Gun Review: Bersa TPR 380 … The Modern Option

I like Bersa. As far as budget guns go, they make some of the best, in my opinion. The Thunder series is likely their most popular gun series, and I’ve always enjoyed them. They’re very Walther-like without the Walther price tag.

Bersa is also not afraid to experiment with the Walther PPK-esque design. They’ve released the double stack models as well as the trim and slim CC model. The latest of these is the Bersa TPR 380.

Bersa launched the TPR series with a series of 9mm handguns. These are short-recoil, double-stack pistols with a variety of modern features. Bersa produced two models that are derivatives of their Thunder lineup. The TPR 380 Plus has a 15-round magazine and a 3.9-inch barrel, and the TPR 380 has a 3.5-inch barrel and single stack 8-round magazine. The TPR 380 also has a Picatinny rail along the bottom of the dust cover.

The TPR 380 – Some Thunder

Bersa calls the new Bersa TPR 380 a micro-compact, but it’s a bit different than what we typically think of as a micro-compact pistol. The TPR 380 differs from the standard Thunder model externally in a few ways. Obviously there’s the rail, but the slide has also been redesigned and is slimmer and sleeker with a more modern look.

The rail is part of the grip system and wraps around the frame and trigger guard. It’s a two-piece removable system and if you don’t really like it, you could probably drop on normal Bersa grips. With that said, I haven’t tried other grips, so I can’t confirm whether they work or not.

The TPR 380 as a retro future vibe to it.

Beyond that, this is a Bersa Thunder through and through. It has a slide-mounted safety, a DA/SA action, a locking device, and a magazine safety. It’s a straight blowback pistol with a fixed barrel, and the magazine works with other Bersa single-stack mags.

The TPR 380 is small and fairly easy to conceal. The gun has an all-metal frame and weighs 20 ounces. It’s pretty easy to find Bersa Thunder holsters, but the TPR’s rail ensures they won’t work, so that might be a sticking point for some until holster makers catch up.

Its got a rail!

The rear sight is adjustable for windage and easy to manipulate with a small screwdriver. The sights are quite nice and give you three big white dots. The ergonomics are great. The frame-mounted safety is really easy to reach and doubles as a de-cocker. The slide release lever is larger than most modern handguns, and even the seemingly oddly placed magazine release — it’s above the trigger — isn’t tough to reach.

To The Range With the TPR 380

As a concealed carry gun I wanted to test how the gun handled at a variety of ranges and in a number of different scenarios. I started with some basic accuracy testing and fired the gun at 15 and 25 yards. I tend to avoid rested shooting because it’s impractical with a handgun for most scenarios. Shooting offhand, I could drive a full magazine into the nine ring of a B-8 target.

The TPR has some serious recoil.

Back at 25 yards, I was getting out of the nine and into the eight and seven rings, but keeping the rounds mostly in the black. Keep in mind that the front sight covered most of the target at that range. On a bigger target, namely an IPSC target, I could keep every round in the upper chest area.

The trigger on the TPR 380 is absolutely fantastic, especially considering that this is a budget-priced gun. The double action is surprisingly smooth with a little stacking near the end. The single action is very light and extremely nice overall.

The controls are simple and easy to engage.

The three-dot sights are big and easy to see. That helped make it easy to align and get on target. I was able to drive double-taps from 25 yards onto the IPSC target from the low ready in about 1.5 seconds according to the timer. I could do a sub-three second Bill Drill with the little .380. Am I quicker with a red dot-equipped short recoil weapon? Yep, but for an iron sights blowback gun, it’s easy enough to shoot fast and straight.

A Rough Ride

This gun beats you up. I’m used to straight blowback .380s and have fired more than a few Bersa Thunder models in my time. However, there’s something about this gun that’s painful. The recoil slaps your hand like most guns, but it seems to hit deep down into my wrist and cause some serious pain. It’s downright unpleasant to shoot.

I grabbed my old Thunder CC and fired it side-by-side with the TPR 380 to see if I had gotten old and soft. The Thunder CC is much more comfortable to shoot and doesn’t make my wrist feel arthritic. That doesn’t seem to make sense. I can’t tell you why the TPR 380 hits you so much more than the Thunder CC, it just does.

Grip it hard to help with recoil.

The TPR is a very snappy little gun, and while it can shoot well, the recoil makes sure you earn that shot. Holding it as tightly as possible helps, but it still quite a ride.

Splitting Hairs

While the recoil is rough, the gun is accurate and can be shot quickly and the recoil doesn’t take you off target. It just hurts. The TPR 380 still offers you a capable self-defense firearm at a fairly low price point. You get that Walther design with the option to attach a light, laser, or whatever. It’s a nice advancement on an old design, and the TPR 380 runs like a clock. It’s super-reliable and isn’t ammo-picky by any means.

The TPR 380 is a different take on the Walther clone.

The TPR 380 might be a little rough around the edges, but it’s a very solid gun with a proven design at a very reasonable price. Check one out when they hit your local stores and let us know what you think below. Is that classic Walther-type design still worthy or have you moved on?

Specifications: Bersa TPR 380 Pistol

Barrel Length: 3.5 inches
Overall Length: 6.6 inches
Weight: 20 ounces
Caliber: .380 ACP
Capacity: 8 Rounds
MSRP: $329.99


One Response

  1. “This gun beats you up. I’m used to straight blowback .380s and have fired more than a few Bersa Thunder models in my time. However, there’s something about this gun that’s painful.”

    I bet it’s got something to do with the diet they put that gun on. Looks like a sizeable percentage of the frame is polymer instead of metal. That’s gonna translate to a nastier *bite*.

    The AMT ‘Backup’ in .380 I had years back also had nasty slide-bite. The obvious consequence of that was, it didn’t get shot very often. But being all stainless, I could just slide it in the back pocket of my jeans without fear of damage…

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