunder 9 Pro XT the most expensive Bersa pistol yet, but even with its $923 MSRP—so probably around $800 in the real world, maybe less—it’s still going to be one of the most affordable ways to get a competition shooter with all these extras.
With these new products, it’s going to be that much harder not to pick up a Bersa pistol this year.