Bersa Firestorm Review

by David Lane

March 16, 2022

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The Bersa Firestorm, a budget-friendly knock-off of everyone’s favorite spy pistol the PPK. But this isn’t a clone, instead, the Firestorm has a few differences and some interesting changes to a classic design.

Bersa Firestorm Specs

  • Capacity 7+1 standard, 8-round magazines available
  • Caliber .380 ACP
  • Overall Length 6.6 inches
  • Barrel Length 3.5 inches
  • Weight 20 oz
  • Trigger Pull 8lb (double action), 4.4lbs (single action)

Bersa Firestorm Background

Made in Argentina by Bersa the Firestorm (or Thunder depending on model, same gun) is a compact .380 ACP pistol designed for CCW and takes a lot of inspiration from the Beretta 70 and Walther PPK.

In many South American nations, .380 ACP is the most powerful pistol cartridge (legally) available to civilians — as such they have a pretty rich history of making quality .380 ACP pistols that are also inexpensive to produce.

Designed in 1995 the Firestorm is one such pistol built to feed that market. It has also enjoyed great success in the United States because it is simply a good pistol and it shares an aesthetic look very close to the Walther PPK but comes in at half the price.

Since then a number of models have come on to the market including the Thunder Plus that increases capacity to 15+1 by use of a double-stack magazine.

Bersa Firestorm Features

Bersa Firestorm Features
1 Manual thumb safety
  • Easy to switch external safety
2 Pinky rest magazines
  • Mags come standard with a rest for larger hands
3 7+1 capacity
  • Not the largest by today’s standards, but good.
4 Simple blow-back design
  • No locks, no gimmicks, just the power of the cartridge to cycle the pistol

Bersa Firestorm Models & Colors

Bersa Firestorm Review – Our Take

A simple blowback design makes for a mechanically straightforward pistol. Since .380 ACP isn’t too powerful, it’s also an easy cartridge to design a simple blowback action for safety.

That said — extended range days or training sessions with my Bersa always left my hands beyond tired and often with a chunk of skin missing from the webbing behind my thumb where the beavertail of my Bersa sits.

Sadly, this is a pretty common occurrence with pistols of this style so it isn’t unexpected. After a couple of range sessions, I’ve learned to keep my training with the Bersa to under 100 rounds per trip to avoid losing pieces of my hand.

Other than needing to keep a hard limit on my training sessions, the Bersa Firestorm is wonderfully easy to shoot. The sights are modeled after standard Glock sights and provide a pretty good sight picture.

Reliability

From brand new out of the box and through several CCW classes my Bersa Firestorm has performed without fail. For me nothing is more important for a CCW firearm than to be reliable to the extreme — and that is exactly what I had found the Bersa to be.

Blowback firearms are stupid simple with very little that can even possibly go wrong. Feed it decent ammo, give it a cleaning every now and then, and it should run without issue. 

Even with some pretty questionable quality range ammo by Bersa has run 100%.

While some guns are picky with ammo, this Bersa isn’t one of those. From ultra-cheap, bulk packs to top-shelf self-defense hollow points, this gun feeds and fires everything I’ve thrown at it.

Ergonomics

I have pretty large hands and many sub-compact CCW guns just don’t fit me. I was honestly surprised at how well the Firestorm is able to fit even my larger-than-normal hands.

Magazines that have a pinky extension aren’t my favorite method of extending a grip, but it is one that works. Bersa’s magazines fit snugly and lock tightly making it a fairly secure and ridged grip in your hands.

Using a normal two-handed grip will depend on your hand’s size. Smaller hands can get a normal thumbs down two-handed grip well enough, but I have to fold my thumbs over a little so I can get maximum gripping without risking my thumbs getting in the way of the hammer.

This feels a little strange to get used to at first, but with a few range sessions, it’s easy to pick up.

But it’s also one of the main reasons why I train with my Firestorm as often as I do. Because the grip is different, I need to keep reminding myself that I need to handle this one gun differently than I do everything else I carry.

Accuracy

I wouldn’t recommend taking this gun to any bullseye shooting competitions, but for a close-range CCW, this works just fine.

The sight radius is small since it’s a short barrel, but the sights are well defined and easy to pick up. Using a very standard feeling Glock style U rear notch and post front sight, getting on target quickly and accurately is pretty normal feeling.

Above shows two groups of 5 shots using UMC FMJ .380 ACP, 10-yards standing unsupported as an idea of accuracy.

If you’re not used to a double-action/single-action style trigger then that is likely going to be the biggest sticking point in terms of accuracy and putting town a target quickly.

Both pulls are smooth and feel good on the Firestorm, but the DA pull being about double the weight as the SA pull means you’ll need to get used to it and make sure to not jerk the trigger.

That said, I strongly believe that once you’re well versed on a DA/SA trigger that you’ll find that shooting, in general, becomes easier and more accurate. 

The good news is that once in single-action the Firestorm is crisp and accurate.

I commonly shoot hostage steel targets at 10-15 yards with good results. I wouldn’t want to try that in a worst-case scenario, but it’s not to at least train on.

Value

I bought my Firestorm for about $280 a few years ago and that’s normally around what you can find it for even in these dark days. For that price, I think this is a big value kind of gun that deserves to be considered as your CCW.

Even if you don’t plan on carrying a Bersa, this is really nice to scratch that 007 itch you might have without having to throw down the money required to get a Walther PPK.

Bersa Firestorm Pros and Cons

  • Small, reasonably lightweight
  • Robust simple design
  • Mechanically proven for almost 30 years
  • Very easy to conceal
  • 7+1 is a bit short these days
  • Simple blow-back in .380 ACP is snappy

Report Card

Shootability

While comfy in the hands, the Firestorm proves to be very snappy with a simple blow-back design. Extended range sessions become a bit painful.

B+
Reliability

My Firestorm was my EDC CCW for over 2 years and I trained with it at least 100 rounds per month. In close to 2,000 rounds, I never had a malfunction.

A+
Ergonomics

The pinky extension on the magazines helps for larger hands and the safety is easy to use, but the magazine release is a bit small.

B+
Accuracy

For a small pistol, this performs really well. But being so small it has an upper limit much lower than many other pistols. Still, fist-size groups of semi-rapid-fire at 10 yards isn’t difficult. 

A-
Value

For less than $300 this is a great sub-compact pistol. In a world where you get what you pay for, the Firestorm punches above its price tag.

A

Our Grade

A-

Reviewed by David Lane

Reader’s Grade

B

Based on 2 Reviews

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Bersa Firestorm Gun Deals

Best Firestorm Ammo

Range/Practice

Blazer .380 ACP 95gr FMJ

Blazer 380ACP 95gr FMJ

Marketplace
Cost Per Round
GunMag Warehouse $0.69
Natchez $0.44

Carry/Self Defense

Sig Sauer Elite V-Crown 90gr

Marketplace
Cost Per Round
EuroOptic $0.89
Natchez $1.17

Bersa Firestorm Starter Pack

You may be adding to your collection, or this may be one of your first handguns. Either way, you’ll want to make sure you have everything you need for basic firearm operation.  This includes eye & ear protection, cleaning kits, and proper storage. 

Upgrades and Accessories

Below are a few of our suggestions that we recommend to get the most out of your new firearm.

CrossBreed Holster
  • Very Comfortable
  • Specifically Molded to fit
  • Made in the USA
Check Price
RealAvid Handgun Pro Cleaning Kit
  • Multi Caliber
  • Convenient
  • Satisfaction Guaranteed
Amazon
Bersa 8 Round Magazine
  • Fits .380 ACP
  • 8 rounds
  • Anti-corrosion blue-oxide finish
Check Price
Anatomical Self-Defence Target
  • Great training aid
  • Better Visual Representation of target
Amazon

How to Care for you Firearm

Below we have found a great video to help you in the care of your firearm. I would highly recommend taking the time to check it out.

Need more info on this firearm? Don’t worry. There’s plenty out there. We recommend you get started with the following resources:

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About David Lane

Learning how to shoot at a young age in the Boy Scouts, David now spends most of his time working on or with firearms. Be it shooting, upgrading, building, tinkering, or writing about them -- sharing his passion and knowledge of firearms with others is an everyday occurrence.

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