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Bersa has updated the classic Thunder Plus with new slide cuts to follow the TPR line and now we have the TPR 380 Plus.

Style cues are there from the classic Walther PP, double-action/single action (DA/SA) with a decocker, all-metal construction, and 15+1 rounds of .380 ACP. Oh, and it’s available most places for well under $400. That’s what makes the TPR 380 Plus worth taking a look at.

The TPR 380 Plus is simple to field strip, rotate the takedown lever and pull the slide to the rear, up, and off the rails, then ease it forward.

I never got to experience the old Thunder Plus model, so I can’t give you comparison points with the TPR 380 Plus, but I can tell you what this model is like. The action type is a simple direct blowback which helps keep manufacturing cost down, a big reason why this all-metal gun is so affordable. The rest of the construction is more complicated than your standard plastic striker gun.

As it’s becoming a relative rarity, I feel the need to explain the merits of DA/SA guns. The gun is meant to be carried in double action (hammer down). The longer, heavier first pull of the trigger effectively serves as a safety before subesquent shots are shorter, lighter, and crisper in single-action.

Aside from serving as an added safety feature, the other merit of DA/SA for a carry gun is the chance to strike the primer a second time should a round fail to fire. Simply pull the trigger again. You might not feel the need for this with a range gun loaded with fresh ammunition, but carry guns that have had their ammunition exposed to the humidity and temperature cycles of daily carry may need it. The same can be said for aged ammunition.

In any case, if you’re not one who wants to keep track of cycling your carry ammunition frequently, especially if you live in humid climates, a DA/SA gun is a good choice for a little extra assurance. The second strike ability of the TPR 380 Plus is also desirable if you’d rather fire a round than dump it on the ground.

The TPR 380 Plus features rubber wrap-around grips that provide both traction and comfort

Fortunately, the TPR 380 Plus can offer 15+1 rounds of capacity, so the striker-fired training regimen of immediately racking out a failed round is something you can run with here. Aside from increased capacity, the TPR 380 Plus is also broader which increases the surface area across your hand for reduced felt recoil. This makes the already pleasant .380 experience even more pleasant. If you don’t think pistol width plays a role in recoil comfort, try the discontinued PT709 Slim.

So what do you get for under $400? See the tabletop video below for a look at what’s included, fit, and finish.

With the new design it’s safe to assume slide mass has changed. Since direct blowback operation is dependent on slide mass and spring strength, I was curious if reliability would be any different.

The Bersa TPR 380 Plus’ controls are all easily within reach and decocker stiff enough to avoid accidental activation.

Add to that the wide variety of .380 ACP ammunition we have in the US and there could be some rounds the Argentine pistol just doesn’t like. Muzzle energy numbers are one thing, but how does that translate into hitting a steel target? This and more was tested for the Shooting Impressions video.

For the text-only types out there, through 12 loads tested there were zero reliability issues and the TPR 380 Plus had zero malfunctions. We did experience some knuckle-banging as the aluminum frame hit against the thumb knuckle of two different shooters. I assume that’s a training issue as we both shoot with a modern high-hold on the gun.

The TPR 380 Plus is sprung on the light side to enhance reliability. Viewers of the channel have reported that swapping recoil springs with a heavier spring makes for a more pleasant shooting experience.

Specifications of the TPR 380 Plus 

REAR SIGHT: Notched Bar Dovetail (adjustable)
FINISHES: Satin Nickel or Matte Black
GRIPS: Rubber
CONSTRUCTION: Alloy Frame, Steel Slide
SAFETY: Integral, locking system, Manual Firing Pin
WEIGHT: 20.5oz
LENGTH: 6.6″
HEIGHT: 4.9”
WIDTH: 1.35”

Ratings (out of five stars):

Reliability * * * * *
12 different loads of .380 ACP tested without a single malfunction.

Ergonomics * * * * *
Controls are easily within reach. Comfortable traction provided by a wrap-around rubber grip.

Accuracy * * * *
The sights seemed to be slightly off out of the box, but there’s no denying a fixed barrel is about as accurate as a firearm of this size can be. With some adjustment I’m sure we could do better.

Concealability * * * * 
Larger than a pocket gun, but smaller than a typical sub-compact. The TPR 380 Plus’s Rounded edges will help with concealment.

Overall: * * * * 1/2
Modern “1.5 stack” guns are smaller with the same capacity, but a potentially snappier shooting experience. For the money you’ll be hard pressed to find a better gun with similar attributes.

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    • Do the math. Most gun reviews get less than 50 comments. In most cases many less.

      Political stuff can get hundreds of comments.

  1. Hhhhhmmmm.

    Under $400 (gotta look it up). 9mm more expensive than .22, but maybe affordable. FFL fee. Possibly this can come together for no more than $500, including annual range cost. Still….initial acquisition may limit amount of ammo purchase for first year ownership.


    • If money is an issue, I’d suggest the Taurus G3C over this. The G3C is cheaper and shoots the cheaper (and more powerful) 9mm ammo. It is a very solid pistol considering it’s low (under $300) price.

      If money isn’t an issue, then why look at Bersas?

      Still, this does look like a cool (if outdated) pistol.

      • Golly they’re selling the Taurus G2c for $215 with a 25buck rebate at my LGS. Yeah I’d get that before any Bersa(I agree about the 709. My wife got it. EZ to control especially with a Handall Jr.). Still nice review!

        • I don’t even have a Taurus but I’d recommend it over the bersa. I like the 15+1 capacity in such a small package, but it’s snappy to shoot so you won’t want to be shooting over 200 round count. Plus if it’s like the other bersa, it comes with 1 magazine. It’s difficult and expensive to find an in stock bersa 15+1 magazine.

          There are some pros. I shoot it very well. It’s nice to train with a .380 laser cartridge in a da/sa platform that feels like a “real” gun. It fits in a pocket if you don’t have or want to use a holster.

  2. These used to make a bit of sense. Nowadays a similar price gets you either a metal frame (imaginary, Fudd value) or a locked breech (actual value).

    Five star reliability, “without a single malfunction” (other than the one shown at ~8:20)?

    High bore axis AND slide bite = five-star ergonomics?

    “Potentially snappier” locked-breech 9mms never left me thinking “my hand is really sore” – not even close.

    I really wish the “1.5 stack” myth would go away.

    • Now, Umm…, be nice. I have a few handguns that are made entirely of ferrous steel. I probably have an equal number of handguns that are made of ferrous and non ferrous (read aluminum and plastic) materials. Tell me. Am a FUDD, or no?

      • Gadsden Flag,
        No, it does not. I own (and love) some metal-frame pistols myself.

        Metal frames are great for controlling the recoil of powerful pistols (like my Witness Hunter 10mm), or of 9mms that need to remain level during rapid fire in competition. Choosing derp weight to control the kick of a derp blowback – ineffectively, it would appear – when locked-breech pistols are basically the same cost?

        They’re also (arguably) more durable for competition pistols that burn through thousands of rounds a year, for military pistols; maybe even pistols in this class at rental ranges. Conversely, anyone claiming a quality polymer frame is insufficiently durable for the round count a privately owned defensive pocket pistol will see, is not only a Fudd but completely full of it.

        • Umm…, I never said a polymer framed pistols are not durable. The contrary is true. When I shot competition I wore out a few 1911s. They were still serviceable, but… On the other hand I have never worn out a Glock. I own a few. Carry one as a second handgun every day. Been through Glock’s LEO armorer school a few times. My experience is that a polymer framed pistols can not Ben really, worn out. At least in the hands of the average shooter. Neither can ferrous metal firearms in the hands of the average shooter. Witness the serviceable firearms that are decades old. Oops! That’s FUDD language. A little while back I bought a Glock 43. I installed a set of XS Big Dot Sights. Bought Blade Tech gear to support it. It’s a great rig. I bought it with the intention of retiring my 442. The 442 is in my pocket now. I can shoot it faster and more accurately than any other pistol pocket I’ve ever owned. To include a couple of Kahrs, etc. Oh, on the recoil thing. I guess that’s a personal thing. I always thought a 10mm needed a steel frame. My son and daughter were shooting 9mm’s of all kinds, including SMGs when they were ten years old. 9mm is not a powerful round. It’s just a medium caliber, reasonably effective handgun caliber. That’s all. Before anyone gets started, the same improvements to 9mm bullet technology has been applied to all the other larger calibers. That might be something to think about.

        • I didn’t say you did. When you identified yourself as a metal-frame pistol guy and asked if my criticism was aimed at you, I replied to clarify that it was NOT, then engaged the arguments a Fudd (not you) might use to claim any advantage for this pistol.

  3. Nice little .380. Would be ideal for a back up gun for guys and gals and a carry gun for smaller females. And priced for all. Congrats Bersa.

    • There are dozens of models that shoot .380 and are direct blowback. Bersa .380s just seem to be copies of these and combloc handguns that were designed to fire the 9×18 round. If you are limited to 10 rds, go look at a P64 (uses a little stronger 9×18) and put in a lighter spring kit – if not, there is the CZ82 (9×18) or the CZ83 (.380 or .32), much better built firearm.

      • The cz82 is an exceptional pistol. Would highly recommend it. It is not easy to find and when you find one in good condition, expect to pay close to $600.

  4. When my oldest daughter moved out I gave her a S&W .38 revolver to take with. Like her mother she’s a good shot but not a real gun buff.

    After she got married and had a couple of kids her husband decided he wanted something easy to carry, they spend a lot of time in the outdoors, and more modern than a wheelgun. In CA at that time you could still buy the single stack Bersa .380.

    It’s the only Bersa I have any experience with. It works and the price was great.

  5. .380? I’d rather have it than nothing and the longer barrel than, say an LCP or similar probably helps ballistically. I have an Astra Constable which is similar in size to the Bersa and I love shooting that. It’s good to have options.

  6. I’m liking it. The design is admittedly something of a dinosaur by current standards, but I’m liking it all the same.

  7. Happened upon a similar 380 chambered firearm at Cabela’s last year. A like new SIG Sauer P232 at a great price. When I saw it came with everything from the factory, I had to have it.

  8. I like Bersa and have a 380 Plus. They are much nicer to handle and shoot than the guns they copied. Such as the Walther PPK and Browning BDA.
    My carry gun is a Bersa TPR9C and I love it, but they are not durable.
    You can’t pump a few thousand rounds through them without parts breaking.
    They are good defense and carry guns, but not regular range guns.

  9. I had a Bersa. 380, I traded it for a worn out colt .38 super which I then traded for a colt .357 trooper, which I then traded for a Weatherby. 240, which I traded for a Carcano, which I traded for a Universal .30 Carbine which I sold to get a Mossberg Mod 800 .243
    Ain’t no emu, hard to get emu, I get something else.
    The Bersa I had jammed a lot.

  10. after recently acquiring a springfield xdm osp and a sig p365xl
    i will never buy another semiauto pistol
    that isnt optics ready

  11. I own 2 Bersa .380 pistols: a CC and a Combat. Both take single stack mags. Have fired well over 1,000 rounds through each. Picked both up new for under $300 each. Rock solid reliable so long as you avoid steel case ammo. Easy to conceal. Extremely accurate so long as I do my part. Recoil is manageable. Not as much fun to shoot as my CZ82 pistols, but much easier to hide. So my Bersa owner experience has been really good.

    All that being said, I’m not really tempted by the TPR .380. Higher price point, with other decent options at or near that price. Slightly fatter gun handle to conceal. And Bersa’s less than optimal transition to a new U.S. Distributor has made availability of mags and parts a tough go.

    Good review. Really appreciated. But I think Bersa kind of missed their target market on this one.

  12. Interesting. I would like to see a TTAG review of the Bersa TPR9c. Newer DA/SA design in 9mm.

  13. have one as well as many others and like it….what i dont like is the magazines are unobtainable….bersa gets a big fat F in that department….no excuess for that. NONE!

  14. Bersa Thunder .380 bought in 2005. Nice clean shooting pistol.
    No problems. It’s what I carry everywhere in my van.
    Ever have to use it the police can have it.
    Maybe able to afford a 9mm sooner or later.
    Meanwhile the .357 mag revolver will do for house gun
    and the 12 ga pump for serious work.

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