Bereta M85 or Bersa .380?


Lone Star
April 3, 2005, 11:39 AM
Price aside, which GREATLY favors Bersa, which of these is the better .380, and why?

Essentially: can I trust the Bersa to do everything the Beretta will? How much of the vast price difference is in the Beretta name and the relative difference in the Argentine and Italian currencies?

This isn't to be an IDPA (or other) match gun. It will be carried for real world defense use, and occasional familiarity firing, and reliability and accuracy are paramount.

Lone Star

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Tom Servo
April 3, 2005, 12:17 PM
I've fired the Bersa, and I have to admit, there is such a thing as a great gun at $199. I'm not a big .380 fan, but the Bersa is a neat little gun, and it FEELS like a quality piece. Very accurate for such a small pistol, and I had no failures in ~200 rounds.

From what I've seen, alot of people's experience mirrors mine. It's one of the best deals out there right now.

April 3, 2005, 03:05 PM
Buy the Bersa and with the money left you will be able to but the new CC Bersa that will be out sometime this summer. Bersa best buy for the money.

April 3, 2005, 03:09 PM
I trust my Bersa .380. Never had a problem in several hundred rounds.

April 3, 2005, 05:51 PM
I'd probably go with a Bersa Thunder 380 :)

If it were a Beretta M 86 with a tip-up barrel being considered, then there'd probably be a significant advantage for those physically challenged by the manual cycling of the slide on a blowback (charging the weapon). The ambidextrous safety (frame-mounted, yipee!) on the Beretta is another plus too.

April 3, 2005, 06:53 PM
Only downside to the Bersa is its DA/SA. Most Beretta .380 have a frame mounted safety and will do cocked and locked.

I bought the Beretta with the tip up barrel since my wife could not rack the slide on any .380 and has trouble with the DA pull on every gun she's tried. For her CHL she had to be able to start from and unloaded gun unassisted and this was the only way she could go. She loves the gun but its a good bit larger than Bersa and as large as most compact 9mm guns.

For most, the Bersa is probably a better choice.


April 3, 2005, 07:26 PM

there's a bit about the Bersa. i haven't shot anything except 22's, so i can't offer personal experience.


April 3, 2005, 07:59 PM
If you want a tip-up bbl (very convenient!) then go w/the Beretta, loved it on my Tomcats. However, instead of the Bersa have you considered the 9x18 Makarov? Costs less, inexpensive mags/parts, very accurate, very rugged, very reliable, a little more powerful than .380 (although it's easy to convert to .380 w/a bbl change if you must have .380) and points well. Only real downside (if you consider it a downside) is that it's all-steel so it's heftier (which helps w/recoil) than something w/an alloy frame.

April 3, 2005, 08:53 PM
I have an Beretta 86 and I love it. My sister is here for the week and we went out to the range, she brought her Bersa 380. This is the first time I shot one and it shot great. My problem with it was manipulating the slide. It was fairly tough to get a grip on the slide to manipulate it, and it was fairly stiff spring. It was also something my sis was aware of. The sights on the Bersa were also 3dot red and were very low profile, so they weren't the easiest to see. I can't use my left hand, so the Cheetah is great. The tipup barrel is a cool feature, and I can completely rack the slide and work the rest of the gun single handed. The sights are also a 3dot whites and are easier to see. The Bersa is smaller and lighter yet still packs a punch. I think the trigger is much better on the Bersa, but I'm use to my Beretta and shoot it better than the Bersa.

All in all, I'd take the Beretta over the Bersa. The Berettas also hold their value well. I have 1k rds through my 86 and I wouldn't give it up. It is also my cc.

April 3, 2005, 09:33 PM
Bersa pistols are good, Beretta pistols are even better.
You get what you pay for in both instances and neither is a bad choice.

Lobotomy Boy
April 3, 2005, 10:05 PM
Whenever I take my Bersa out, I'm surprised by how well I shoot it. It's a great gun at any price, and mind-bogglingly good for the price.

I'm not familiar with the Beretta, but can think of one possible advantage--if you shoot a lot of rounds through the gun parts on the Beretta may not wear out as quickly. (Then again they may.)

If money is in any way an issue, go with the Bersa.

I guess the ultimate decision depends on your preferences and your budget.

April 4, 2005, 02:19 AM
Are you absolutely looking for .380 ACP?

I have a Bersa MiniFirestorm in .45 ACP, and I like it for the following reasons over the .380, which I also considered:

1) More powerful cartridge.
2) Conceals well
3) Shoots well
4) Oh yeah....more powerful cartridge!

They also carry them in 9mm and .40, with very good (even hi-cap) capacity in 9mm and .40.

April 4, 2005, 07:09 AM
Another Bersa fan here. It's one of my 2 daily carry pieces.

No experience with the Beretta, though.

Lobotomy Boy
April 4, 2005, 07:30 AM
38SnubFan has a point. I've got nothing against .380 for carry, but from a practical standpoint, if money is an issue .380 pracitce ammo is almost as expensive as .45 ACP ($16/100 vs. $20/100 for Winchester White Box), and both are a lot more expensive than 9mm ($11/100 for WWB). I believe the .380 is adequate, but ll things being equal, I'd rather carry a 9mm or a .45 ACP.

Lone Star
April 4, 2005, 10:45 AM
I'm not considering 9mm, .357 SIG, .45. etc. in this role. I have a perfectly satisfactory CZ-75B for when I can carry a full-size gun.

The Beretta will be a M85 if I get one; I don't need the pop-up bbl. on the M86, and want the smaller gun. Beretta's legendary reliability appeals to me.

The Bersa will be cheaper, and my money goes to a fellow American nation. From what I've seen, Industria Argentina makes some good stuff, exceptional for the money. Their site shows dealers in France and most American countries, so they aren't a fly-by-night "off-brand".

The .380 is for when I don't want to use a snub .38 that day for clothing or preference reasons. I normally favor a S&W snub .38 in a concealed gun.

Thanks, Guys. And I will be looking at the Makarov, separately.

Lone Star

April 4, 2005, 12:05 PM
The .380 threads always have to turn into the "get a bigger caliber" thread :rolleyes:

.380 ammo can be had for $6.50/50. I just bought a bunch from Sportsman's Guide and Cheaper than Dirt. Yes it can also cost $8 per. As for the .45s I just bought with my .380s, how about $10/50. Ammo deals are out there, you just gotta look. I will not buy from my local Walmart though (unless the world is about to end). They are pricey all around.

Old Dog
April 4, 2005, 12:41 PM
First, let me qualify my answer by saying that I have zero experience with Bersa products (although I've closely examined the .380s on several occasions). I do have, however, substantial experience with Berettas (having owned many, including the 85 and 86), and I have to echo the guy who says, "you get what you pay for."

I fully understand budget constraints often drive our gun purchases -- I've been there myself -- but I have so often regretted "settling" for a less-expensive firearms when I could have saved a bit more for the higher quality product ... So my question is: a year from now, will you still be happy with the Bersa?

The Beretta .380s are excellent pistols. The frame-mounted safety, in my view, makes it a better gun (along with the better fit and finish). By the way, if I'm not mistaken, Beretta is making the 85s and 86s in Accokeek, MD - employing American workers and contributing to our economy.

April 4, 2005, 01:02 PM
LoneStar, the reference to the 86 was merely input on the performance of the Cheetah series, not totally suggesting you get the 86 (in fact, my first reply was copied from a previous post I had made to a lady looking for an easy operated pistola) :)

Anyhow, the 85 and 86 are sisters I guess you could say. The share the same magazine and grips, both being single stack. The difference is the barrel. The 86 is just a touch longer (and of course tipup). Either way, you'll be paying pretty much the same price for either one. The 86 has been discontinued for 2005.

As for the "buy American" chant that has been going around lately, don't totally dismiss quality pistol because of it country. It doesn't make you any "less American".

For the Bersa, watch out for mag/pistol problems. My sister's Bersa has an issue or two she fixing to send it in for.

Anyhow, handle and shoot both if you can. Have fun picking out your new pistol :cool:

Kramer Krazy
April 4, 2005, 02:58 PM
Yesterday, at a local gun show, I picked up a matched pair of Bersa Thunder 380s in "Duotone" with consecutive serial numbers for the wife and me. We haven't shot them, yet, but they appear to be pretty good quality and at $199 each (brand new), I wouldn't argue. Fit and finish are surprisingly well considering the price, and the design allows for very simple field stripping. They fit well in both of our hands, and the DA/SA is the same format as her S&W 5903 and my Ruger P-89DC (both 9mm). I prefer a 1911 SA format, like my Colt Officer, but the DA/SA trigger on this Bersa is MUCH better than my Ruger. The SA on my Ruger feels like it takes forever to get to engagement, and I've never warmed up to the feel of it. The wife's S&W is an excellent gun. In some ways, I kinda like the DA first round pull, despite mainly shooting 1911s for the last 16 years.

The 380 is the smallest caliber I'd consider carrying, but I also have an AMT Backup in 45ACP, if I want bigger, and a Colt Detective Special (38 spl) if I want a revolver.

I'm hoping to get to shoot these little Bersa 380s before Saturday, but I may have to wait until then, depending on my work schedule.....BTW, we picked up a couple boxes of ammo for $7/50.

Lone Star
April 4, 2005, 11:25 PM
I went by a dealer's tonight and examined one blue and one two-tone Bersa. Both made a nasty scraping noise as the side cycled, probably due to the steel slide working against the light alloy frame.

If one lubes with Break-Free and shoots a couple of hundred rounds through the gun, does that noise subside as the gun smoothes up? Does it feel and sound slicker?

The only real cosmetic flaw I noted otherwise is that there were quite a few tool marks around the firing pin hole on the breech face. Fit of the right grip at the top is superior to most Walthers, leaving almost none of the internal mechanism exposed to view. (That sloppiness there has always put me off the PP and PPK.)

These guns did have the new lock, which makes me uneasy.

Further comment?

Texas Star

April 4, 2005, 11:35 PM
The Beretta is not 200% better than the Bersa, but does cost 200% of the Bersa. I doubt you will ever find a better bargain in a handgun (generally) than the Bersa. That said, I do prefer the Beretta 85. I like the trigger better. It's frame mounted safety is easier for me to manipulate, while the slide mounted safety of the Bersa makes the slide more difficult to rack. I believe the Beretta 86 has the longest .380 barrel currently in production, thus getting the most out of the cartridge. The Beretta 84 has a 13rd magazine.

Two other .380s to consider are the CZ-83, which some argue has one of the best DA/SA triggers made (I'm a fan), and the Taurus PT938, which is the only Locked-Breech .380 in current production (that I know of).

Lobotomy Boy
April 5, 2005, 12:20 AM
My Bersa was downright oily when I bought it. I cleaned it before I shot it and always give it a good cleaning after use (the Bersa seems to require more frequent cleanings than my other autoloaders, especially the magazines). Because of that, I've never heard the noise you describe.

April 5, 2005, 04:51 AM
My .45 was more than was a downright mess! I cleaned mine VERY thoroughly before I ever loaded it, and ended up taking the magazine apart as you described.

However, the gun works fine; and since I use it as my primary CCW, it gets cleaned weekly and after every time it's been shot.

Lone Star
April 5, 2005, 01:34 PM
What mainly concerns me at this point is why the noise sounds different from the slickety-click of a steel-on-steel auto. Is something rubbing too tightly?

And does the noise go away with lubrication and use?


Lone Star

April 5, 2005, 01:47 PM
Every Bersa .380 I've handled has made a distinctive sound when the slide is racked. Sort of a "zip" sound. It shouldn't be a gritty, scraping sound, though. Maybe it just needs to be cleaned.

Mine was soaked with oil when new too.

Lone Star
April 5, 2005, 02:47 PM
It's sort of a whisking noise. Does it lessen with use?

Lone Star

April 5, 2005, 05:23 PM
As far as I know, the noise doesn't lessen with use. The sound (as far as I can tell) is caused by very faint lines going around the barrel contacting the recoil spring.

If you lock the slide back and scrape your fingernail along the length of the bare barrel, it will make a similar noise. Kind of like scratching the grooves of a record with your fingernail.

The noise has nothing to do with the aluminum frame, it's caused by these small grooves on the barrel. The sound is normal and doesn't cause a problem. The Bersa is a quality gun, but if you have reservations, buy the Beretta.

Lone Star
April 5, 2005, 11:59 PM
Your allusion to scraping the grooves on an old record is apropos. I'll check for these lines on the bbl. the next time I check out a Bersa. Sounds as if they may just not have finished the barrel exterior well.

I did see another tonight, and this store did take off their lock, so I could check the cocking and trigger actions, which were examplary. I was quite impressed. However, the tip of a spring within the trigger was protruding a bit behind the trigger, and one could get snagged on it. I'll soon know if this is unusual.

At this point, I'm leaning strongly toward buying one of these .380's.

On another note, I decided NOT to consider the S&W-made PPK/S, after fighting the heavy recoil spring and actually cutting my left forefinger on the sharp rear sight while trying to cycle the slide. With the heavy spring and the thumb safety making a good grip hard to take, the Walther left me underwhelmed. But I usually have those problems with the PP series, just never cut a finger on one before.

Looks like Bersa, at this point.

Lone Star

April 6, 2005, 01:15 AM
Get the Bersa. People all over are loving their Bersas . You almost never hear of trouble with one. I own one and its a fine pistol.

Kramer Krazy
April 6, 2005, 09:53 AM
My wife and I got to fire our consecutive serial number, matching "Duotone" Thunder 380s last night. She put 50 rounds through hers and I shot 84 through mine (saved 16 so we both could have one in the barrel and a full mag). Her gun seemed great, and she had no complaints. She actually loved the way the gun felt, the trigger action, and the reduced felt-recoil (she normally shoots a S&W 5903 9mm, but also shoots my Colt 45ACPs and even my Colt 44 mag).

My gun seemed to be shooting a little to the right, so I adjusted the rear sight a little to get it closer to center. After half a box adjusting the sights and getting the feel for the trigger and ergonomics with the other half of the box of ammo, I decided to grab another box to check out its accuracy. I was shooting two-handed, unsupported, at about 12 yards and put the last 34 rounds into a group that was 2" wide and 3 1/4" tall (remember, I saved the last 16 rounds). I can't complain about this. Rapid fire was very controllable, also, on a B-27 target at 15 yards. I was doing mags of 5 with 4 body shots the 5th round being a head shot. The little Bersa just chugged along. Now, we just have to look into finding a good deal on 1000 rounds of 380. :evil:

Lobotomy Boy
April 6, 2005, 10:17 PM
I find the Bersa a great gun for practicing rapid-shooting drills from a low-ready position. I also shoot mine very well with the pointing method we learned in our CCW class. In any sort of quick-shooting drills I shoot the Bersa better than any of my other autoloaders. I've been thinking about picking up an extra magazine and trying it for league shooting some night.

Unfortunately I may not have the gun much longer. My wife has taken a liking to it. If the MN lawsuit goes as planned and the judge's ruling is overturned next week, she may claim it as her own. If she does, I think I'll try to talk her into getting one of the ultra-compact carry versions when they come out later this year so I can get the Thunder back. I've really become attached to the gun.

Kramer Krazy
April 7, 2005, 10:58 AM
Anyone know how well the Bersas handle steel-cased ammo? I found FMJ and hollow-points for $5.00/50 rnds if you buy 1000 rounds:

HP -

Lobotomy Boy
April 7, 2005, 11:34 AM
Mine will eat aluminum-cased CCI Blazer all day long without a hiccup. I haven't tried steel.

The one thing to watch for is that if you don't clean the magazines regularly after shooting dirty, cheap ammo the follower won't catch the slide and the slide won't lock open after the last shot. I always make a point of cleaning the follower and the upper half of the magazine every time I clean the gun.

Lone Star
April 7, 2005, 02:15 PM
In general, most pistols don't like steel-cased ammo. I think the Makarov may be designed to tolerate it, but it sometimes shears extractor hooks on most guns.

Jeff Cooper wrote years ago that Marines fighting against the Japanese found steel-cased ammo okay in SMG's, but oiled the cases if they had to fire it in M1911's to hopefully lessen the chances of breaking an extractor.

The local Academy Sports has Winchester white box .380 ammo with a truncated cone (flat point) bullet at $8.99 a box. That's cheap enough for me, as much as I'd shoot a .380. I'd sure check one out with the Federal Classic JHP and Hydra-Shok rounds that I'd carry for business, but that bullet shape should should penetrate well on humans (in .380 terms) and may feed better than JHP's in some guns.

If you want to shoot cheap, buy a .22!

Lone Star

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