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Disturbing failure in a Bersa FireStorm 22

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by chardin, Jan 10, 2017.

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  1. chardin

    chardin Member

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    I restored a 1990's Bersa Firestorm .22LR pistol after decades of neglect. This was a fun project. I also did some work on the smoothness of its trigger, and took it to the range this morning to test it out.

    It jammed a lot, mostly stovepipe FTEs and one funny FTF. And then it did something that scared the tar out of me.

    The gun had a stovepipe FTE. I didn't see it, and pulled the trigger. And the hammer fell.

    The hammer fell when the slide was out of battery.

    I am quite concerned.

    I did notice, when disassembling the gun, that it lacked an automatic safety cam. This part apparently made it into later versions of this pistol. I don't know if it was there to prevent this kind of failure. Or did my smoothing the trigger, sear, and hammer make it happen?

    Does anyone know how I might make this gun safe? Failing that, is there any reasonable way to get rid of it without putting some innocent gun buyer at risk?
     
  2. Panzerschwein

    Panzerschwein member

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    Contact the factory. Voice your concern, they should either retrofit it or do something for you. I'm no fan of Bersa, but they have their followers.
     
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  3. danez71

    danez71 Member

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    I agree with Cooldill.

    Member Michael T should be along here. He owns the Bersa Chat forum and should be able to provide some good guidance.

    Please update this thread as you work thru it.
     
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  4. chardin

    chardin Member

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    That's an excellent idea. Thank you! And yes, I will keep this thread updated to the best of my ability.
     
  5. chardin

    chardin Member

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    I've shipped the pistol to John's Guns Etc. in Lott, TX, which is an approved Bersa warranty repair center. Sadly, I can't send it USPS, and UPS won't ship it in any way other than Next Day Air. $77.86! Ouch!

    Oh, well. I've sent it with the requisite copy of my ID, letter describing the issue, magazine, and no ammunition. We'll see how it goes.
     
  6. Stony

    Stony Member

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    I sent a Bersa .22 to Lott Tx. myself once. He did have to courtesy to call me after he worked on it to go over the issues. It sort of worked when I got it back, but over the years I've come to accept this from Bersa products.
     
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  7. chardin

    chardin Member

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    I am being careful to keep my own hopes not terribly high. Thank you for letting me know of your experience.
     
  8. Hokkmike

    Hokkmike Member

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    I wouldn't want to shoot it again. I would trash it.
     
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  9. drband

    drband Member

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    I would encourage you to check this link: http://www.wolfgangthegundoctor.com/

    Wolfgang is a Bersa warranty gunsmith and will take care of you if there's still a problem. He's generally the go-to warranty smith on the bersachat forum. He's pretty quick to respond to emails.
     
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  10. rule303

    rule303 Member

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    Most older hammer fired blowback operated autos (including the Walther PPK, Ruger MK series, etc) will allow the hammer to fall without the slide 100% in battery. On the Bersa, if the slide is open more than a fraction of an inch, the hammer will hit the bottom edge of the slide rather than the firing pin. Even if you had a round chambered, and there were not a stovepipe in the ejection port, the round would not have fired.
     
  11. chardin

    chardin Member

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    I'm going to see what the good folks at John's Guns can do. They have a good reputation (see Stony's post, for example). Also, it's easy to test safely -- insert a thin shim into the ejection port over an empty chamber, cock the hammer, see if it falls. If it does, I'm done with the gun.

    I like your username, but I don't agree with much of that reasoning.

    Your own language contains a worrisome edge case where the gun would fire out of battery: The slide is open a fraction of an inch and the hammer falls. Thus, it is not always the case that the round would not have fired. Furthermore, there's a troubling case where the hammer rides a closing slide and touches off the round before it's in battery.

    Although other designs may have this issue, I have seen this Bersa exhibit failures to feed more often than I have the other guns you've mentioned. There's a picture of this in my blog post on testing the FireStorm. Thus, I think its risk of detonation is higher. But even if it weren't, I'm not all that willing to take a significant risk of becoming Two-Face, whatever the brand of the gun.

    I'm more in agreement with Hokkmike: If John's can't fix this, if the automatic safety cam does not affect this issue, then I shall ask John's to keep the gun or dispose of it.
     
  12. chardin

    chardin Member

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    Ah, thank you. I'll see what John's does with it first, having sent it already, but it's good to know there is a contingency plan.
     
  13. chardin

    chardin Member

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    Heard back from John himself this afternoon.

    The extraction issues are probably caused by two things: a very rough chamber, and my abortive attempt to remove the extractor pin. It wouldn't budge but a little, but that may have been enough. Sadly, this pistol's extraction and ejection issues predate that attempt, so that is probably not the sole cause. However, it probably didn't help.

    The hammer drop issue is not fixable. Yes, the automatic safety cam might have helped, but there is no way to fit it into the frame, and an aftermarket modification would cost more than the gun is worth. Sadface.
     
  14. Onmilo

    Onmilo Member

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    "After decades of neglect"
    "Does anyone know how I might make this gun safe?"
    Yes
    Take a four pound shop hammer and pound the pistol into complete useless
    File this experience in your lessons learned drawer.
     
  15. chardin

    chardin Member

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    The neglect was actually easily reversed. The problems lie elsewhere.
     
  16. drband

    drband Member

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    Sorry to hear that. I like Bersa firearms in general. I guess that one is too far gone.
     
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  17. chicharrones

    chicharrones needs more ammo

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    Two alternatives I can think of for that Bersa since it is declared unsafe.

    1. Remove the firing pin, fill the barrel and chamber with JB Weld and keep it as a dry fire practice gun.

    2. Do everything in step 1 and keep it as a future "buy back" gun. Could get some cash or a gift card for it.
     
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  18. chardin

    chardin Member

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    Do you think it's any less safe than a Walther if it feeds reasonably? My main issue is that its failures to feed might increase the chance of a kaboom. However, I do agree that even a slow feed might be dangerous if the hammer rides down with it.

    I do live near Boston, home of gun control foolishness, so a buyback is not impossible.
     
  19. chicharrones

    chicharrones needs more ammo

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    I can't say how safe your model Bersa or a Walther may be, due to my lack of hands on experience with those types.

    I do have a current model Bersa Firestorm .22 and it apparently is okay.

    On the other hand, I have an early 1990s Beretta Bobcat .22 that is thoroughly worn out. Even after replacing parts to try and salvage it. I keep it only as a possible buy back gun. I would practice dry firing with it if the sights were better and suited for target practice.
     
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  20. chardin

    chardin Member

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    Fair point.
     
  21. danez71

    danez71 Member

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    I'll have to check if mine has a rough chamber too but I'm pretty sure when I have issue it's due to weaker ammo as it's 100% reliable with hotter ammo.

    Could you clarify the last paragraph please?

    Is the purpose of the automatic safety cam to prevent the issue of firing while the slide isn't fully closed?

    And is that something that your model wasn't designed with whereas the newer models are?
     
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  22. chardin

    chardin Member

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    The failures to eject, probably. The failures to feed, I'm less sure. Those are the failures that worry me more, as they might lead to a kaboom.

    That's exactly what I meant.
     
  23. danez71

    danez71 Member

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    Thanks.

    My FTF, I think have been all, or at least predominantly, because of FTE. From memory, extracted from the barrel but not fully ejected.

    ETA: mine has never let the firing pin drop in that scenario.

    Given that is reliable with hotter ammo I've always assumed that with the weaker ammo, the slide isn't retracting with enough force to fling the empty out.

    I'll check for rough chamber though.... I can see how that could give the same extraction symptom.
     
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  24. Ibmikey

    Ibmikey Member

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    I have tried many times to fire the pistol ( Bersa Firestorm) Stony sent back for repair of the malfunction problems, the pistol before the repair center never would fire more than a few shots before major malfunction stopped everything. After the center repairs (if any) the pistol would sorta function with mini mags, the more it was shot ( maybe a hunddred rounds) the more difficult it is to get a full mag through it without failures, from day one the pistol has failed to perform even to fire one complete mag and graces the bottom drawer of my safe with a note "don't even think this thing will shoot without making you mad". First, last and only Bersa in this household.
     
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  25. ttarp

    ttarp Member

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    I can't imagine why you'd judge a company based on a .22. If BERSA's aren't your thing fine and well, but most folks consider .22's in general to be more likely to have issues than centerfire handguns.

    If you're looking to get rid of it, I might be interested in taking on the project.
     
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