Fun Malfunctions with a Bersa Thunder .380

My understanding is that one of the common failure modes in the otherwise pretty reliable Bersa Thunder .380 is the disconnector spring breaking.  This happened to me when I was on the range one time, and after I got back, I tore the gun apart and stored the parts at the bottom of the safe for 6 years.  I didn’t feel like I could trust it for carry anymore.

When the disconnector spring breaks, there’s nothing to force the disconnector up to engage the hammer release, and the pistol behaves as if the magazine is out.  It’s one more reason why extraneous safeties don’t belong on a carry gun.  But have no fear Bersa carriers, I have found a means for getting around this particular failure:


So you know what this means right?  Now you have to practice shooting sideways.  When someone at the range gives you the evil eye because he thinks you’re fooling around shooting gansta style, you can explain to him that you’re practicing a failure drill.

UPDATE: Tam notes that this is technically an “immediate action” or “malf” drill :)

17 thoughts on “Fun Malfunctions with a Bersa Thunder .380”

  1. The reason it works sideways is because the disconnector, which is connected to the trigger, through friction of the pin that sticks through the trigger will have a slight propensity to move upwards due to the friction. If you hold it upright, gravity is enough to overcome this, but on the side, the friction is enough to get the disconnector to engage the hammer release. Once it’s engaged, it’ll keep cocking the hammer, even if you move it upright during the hammer’s motion backwards.

  2. Is the disconnector operated by the mag safety? What happens if you remove the magazine safety?

    (…also, to pick nits, a “failure drill” would be a Mozambique Drill or a Non-Standard Response. What you are performing is “immediate action” or a “malf drill”. :D )

  3. If you remove the magazine safety, it still fails, because there’s still nothing to hold the disconnector in place against gravity. The disconnetor spring only serves to push the disconnector back into place once the pressure from the magazine safety spring is removed (by inserting the magazine).

    It seems there would be a better way to design this, and there probably is (well, definitely, no frigging mag safety).

  4. Excellent. I own one of these. I’ve had it all apart in pieces before but I’m going to revisit this again and take a closer look-see.

  5. Does this mean that the magazine safety can be defeated merely by shooting gangsta style?

  6. No… the magazine safety still works, since it forces the disconnector down if the magazine is out. Without the disconnector spring, when you put the magazine back in, there’s nothing to force the disconnecter back up. Turning it sideways, it goes back up by friction, since on its side, gravity doesn’t act on it.

  7. So does this mean that you have to send in your gun everytime this happens? I went to the shooting range and now my gun is doing the same thing. nd how often does his happen?

  8. Just bought one, got 42 rounds through it and it broke. Pull the trigger and the hammer won’t fall. How often does this part break? Does the factory get it back to you fairly quickly after repairs?

  9. Dusty,

    I’ve heard the malfunction is the most common one this pistol has. I got 2000 or so rounds through it before it happened to me. I’ll let you know about the warranty service. I haven’t sent mine back yet.

  10. Thanks Sebastian, the dealer got mine back the same day I bought it (today) and said he would “make it right.” He’s got a local gunsmith that does some of his work, but don’t know If he is going to fix mine or make me send it in because it happened so soon. The part only cost $1.00 to order from the company’s website, but I am not sure how hard it is to put on. Other than that, the 1000 rounds you put through were o.k?

  11. I had it for a good couple of years and a couple thousand rounds before it broke. The hard part about repairing it yourself is that it is crimped into the frame. You can probably get it out, but getting it back in and secure is going to be difficult.

    The Thunder .380 would be a rock solid design if not for the magazine disconnect crap. They should design a version without it. Because they chose to do that, I don’t recommend it for regular carry. If your life depends on it, buy a Walther PPK/S, or even a Makarov or a CZ-82 are pretty dependable as far as small carry pieces go.

  12. Referred here from a thread at weerd’s.

    You can modify the gun to eliminate the need for the mag disconnect to properly place the disconnector.

    As you are not a qualified gunsmith as far as I’ve been able to ascertain and I don’t like to place things that if done wrong would be dangerous on the web, I suggest you take yours apart and look at the mechanism as a custom firearms builder would and if you were as smart as you like to purport to be, maybe if you and Tam and some other prags put your heads together you could be as smart as an alleged mall ninja threeper who suggested once that I wouldn’t hire you to clean a toilet with a toothbrush or peel potatos.

    I almost threw mine away before I figured out how to fix it.

    See if you’re as smart as an alleged mall ninja.

    No warranty expressed or implied nor liability assumed comes with this suggestion.

    Just because you know how to take a gun apart and clean it and then put it back together and see why taking a part out causes failures and/or notice what has broken doesn’t make you a gunsmith. Parts might need to be changed or made but it’s a simple design. Keep that in mind. It can be done.

    Another thing for Bersa .380 Concealed owners to carve in stone is that only the flat bottom 8 round magazines designed specifically for the Concealed version work in the Concealed version. Standard .380 Thunder mags have to be significantly modified to feed reliably. Most stores only stock the standard mags, if you have a concealed version, your local web browser pointed at Bersa’s site will order you magazines that work out of the box.

  13. For what it’s worth, on a high mileage gun that’s loosened up, I wouldn’t wager on trigger related friction working for your purpose, you’d be better off holding it upside down for your gangsta approach to failure.

    Regards from the Land of the Three

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