Teresa Ovalle

Welcome to Me

Comparing Two .380s – Peata Riley

on December 14, 2015

“So what’s on the agenda today, Q,” I ask. “More tortuous stories from the past that put me to sleep?”

“Oh, how you hurt my pride, little girl,” Q says with a grin, “but no. No stories today.

Underneath the cloth on the table in front of you are two .380s. One is a Bersa Thunder 380 and the other is a Walther PK380. Both of which you’ve seen before, but have never handled.

I want you to experience the guns, Peata. When you handle them, notice everything about them: how they feel, their weight, what features they have and don’t have, trigger pull and anything else you can glean from handling them.”

“Okay,” I say. “I can handle that. How long do I have?”

“As long as you need,” Q says. “When you’re done, return everything to me. I will be in the hamlet for the rest of the afternoon.”

“What?” I ask. “You’re not staying?”

“No.” Q says. “You know how to handle a gun, Peata. Handle these no differently than you would any other. Learn from your experience. And I will see you later.”

Q turns to leave, leaving me to my own devices.

“Well, let’s get started,” I say out loud.

I lift the cloth on the table to find the two guns. Both guns have a hammer. The hammer tells me that guns are double-action. This is not always the case, but it is the most common type of action for a gun with a hammer. Double-action means that when I pull the trigger to the rear, the hammer moves rearward then flies forward with one pull of the trigger. The trigger is performing two actions – pulling the hammer back, then sending it forward – with one pull, hence, double-action.

I pick up the PK380 first. It’s a neat looking gun. It’s small and feels good in my hand.

I put the gun down for a moment so I can look through the gun case. I find the owner’s manual and learn that the Walther PK380 is a German-made gun. It holds eight rounds, weighs 1.2 pounds empty, has a length of 6.5 inches, a height of 5.2 inches and a width of 1.2 inches.

I pick up the gun and feel its weight. The weight is evenly distributed and weights comfortably in my hand. I get my grip with both hands, close one eye, and look down the slide, or top, of the gun through the sites. The sites are a good size for this gun. The front site has a red dot, whereas the rear site has two white dots. The idea is to align the red dot between the two white dots for my site alignment. I like the sites; they’re easy to align.

I see that the safety is on both sides, which is nice for both the right- and left-handed shooter. The PK380 uses an S to indicate that the gun is safe – even if loaded, it should not fire. This gun also uses an F to indicate that it is ready to fire, if loaded.

Next I notice that the PK380 does not have a slide stop. The slide stop is usually located forward of the safety. It is used to lock the slide to the rear so the shooter can visually see that the gun is clear of rounds and obstruction.

I load an empty magazine in the magazine well and yank the slide to the rear. I remove the empty magazine and the slide stays in place.

“Well, that’s good,” I say to no one as I talk through this, “but I don’t like the fact that I have to use an empty magazine. That means that the gun may not always show safe unless I make the effort to do so. Noted.”

The magazine release is neat. It is ambidextrous, which means that a right- or left-handed shooter can easily remove the magazine. The release is a lever under the rear of the trigger guard that moves down with pressure from my thumb and forefinger. It’s easy to reach and I don’t have to shift my grip to release the magazine. I like that.

It’s time to dry fire. I grip the gun with my strong hand, load the unloaded magazine into the magazine well, nestle my weak hand on the left side panel for a solid grip, get my sites and pull the trigger.

As I pull the trigger firmly to the rear, I notice the slack first. There’s a lot of it. Then I feel the firmness and I see the hammer begin to pull back as I pull the trigger. About three quarters through the trigger pull, the trigger gets tough. It’s not unmanageable, but I have to add extra pressure to finish the pull. Understanding the pull of the trigger is important because if I pull too hard, too fast or jerk it, I will not get the desired affect of a well-placed round.

I drop the magazine and check the gun for safety. I put the gun on the table. I load five rounds into the magazine then load the magazine into the gun. I yank the slide back and let it fly home. I switch the safety to fire. I take a shot.

After the first shot, the hammer stays rearward, so each consecutive shot is single-action and has an easier trigger pull. The trigger pull is easier in single-action because the hammer is already locked to the rear, so I don’t need to pull as hard as I did on the initial trigger pull.

I hit the target with my remaining shots.

The recoil is minimal. This gun is very easy to handle. I load another five rounds.

This time I pull the hammer to the rear so the first shot is single-action. By pulling the hammer to the rear, I put the gun in a single-action, which means that the trigger only performs one function – it releases the hammer from the rearward position and sends it forward.

The hammer on the PK380 is not easy to pull back. It is tilted slightly downward, causing my thumb to fall off. I change my grip to get a better pull. As I pull the hammer back, the trigger moves back as well. This makes pulling the trigger in single-action very easy.

I grip the gun, aim, and take a shot. Double-action and single-action do not change the recoil of the gun, but the difference in trigger pull is noticeable.

I fire five shots; my slide locks to the rear. I drop the magazine, check the barrel and magazine well to ensure they are clear and safe. I put the gun down.

“Okay,” I say to myself, “I like it. It’s a good, comfortable gun to shoot. I like the weight, the feel of the grip in my hand and the easy recoil. I don’t like that it doesn’t have a slide-stop. And the trigger is just okay; it’s a little gritty. But overall, the gun is nice. I would recommend it to someone asking about a small concealable gun.”

I grab the Bersa Thunder 380 owner’s manual and learn that the Bersa is an Argentine-made gun. It holds seven rounds, weighs 20 ounces empty, has a length of 6.6 inches, a height of 4.9 inches and a width of 1.3 inches.

I pick up the gun, get my grip and look down the slide through the sites. The front site and rear site is white-dotted and they are small. They are much smaller than the Walther.

The gun feels good in my hand. It’s weighed nicely, as well. It’s not as ergonomic as the Walther, the back strap is straighter, but it still feels good. My thumb fits nicely above the left side panel – almost like a thumb rest.

This gun has a safety as well, but it has a red dot to indicate that it is ready to fire and no dot, color or S to show that it is safe. I push the safety up to see the red dot and push the safety down to know that it is on safe.

“A slide stop,” I say. “That’s good.”

I shift my strong-hand to the left with my knuckle high into the back strap, push the slide stop up with my strong-hand thumb and yank the slide back with my weak hand to the lock the slide to the rear. The gun is small, so moving the slide was tight, but the movement itself was easy.

I look through the chamber opening on the right side of the gun and notice how small it is. I have to maneuver the gun just right to see the barrel and magazine well clearly. It’s an inconvenience, but one I can live with. Now the slide is locked to the rear, I want to keep it this condition until I’m ready to shoot again.

I put the gun down. I load five rounds into the magazine; loading the magazine is a two-hand job. I hold the magazine in my weak hand and load the rounds, flat side of the round to the back of the magazine, with my strong hand. I pick up the Bersa and insert my magazine. I grab the slide with my weak hand, pull back until it releases and I let it go – sending the slide forward to firmly place the round into the barrel.

I switch the safety up so the red dot is visible, aim in and take my first shot. The trigger is comfortable and easy to pull from beginning to end. There is a little slack in the beginning, but it is hardly noticeable. I do not need to add pressure to the trigger; it is an easy, flawless pull.

“That is a nice trigger,” I tell myself.

Single-action is just as easy. After my last shot, I drop the magazine and check the barrel and magazine well for safety. I put the gun down.

I load five more rounds. I make the gun ready for firing, but this time I pull the hammer back first. The hammer spur is angled perfectly, so pulling the hammer back is easy and very manageable with my weak hand. It’s a smooth pull.

I fire all five rounds. The magazine release is forward of the side panel and above the rear of the trigger, so I shift my strong hand forward to push the release with my strong-hand thumb. I push firmly in and the magazine falls to the table. I check to ensure the gun is clear and put it on the table.

“I can’t wait to tell Q what I think,” I say out loud.

I clean up the area, pack the guns and head back to the hamlet to meet Q.

“Hey Q,” I say.

“Hi Peata,” Q says. “How’d you do?”

“ I did well,” I begin, “and I did it be myself. I learned a lot today. Thank you for trusting me to do that on my own.”

“You’re ready for a lot more, Peata, but one lesson at a time,” Q says. “What did you think of the .380s?”

“In a nut shell,” I begin, “both have their pros and cons. The Walther fits great in my hand, but I don’t like that it doesn’t have a slide stop and I don’t like the trigger much. The Bersa isn’t quite as comfortable, but it still feels good and it does have a slide stop. The chamber opening is very small, but it’s still functional. I do like the smooth trigger. The trigger is great.”

“So which one would you rather have in your knapsack when you travel?” Q asks.

“Hmm,” I ponder a few seconds. “I would have both in my gun and alternate the .380s for travel.” I smile.

“That’s my girl,” Q says with a smile.