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Walther PPK/S vs. Bersa Thunder 380

This is a discussion on Walther PPK/S vs. Bersa Thunder 380 within the Range Reports forums, part of the Firearm Forum category; Well I went to the range today and compared the Walther PPK/S to the Bersa Thunder 380. Initial impressions and build quality: First impressions are ...


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Old July 15th, 2007, 10:05 AM   #1
 
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Walther PPK/S vs. Bersa Thunder 380

Well I went to the range today and compared the Walther PPK/S to the Bersa Thunder 380.

Initial impressions and build quality:

First impressions are that the Walther is a much higher quality piece than the Bersa, as one would expect looking at the two price tags. Even without knowing the price differences you can tell which gun is the more expensive. The Bersa looks and feels cheap, especially compared to the all stainless steel Walther. When each gun is field stripped the Walther seems to be made out of much higher quality materials. The machining inside the Walther is a work of art. The machining inside the Bersa is not up to the same standard as that of the Walther. The designs are very similar but again, you can tell which gun costs more. There are many places inside the Bersa where corners are uneven and in general the workmanship looks to be of lesser quality than that of the Walther. Looks are not everything however.

I award this category to the Walther.

Assembly and Disassembly:

Disassembly of either gun is a relatively simple process. For the Walther you simply pull down on the trigger guard, move it to the side to hold it down, pull the slide back and lift it off the frame. This process takes about 2 seconds once you become accustomed to the pistol. On the Bersa, field stripping is very similar. Rather than using the trigger guard as the Walther does, there is a small disassembly lever on the right side of the gun in front of the trigger guard. This lever must be held down with one finger while pulling the slide back in order to remove it. This can be a little difficult at first until you find a comfortable way to both grip the gun, the slide, and depress the lever at the same time.

When reassembling, the Walther lines up perfectly and clicks back into place with little effort in a matter of seconds. The Bersa requires a little more attention to ensure the spring is properly aligned and when reattaching the slide a great deal of force and juggling is necessary to keep the disassembly lever depressed and get the slide all the way on.

In ease of assembly and disassembly I give the award again to the Walther.

Accessories and ease of use:

As far as accessories are concerned both guns are rather spartan. The Walther comes with two stainless clips, one of which is flat and the other has a comfortable grip extension, necessary for users with larger hands. This is all the Walther comes with, aside from the mandatory gun lock. The Bersa comes with one clip with the same kind of grip extension, a "key" to use on the internal trigger lock, and an external trigger lock. I tested this internal trigger lock and while it does lock the trigger so that it cannot be pulled, it also feels like you're breaking the lock each time you turn it. The Walther comes with no such safety device. Both guns are equipped with a decocker but the Walther is the only gun that can be fired without a magazine, the Bersa has a magazine safety to ensure the gun cannot be accidentally fired should a round be left in the chamber.

When it comes to loading the clips, the Walther is much easier to load than the Bersa. When inserting bullets into the clip on the Bersa they have a tendency to shift about and tilt downwards making it very difficult to insert the last two rounds. The two clips that come with the Walther are both easy to load, the clip with the grip extension being the easiest of the two.

For accessories and ease of use the award goes again to the Walther.

Firing, accuracy, and control:

This is where the Bersa begins to really shine. One would expect that the considerably heavier Walther would recoil much less than the Bersa but this is not the case. The Bersa was much easier to control and recoil felt very light compared to the Walther. Felt recoil on the Walther is very rough. The steel frame digs into the hand after a few clips and really begins to irritate the skin. When shooting the two guns back to back the Walther felt like it was shooting a much more powerful round than the Bersa, even though the ammunition for both came from the same box. The smooth frame on the Bersa coupled with the wide grips made for a much more comfortable gun to shoot. I began to almost dread going back to the Walther for the next round of tests. By the end of the day, and nearly 150 rounds later, I could barely stand to shoot the Walther any longer. The Bersa felt like I could have shot it all day long and never fatigued.

As far as accuracy was concerned both guns shot nearly the same. Even though the felt recoil was much less on the Bersa it made no real difference in accuracy. Both guns were capable of a 2" group at 15 yards and both were pretty unpredictable at 25+. This is to be expected with guns of this size. Both pistols can fit in a front pocket, they were definitely not designed as target guns.

The winner in this category is by far the Bersa.

Comfort for concealed carry:

I am by no means an expert on concealed carry as I do not have my license. I can give you a general idea of the comfort levels of either gun when worn OWB in a pair of shorts and a t-shirt (as most users are likely to be wearing when carrying these guns). The Bersa, by nature of it's aluminium frame, is much lighter and coincidentally much more comfortable to wear than the Walther. There is something comforting about the weight of the Walther at your hip. You can always feel it there and that may be comforting to know, especially if you need to know exactly where you gun is at all times. The Bersa was more of a wear it and forget it type of gun. When wearing the Bersa you tend to forget you're even carrying a gun it is so comfortable.

The finishes make a big difference to some people. With the Walther there is no fear of the stainless steel rusting or wearing off. The Bersa has an aluminium frame which is not likely to give you problems with rust, the slide however is blued steel and will require some attention to ensure it remains rust free.

This was a tough decision, probably best left to each user's personal taste. I give this one to the Bersa, based on my own preferences for carrying.

Conclusions:

The results of this comparison still baffle me. Despite the Walther being a much higher quality firearm and carrying a pedigree most weapons can only dream of, when it comes time to pick a gun off the table my hand innevitably drifts towards the Bersa every time. When it comes to protecting yourself with a firearm you want the weapon that's most comfortable in your hand. That makes the Bersa the clear winner in my book. When you factor in the immense savings you get with the Bersa versus the Walther it seems almost a no brainer. If you were to polish and smooth the frame on the Walther along with installing a thicker set of grips, it may shift my choice back to the Walther. When you factor the added costs of doing these things it makes no sense to choose the Walther over the Bersa.

Plain and simple, when it comes to out of the box performance and comfort the Bersa wins hands down. For once, you actually do get more than you pay for. [8D]



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Old July 15th, 2007, 02:13 PM   #2
 
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Fascinating comparison of those two pistols. I would have thought that the Walther would be a no-brainer for the win. I had a PPK-S stainless in .380 auto, and I loved it. Sorry I sold it, actually. I might have to give that Bersa a look now
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Old July 15th, 2007, 05:16 PM   #3
 
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Excellent comparison write-up.
I could see a nickel bersa in the stable someday.
What kind of warranty do the bersa's carry?
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Old July 16th, 2007, 12:26 AM   #4
 
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One year non-transferable warranty against manufacture defects.
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Old July 16th, 2007, 05:23 AM   #5
 
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Very good and informative review. I have a pre-war Walther in .32acp that I shoot ocassionally and really like. The 380 or 32 are not cartridges I would normaly carry ccw but the Bersa might get a second look now. You didn't state any problems with FTF so that would quell a big concern.
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Old July 16th, 2007, 07:58 AM   #6
 
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The Bersa went through 100 rounds without a single problem. It really is a great gun, especially for the money.
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Old October 31st, 2012, 08:39 AM   #7
 
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PPK vs Bersa Thunder

I agree with the Bersa, I have both the Bersa Thunder .380 and also the Thunder .32. They both are reliable and accurate. I carry IWB (same holster fits both) loaded with either Hornady Critical Defense or Corbon Pwrball for the .380 and with Fiocchi 73gr FMJ in the .32

Bersa won't disappoint you.
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Old October 31st, 2012, 09:01 AM   #8
 
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I have not owned the Bersa but I used to have an older PPK that I carried concealed for years. It was a great old gun. It started to show a lot of wear after several years so I bought a new PPK. The new one was a piece of junk. It just wouldn't shoot accurately. A friend let me shoot his Makarov CZ-82 in 9x18. It feels exactly like a PPK and is much more accurate than the Newer PPK. I have since purchased three of these guns used and they are relatively cheap. The 9x18 has more punch than the .380but if you are worried about ammo choices a .380 conversion barrel is readily available for the CZ-82 at a reasonable price. This conversion is not difficult and can be done without loosing accuracy.

CZ America makes the CZ-83 in .380 and they are not bad guns but the trigger pull is sloppy and they aren't as accurate as the 82.

I have converted a couple to.380s for other people but I have settled on the CZ-82 in
9x18 . Practice ammo is cheap in FMJ or JHP. I carry 9x18 Hornady 95 grain JHP/XTP ammo for CCW.

This might give you another option.
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Old October 31st, 2012, 09:03 AM   #9
 
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Wow this was an old thread.

I went through a similar test when I wanted a PPK’ish type .380 pistol. At the time S&W wasn’t making the Walther but there were plenty of Interarms made PPK/S guns around. I also wanted to try the Sig P232 since it follows the same lines. Last I kept hearing about the Bersa guns from people that had them. I was blessed to have a LGS that had a PPK/S, Sig P230 (same gun as the P232 but the P232 is manufactured slightly different) and an older pre-ILS Bersa Thunder .380 all for rentals. I bought a dozen boxes of .380 and divided them all up for each gun. The Interarms PPK/S was a bust from the start. The recoil talk about them is no joke. That heavy stainless steel gun made the .380 feel like you had a pocket 9mm in your hand. I thought maybe the spring was going bad and needed to be replaced but they guy behind the counter said that’s how they are. It gave the occasional failure to feed and eject despite using regular FMJ ball ammo. That was also a head scratcher. I never did get the slide bite that some people complain about them. The Sig P230 was twice the gun in fit, finish, feel, and reliable function. Sig makes a better PPK than Interarms ever made under the Walther banner. Maybe original German made Walther PPK or PPK/S guns run good but I don’t know. Then I tried the Bersa Thunder. That gun was a little ugly in that the blued finish didn’t look very good, the steel on the slide had a very low budget look to it and thus the blue didn’t make it look any better, the black plastic grips seemed very usable but ugly, and the gun just felt very low budget. But darned if it had the first problem. The whole time spent shooting it was nothing but fun. Go figure, I now own a Bersa Thunder.

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Old October 31st, 2012, 09:17 AM   #10
 
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I own a PPK/S .380 from the 60's that is LNIB w/all original acc. and box.

It was my dad's when he was a captain for United Air Lines. They allowed the pilots to carry when hijacking was just starting out.

I really don't like shooting it. All of the original poster's comments are true. After a couple of rounds it's "Ok, we can say we shot it. Put it back in the box." Considering the age of the design (1920s?) it's understandable. My SIG P230 is better but not a thing of joy either.

If it wasn't for the family history it'd be gone. Really nice to look at, but it would be gone.
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Old October 31st, 2012, 09:19 AM   #11
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I always considered the PPK to be the Rolls-Royce of handguns, but more on its classy appearance and association with James Bond, I guess. Not function for sure. I've long been aware of the hard recoil and slide bite reputations. I'm more of a revolver guy, anyway. I guess that's why I've never quite bought a PPK. I've come close several times.

From what I've understood, Walther hasn't made any PPKs since WW2. Mannurhin, in France, made them after the war, then Interarms in Texas, and S&W now.

Good article in Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walther_PP

Last edited by bearcatter; October 31st, 2012 at 09:23 AM.
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Old October 31st, 2012, 01:39 PM   #12
 
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I've owned and carried Walther PPk\s's and spent some time with a Bersa with negative result's. Overall QC can sometimes vary so my experiences should be viewed as such, but overall I consider the Soviet Makarov to be the better end design.
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Old October 31st, 2012, 02:08 PM   #13
 
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It's interesting to see that the "higher quality" Walther wasn't your favorite to shoot. It shows me that the most imortant thing is how it shoots for you.

Great write up. Thank you.
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Old October 31st, 2012, 02:28 PM   #14
 
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I have a Thunder Plus, it is my go to gun. Its a little bulky for cc, but the 15 shot is worth it. First shot out of the box was dead on. I have never shot a PPK so I can't judge. For the money and a gun that is going to get banged around, I would buy another Thunder Plus if I lost mine.
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