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Instructions on Use
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Instructions on Use
by Horge

This is based on the BERSA User's Manual, which I originally received with my pistol. 
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 available online, 
and may be downloaded from this site,

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:

To 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:


To 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.

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. 


To 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.
The Manual Safety
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. 

ALWAYS be aware of the weapon's condition of readiness, and its potential for danger! 

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 others.
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 fire.

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 this point!  

: 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.

BERSA warning:

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 safety off.

CAUTION: 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 released.  

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 described earlier, 
manually racking the slide to chamber a cartridge from the magazine

One can insert a fresh, loaded magazine, THEN release the slide lock: 
the slide rushing forward will then chamber a cartridge from the magazine 

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 and dangerous.

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.




© 2003 Horge 

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