Well I went to the range today and compared the Walther PPK/S to the Bersa Thunder 380.
Initial impressions and build quality:
First impressions are that the Walther is a much higher quality piece than the Bersa, as one would expect looking at the two price tags. Even without knowing the price differences you can tell which gun is the more expensive. The Bersa looks and feels cheap, especially compared to the all stainless steel Walther. When each gun is field stripped the Walther seems to be made out of much higher quality materials. The machining inside the Walther is a work of art. The machining inside the Bersa is not up to the same standard as that of the Walther. The designs are very similar but again, you can tell which gun costs more. There are many places inside the Bersa where corners are uneven and in general the workmanship looks to be of lesser quality than that of the Walther. Looks are not everything however.
I award this category to the Walther.
Assembly and Disassembly:
Disassembly of either gun is a relatively simple process. For the Walther you simply pull down on the trigger guard, move it to the side to hold it down, pull the slide back and lift it off the frame. This process takes about 2 seconds once you become accustomed to the pistol. On the Bersa, field stripping is very similar. Rather than using the trigger guard as the Walther does, there is a small disassembly lever on the right side of the gun in front of the trigger guard. This lever must be held down with one finger while pulling the slide back in order to remove it. This can be a little difficult at first until you find a comfortable way to both grip the gun, the slide, and depress the lever at the same time.
When reassembling, the Walther lines up perfectly and clicks back into place with little effort in a matter of seconds. The Bersa requires a little more attention to ensure the spring is properly aligned and when reattaching the slide a great deal of force and juggling is necessary to keep the disassembly lever depressed and get the slide all the way on.
In ease of assembly and disassembly I give the award again to the Walther.
Accessories and ease of use:
As far as accessories are concerned both guns are rather spartan. The Walther comes with two stainless clips, one of which is flat and the other has a comfortable grip extension, necessary for users with larger hands. This is all the Walther comes with, aside from the mandatory gun lock. The Bersa comes with one clip with the same kind of grip extension, a "key" to use on the internal trigger lock, and an external trigger lock. I tested this internal trigger lock and while it does lock the trigger so that it cannot be pulled, it also feels like you're breaking the lock each time you turn it. The Walther comes with no such safety device. Both guns are equipped with a decocker but the Walther is the only gun that can be fired without a magazine, the Bersa has a magazine safety to ensure the gun cannot be accidentally fired should a round be left in the chamber.
When it comes to loading the clips, the Walther is much easier to load than the Bersa. When inserting bullets into the clip on the Bersa they have a tendency to shift about and tilt downwards making it very difficult to insert the last two rounds. The two clips that come with the Walther are both easy to load, the clip with the grip extension being the easiest of the two.
For accessories and ease of use the award goes again to the Walther.
Firing, accuracy, and control:
This is where the Bersa begins to really shine. One would expect that the considerably heavier Walther would recoil much less than the Bersa but this is not the case. The Bersa was much easier to control and recoil felt very light compared to the Walther. Felt recoil on the Walther is very rough. The steel frame digs into the hand after a few clips and really begins to irritate the skin. When shooting the two guns back to back the Walther felt like it was shooting a much more powerful round than the Bersa, even though the ammunition for both came from the same box. The smooth frame on the Bersa coupled with the wide grips made for a much more comfortable gun to shoot. I began to almost dread going back to the Walther for the next round of tests. By the end of the day, and nearly 150 rounds later, I could barely stand to shoot the Walther any longer. The Bersa felt like I could have shot it all day long and never fatigued.
As far as accuracy was concerned both guns shot nearly the same. Even though the felt recoil was much less on the Bersa it made no real difference in accuracy. Both guns were capable of a 2" group at 15 yards and both were pretty unpredictable at 25+. This is to be expected with guns of this size. Both pistols can fit in a front pocket, they were definitely not designed as target guns.
The winner in this category is by far the Bersa.
Comfort for concealed carry:
I am by no means an expert on concealed carry as I do not have my license. I can give you a general idea of the comfort levels of either gun when worn OWB in a pair of shorts and a t-shirt (as most users are likely to be wearing when carrying these guns). The Bersa, by nature of it's aluminium frame, is much lighter and coincidentally much more comfortable to wear than the Walther. There is something comforting about the weight of the Walther at your hip. You can always feel it there and that may be comforting to know, especially if you need to know exactly where you gun is at all times. The Bersa was more of a wear it and forget it type of gun. When wearing the Bersa you tend to forget you're even carrying a gun it is so comfortable.
The finishes make a big difference to some people. With the Walther there is no fear of the stainless steel rusting or wearing off. The Bersa has an aluminium frame which is not likely to give you problems with rust, the slide however is blued steel and will require some attention to ensure it remains rust free.
This was a tough decision, probably best left to each user's personal taste. I give this one to the Bersa, based on my own preferences for carrying.
The results of this comparison still baffle me. Despite the Walther being a much higher quality firearm and carrying a pedigree most weapons can only dream of, when it comes time to pick a gun off the table my hand inevitably drifts towards the Bersa every time. When it comes to protecting yourself with a firearm you want the weapon that's most comfortable in your hand. That makes the Bersa the clear winner in my book. When you factor in the immense savings you get with the Bersa versus the Walther it seems almost a no brainer. If you were to polish and smooth the frame on the Walther along with installing a thicker set of grips, it may shift my choice back to the Walther. When you factor the added costs of doing these things it makes no sense to choose the Walther over the Bersa.
Plain and simple, when it comes to out of the box performance and comfort the Bersa wins hands down. For once, you actually do get more than you pay for.
I'm still not sorry to say I own both pistols. I do intend to install new grips and smooth the frame on my Walther PPK/S and I hope this will change the results. Either way this Walther will always be in my collection.