For my second handgun review, I bring you the Bersa Thunder 45 Pro Ultra Compact. I don't know how much you guys know about Bersa, but they are an Argentinian firearms manufacturer imported by Eagle Imports here in the US. Many are already familiar with their .380 pistol, which has garnered an almost cult-like following. Bersa typically replicates other firearms, although I believe this model (the Thunder Ultra Compact; also available in 9mm and .40 S&W) is a unique Bersa design.
The frame is alloy, with a steel slide and polymer grips. Standard features for the Ultra Compact include ambidextrous safety (switching to safe employs a decocker) and slide release, ambidextrous mag release (can be switched to either side), loaded chamber indicator, polygonal rifling, lifetime customer service, and interchangeable front and rear sights (interchangeable with sig sauer-type sights). Not listed as a feature, but something I enjoyed was a simple takedown lever, whereby you lock the slide back, flip the lever down, and pull the slide right off the gun (ala Sig).
The finish on it is labeled as "matte," but it looks more "unfinished" to my eye than any particular purposeful finish. I can't speak to the longevity of the finish, as the model I reviewed is relatively new, and I did not attempt to abuse it. As I mentioned earlier, you don't have to worry about scratching this one! It's about as ugly as it will get when it is brand new out of the box. However, the finish is where you will save a good amount of money. Without a beautiful finish, the price comes down. I will try to keep you guys updated on other finish problems (such as rust) as time goes on. There are also some unexplained "holes" on the top of the slide, which also detract from the overall look, but do not impact performance.
Capacity is good for a compact .45. The Bersa employs a double-stack magazine, capable of holding 7 rounds. Therefore, the total capacity for the pistol is 7+1. As I did not unbox the gun, I'm not sure of how many magazines it comes with, but I do know that new mags are fairly expensive (~$37) and can be hard to get (not carried everywhere).
The action is a DA/SA style, and I found the initial trigger pull to be quite smooth. I was expecting it to be much more gritty due to the inexpensive nature of the pistol, but was pleasantly surprised. Followup SA shots were even smoother, with no problems there.
The sights are what I would call "Glock style," with the U-shaped white outline in the back, and a white dot front sight. Accuracy was very good: the target pictured was only at 7 yards, but I did not get any wild patterns (ignore the 2 down low-I flinched) with it, and I did not get to test it at further distances. Although I think the pistol would be quite capable at further distances, I would label it as "combat accurate" for purposes of this review.
Recoil was also very manageable. The pistol is labeled as weighing 27 ounces, which is average to light weight. I had no trouble managing the recoil, and with the easy-visibility sights, followup shots were a breeze.
Where this gun really stood out to me was in reliability. That is my first consideration for any gun; I need it to go bang every time, especially if my life (or the lives of my loved ones) depend on it. I was able to run about 100 rounds through this gun. Hardly a torture test. However, considering that these rounds were the first fired through the gun, I would expect any failures to have shown up during this timeframe. This gun was 100% reliable with approximately 50 rounds of FMJ (230 grain) and 50 rounds of hollow points. I was especially impressed that it had no problems with the hollow points, as that is where many guns hiccup. Granted, I would not call this reliability test conclusive, but it definitely caught my attention having had cheap guns before that were not as reliable.
One final way this gun was outstanding was in the price department. I know I said earlier that magazines can be expensive, but that's more than made up for with the initial cost of the gun. Budsgunshop.com last had it for $348, which is unbelievable for a reliable compact .45. They do not have it in stock right now, but impactguns.com does have it in stock for approximately $400, which is still pretty good. So with the savings over a more expensive gun, you can afford a couple more mags and some ammo.
To sum it up, Straight recommends this gun to those who are looking for a reliable, compact .45 which can be subject to some abuse. Throw this one in a toolbox, a glove box, or a backpack, and it will remain unharmed. You wouldn't do that to your $1k Sig/H&K/1911 (at least, I wouldn't!), but with this gun, you never have to worry about getting that first scratch. It comes from the factory that way! ;~) I highly recommend it for the low price, high reliability, and good accuracy. I will be checking out more Bersa products in the future!