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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
PLEASE NOTE - This post provides a solution to the known FTF (Fail to Feed) Stovepipe issue some Bersa Thunder 380 owners experience. The overview is for those interested in purchasing a Bersa. The fix for current owners experiencing FTF issues is in the next section titled The Fix . I hope it helps many !

Overview
The Bersa Thunder 380 and Bersa 380 family are well made, budget priced handguns produced in Argentina and imported by Eagle Imports (NJ). The guns are a great value as they are made with alloy frames, steel slide, DA/SA trigger, decocker/safety. 7+1 magazine capacity and a 3.5" barrel. Features not often found on budget handguns. In addition, its size makes it an ideal concealed carry handgun.

The gun is very fun to shoot and in my experience, quite accurate. The trigger feels very crisp and sure and overall, operation is excellent. The .380 caliber produces a lower recoil than a 9mm so it is an excellent choice for ladies who desire a less aggressive recoil or who people with small hands. This does not make it any less effective for a personal defense concealed carry weapon. Ballistic gel tests using JHP(Jacketed Hollow Point) ammo have proven very effective penetration and wound track stopping power.

The most prevalent issue
Various handguns can be prone to specific issues, some less than others however; issues that call the reliability of the handgun to operate consistently into question can be quite disconcerting. In the case of the Bersa Thunder 380, a substantial number of people have reported a FTF/Stovepipe issue using the Bersa 7 round magazines. As a Bersa Thunder 380 owner myself, I too have experienced this on numerous occasions.

Many owners report no issues at all after hundreds or thousands of rounds through their handguns. Others experience the issue straight out of the box or later after break in. The symptoms seem pretty consistent indicating that some design or manufacturing issue is occurring and not related to the shooters or ammo used.

The primary symptom is that on the 5th or 6th round of a 7 round magazine, the cartridge fails to feed and may stovepipe (turn sideways). Attempts to eject the round by racking the slide often causes a double feed condition; trapping the first round. This requires dropping the magazine and freeing the FTF round. Not only is this issue annoying but makes the owner feel the gun is unreliable.

In my case, this occurs infrequently however; any instance of FTF causes one to question reliability and multiple instances only make it worse. Since there seemed to be no clear answer for this on the web or from Bersa, I took it upon myself to try and determine the cause and potentially a solution. Fortunately for me and for many others who may read this, I have achieved both.

Debugging the issue (see pictures at bottom of thread for details)
My first thought on this problem was that it could be spring related for several reasons. First, the problem occurs after the first 4 or 5 rounds in a magazine indication that feed pressure from the magazine may be related. Second, the problem (for me) seemed to occur after the magazines were broken in - again, less spring pressure. Ultimately, this was not the root cause but is related as you will see.

Since even tight magazine springs or new mags could still exhibit the problem, I delved deeper to understand the mechanics of the feeding process. Let me preface this by saying, I am NOT a gunsmith or an armorer but I do have some mechanical DIY skills. These proved to be sufficient as you will soon see.

Many people on the net have spoken about polishing the feed ramp in an attempt to try and resolve the problem, They were close but the problems would still occur and in looking at the feed ramp on my Bersa, it was perfectly smooth.

What I did find was the area's surrounding and leading up to the ramp were not. They had sharp edges; especially on the left side where the slide stop release juts out into the path of the cartridge. The right side also had a sharp edge. In both cases, these sharp edges face the cartridge attempting to load with the potential of catching the edge of the brass before the bullet can successfully slide into the chamber end of the barrel.

You can easily test this yourself. With the magazine removed, slide and recoil spring off, you now have the lower. Run your finger along the path leading to the feed ramp from the magazine well to the barrel. If you feel a sharp edge on either side on the approach, you will see what I mean. Those edges are interfering with the smooth loading of the cartridge.

To further verify this, load a magazine with cartridges into the lower (still disassembled) and you will see the alignment. (shown in the pictures). If you push a cartridge forward as it would feed, you can see how it might become caught on one if the edges and especially with less spring pressure where the pressure helps it clear the slide stop.

This was not rocket science. It was simply a matter of tolerances and some finishing that needs (or needed) to be done at the factory. Being a budget handgun, one cannot always expect superfine finishing however; I hope to share this with Bersa for their quality control team.

The fix
Okay, you have suffered through my long story when all you really wanted was the fix and to know if it works. If you skipped the section titled Debugging the issue, go back and read how to run your finger along the path, etc. to feel for the sharp edges.

You need 600 grit wet/dry sandpaper (the black kind) to smooth the sharp edges. Do not sand the feed ramp itself or the barrel. Sand the sides that lead up to the ramp and sand the slide stop protrusion. The goal is not to make everything perfectly round, its is to smooth the sharp edges so when you run your finger, it doesn't feel like it is sharp, catching skin.

You may also need to sand the very bottom lip of the feed ramp if it feels sharp and the very rim of the chamber side of the barrel. DO NOT SAND INSIDE LIP OF THE BARREL. Just very lightly at the lip for a tad bit of smoothness.

Also, the goal here is SMALL amount. You only need to sand until the edge is not a sharp edge. Always better to do not enough than too much.

After sanding, completely clean the gun to ensure there is no metal residue and then lube well.

The results
Once complete, it was time to test it at the range. I brought 4 magazines (3 of the Bersa 7 round and 1 Bersa 9 round) which had each at one time or another been used when the issues occurred. I also brought 150 rounds of good .380 ammo

Normally with 150 rounds I would see to 4 FTF. Sometimes less but always some number. In this case, not one single FTF. The gun worked flawlessly (as it should)

In the next week, I will put another several hundred rounds through the Bersa and report back but I am 99% sure, this is the cause of the problem people have experienced.

Pictures tell the story

Area smoothed



Detail


Path
 

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Just a quick question, I have done what you suggested. Today I went to the orange and my bt380 did not seem any better, I came home and did a little more sanding. I then cleaned it loaded a couple of mags (one versa one proo), tried to cycle them manually it almost seemed that the feeding was worse. Can you sand the feed too much? any suggestions. I Love the pistol but I just have no confidence on using as my edc.

Thanks for any help,
Bob
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Dont sand anymore

First, I have to ask, after sanding, did you thoroughly clean and lube the gun. That is a must !

Second, you would only sand where I showed, not the feed ramp itself. No need.

Can you post pictures, that would help?

Like I said in my post..small moves...you just want the sharp corners to be NOT sharp...not sanded down round. And it is vital to clean and lube after..otherwise you could have metal dust jamming things...

Let us know
 

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A little better

Went to the range today and gun was better, glad I did not ruin it. I really think that my problem now is the non Bersa mags I have been using. Next time out I am only going to try use my two OEM mags and see what happens (going to have to spend money to buy more).
Thank for the help.
Bob
 

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Dude!
I am the King of #6 FTF issues (you commented on my Youtube posts). Although Eagle Imports eventually replaced my Bersa 380 and my new one is great, I will admit that I do still see FTFs maybe once or twice in a couple of hundred rounds, but because my old Bersa had FTFs on (literally) EVERY magazine I'm wasn't going to complain.

I just did your Debugging test and sure enough, although the right side is nice and smooth, the left side actually has a bur on it. It's so sharp that if I pushed my finger on it I'm sure it would draw a drop of blood.

I will sand that down right now, thanks so much for figuring this out! If you don't mind, I'm going to post a link to this post in Colorado Gun Works facebook page. Collin there was pretty decent about trying to solve the issue with my gun, but that first gun I had never did get fixed. This is good info and I think you have exorcised this demon.

Excellent work!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Jametdoe...I am so glad found you

Your videos inspired me to find a fix. Serious. I was getting FTF every 3rd or 4th mag (that's only 28 rounds). Not as sever as yours but always in the same place (round 5 or 6) and honestly, as a CCW, I could not depend on it.

Just not to all who try..USE YOUR FINGERS to find the sharp spots and just make them UNSHARP. Do NOT oversand. The object here is to have a smooth patch so nothing sharp catches a cartridge casing lip.

Also, afterwards, what I did was clean those areas with acetone/lacquer thinner completely. Then used a blueing pen to protect the exposed areas. Then LUBE very well.

The blueing pen is awesome for this. Here is a link
http://www.amazon.com/Birchwood-Cas...TF8&qid=1403708046&sr=8-3&keywords=bluing+pen

Good luck to all...sand at your own risk
 

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hand-racking leads to more ftf, unless really quick-

Just a quick question, I have done what you suggested. Today I went to the orange and my bt380 did not seem any better, I came home and did a little more sanding. I then cleaned it loaded a couple of mags (one versa one proo), tried to cycle them manually it almost seemed that the feeding was worse. Can you sand the feed too much? any suggestions. I Love the pistol but I just have no confidence on using as my edc.

Thanks for any help,
Bob
hello - you had problems at the range, you sanded, then hand-racked.
i think the bersa may have ftf when hand-racking unless you do it hard enough.

so, the hand-rack may not go well, but actual firing at range may go fine.
 

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Both my T380's are now out to Bersa(Gander Mtn.) for repair. First one because of feeding problems, second one because the trigger stopped working (a small piece of plastic fell out of the gun) and for feeding problem(see my other post). I will let everyone know how I make out. I may have two T380's for sale cheap.
 

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Well got my 2 bt380's back (was away for a couple of weeks) from repair (Gander Mtn) it actually took them about 10 days. Took them to the range and both worked better not 100% but I think it was me. Only like 3 FTF's in over 100 rounds. I will see what happens next time out but I'm pleased with the repairs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Haven't had any

Since I did the fix.

But when I told them about it, they gave me the "well, the manufacturer doesn't recommend that. well, not sure why its a big deal...a little polishing to get those sharp edges off and she works.

I do know you want a firm grip. Shot it yesterday and at 15 yards she was spot on. Was really enjoying it.

BTW...good place for .380 ammo that is EXCELLENT quality and better priced - freedommunitions.com
 

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Thanks for posting this information! I was having feed issues with my BT380, and This appears to be exactly what my problem was. I did what you described and have shot 200 flawless rounds since then.

I suspect that shooting different ammunition helped as a "workaround", but that this has resolved it. I'll try different ammo next time and post if my results change.
 

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Ftf

This seems to be a common problem on numerous guns, I have a sccy that had the same issue, the only ammo I could get to feed in it was the speer gold dots, I disassembled it and did pretty much what you have done here and polished the crap out of the feed ramp and it fixed the feed issue so far and will run other brands of ammo as well.
 

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I'm not a Gunsmith, but I have heard that the more rounds you put through a semi auto the more polished the ramp becomes. Is there any truth to this?
 

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I'm not a Gunsmith, but I have heard that the more rounds you put through a semi auto the more polished the ramp becomes. Is there any truth to this?
It sure will knock off the burrs and loosen things up the more you shoot it. Thing i have found over the years is that there are small differences in ammo some feed fine others do not what feeds great in one gun wont always feed great in another. The trouble i had with the sccy was the extractor had some really sharp edges that was digging into the next round being fed into the chamber and the feed ramp had some really sharp edges that has catching the nose of the bullet. Between the extractor digging into the next round and the sharp edges of the feed ramp it was turning the round partcialy sideways or driving the bottom of the case up causing it to jam. It would even do it just trying to rack a round into the chamber. I've not had time to run hundreds of round through it to make sure it's 100% fixed, i've run about 8 mags thru it without a failure since i did the work, before you couldn't shoot 3 rounds thru it without a failure to feed unless i was shooting the high $$$ speer gold dots thru it. They have always ran great in it but too much $$$ for target pratice. the 8 mags i have ran thru it has been a mix of tula/blazer/remington and white box winchester so far so good will try to give an update later when I've ran enough rounds through it to give a good report. I would have just got rid of the sccy but i like the gun and it was so bad on failures i would have just scraped it to keep someone else from getting it in there hands. I like to tinker anyway and haven't given up on it yet, so far results are promising. Guess i could have just sent it back to sccy to have them try and fix it but i like to try to fine soloutons to the promblem and it's so easy to take apart and work on:D
 

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Thanks mule, for your response. Based on your first sentence, there must be some truth to what I have heard. However not to sound stupid, but what does sccy mean?? Like I said I'm no gunsmith.
 

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Beat me to it lol! Thanks. I have the cpx1 From what I've been told they have worked a lot of the issues out with the newer cpx2. I bought the sccy (pronounced sky) because I got a really great deal on it and I like the design of the gun, it hits pretty hard compared to the bersa so not a gun you want to run 200 rounds thru at the range. I got a great price on it and it has a life time warranty that stays with the gun and not just the original owner so that intrigued me. Think I just about have the bugs worked out of it and if I do then will decide what to do with it. May trade it for another bersa:D
 

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Thanks P and mule, you learn something new every day, as I had never heard of them. Wonder why they only make 9mm?
 
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