Bersa Thunder 380, Makarov, Sig P230, and Walther PP

This is a discussion on Bersa Thunder 380, Makarov, Sig P230, and Walther PP within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I wrote this several years ago but it still bears merit. This is a review and comparison of the following pistols that I own and ...

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Thread: Bersa Thunder 380, Makarov, Sig P230, and Walther PP

  1. #1
    Member Array richardoldfield's Avatar
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    Bersa Thunder 380, Makarov, Sig P230, and Walther PP

    I wrote this several years ago but it still bears merit.

    This is a review and comparison of the following pistols that I own and shoot. These pistols are the Bersa Thunder 380, Makarov, Sig P230, and Walther PP. I own the pistols reviewed and carry them on occasion. I am sorry that I do not own a Walther PP in .380; I used my 32acp version of the PP for this review.

    Many feel the 380 is low on the power ladder but I feel as well armed with a 380 as a 38 Special in a snub nose revolver and I have more shots with the 380. The 32acp is a strange situation because its actual performance is much better than it should be.

    All of these pistols are accurate and the reason for this is they all have fixed barrels. Accuracy from a fixed barrel is a known plus but failing to have a Browning style barrel increases felt recoil. What do I mean? I find my Kel-Tec P32 as easy to shoot as my Walther PP 32acp, which is a much bigger and heavier handgun.

    Bersa Thunder 380
    Caliber: .380 ACP
    System of operation: Semiautomatic
    Length: 6.61 inches
    Height: 4.92 inches
    Width: 1.34 inches
    Barrel length: 3.5 inches
    Weight: 20 ounces
    Rear sight: Notched bar, dovetailed
    Front sight: Blade, integral with slide
    Magazine capacity: 7 cartridges
    Grip: Polymer
    Finish: Blue/ Nickel/ Duotone
    After firing the last cartridge, the slide remains open

    I have well over 500 rounds through my Bersa since I bought in March of this year. I find the factory plastic grips comfortable and the sights easy to see. My pistol has an excellent factory trigger and I shoot this pistol well. If I have any complaints about the Bersa, they are the decocker works in the opposite direction from a 1911 and the finish could be better.

    My pistol came with one magazine but I bought two extra ProMags from CDNN at a very good price. These magazines lack the finger extension found on factory magazines but that is not a big deal to me. I am sure the Bersa Thunder is one of the best buys available in the current handgun market.

    Makarov
    Type: Semiautomatic, fixed barrel, straight blowback
    Caliber: 9 x 18 mm.
    Length overall: 6.29921 inches
    Weight: 23.47 oz.
    Barrel length: 3.66142 inches
    Capacity: 8

    Another current best buy is the Makarov pistol. These were the pistols of the Soviets and they are built like T34 tanks. I own three Makarovs and I like them, two of these are East German (EG) and the third is a Bulgarian. The Makarov is a little bigger and heavier than the other pistols in this review but with a good holster, carry and concealment are not an issue.

    To me my main concern is the small factory sights that come standard on Maks. I replace the sights on my Bulgarian with Novak Night Sights and it is now a dream to shoot. A word to the wise is sight replacement is not cheap. This runs between two and three hundred dollars. With the current price of Maks, you may consider the Mak as a point and shoot gun if you so desire. I can squint and do okay with the factory sights on my EGs but the Novak's are a joy to use.

    The triggers on all thee of my Maks are good with the nod going to the EGs. I do not feel unarmed when I carry a Mak. The Mak is a lot of value for the price.

    Sig P230
    Type: Semiautomatic, fixed barrel, straight blowback
    Caliber: .380acp
    Length overall: 6.6 inches
    Weight: 20.8 oz.
    Barrel length: 3.6 inches
    Capacity: 8

    My Sig P230 is a used stainless steel pistol that is in very good condition. I bought it used from a dealer I respect; the dealer said it was a police officer's back up gun and used little. My impression of the P232 is it ranks up there with the best but it should as it costs a lot.

    This compact pistol came with a problem. The gun jammed the first time I shot it and continued to jam. The jams were like no other I have ever seen before. The spent cartridge ejected properly but the next cartridge went straight at the top of the chamber and lodged there. To make matters more interesting the third round then faced downward at the front of the magazine. I am bull headed and kept trying to figure out the cause of these jams. I tried all types of ammunition including full metal jacket bullets. Nothing helped the situation.

    I called the shop I bought the pistol from, the shop owner said bring the pistol in, and he would make good on it. I put off taking the 90-mile drive and continued to ponder the situation. I asked anyone with Sig experience ad called the manufacturer. In the end, I ordered a new recoil spring, magazine spring, and magazine from Sig.

    I installed the springs and I did note the new springs have much more power than the old ones. I took the Sig P232 to the range and guess what happened with the first round? A jam just like the prior jams. I cleared the jam and reloaded the pistol. Before I fired the next round I remembered something the Sig gunsmith said to me: "Hold the pistol high and with a firm grasp." I tried this and the jams are now gone. Lastly, the P232 is accurate shooting orange sized groups from a modified Weaver stance at 10 yards.

    Walther PP 32acp
    Type: Double Action
    Caliber: 32acp
    Length overall: 6.81102 Inches
    Weight: 21.9268 Ounces
    Barrel length: 3.89764 Inches
    Capacity: 8

    My Walther PP is a West German police trade in excellent condition. This pistol is the one all other compacts are judged by. My PP exudes quality and shoots to point of aim. I have only one complaint with Walther PP pistols and that is the bite the web of my hand. A final note on Walthers is they tend to hold their value better than any pistol I have owned.

    After evaluating the four pistols, my conclusion is all will serve you well but the true sleeper is the Bersa Thunder 380. This little pistol has great sights and a very good trigger. In the end, it is my choice over the Makarov due solely to its superior sights. The Bersa is one-third to one-half as much money as the Walther or Sig pistols. It is a truly great buy.


    Regards,

    Richard

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  3. #2
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    Nice reviews Richard...thanks for sharing.
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    Having shot all those guns except the Walther PP, I completely agree. That's why I bought my Bersa .380 over the Sig P232.

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    I cannot thank you enough for this wonderful post. I am currently wanting a new BUG and have all these on my list to check out at the next gunshow in Feb. I live in a small town and don't have a gun shop with any selection. I have held the KelTec and it just felt like junk in my hand and the finish was terrible, but what do you expect for $200+ bucks? I have heard good things about reliability. I had almost decided on a Bersa thunder in .380 until I saw the Sig P232 or the older model the P230, this has to be one of the sleekest guns I have ever seen, and I have my heart set on one, but we will see. I have read folks picking these up for $300-$350, which is much less than Sigs list price. Your report of failures was the first problem I have ever heard from these pistols, but I think limp wristing can be a problem with any handgun. I also like the Walther PPK, but I would want a German or Interarms SS version, but it seems like these have really gone up in value over the last 5 years or so. So again, I am not sure what I will end up with, but I do appreciate your post. Answer one question for me, how well does the the Sig fit in the rear pocket of a pair of blue jeans? I know this is not considered a pocket gun, but to me it should fit.
    Thanks Again
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    Member Array richardoldfield's Avatar
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    NCHornet, I am sorry to say that I have never carried the P230 in my back pocket, I have an Alessi hard Shell Talon IWB holster I use with it. Regards, Richard

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    I have a WG Sig 230 that I picked up last year for $480.00 after shipping & transfer fees. It has been flawless thru about 400 rounds. Recoil is a little snappy but not uncomfortable.
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    VIP Member Array NCHornet's Avatar
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    Thanks for the report. I will be looking for a deal at the Feb gun show.
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    Carry On!
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    I love my Bersa as well and the blowback design. No problems with mine at all. I can't speak for the others.
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    I have a Makarov in .380 and it will digest any ammo I feed it. It is the most reliable auto that I own. The Bersa is a better gun though.
    Nice reveiw thanks

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    Thanks for the post!

    I'm thinking of buying a Bersa .380 CC model or the Walther PPK/s.
    The jury is still out, but your review has added some food for thought.
    It's not about the caliber you carry, it's about how you USE it.

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    I bought a duotone Bersa Thunder Friday and have already put nearly 100 rounds through it, with nary a bobble. With a Galco holster, some HydraShoks, and the gun, I didnt spend $250 for the NIB pistol. I love the P230/232 series, but the price they command is ridiculous to my way of thinking. I'm happy with the Bersa.....
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    Have you had any problems with the ProMags in the Bersa? I have read that people have had problems with them so I have not bought any yet.

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