Everyone is well aware of Bersa's line of handguns but did you know that the company also made a series of shotguns for almost twenty years?
Bersa SA of Ramos Mejia, Argentina started making parts for the .45ACP caliber Ballester-Molina handguns. The company was formed by three Italian immigrants (Benso Bonadimani, Ercole Montini and Savino Caselli) who took the first two letters of each of their names for the moniker of their new firm. The trio brought with them the same old world artistry and firearms knowledge that was expected with Italian guns. Once they started to manufacture their own firearms in the 1950s, they experimented with a number of handguns, rifles, and even shotguns. Like the rest of their product line, Bersa used quality materials and a fine fit to make sure they produced a well-working product.
From 1965-78 they produced several variants of their single-shot hinge break designed shotgun. Most popularly sold in South America in 32 and 28-gauge, they were imported abroad in 12, 14, 16, and 20-gauge, most often to the United States. Their barrel lengths ranged from 24-32 inches in length.
A double-barreled 32-gauge handgun version was also produced and formed the basis of the Comanche series of .410/45 that appeared in the 1990s.
In the world of shotguns, the most common actions are semi-auto, lever, pump, and hinge-break. It was the later that all of Bersa's burners are made around. Also known as break-open, break-barrel, or even break top, hinge-break shotguns have been around for generations. They make a strong and compact shotgun design with very few moving parts. The simplicity of the action allows for a long life and ease of repair.
By 1978, cheap and inexpensive H&R shotguns had edged the Bersa hinge-breaks out of their overseas sales. In 1977, elimination on tariffs for imported firearms in Argentina likewise destroyed their own domestic sales. This spelled the end of Bersa's shotgun line. Very few Bersa shotguns were imported into the United States as Eagle Arms, the current primary importer of Bersa Firearms was not founded until 1988, a decade after the company ceased production of their shotguns. Before then Bersa's were not very well known on the collector's market in the US.
Even though their craftsmanship is superior to their counterpart NEF/H&R manufactured hinge-break shotguns, Bersa shotguns typically go for less than $100. However, they are rarer than pockets on a frog. This alone makes them good candidates for collectors looking for something a little different.
Besides all that, they are pretty good little shotguns.