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Browning BDA .380, Oddball in a Tactical World

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by Marko Kloos, Mar 11, 2003.

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  1. Marko Kloos

    Marko Kloos Moderator Emeritus

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    I've finally given in to a long-hedged desire and purchased a Browning BDA .380 in nickel finish. For those not familiar with the gun, it's a slightly modified copy of the Beretta 84, made by Beretta for Browning. The magazines hold 10 rounds, but pre-ban 13-rounders are still available. Magazines for the BDA and the Beretta 84 are identical.

    In a world where guns need to have "tactical" attributes to be considered true fighting tools, the BDA is an anachronism. It's large for a .380, it's a blowback gun chambered in what some consider an anemic caliber, and it's finished in very un-tactical shiny nickel. The grips are smooth wood with Browning medallions instead of rubber or carbon fiber, and there's not a single piece of plastic on the gun other than the mag follower. The slide-mounted safety is smallish and counterintuitive.

    There are much smaller guns in more potent calibers available, so why did I add this thing to the stable?

    It's extremely well made, and possibly one of the best-looking and elegant handguns ever made. It has a reputation as a mild and accurate shooter. Its grip is a wee bit bulky, which works well for shooters with big hands, yet its slide is very slim, so it carries well IWB. Its exterior dimensions are right in the "small enough to be convenient, just large enough to inspire confidence" category. The gun offers 13+1 rounds when used with preban magazines. Most of all, it just oozes craftmanship and class, something that's lacking in many modern tactical wunderguns. Call it the autopistol equivalent of a nice Detective Special or 3" K-frame.

    [​IMG]
     
  2. gumshoe4

    gumshoe4 Member

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    Very nice (non-tactical) pistol and flawless logic in selecting it.

    I think we spend way too much time deciding what is tactical and what ain't.

    I think about half my gun cabinet is non-tactical and I'd probably be laughed out of the place if I showed up at a mall-ninja shoot with some of my favorite handguns. Particularly with revolvers...

    I commend you and welcome you to the Society of Non-Offensive Or Tactical Shooters (SNOOTS). Main bylaw is to own a gun just because ya wanna.

    Bob
    TFL# 8032
     
  3. Sir Galahad

    Sir Galahad member

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    I, too, have seen and admired this fine pistol at my local shop. And I might get one too! There is just---something----about this pstol that you want to own it. The workmanship is impeccable and, for me, it fits the hand nice. How does it shoot?
     
  4. Schuey2002

    Schuey2002 Member

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    Lendringser, where did you purchase it from?

    I keep seeing these guns advertised in CDNN's flyer and I always pause for a moment to look at them. They look even sweeter in color than in the b/w pic of their ad.

    I've got to pick one up some day.

    As Skunk would say, " It's pimpin' !!":D
     
  5. CZF

    CZF Member

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    Very nice pistol. I like round trigger guard guns. Wish the CZ83
    came in a bright nickel.

    I like my 13 shot '83 over the CZ Compacts. Maybe the shorter 9mms don't lose as much power as i think.

    The .380 is smaller and has nites. Federal hydra-shoks give me
    13 chances at stopping someone, at least until i can get my 10mm:)
     

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  6. Beav

    Beav Member

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    very nice lendringser



    me too :D
     
  7. MikeJ

    MikeJ Member

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    I agree totally with you, Lendsringer. I bought one with the glossy blue finish many years ago and still think it is the best looking pistol ever made. You've got a work of art not just a nice tool. Mike
     
  8. 91101

    91101 Member

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    I shot one just like it for the first time today.... My buddy just bought it and of course I HAD to try it. :D Very nice little pistol... The only dislike I had for it was that the rear sight is nickle plated and any light behind you will be reflected back into your eyes. It happened a couple of times while I was shooting and it made the front site invisible. I'm sure a little flat black paint on that sucker would fix it right up...

    Michael
     
  9. Alan Fud

    Alan Fud Member

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    I purchased mine over two decades ago when they first came out and it is still one of my favorites. The .380ACP caliber may be a bit on the weak side but in my opinion, 14 rounds of .380ACP will beat 5 or 6 rounds of .38 special out of a snubbie (which is about the same size as the BDA) ...
    [​IMG]
    ... I wasn't aware that the BDA380 was still being made. I thought that it was discontinued in the mid-1990's as I didn't see it on the Browning site the last time that I looked.

    [​IMG] » www.FamilyFriendsFirearms.com «
    Alligator Al: Share What You Know & Learn What You Don't.
     
  10. Stephen A. Camp

    Stephen A. Camp Moderator In Memoriam

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    Hello. They're reliable, accurate pistols. They work. Maybe they're not first-choice for rhino-hunting, but if YOU like the pistol, enjoy it. I do. I spent 11 years in a tactical unit. I couldn't really care less about what's "TC" (Tactically Correct?) with regard to buying, shooting, and enjoying the guns I want.

    I've seen a few of these or their Beretta counterparts come through some CHL classes I help teach and in each case, the guns ran flawlessly.

    Here's some of my non-TC pistols that I like and shoot lots!

    This E. German Makarov is but a little more potent than the .380 ACP with most loads and it has dinky sights, but it's exceptionally smooth, reliable, and surprisingly accurate to shoot with cheap ammo. I like it lots! I don't see much difference in it and your .380 .... other than yours holds more shots!
    [​IMG]

    This STI Longslide Trojan in 9mm is way "too big for caliber" and "everyone knows" it's "not reliable in 9mm" and just "not powerful" enough for most things. The deer was cleanly killed at about 40 yards using a stout handload with a Hornady 124 gr XTP, which "is not a good choice for defense" as it doesn't expand as much as some other rounds. I guess no one told the gun, which has NEVER failed to feed or extract in something just under 2K rounds so far, nor the deer!
    [​IMG]

    Uh-Oh! This defensive forty-five does not have a FLGR nor forward slide serrations(and never will have!), just fixed sights that are "on" and a worked over trigger, hammer/sear, some skateboard tape and a "drop in" Pachmayr beavertail. On top of all that, it's a Norinco. I trust it completely. Am I "right" or "wrong?" I already know the answer for me. I really enjoy shooting this non-picky, dependable 1911.
    [​IMG]

    This CZ83 is a large .380 compared to many. So what? It's a peach to shoot and is utterly reliable. It even has good sights! I like it. To me, not all shooting, nor even most of it has to be so much about defense; what's wrong with fun shooting?
    [​IMG]

    I've been kind of silly here, but I do think that perhaps we do get too involved in what's the "latest and best" pistol for taking on narco-terrorists and such. I'm am not saying that the choice in the defensive pistols is one to be made lightly, but not every pistol we buy, shoot, own, or just plain like has to be couched in survival aspects unless we choose it to be so.

    Heck, man. You have a very well-made, reliable three-eighty. If you like it, have a blast. I know I sure do. It's been my experience that people who like to shoot like to shoot guns they like. If they're not careful, they frequently become better shots. With a pistol of at least decent power, I think the ability to hit accurately and quickly might outweigh being mediocre with something otherwise more potent.

    In the end, I am NOT degrading or making fun of anyone. I know some very "serious" shooters who shoot very refined and very "TC" pistols. Heck, I like shooting with them myself, but a fellow who can hit very well with his .380 might just come out OK if worst comes to worst.

    Best and good shooting.
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2003
  11. yesterdaysyouth

    yesterdaysyouth Member

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    i bought mine just after i picked up my 9000s... first gun i bought on looks alone... im not big on the slide saftety, or the rippish muzzle flip, but it is the most acurate auto i own...

    i shot about 50 rounds through it last weekend, and for the first time it really did hurt my hand.... oh and beretta stopped making this model in 97... cdnn has em for 339 i think...
     
  12. popeye
    • Contributing Member

    popeye Member

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    I've got a BDA and an 84. I have traded a few pistols off in the past. These are keepers. They feed most anything. Got them last year at an estate sale.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2012
  13. Baron Holbach

    Baron Holbach Member

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    My brother keeps a nickel-finished Browning BDA .380 in his safe. I have fired over 100 rounds of Lawman FMJ through the gun. It shoots well but the safety requires a strong push to work. Knowing Beretta, this gun has to be one of the most attractive pistols on the market.
     
  14. Soap

    Soap Member

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  15. popeye
    • Contributing Member

    popeye Member

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    The tough saftey movement probs. on the BDA's is unique to the models with all the (proof/import?) stamps on them. I had one a couple years back. Flooded it with clp and it freed up a bit. The BDA I have now is an older one and the saftety engages and disengages much smoother.
     
  16. Pilot

    Pilot Member

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    The Browning BDA and Beretta counterparts are excellent pistols. Very nice choice. I often carry a Makarov in 9MM Mak or .380 when I need to carry a smaller firearm. And I do not feel unprotected with either. I'd like to get a BDA or CZ-83 next.
     
  17. outfieldjack

    outfieldjack Member

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    My wife has a BDA.....

    My father-in-law gave it to her before we met when she had a "Peeping Tom" in her apartment complex. Her's (Mine now) has the blued finish. It is the best shooting gun we have. I always enjoy taking it to the range. If my memory serves me, they were discontinued back in the mid '90's. I was wondering what its value is.... we have the .380 BDA and two orignal hi-caps mags...

    Any idea to its value? Its in great shape.

    Thanks!
     
  18. Tamara

    Tamara Senior Member

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    lendringser,

    Because you had the New Gun Jones so badly that you were breaking out in hives. Rationalize it all you wish; I know the real reason. :D
     
  19. Marko Kloos

    Marko Kloos Moderator Emeritus

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    Local shop in Knoxville, Randy's on Broadway. Price was $430-ish, NIB, with two mags.


    Very nice. I ran a box of S&B through it this morning, and I was bouncing the empty little S&B box around with the BDA at 15 yards. It seems to put 'em right where you point it, and the recoil is fairly mild. It's a fun little shooter, and it'll make a sweet little summer carry gun with a 13-rounder in place.

    It's also very easy to clean. The slide and barrel strip off the frame like a locked-breech pistol...I've never seen a blowback gun that didn't have the barrel permanently mounted in the frame. The slick nickel finish doesn't hold any dirt at all. All the powder residue wiped right off.
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2003
  20. yesterdaysyouth

    yesterdaysyouth Member

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    yeah if you use some silicone spray all the dirt will slide right off.....
     
  21. JeepDriver

    JeepDriver Member

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    Now I want one even more! I've always wanted a BDA. Not sure why I haven't bought one yet.

    Now should I sell the Bersa 380 or just add the Browning to the safe? Do I need 2 .380's? :rolleyes:
     
  22. gumshoe4

    gumshoe4 Member

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    What a bunch of nice firearms everyone has!!

    In keeping with the non-tactical theme, today I bought a I have wanted for many years. It is a Walther (actually Manurhin) PP in 7.65 mm, a former European police service pistol with 2 mags, the box, the cleaning rod and a shoulder holster.

    The gun is in excellent shape, with only slight holster wear at the front of the slide and elsewhere a deep blue with little or no scratching. Unlike the more modern PPKs, particularly the American PPKs, the DA trigger pull, although heavy, is very smooth and consistent through the trigger stroke.

    I can't pick it up until 03-22-2003 (the day before the Sacramento THR shoot)-welcome to California!! :mad:

    Bob
    TFL# 8032
     
  23. Tamara

    Tamara Senior Member

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    JeepDriver,

    twoblink would say that was "tactically logistical", FWIW... ;)
     
  24. Ala Dan

    Ala Dan Member in memoriam

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    Greeting's Sir;

    I've always considered the Browning BDA .380 to be
    one of the most beautiful semi-auto's ever made. Its
    handsome, sleek looks make this a desirable piece.
    I wouldn't mind having one myself!

    And the apple of my eye, would be a .45 caliber
    Browning BDA; which was the predecessor to
    the SIG-Sauer P220.

    Either would make an excellent addition to any
    collection; and if either ever landed in my own
    collection, they would be bound for destiny!

    Best Wishes,
    Ala Dan, N.R.A. Life Member
     
  25. PCRCCW

    PCRCCW Member

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    My first .380 was a nickel BDA...you can swim in the nickel...very few OEM finishes are that nice......You have to see them in person to see what we mean.....
    The trigger and other controlls are first rate as is reliability....I miss my gun as I sold it to pay tuition.:banghead: :cuss:
    The only other gun Ive owned that compares or perhaps surpassed the little BDA by a skosh..is the CZ83. It lacks the refinement of the BDA's finish...but makes up for it everywhere else.....Youve still got one of my favorite guns of all time.....

    Tactical smactical....:D

    Shoot well......
     
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