Photo: Michael Hughes

Photo: Michael Hughes

Editor's note: View our Bersa BP 9 CC photo gallery for extended coverage of this pistol.

It's likely that many American shooters have never heard of the Argentine firearms manufacturer Bersa, but I believe that is about to change. And with good reason.

Bersa has a proud history. The company was founded in the mid-1950s by three Italian mechanical engineers: Benso Bonadimani, Ercole Montini, and Savino Caselli. Montini worked for Beretta in Italy before he emigrated to Argentina. Initially, the three Italian engineers produced parts for the now defunct Argentine arms manufacturer Ballester Molina. Then they went out on their own to start Bersa.

In 1959 Bersa introduced a .22 caliber pistol, the Modelo 60, which later evolved into the Modelo 62. Both the Modelo 60 and Modelo 62 were produced from a modified Beretta design and both sold extremely well.

As the company grew, it produced many pistol models in increasingly more powerful calibers. Finally, in 1989, Bersa developed and marketed its first full-size combat pistol, the Modelo 90, chambered for the 9mm Parabellum cartridge.

The Modelo 90 was followed in 1994 by the company's most popular models at that time, the Thunder line. Thunder pistols had steel slides, alloy frames, double-action/single-action triggers, and slide-mounted decocking/safety levers. The Thunder 32 and Thunder 380 were blowback designs while the Thunder 9 and Thunder 40 featured a locked breech short-recoil system. Both the Thunder 9 and Thunder 40 came with high-capacity magazines.

Today the Thunder 9 is the standard sidearm of the Argentine Armed Forces, Argentine Federal Police, Buenos Aires Provincial Police, and a number of other South American law enforcement agencies. But U.S. law enforcement officers have never shown much interest in Bersa handguns.

Polymer-Framed

Bersa—like many handgun manufacturers—has come to the conclusion that it needs a polymer-framed lightweight pistol to gain acceptance in the North American concealed market. The result is the (Bersa Polymer 9mm Concealed Carry) BP 9 CC, a pistol designed for concealed carry for off duty or backup.

The BP 9 CC is similar in both looks and function to many of the market's most popular compact polymer-framed pistols. It has a steel slide with a square profile that reciprocates on four rails integral with the steel "slide guide" insert in the frame. The drift adjustable sights are made from steel and feature a three-dot system. At the rear of the ejection port is a loaded chamber indicator that provides both a visual and tactile indication of the pistol’s condition.

Ergonomically, the BP 9 CC is well designed for concealed carry. It is a striker-fired design, which means there is no external hammer, while its double-action-only (DAO) trigger does away with the necessity for external safety levers. In fact the only external controls are the trigger, ambidextrous magazine releases, and slide stop lever. The result is a smooth, snag-free exterior, which is just what you want on a handgun that is designed to be carried and drawn from concealment.

The BP 9 CC features grasping grooves that allow the shooter to retract the slide even with wet hands or when wearing gloves. On the right rear of the slide you will find the Integral Blocking System (IBS). But more about that later.

Thanks to its polymer construction the BP 9 CC's grip is only 0.92 inches wide. A Picatinny-type rail on the dust cover allows the user to mount lights or other tactical devices while textured "finger locator" pads are positioned above the trigger guard to help remind the shooter where to place his or her trigger finger when not actually firing the pistol.

A single-column, eight-round magazine is retained by ambidextrous magazine releases and has an extended base pad to provide a full, three-finger purchase on the pistol. Magazines fall free loaded or unloaded, slide forward or locked back.[PAGEBREAK]The BP 9 CC uses a variation of the tried and true Browning locking system in which the hood of the barrel chamber moves up into and bears against the front edge of the ejection port. As the pistol is fired, the slide unit moves to the rear and then the barrel articulates on the slide stop shaft, pulling it down out of the ejection port, allowing the slide to continue to the rear, extracting and ejecting the spent cartridge case. The recoil spring, located under the barrel, then pulls the slide forward, picking the next round out of the magazine and chambering it. As the slide goes into battery, the barrel hood moves up into the ejection port again, locking the two units together.

Besides its DAO trigger and loaded chamber indicator, the BP 9 CC has a passive firing pin safety that prevents the pistol from firing without a complete stroke of the trigger. A magazine disconnect safety prevents it from being fired with the magazine removed. The Integral Blocking System on the slide is activated by turning it 45 degrees with a supplied key, which locks the sear and slide in place, preventing unauthorized firing of the pistol.

Fit and Finish

Eagle Imports, Bersa's U.S. distributor, provided me with a BP 9 CC to evaluate for POLICE. My sample pistol displayed very good materials, fit, and finish.

I was also taken with the BP 9 CC’s ergonomics, which provided a naturally pointing pistol. The thin cross-section of the grip, which I believe is one of the narrowest of this class of polymer pistols, will make this pistol a natural for persons with smaller hands.

The DAO trigger had a bit more than a half-inch of take-up before it broke and little overtravel. While the trigger had a bit of staging at halfway through the stroke and felt a bit "mushy," according to my RCBS trigger pull scale it took only 4.9 pounds of pressure to fire.

The controls on the BP 9 CC were well located and easy to manipulate. However, the magazine releases required quite a bit of pressure before you could drop the magazine.

Shooting Drills

I test fired the BP 9 CC from a rest at 15 yards with three different types of 9mm ammunition. This produced groups ranging in size from two to slightly more than three inches, more than adequate for a compact service pistol.

After chronographing was complete I set up a pair of combat targets, belted on a Gould & Goodrich Yaqui Belt Slide holster, and proceeded to run the BP 9 CC through the following drills:

At five yards, draw pistol and double-tap each target, firing the pistol with an unsupported (one-handed) grip. Re-holster and repeat.

At five yards, draw pistol and fire four rounds on each target, "head" shots only. Perform a combat reload and fire four rounds on each target, body shots only.

At seven yards, draw pistol and fire four rounds on each target. Use slow, aimed fire.

The Bersa BP 9 CC performed very well in these drills, although the mushy trigger caused a number of my shots to impact to the left of point of aim. The sights were large and easy to acquire, and recoil control was excellent for a pistol with such a narrow grip. The only fly in the ointment was the inordinate amount of effort required to depress the magazine releases slowed down reloads.

All in all the BP 9 CC proved to be a fine handling pistol with more than acceptable accuracy and good recoil control for its size and weight. I feel it would make a very practical concealed carry, backup, or off-duty weapon.

Paul Scarlata has served as an auxiliary police officer and is a frequent contributor to POLICE.

Bersa BP 9 CC Pistol Specs:

Caliber: 9mm Parabellum

Capacity: 8 rounds

Weight (empty): 21.5 ounces

Barrel: 3.3 inches

Magazine: Detachable box

Overall Length: 6.35 inches

Height: 4.8 inches

Width: 0.94 inches

Construction: Steel slide; Textured polymer frame

Finish: Black matte or nickel

Sights: Front white dot; Rear dual white dots

Trigger: Double-action only

Features: Ambidextrous magazine releases, magazine safety, Integral Blocking System (lock), loaded chamber indicator, tactical rail, carrying box, spare magazine, owner's manual

Price: $429 (matte finish); $449 (nickel finish)

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