By Bob Boyd, Shooting Illustrated
Jane’s Information Group publishes an extensive series of military equipment and weapons manuals, and the content of each encyclopedia-size volume is catagorized by country. Ask anyone to name a South-America-based firearm manufacturer, and chances are both will be based in Brazil.
But, what about Argentina? While it does not possess the same degree of recognition as other South America-based gunmakers, the country has been home to the production of value-based firearms for nearly 60 years under the Bersa brand. In fact, the company’s Thunder 9 pistol is the standard sidearm of the Argentine Armed Forces, Argentine Federal Police and other South American law enforcement agencies.
An examination of the company’s products reveals influential design cues from European manufacturers. The small-caliber offerings within the Thunder line are clones of the Walther PP and PPK, while its larger-caliber 9 mm and .40 S&W models retain a similar appearance and slight mechanical aspects to the P88.
Bersa’s latest offering, the BP9CC, marks the company’s first foray into the realm of striker-fired, polymer-frame handguns for concealed carry. With its lightweight construction, thin profile and an assortment of features found on similar handguns by competing manufacturers, the Bersa BP9CC delivers the level of quality and reliability you’d expect from a self-defense pistol, at a fraction of the price.
If your handgun is hard to conceal or uncomfortable to carry, it will spend more time either under the seat of your car or at home in the nightstand, instead of on your hip. Weighing a mere 21.5 ounces, the BP9CC is more at home in a holster. While compactness is an important consideration for a concealed-carry handgun, one of the most important, yet often overlooked, elements is slimness. Thanks to its polymer construction, the pistol’s grip measures a svelte .92 inches wide to minimize printing against clothing, while providing a greater degree of comfort.
The grip’s circumference contains two different forms of texturing: angular grooves along the backstrap and frontstrap, along with fine stippled regions on the sides of the BP9CC’s molded panels. Despite the treatments, at first grip it almost felt too narrow for my above-average-size paws. Then again, perhaps those of slight build and smaller hands may form a different opinion. Regardless, I chose to keep an open mind until range time.
Additional ergonomics include an ambidextrous magazine release, which, being a southpaw, I appreciate. Although it may enhance the BP9CC’s low-profile design, the buttons are surrounded by protective teardrop-shaped bunkers that make quick actuation difficult.
The use of a striker-fired, double-action-only trigger negates the need for an external, frame-mounted safety lever, and to my surprise the trigger’s face is completely devoid of extraneous bells, whistles or levers. Aside from its overly flush ambidextrous magazine release, the BP9CC’s only external control consists of its slide-stop lever. The result is a no-nonsense, smooth contour, which is preferable on a pistol designed for to be drawn from concealment. Textured indentations on each side of the frame, just above the front of the trigger guard, provide a good indexing point for your shooting-hand forefinger when not on the trigger. For those contemplating a bedside guardian, the end of the pistol’s dustcover contains an accessory rail, suitable for a laser or a dedicated weaponlight.
Like most polymer handguns, the frame of the BP9CC contains a steel guide insert with four integral rails for its square-profile slide, the rear of which contains large angular serrations for maximum purchase during manipulation. Its rugged, steel sights are dovetail mounted, drift adjustable for windage and feature the popular three-dot configuration for fast acquisition. A loaded-chamber indicator at the rear of the slide provides a visual as well as a tactile confirmation of the chamber’s condition. The right rear of the slide contains Bersa’s Integral Blocking System, a built-in safety that locks the sear and slide in place by turning the supplied key 45 degrees to prevent the pistol from firing when the trigger is pulled.
My time on the range with the BP9CC was enjoyable. Well-thought-out ergonomics and easy-to-access controls made for a naturally pointing pistol. In more than 100 rounds, the pistol suffered no malfunctions. Unfortunately, its trigger had a noticeable amount of creep and significant stacking halfway through before breaking at a mushy 3 pounds, 13 ounces, despite minimal over-travel and a remarkably short reset. Out of the three loads tested, the best five-round group average came from Remington Golden Saber 124-grain BJHP.
The BP9CC ships with two magazines. The one problem I have with the pistol when considering its specific mission is the magazine-disconnect safety, which prevents firing once the magazine is removed. Whether the result of a carelessly seated reload or a magazine partially jettisoned during a life-and-death struggle, I view the feature more of a detriment than a benefit. Similarly, the flush magazine release requires a bit more pressure than preferred, although I suspect it will improve with a sufficient wear-in period.
Forget what they say about first impressions, the Bersa BP9CC is far from just another polymer-frame 9 mm. Drawing from its rich history of making quality firearms for nearly 60 years—at a fraction of the cost of other manufacturers’ similar offerings—Bersa is unlikely to regret its introduction into the polymer-frame pistol market and nor will shooters, once they realize the gun’s quality.
Importer: RSA Enterprises; (732) 493-5657, rsaenterprisesinc.com
Action Type: DAO, short-reset, striker-fired, semi-automatic
Caliber: 9 mm
Slide: AISI 4140 steel; with matte-blue finish
Barrel Length: 3.3 inches
Rifling: 6 grooves; 1:10-inch RH twist
Sights: Drift-adjustable front and rear, with three-dot configuration
Trigger Pull Weight: 3 pounds, 13 ounces
Length: 6.35 inches
Width: .94 inches
Height: 4.8 inches
Weight: 21.5 ounces
Accessories: Carrying case, owner’s manual, spare magazine
Federal Premium Personal Defense 124-grain Hydra-Shok JHP – 1,045 fps, average group 2.67″
Hornady Critical Duty 135-grain FlexLock – 974 fps, average group 2.23″
Remington Golden Saber 124-grain BJHP – 1,112 fps, average group 2.04″
Velocity measured in fps at the muzzle for 10 consecutive shots with an Oehler Model 36 chronograph. Temperature: 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Accuracy measured in inches for five consecutive, five-shot groups from a sandbag rest at 15 yards.