One of the most interesting of all Bersas has to be the lost series of single action 22LR pistols that were imported briefly in the 1980s by Eagle Imports. These pistols, the Models 223, 224, 225, and 226, are inexpensive not to mention great shooters if you come across one.
Early Bersa History
The firm of Bersa started in the late 1940s making components for the Argentine military's contract Ballester Molina .45ACP pistols. Incorporated in the 1950s they soon began to make a series of shotguns as well as some small 22 pistols (such as the PICCOLA) that borrowed heavily from existing designs. By the 1980s, they were ready to start building a series of pistols for both domestic sales and export abroad. These small pistols, all chambered in 22LR, were the 220 series.
The design of the 220-series
I like to call these pistols the Pinocchio series, as they keep getting a longer nose while everything else stays the same. In fact, these pistols, other than the barrel, slide, and bushing, use 50 mostly interchangeable parts. All use the same 10-round single stack magazine. All are single-action, meaning that the hammer needs to be cocked before each round is fired, like the old school Colt 1911. They had a fixed blade front sight and square notch rear that was adjustable for windage. Grips were all marked 'Bersa' and are either checkered black nylon or in some cases thick wood of an origin known only to the woodpeckers. All were in a heavy blued finish. Each of the four models had a different length barrel that set them apart.
This gun came with a 3.5-inch barrel, which give it an overall length of 6.64-inches and a weight of 24.5-ounces loaded.
This gun, slightly longer than its 223 brother, had a full four-inch barrel, which added an extra half inch to the overall length of the gun.
Looking truly sleek, the 225, as denoted by the '5' part of its moniker, had a full five inch barrel which overall gave it an appearance of a 22LR Walther P38, then very popular on the surplus market. Overall length grew to 8.10 inches and weigh upped to 26-ounces because of this increase.
The Dirk Diggler of Bersa 22 pistols, the six-inch 226 has all the lines of a target pistol. It's perhaps the most elegant of the series and is very distinctive.
Only produced in the mid-1980s, these four forgotten Bersas were imported into the US from 1984-1987. Today they are valued at anywhere from $150-$250 depending on the condition and almost every one I have come across is still ticking like a clock, even after 25 years.
These guns were the last single-action pistols that Bersa made before they began marketing their Model 83 series of compact double action .380 Autos. More importantly, they were the first Bersa handguns brought into the US. It was these well-built little pistols, that went bang every time the trigger was pulled, that enabled retailers to trust the next crop that arrived on these shores.
The rest, as they say, is history.