No announcement yet.

First Impressions: Thunder .380 COMBAT. Familiar, yet unique.

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

    First Impressions: Thunder .380 COMBAT. Familiar, yet unique.

    *Update: Pictures have been added. Scroll down the thread to see them.*


    Thought I would post my hands-on first impressions of Bersa's latest gun to arrive on our shores: the Thunder .380 Combat model. No pics with this post unfortunately as I'm at work. I'll post pics afterward. Suffice it to say, the high resolution pics at the Bersa website are a spot-on representation of the gun, for those that are curious. This will also not include a range report yet, as I'm recovering from a recent illness and don't know when I'll be well enough to go back to the range. I expect that the Combat will shoot just as great as the T380.

    I ordered the gun from Gallery of Guns and it was shipped to my LGS on Black Friday ($285 before tax and transfer).

    A bit of background: I loved my wife's T380 Duotone when she purchased it several years ago and swore I'd get one for myself someday. That day finally arrived last month. I ordered a T380 Reverse Duotone (nickel slide/matte frame) from Davidson's ($268 before tax/transfer). After taking it to the range and making it my primary EDC, I love it so much I decided that I wanted a second T380, should my primary ever need to go into the shop for repair.

    This is how I came to the decision on getting the .380 Combat: I wanted all the great things I love in my other T380, but with something different to set the new gun apart. In these remarks, I'll use my other T380 as a point of comparison, as I'm sure there are many existing T380 owners out there that are curious about just how much the Combat model differs from the original.

    Shall we get started?

    Although the original T380 and the .380 Combat are very similar in size, shape, and weight and the manual of arms for both guns is identical, the Combat model has several physical differences that make it a different gun from the Thunder .380, as noted at Bersa's website. This gun has a military theme to it, and Bersa appears to have accomplished that goal in the Combat model.

    Let's start with the slide. On top, you'll find that the sight ramp (the raised portion that runs along the length of the top of the slide from muzzle to hammer) no longer sports the anti-glare crosshatch pattern (as both mine and my wife's T380s have). It is totally smooth and would make sense, in keeping with the lower profile, snag-free philosophy that I'm guessing went into the design of the gun. Also, the slide is finished in matte black, so there should be little to no glare to have to deal with anyway. More on that matte finish later.

    While we are still on the top of the slide, let's take a look at Bersa's new combat sights. The front sight post appears to be the same dovetailed Sig type front sight that is on my new T380, although the Combat's appears to sit a little lower on the slide, whereas my other T380 sits high enough to see a bit of daylight between the bottom of the sight and the top of the slide when viewed from the side. The lower front sight on the Combat may also be a result of the "low profile" design, or to accommodate lining up properly with the new rear sight. The Combat's rear sight appears to be a Glock style sight, with a large and highly visible white goalpost outline. It is also dovetailed, but not windage adjustable and made of plastic.

    I was never really a big fan of the goalpost style sights, but I can't deny the ease, quickness and simplicity of lining these sights up. I'm glad Bersa put them on there and they also serve to set them apart from the traditional three dot sights.

    On the side of the slide, you'll see a change to the slide serrations. Bersa spaced them farther apart this time (and perhaps not as deep), and I think the results have made an improvement. I get a slightly better grip, especially with my dry hands, when racking by pinching the slide with a thumb and index finger grasp. Overhand racking of the slide feels a bit more secure as well. My guess here is that Bersa widened the serrations to accommodate glove wearers (like soldiers) which would also be consistent with the gun's theme.

    No changes to the manual de-cocker lever. As we move towards the redesigned muzzle you'll see the roll mark on the left side designating this gun as the "COMBAT" model. I'm pretty excited about what Bersa did with the muzzle. The "ring" at the front of the slide that surrounds the barrel is gone. Instead, they've filled in that area and beveled the sides, top and sloping bottom, giving the muzzle a more serious, aggressive look to the nose of the gun. It's hard to describe without pictures, but I think it makes a significant difference to the gun's overall appearance and it's one that I like.

    The slide's finish appears to be good, but there are some slight inconsistencies here and there especially near the slide serrations, and the overall finish has a slightly "watered" look to it rather than a rich, deep black. The black anodizing on the alloy frame is a better finish than the slide, but I don't anticipate the slide's finish will affect the operation or the gun's resistance to rust or corrosion. Overall, I'm happy with it. The slide also appears to be no thinner, thicker, longer, shorter, lighter or heavier than the original T380 slide.

    In the next post I'll take a look at the rest of the new Thunder .380 Combat.
    Last edited by Lucius Bersus; 11-29-2012, 04:28 PM. Reason: Updated with pictures.

    Re: First Impressions: Thunder .380 COMBAT. Familiar, yet unique.

    Moving on to the the lower assembly, we see that Bersa has incorporated a small number of other changes. But first, let's list what hasn't changed between the original and the Combat. The magazine release, trigger, slide stop lever, take-down lever, and hammer are all identical to my original T380. I have no test equipment, but the trigger pull and slide spring tension feel the same. The barrel, breech, ramp, and other items in the lower all look to be the same.

    What is different is the trigger guard. The Combat's is smooth and more rounded, no grooves here. Makes for holstering a bit better, in that it's less likely to catch on something and I can bury the gun a bit deeper in the holster for better concealment (using a non-molded High Noon IWB). The backstrap is also smooth metal and lacks the vertical grooves found on my other T380, which continues the smoother, “low-profile” theme of this gun.

    Another big change is the beaver tail or tang. It is shorter and I think it makes sense for the design of this gun. There is still enough material there that I should be protected from hammer bite, and I can still use the tang to help index my hand on the grip and get a secure hold. Plus, it's one less thing that's likely to snag. Good idea, Bersa. I do think there is a slightly longer distance between the front strap and the back strap of the grip, compared to the T380's, especially in the area where the curve on the back strap leads to where the tang starts. For that reason I feel that my hand feels a bit fuller because it has more to grip. This doesn't appear to adversely affect my finger placement on the trigger.

    The olive green wraparound rubber grips obviously make a statement that this is a Combat gun, and I love them. Not all will be impressed by the color or look, but I think it works perfectly. They are comfortable, grippy, and look totally appropriate on this gun. I thought my hand was comfortable holding my other T380, but my average-sized hands like the Combat's grips even better. I have a secure, confident grip when holding the Combat, and can't wait to take it shooting. I'm now strongly considering upgrading my T380's grips to the rubber, as is my wife for hers, we like them that much.

    The big surprise with the new Combat model was the magazine, and I saved this for last. I fully expected I'd get one 7-round magazine as usual when I opened the box.

    To my surprise and delight, I can confirm that my new .380 Combat came with not one, but TWO magazines.

    And they aren't 7-round magazines.

    They are 8-round magazines with flat base plates! I compared the magazines to the magazine that came with my wife's .380cc and they are identical. I filled the magazines with ammo and was able to chamber a round and eject that round with no problem. We'll see how they function at the range but I doubt there should be any issues.

    So there you have it: the .380 Combat ships with two 8-round flat base plate magazines. I like the flat base plate on the Combat versus the finger extension on the 7-round magazines as, once again, it's in keeping with the snag-less philosophy that's behind the design of the gun. I thought I'd miss that extension on the Combat, but the base plate and my somewhat thin fingers still gives me enough purchase so my pinky doesn't move down and off the grip. I think this is also where the difference in height of the guns comes from (4.9in vs. 4.7in) under Bersa's specifications for the two models.

    So there's my first impressions of Bersa's new .380 Combat. I'll add more to this report when I've had a chance to shoot it and get some pictures up that show the details (like the muzzle) that you can't really see in the pictures on Bersa's website.

    I'm happy with the gun and I'm glad it is part of my Bersa collection. It's a familiar gun, but has it's own unique features. Good job, Bersa.

    If anyone has any questions about the Combat, feel free to ask!


      Re: First Impressions: Thunder .380 COMBAT. Familiar, yet unique.

      Bersa just has to be the master at making excellent .380 guns. The Combat sounds like it will sell well. Two mags is a nice touch and eight round mags at that. Looking to see you post some pictures, and eventually giving us a range report.


        Re: First Impressions: Thunder .380 COMBAT. Familiar, yet unique.

        Grest report Lucius! I really appreciate the comparisons as we have a couple BT380's. My wife loves the finger grooves as well .... I put them on her BT380 and it helped her grip and shooting.

        I hope you feel better and can get to the range soon!


          Re: First Impressions: Thunder .380 COMBAT. Familiar, yet unique.

          Well done report, nice comparisons.
          In memory of our Founder, Michael T. June 15, 1946 - February 26, 2017


            Re: First Impressions: Thunder .380 COMBAT. Familiar, yet unique.

            Thanks for this! I love my bersa Thunders! I might have to get this one as well!
            New to Bersa and love them:
            I own:
            Bersa Thunder .380,
            Bersa Thunder .380CC,
            Bersa Thunder .22lr


              Re: First Impressions: Thunder .380 COMBAT. Familiar, yet unique.

              Thanks for the great report! I hope your Combat serves you well for years to come. We are pretty excited about this pistol folks!


                Re: First Impressions: Thunder .380 COMBAT. Familiar, yet unique.

                Thank you for the excellent report, Mr. Bersus and welcome to Bersa Chat.
                There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Bersa Chat Zone!


                  Re: First Impressions: Thunder .380 COMBAT. Familiar, yet unique.

                  Crap! Now I want one.

                  I'm no expert; I'm just, well...opinionated!



                    Re: First Impressions: Thunder .380 COMBAT. Familiar, yet unique.

                    I want one, two!!!! HAHAHAHAHAHA
                    Firestorm .22 Matte
                    BT .380 Duo-Tone
                    BT .380CC Nickle
                    9MM UC PRO Matte
                    Colt Combat Com .45
                    plus others
                    MSG Retired
                    US Army 9/81 thru 5/05
                    Iraq 2/04 to1/05


                      Re: First Impressions: Thunder .380 COMBAT. Familiar, yet unique.

                      Above: Side view, 380 Combat.

                      Below: Close up of the redesigned muzzle.


                        Re: First Impressions: Thunder .380 COMBAT. Familiar, yet unique.

                        Above: Smooth trigger guard.

                        Below: Shorter tang.


                          Re: First Impressions: Thunder .380 COMBAT. Familiar, yet unique.

                          Above: Smooth sight ramp.

                          Below: Wide slide serrations.


                            Re: First Impressions: Thunder .380 COMBAT. Familiar, yet unique.

                            Above: New goalpost rear sight.

                            Below: "COMBAT" roll mark.


                              Re: First Impressions: Thunder .380 COMBAT. Familiar, yet unique.

                              Above: Ships with (2) 8-round magazines.

                              Below: Rides low and snug in a Mr. Softy IWB holster from High Noon.