Basic Gun Safety
Instructions on Use
Cleaning & Lubrication
BERSA Safety Manual
BERSA Pistol Family
Glossary of Terms
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Instructions on Use
This is based on the BERSA User's Manual, which I originally received with
The manual was written in Spanish, and at the time there was need among
friends for an English translation. I thus made one, adding many
usage-issues that I felt were lacking in the original.
Official, English-language manuals have since become
and may be downloaded from this site, here.
The following presumes the user to be handling a brand-new pistol fresh
from its original packaging, with an empty magazine already inserted,
and describes the steps necessary to bring the weapon to a ready
condition for firing
To remove the magazine:
Keep your finger off the trigger. With the
thumb, depress the magazine catch button on the left side of the firearm.
The magazine will drop out from the bottom of the pistol grip. It is best
to catch the ejected magazine with the free hand. Although the factory
magazine's bottom is made of a very tough plastic, it may break when
dropped on a hard surface from sufficient height:
load a cartridge into the magazine: Use only proper, factory .380 ACP
cartridges. Push down the feeder platform (or the round already in the
magazine, by the rim) and carefully shove the new round downwards and then
rearwards all the way under the magazine feeder lips. Bear in mind
that cartridges with defective edges can cause malfunctions. Do not use
excessive force, or attempt to exceed the magazine’s capacity, nor
deform the magazine feed lips, as this may lead to malfunctions:
empty the magazine, push each cartridge forward until the magazine lips no
longer hold it.
To chamber the first cartridge: Keep
your finger off the trigger. With
the manual safety on, insert a loaded magazine into the pistol. Grip the
weapon with the shooting hand, finger off the trigger. Pull the slide
fully back with the free hand by the ribbed end, then release the slide.
This is sometimes referred to as 'racking the slide', and this chambers
one cartridge taken from the magazine. Because the manual safety is
switched to safe, the hammer is still not cocked and cannot be cocked
either by lowering it with the thumb or by pulling the trigger. Pulling
the trigger will not fire the weapon, so long as the manual safety is
switched to safe.
"SAFETY BITE" CAUTION:
Persons with large hands, beware
of an improper grip!
When switched to 'safe', the lever can painfully pinch parts of the hand
against the grip stock panel. Note the downward orientation of the
lever, consider its rearward-then-forward travel during 'racking', and
adopt a grip that keeps parts of the hands clear. Obviously, the lever can
only bite if it is switched to 'safe' and pointing downward.
clear the chamber of any cartridge without firing the weapon, remove the
magazine from the pistol, and then smartly rack the slide again --this
should eject the chambered cartridge out through the ejection port on the
right side of the slide.
An alternate and gentler method is, with the magazine removed, to pull the
slide back slowly until the cartridge falls out through the pistol's
magazine well --if it hangs up on the trip down, a little shaking of the
pistol gets it going again... the pinkie finger of the hand that grips the
pistol can be curled and used to block the magazine well and keep the
cartridge from falling to the ground.
This weapon cannot be fired so long as:
+ the manual safety is on, or
+ there is no cartridge chambered, or
+ there is no magazine in the firearm, or
+ the trigger is not pulled
With a loaded magazine inserted and a cartridge in the chamber, the
manual safety lever is simply rotated upwards (see photo at right), in
order to render the firearm ready for shooting. To return to
the safe position, simply rotate the lever back down.
be aware of the weapon's condition of readiness, and its potential for
Shooting in single action: Keep
your finger off the trigger. With
the manual safety switched off, the hammer can then be carefully and
firmly lowered with the thumb, cocking it in place.
Cocking the hammer also moves the trigger a bit rearwards, in preparation
for actual fire.
WARNING! The hammer slipping from the thumb, before it cocks,
can cause the weapon to fire!
With the hammer cocked, only very slight pressure on the trigger will
cause the weapon to fire!
Make sure of your target, your surroundings, and the safety of
When ready, squeeze the trigger to fire.
Shooting in Double Action: With the manual
safety switched off,
a long trigger pull will both cock the hammer and then release it, causing
the firearm to fire. Always make sure of your target, your
surroundings, and the safety of others. When ready, squeeze the trigger to
After every shot (whether double- or single action), the hammer is
re-cocked by the rearwards action of the slide, readying the firearm for a
subsequent single-action shot, which requires
only a short and light trigger-pull. WARNING!
Only very slight pressure on the trigger will cause the weapon to fire at
There will be many instances where a loaded weapon that has been cocked
will need to be un-cocked (or, 'de-cocked', if you like). To accomplish
this, push the safety lever back downward with the thumb to the safe
position. The hammer will fall forward but is physically (and safely)
blocked from touching the firing pin.
All owners and users of BERSA Thunder pistols are reminded to use
the decocking lever (in the Thunder .380 this is the safety lever)
to decock their pistols. The only positive way to safely lower the
hammer is by use of the decocking lever. Manually lowering the
hammer with the thumb in tandem with trigger-pull can lead to
serious or fatal accidents. After decocking your pistol, merely
rotating the safety lever back up to expose the red dot switches the
Refrain from locking back the slide with the safety on. The
downward-pointing safety lever can and will bite any part of the hand
lying upon its forward path of rapid travel when the it is
After shooting the firearm empty and into slide-lock, inserting a fresh,
loaded magazine can be done three ways, in order of speed (and yet in reverse
order of reliability):
One can release the slide-lock, then insert a fresh, loaded magazine as
manually racking the slide to chamber a cartridge from the magazine
One can insert a fresh, loaded magazine, THEN release the slide
the slide rushing forward will then chamber a cartridge from the
One can insert a fresh, loaded magazine and slap it upwards, which jimmies
the slide free of its locked position. The slide rushing forward
should then chamber a cartridge from the magazine
Dry Firing: The above procedures can certainly be rehearsed without
live ammunition, by inserting an empty magazine into the firearm, or
inserting a magazine loaded with simulation 'dummy cartridges' or
'snap-caps'. Snap-caps give the advantage of reducing wear on the firearm.
Although 'dry firing' doesn't involve live ammunition, always adhere to
the Four Basic Rules,
the very first of which is to treat ALL firearms as if they were loaded
Breaking the Firearm In: It is common for a new firearm to be
slightly more difficult to manipulate than a firearm that has seen
reasonable use. Common issues are initial difficulty in manipulating the
manual safety, as well as in pulling back the slide. Both issues are
relieved within a couple of weeks of dry fire practice, or of live fire at
the shooting range, as the pivot of the safety develops a mild wear-track
between its locking pits, and the recoil spring takes a mild,
initial compressive set.