The Argentinian gun maker Bersa has a cult following. And for good reason. While I’ve never found them to be particularly good looking guns, I’ve shot a few of their Thunder .380ACP pistols in the past. I’ve found them to be good, simple guns at a relatively low price points. The Bersa Thunder 9 Pro XT is a step up in power and features. Is it still a great value?

Bersa Thunder 9 Pro XT is the “competition” version of Bersa’s Thunder Pro 9/40 duty gun. You can see the lines of the High Power in both firearms, but the XT’s controls look kludged. All of the levers are oversized, stuck right next to each other. They look like they were designed by the guy who makes electronics for toddlers.

The Pro XT’s frame is an odd match of flats, edges and curves, with cut-outs and angles deployed with near random abandon. I generally like two-toned guns, but the light grey Cerakote of the XT’s frame looks cheap next to the dull black slide and grips. The all-black model (not shown) would be the more elegant choice.

The Bersa guns I shot previously were all based on direct blow-back actions, completely suitable for smaller cartridges. The Thunder Pro 9 XT is based on the now ubiquitous Browning/Petter action. When I look at this gun, I see High Power-CZ75-Beretta 51/92-FNX. And that’s what it felt like too, but in many ways even better.

While it may not be a looker, the Pro XT feels great. (There’s a lesson in there for you.) The Argentinean handgun snuggled into my oversized hand like a well-worn catcher’s mitt. The grip isn’t pretty, but it fills my hand with plenty of room to spare at the bottom. Serrations both fore and aft help lock my hands in place.

That Pro XT’s trigger’s oddly angled trigger well looks wrong, but works right. It gives the shooter plenty of room for a gloved finger while still allowing for a deep undercut. The serrations in front of the Pro XT’s trigger well are a welcome tactile index point for my trigger finger.

Other cuts in the Pro XT’s frame bring the controls below and out of the way of my support hand. Those big, sharp, ugly controls grabbed my thumb and made manipulation quick and sure, with a bare hand or a glove. The Pro XT’s light recoil obviates the need for an extended beaver tail.

The controls are mostly ambidextrous, with the safety/de-cocker on both sides along with the slide lock/release. The magazine release can be swapped to either size. I found the short distance between the safety/de-cocker and the very large slide lock/release to be more of a bug than a feature.

Opening the Pro XT up, I discovered obviously signs of wear on the internals. This is a T&E gun, so it’s not the firearm’s first rodeo. More importantly, the Pro XT’s put together very well. Lock-up is good, despite the wear, and there are no tool marks or gross chattering in the gun.

If you look in the slide, it’s pretty obvious why this gun reminds me of both my Beretta 92s and my FNX-Tactical. They are extremely similar — once again proving that there’s been little new in popular handguns in the last 60 years.

That big safety is also a de-cocker (more like the Beretta 92FS than the FN America FNX). With the safety on and the hammer down, nothing happens when you pull the trigger. Take the safety off, pull the trigger and a long trigger pull levers the hammer through its motion. With the hammer back, push the safety back up and it safely drops the hammer, de-cocking the pistol.

Since I never use the safety on my Beretta (I had it shaved flush), and I’m so used to my 1911s, STI 2011s and my FNX-45 Tactical, I continually put the hammer back and attempted to safe the weapon, de-cocking it. That’s exactly what is supposed to happen, but I never quite got used to it again.

The Pro XT is set up as a racier version of a duty gun. It’s about half an inch longer than the duty version, with a corresponding distance between the sights.

The Pro XT’s sight set-up consists of a red fiber optic front sight and a fully adjustable serrated flat ledge rear sight. I’ve been a fan of this set up since Dave Dawson put one of his Dawson Precision front sights on my Ruger SR1911. For a range/competition gun, it can’t be beat.

In fast fire — and this gun will fire fast — the small amount of rise in the muzzle falls down quickly. The bright front sight stays visible the whole time. The Thunder 9 Pro XT’s thin but bright front sight is easy to track and pops right out, but it’s small enough for accurate work in either fast or slow fire.

 

With my size large hands, a good high grip on the gun with my thumb on top of the safety meant my thumb was riding the slide lock/release. using my standard grip, the slide never locked back on an empty magazine. I asked a few other people to shoot the gun. No one else had thumbs that reached that far; the slide locked back for them, as it did for me when I used a thumbs down grip.

Although there’s no real magazine feed well for the pistol, the magazine well itself is slightly beveled. I’d have to work to miss it. Insert the magazine carefully and the slide stays back, but slap it in at all and the slide automatically came forward every time.

The Pro XT’s trigger reminded me of my struggles with my duty Beretta 92FS (before Wilson Combat’s gunsmiths breathed on it). That’s because the Pro XT is a Double-Action/Single Action (DA/SA) firearm.

The first, double-action pull clocked-in at 7 lbs. 10 oz. on my Lyman scale, with about 25mm of travel. Although fairly long, the DA pull’s quite smooth with no grit or hang-ups throughout the process. The reset, and subsequent single action pulls are short and very crisp. The single-action pull has only 5mm of travel, and breaks at a light 3 lbs. 7 ozs.

That’s a BIG difference between the two pulls. Mastering them both requires some serious training.

As usual, I sprayed Rogue American Apparel’s Gun Lube through the gun about an hour or so before I went to the range. At no point after that did I lube or clean the gun in any way.

The pistol like a champ. I put 500 rounds through the Thunder Pro XT: several varieties of 115gr and 147gr FMJs, as well as JHP rounds from a few manufacturers. It shot standard pressure as well as +P rounds well. At no point did I experience any failures to fire, feed, load or eject. As far as accuracy is concerned, none of the rounds were particularly erratic or big outliers.

Accuracy throughout the cartridge spectrum was consistent and very good. The Team Never Quit 100gr frangible round scored the best group, averaging a two-inch five-round group from a bag at 25 yards. Cap Arms 115 grain FMJ, 147gr HP and Remington Golden Saber 124gr +P rounds scored an average of 2 ¼”. I shot 60 rounds to test accuracy with a total average of 2.16”. Not bad at all.

The Pro XT feels a lot like my duty Beretta 92fs. The Pro XT is not as pretty as its Italian cousin, but the Argentinian has better sights and a better grip. It’s more accurate and completely reliable. In fact, the Pro XT shoots and runs just as well as my Wilson Combat Beretta 92G.

The same applies when I stretch the comparison to include the Smith & Wesson M&P C.O.R.E and Performance Center guns I’ve tested. All of which makes the $750-or-so Bersa Thunder 9 Pro XT an outstanding value for a gun that’s range and race-ready right out of the box, complete with five magazines.

Specifications: Bersa Thunder 9 Pro XT

Caliber: 9mm
Action: DA/SA
Capacity: 17
Barrel Length: 4.96 inches
Front Sight: Fiber optic
Rear Sight: LPA Fully Adjustable
Finishes: Duotone
Grips: Checkered Black Polymer
Construction: Aluminium 7075-T6
Safety: Manual, Auto Firing Pin
Weight: 33.9oz
Length: 8.27 inches
Height: 5.6 inches
Width: 1.46 inches
Price: Found online for $750 and less

Ratings (out of five stars): 

Style and Appearance * * *
To put it kindly, Bersa spent their time and money on making the gun run, not making it pretty.

Accuracy * * * *
Two- and 2.25-inch five-round groups at 25 yards is fine shooting. Extra credit for consistent performance across ammo brands, weights and types.

Reliability * * * * *
Eats anything and spits it right back out. Zero issues of any kind.

Overall * * * *
If your biggest concern is what you can do with the gun, not what the gun looks like or who’s name is on the side of it, it’s hard to beat the Bersa Thunder 9 Pro XT. A great value.

42 Responses to Gun Review: Bersa Thunder 9 Pro XT

  1. Great review – happy to see Bersa getting some love!
    For years I’ve known they’ve been fine firearms, just not that popular in the US market.

      • Please name your source for these alleged repair problems. Any metal Bersa’s I’ve ever had or shot have been solidly built, accurate, and reliable firearms.

        • Welp, I’ve had a Bersa Thunder 9 UC Pro and .380 CC that have both functioned flawlessly for years and never given me any trouble of any kind, but God damn it; if Russ said they’re no good, guess I’d better throw them both away.

        • Russ buys and sells guns for a living. He also rents guns at his range. It’s not the age of the gun that destroys it. It’s thousands of rounds. I’m sure you have put 10,000 rounds through your gun without an issue. Everybody on the Internet has. Until “Question of the Day: How Often Do You Shoot?” then everyone says “not much, ammo cost too much”.

        • I just called the north 42 gun range. They do not, and have not stocked the Bersa 9. Only the Bersa 380. Totally different action. You are talking about different guns.

        • Yeah that rings a bell. It was a couple years ago when Russ told me that.
          When it comes to quality, the manufacturer means more to me than the action or specific gun.
          I just shared what I know about Bersa. Lord knows I take enough shit about Glock.

        • Thank you, JWT. My point is that every gun expert I’ve ever encountered has two things in common:

          1: The “expert” designation is used to add fake credibility to their personal opinions far more often than it actually denotes any expertise.

          2: If something works for me, I really don’t give a rat’s ass what they have to say about it. Any objections to my personal policy can be re-directed to this point ad infinitum.

        • Take it up with Russ. I’m just telling everyone what his opinion was based on the number of guns he”s had to send back to the manufacturer. I have to go with that to base my decision on than an anonymous person on the Internet with no proven area of expertise.
          Just trying to keep a balanced conversation going. Try not to get so butthurt.

  2. Glad to see Bersa getting some positive notice here. I have two Bersas – a .380 and a .45 compact – that I purchased years ago when I didn’t have much money to spend on firearms. Neither has let me down. Both have excellent DA/SA triggers, and I’ve had no reliability issues with either one. I carried the .45 for about a year and only replaced it when I found a thinner handgun (the .45 is 1.5″ thick), but I still take it out occasionally. I think a lot of people are learning not to sneer at Bersa handguns – they are reliable, accurate and a great value for the money.

  3. I had mixed feelings about my Bersa Thunder CC. It was really accepting of ammo for a .380, more so than my dad’s Walther. It was really affordable and super comfortable to carry. But I struggled with the sights. And I used the slide stop as a slide release (the manual warns you not to) which wore it so that it didn’t lock back properly. I’d consider another Bersa gun in the future. But I just bought a Canik TP9SFX for a race gun, so probably not this one.

    I AM a fan of DA/SA triggers since that’s what I’m used to. In the age of striker fired polymer wonders and 1911 style everywhere, finding a good conceal carry with DA/SA is tough

    • Speaking of which, if anyone wants to recommend a nice SA/DA single stack in a carry for 9mm or .45 (the two pistol rounds I currently use), I’d love to take a look.

  4. Thanks for the detailed description of the manual safety, especially since the author has no particular interest in them. I am slightly surprised how idiosyncratic semi-auto handgun functionality is.

    So with this handgun you may not cock the hammer AND safe it. On the other hand, with my CZ-75, that is the only function of the safety; cocked and safety on. I was hoping that the CZ would allow the hammer down with safety on, but it doesn’t. And the Bersa does. Who thinks this stuff up, and why isn’t there more agreement on best practices?

    • Chinese lock box.
      A woman that works with my wife had a Phoenix Arms .25 auto. She wanted me to function test it and clean it. She had never fired it but her father had left it for her.
      When I was done, I told her that if it had sentimental value, to keep it and only shoot it at the range. Otherwise, I told her, sell it and buy something else for defense.
      You need an aircraft pilot’s checklist to get it to fire. I think either gunsmiths have fun fucking with people or they were designed by lawyers.

    • My Bersa Thunder CC had a safety/decocker. Move the lever down and it was in “safe”, move it down further after it was “safe” and it’d decock the weapon and stay in safe. If this is the same, it’ll both safe and decock for you.

  5. Have all blued 9mm Bersa Thunder. Brought for low price. Keep feed ramp clean and won’t have jams. That’s the reason for hateful comments by range officials. Took CHGL with Bersa 380 pistol and passed with a decent score, years ago!
    Would recommend for folks who are curious about getting involved in shooting. Have priced much higher priced name brand pistols now. Mostly Ruger but the Bersa is what got me started!

  6. The Bersa reviewed here is based on a Walther design, I believe the P88(https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walther_P88). I had the Thunder Pro 9 Ultra Compact. It was reliable as a wood stove, but not very accurate. I original had the full size Thunder Pro 40, but that had a habit of locking the slide back every 2-3 rounds, so they did a warranty exchange. They threw in a couple extra magazines and a t-shirt for my hassle. We also had the Bersa Thunder 380. It was accurate, reliable, cheap, but the sights were hard for momma to use, and she didn’t like the recoil. She now carries her Ruger LC9S.

  7. I almost bought a bersa thunder 9 a few years back (Around $350), but did not, because the magazine price chased me away. The price of the gun was a great deal. But I wanted spare mags and at the time the cheapest I could find them was $55 each. I bought something else instead.

    I wouldn’t pay $750 for a Bersa Thunder 9.

    I’d rather buy this turkish madness:
    http://eaacorp.com/index.php/guns/handguns/sar-b6-competitor-415

  8. I’ve had one of their Mini9Firestorm pistols for years. It’s not bad. Digests everything I’ve fed it with no issues and is pretty accurate for what it is. It’s not one I shoot that often, maybe 2K rounds through it.

    Drawbacks are that a holster is pretty much impossible to find, and as another reader noted, mags are expensive. It’s also a little thick for some people’s taste.

    They’re not lookers but they work. If they’d work on the outside of the gun, IMHO, it would be on par with my Star BM but with almost double the ammo capacity.

    Does this one, the one reviewed here, come with that key safety feature that lets you lockout the gun?

    • “Does this one, the one reviewed here, come with that key safety feature that lets you lockout the gun?”
      No sir.

      • Interesting. I’ve always wondered about that feature on some of their older guns. Mainly I wonder why it’s a feature. I’m not for or against it, it’s just odd. Taurus does the same thing.

        Is it compliance with some South American country’s law? Anyone know?

  9. Good to see some love for Bersa here. They’re producing some of the best handgun values on the market today.

  10. I had a Bersa ultra compact .40 and that thing was Quality. Never, ever a problem. I’ve fired a friend’s Bersa BP9CC and it was perfect. Light trigger, tiny, yet I could get all my fingers on the grip with my XL hands. I intend to sell my single stack pocket 9 for the BP9CC. The gun reviewed here is meant for USPSA production class, nothing else really. If the ergos fit me, I wouldn’t hesitate to get it for a production class rig.

  11. A little research will show that this gun is actually a Walther P-88 knockoff. I own 3 Bersas with 1000s of rounds through them andwithout a single problem. I also own Smith & Wesson, Springfield and Dan Wesson pistols so I know crappy from decent.

    • Bought my Bersa Thunder .380 eleven years ago. It is compact, well built, and accurate out to 25 yards. A very good pistol in my opinion. My other firearm is a 12 gauge shotgun, pump. If I felt the need for another pistol I would consider the Bersa 9mm. There are a lot of good pistols out there, Bersa would deserve a look. As to cleaning, if you shoot it, clean it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *