.380 that's enjoyable to shoot?


March 15, 2004, 03:09 AM
A couple of weeks ago I went shooting with a buddy of mine and tried out his Browning BDA 380. Now, I usually shoot a Springfield Loaded and Kimber Compact-sized Al framed .45ACP with no problems, but that BDA HURT to shoot. It was beating the hell out of my hand. I've heard of similar problems with other .380's and was wondering if there is such a thing as a .380 that isn't painful to shoot. I've been considering getting a small one to carry when I go running or mtn. biking, but if they're all similarly miserable (or worse, since the BDA is pretty big for a .380) to shoot I'll just put up with the weight of the Kimber.

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March 15, 2004, 04:05 AM
I've been looking for a "full-sized" 380 myself - besides the BDA 380, I've also thought about the Beretta 84/85 (which I think is the same gun), and the Beretta 86 (the model with the tip-up barrel, which seems to be hard to find), and the Bersa - especially the older Bersa with the fat wood grips.

I'm wondering if some of the complaints about 380 are due to having too weak a recoil spring, so the slide bangs against its stop??

and most 380s are fairly narrow, so maybe a change of grips would help?

380 seems to be (or have been) more popular in Europe, so I wonder whether there may be models from other European makers that might be a good answer? The Walther is a classic, but doesn't feel right in my XL hand.

So I'm curious too - thanks for any comments or suggestions.

March 15, 2004, 04:37 AM
There's always the brick - er, I mean, Hi-Point... :D


Chuck Jennings
March 15, 2004, 05:19 AM
MY eyes!! My EYES!!!

But seriously, the Bersa thunder is a great .380 gun. It is a tremendous value. I have not noticed any comfort issues with it at all. In trying it side by side with an older walther PPK, I just couldn't bring myself to spend so much more for not much more in the performance department.

Of course another great .380 is the sig 232, but I still don't think it is anywhere near the VALUE you get from the Bersa.

March 15, 2004, 08:36 AM
For a large .380 that is very easy shooting take a look at the CZ83, about $100 more than the Bersa, but is 10+1, comes with two mags, and has the option of 1911 style cocked'n'locked with ambi safety. Good sights.

It'd be perfect for my wife's CHL qualifier except she can't rack the slide :-(

I also find it pretty much impossible to part with $400+ for a .380, but I may have to if my wife can't handle the 50 rnd qualifier with my PT92 or Star BM -- the only SA autos I have that she can rack the slide. The Beretta 85 with the "popup" barrel (sorta like a .25 Jetfire on steroids) would be my last resort.
She shoots the 9mm OK at first, but develops bouts of flinching as she gets fatigued.


March 15, 2004, 09:20 AM
The popup-barrel Beretta is the 86 I think - I was looking at one used near here for $425, but waited too long.

The popup barrel is SLOW to load, but it's still a nice feature for ladies who might have trouble racking. There's always the Desert Eagle one-handed racking trick (catching the rear sight on the pants pocket), but that's probably not suitable for everyday women's clothing - can't you hear the rip??

I like CZ, gotta check the 83 -


March 15, 2004, 09:31 AM
I hav ea Colt .380 Mustand that is pretty nice to shoot. Not that a .380 has a lot of recoil to begin with but when you have a locked breech rather than a blowback pistol, it helps cut back on the snappy recoil.

March 15, 2004, 09:46 AM
The makarov in 380 is a easy on recoil and very accurate, I have a high cap.
russian model and it is a joy to shoot.

March 15, 2004, 09:51 AM
Any of the Colt .380's are very easy to shoot. They all have a locked breech and even the lightest one (Colt Pony Pocketlite) is very easy on the hand.

So, a Colt Govt .380, Colt Mustang in Stainless, Mustang Pocketlite or Pony.

March 15, 2004, 09:58 AM
The colt .380s are very nice guns but they've been discontinued for a long time. Good luck finding one for much under $500, so its not much of an option for someone balking at the price of a new SIG or Beretta .380.

Llama makes a nice looking "shrunk 1911" .380, I think they call it Micromax, for about $220, but its made by Llama :-( I looked carefully at a used one for $150 and it was pretty clear someone had boogered up the top of the mag lips clearing jams.

The weight, wide ergonomic grip, and heavy recoil spring make the CZ83 a real pussycat to shoot. Still it hurts to pay for a .380 a price what gets you into the price range of good full power, full size guns like CZ40B, or various EAA Witness pistols, or Armscor 45ACP or FM HiPower etc.


March 15, 2004, 10:54 AM
The colt .380s are very nice guns but they've been discontinued for a long time.

At one point Springfield Armory was thinking about manufacturing their own versions of the Colt Pony/Mustang. This proves once again that the clone makers have better business sense than the prancing pony...

March 15, 2004, 11:29 AM
.380s are always going to kick a lot since they're small and blowback. However, I've found that the beavertail on the Bersa .380s makes them more comfortable to shoot than other comparable .380. The current manufacture Bersa Thunder .380 is 7+1, but when the AWB expires we'll probably see the 15+1 double-stack Bersas being imported again.

I would imagine the Glock 25 would be in contention for "most comfortable .380" -- but it's not available in the U.S. (and why would it be?).

March 15, 2004, 11:54 AM
I've had a little experience with .380's:

I had a Makarov for a couple of years and finally sold it because I just could not find a way to keep the recoil from stinging my hand. I tried a friend's .380 Mak and it was the same thing.

I had a PPK/s for one month. That thing hurt so bad it was giving my hand tingling sensations and the sharp edges of the backstrap were cutting into my skin.

I now have two Bersa .380's, one for carry and one for fun and practice. Fun to shoot, accurate, and no pain.

Gary in Pennsylvania
March 15, 2004, 12:03 PM

March 15, 2004, 12:08 PM
If you want a .380, I would recommend the Bersa. It would make a great biking/hiking gun and is a great value for the price.

March 15, 2004, 12:12 PM
Makarovs with the facotry plastic grips (i.e. Red Star type) were known to be a little hard on the hands. Still, this is no reason to let the best .380 or 9x18 pistol in the world slip through your fingers. Put a set of Makawraps or Pearce grips on and enjoy some sweet Soviet perfection.
You can also pick up some very nice wood grips that help immensely.


March 15, 2004, 12:28 PM
A small .380, that I heard is not hard on the hand, is the Colt series '80 Mustang Pocketlite. It is a single action. It operates with a locked breech whereas most .380's operate by blowback. Seems to me it has like a double recoil spring. Gun's empty weight is 12 1/2 ounces. It has a 2 3/4" barrel and overall length is 5 1/2". I think magazine capacity is 5 rounds.

March 15, 2004, 12:58 PM
Not to drift the thread, but why is it that every so often someone seems bent on finding a comfortable relatively small and lightweight blowback 380 when the market has tons of locking 9mms that are comfortable to shoot, cheaper to shoot, has one of the largest varieties in available ammo (subsonic for quiet, +P+ Rangers for carry, etc...) better terminal effect on soft tissue if the need arises etc...

The Bersa is a nice piece, but I've never found the Mak to be very uncomfortable to shoot with Pearce grips but there are plenty of smaller affordable 9mms...the smaller EAAs and CZs, Stars... At a higher price point, Glocks, SIGs, HKs, Berettas, 9mm 1911s, Many viable options in 9mm.

March 15, 2004, 01:38 PM
My Beretta 86 Chetah is a joy to shoot. It has more felt recoil that you would expect form a gun its size and caliber, but its not painfull.
Besides that, its the most accurate handgun I own..no kidding

March 15, 2004, 04:43 PM
Cheetah == CZ83 + $100 == Bersa +$200.

All are good guns. I ruled out the Bersa because it can't do cocked'n'locked.
This may not matter to you, but its well worth an extra $100 to me.


March 15, 2004, 09:55 PM
I have a commerical Bulgarian Makarov in 380. With the after market Pearce Grips installed...sometimes I am not sure the round actually fired despite the report. Very little recoil.

Bersa Thunder has better sights though.

March 15, 2004, 10:59 PM
If you can find one for a decent price the Colts are the way to go. My wife`s Gov`t .380 Pocketlite is a sweetheart! She`s recoil sensitive and she can shoot it all day with no ill effects. It`s accurate,light and very slim too. No jams with it so far either. Marcus

March 16, 2004, 02:38 PM
All other .380s (even the Glock) are blowback AFAIK. This makes them kick out of proportion. My single stack Beretta feels like it kicks a lot more than my P9 Kahr (both shooting defense loads from CorBon.) It also means they have very heavy recoil springs which some testosterone challenged individuals may find difficult to cycle. Try shooting CorBon .380 loads in a “full sized” Gov. model (non-Mustang ) steel (non-pocketlite) Colt side by side w/ a Beretta & you might be surprised at the difference.

Great gun for recoil shy folks (who usually do NOT cotton to the Cocked & Locked manual of arms.)


March 16, 2004, 03:36 PM
I have the BDA .380 also. It definately does have a "pop" to it. I have been following this thread and haven't heard anyone suggest the P232 Sig. I wish we could hear from someone who has one. I fondled one today at lunch, the blued model is lighter by far than the BDA, I am wondering how it feels when shooting?


March 16, 2004, 07:30 PM
Have never fired one, but the SIG P230/P232 should be pretty comfortable to fire. It's almost as big as a P225.

March 16, 2004, 07:45 PM
Most 380s are blowback.If you can find a locked breech it wpould have less recoil but the lightest recoil of them all is the Remington 51 which has a delayed blowback system.

March 17, 2004, 02:40 AM
So it sounds like it'd be better (comfort wise and ballistically) to go with a smaller 9mm, right????

Black Majik
March 17, 2004, 04:05 AM
Sig P232.

That thing is as smooth as a BMW to shoot. No harsh recoil here. :)

March 17, 2004, 07:54 AM
That thing is as smooth as a BMW to shoot. No harsh recoil here Not according to MY hands/wrist - mine seemed pretty snappy.

March 17, 2004, 08:19 AM
Oooohhhh......15+1 Bersa Thunder. Me WANT! :what: :what: :cool:

15+rounds plus the wider grip to spread out the recoil. Should make that a pussycat to shoot. C'mon September.

Edited to add: You might look at the Firestorm .380. The same gun as the Bersa Thunder but with Hogue-style rubber grips which should help with the pain and (IMHO) better sights. Got mine yesterday and I'm really looking forward to getting it to the range. Holsters may be easier to find as I understand the Firestorm will fit those designed for the PPK's.

March 18, 2004, 08:07 AM
My BERSA 380s shoot very nice. Some consider 380 recoil to be quick. Haven't shot a BDA. Handled one & liked it, would expect the BDA to be a nice shooter. The BDA wound up No. 2 & went w/ BERSA mainly for the fixed barrel (accuracy) & better trigger.
Have shot an alloy frame FEG PPK 380 (owned & sold) & Llama 380 (friend's). Don't have any recoil issues w/ either. The BERSA fits my (larger) hand better & shoots excellent.
Sounds like you really should try a BERSA & say what you think.


March 18, 2004, 09:24 AM
Well I tried to stay out of this one but I can't. Anybody that knows me knows I love Bersa's. The Thunder380 or the Firestorm380 are a joy for my wife and myself to shoot. It is the only pistol I have ever owned that has the wife really excited about going shooting with. I must admit the sights

on the Firestorm are a little easier for her to use but I like the dot system on the Thunder. As for the Houge style grips on the Firestorm, you can call Eagle Imports at 732-493-0333 and order the rubber wraparound grips for the Thunder380. I think they were $24 plus shipping. I've attached a pic.

March 18, 2004, 11:09 AM
That I really enjoy shooting unlimited times...an old (40-50 yrs) Llama!!

It's the only .380 I have that does not have the typical "blow-back" design found in so many of the smaller caliber guns.

My Makarov (9mm Mak cal.), CZ-83 (.380) & PPK-S (.380) all give plenty of snap. the Llama is a pussy cat....BUT

I know of VERY few Llama owners who would trust their life with thier Llama .380. The newer ones are supposed to be worse than the older units.

My old Llama .380 is a range gun, not a bedstand save your butt gun.

My next choice would be the CZ-83, it's mass and grip design make it less snappy in my hands....the worse for me was the PPK-S and the Makarov.


Oh, and the Bersa .380 is similar in snap to the other blow-back .380's...I've shot one a buddy has a fair amount and found it wore me out like my PPK-S...but it's a very reliable gun!

March 18, 2004, 12:08 PM
A similar subject brought me here to begin with. I was (still am, actually) considering sleeving a spare Kahr barrel to .380 for my K9. I would have two or three dedicated mags with a small spacer at the rear to insure the cartridges fed correctly.

What's the point? I have a LOT of .380 ammo, and it seemed as though it would be much more pleasant to shoot from a locked breech gun. No more, no less. The K9 stays 9mm capable, and with a quick barrel/mag/recoil spring change, it is a .380 as well.

March 18, 2004, 05:21 PM
Find one of the older Stars SA. A .380 built on a scaled down 1911 frame. It has a lock breech and is a lot stronger than most ever gave it credit. I should have kept it as now my S/O has a hankering for a .380.
For the money ($100 back in the early 80's) it was hard to beat.

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