A quarter century ago, the big switch from the traditional revolver to the semi-autopistol was in full swing. Today, it is rare to encounter a law enforcement officer or other armed professional carrying a double-action revolver as a service arm. Small hideouts, however, remain a mixed bag. But when you analyze this situation it’s easy to see why snub revolvers still have a loyal following.
In the years to come, this too is likely to change and the role of the snub will further diminish. Until fairly recently, snubs made the most sense for super discreet carry. Small pocket pistols in .22 LR, .25 ACP, and .32 ACP simply don’t have the juice to quickly shut down a determined adversary. On the other hand, subcompact versions of popular double-stack service pistols often prove too “chunky” to be true hideouts. The classic snub, however, epitomizes size/power efficiency. It may not be the “Hammer of Thor,” but the .38 Special cartridge boasts pretty fair stopping potential with performance that clearly exceeds that of lesser cartridges.
The dynamic that will eventually change the concealed carry paradigm is the evolution of a class of pistols best described as “micro-nines.” No larger than old school .380 ACP pistols, micro-nines are relatively thin, offer superior terminal ballistics, and are far more user-friendly than either pocket pistols or snub revolvers. The icing on the cake is that they are no harder to hide.
Argentina may conjure up images of the tango, fine wines and superb beef but not necessarily firearms. In reality, some very interesting (if not quirky) guns have come out of Argentina. Notable examples include the Ballester-Molina pistol, Halcon M1943 sub-machinegun, and the 1891 Mauser rifle. The Ballester-Molina was a most interesting piece best described as an evolved .45 ACP pistol based on the 1911.
In the 1950s, Italian immigrants Benso Bonadimani, Ercole Montini and Savino Caselli, began building firearms in Argentina. They called their company Bersa, which represented the first letters in their names. With headquarters in Rames Meija, Bersa has grown into one of the largest privately owned corporations in Argentina.
Bersa has met with the most success with their line of reasonably priced yet very reliable autopistols. The Bersa M90 is the official sidearm of the Argentine armed forces and federal police and a slightly more refined version is imported here as the Thunder ProHC. Their Bersa Thunder .380 based on the timeless Walther PP/PPK design has been a runaway hit.
Recently, Bersa has introduced a new pistol, which I feel is their best effort to date. The BPCC (Concealed Carry) is a small, striker-fired pistol built on a polymer frame. My test pistol, dubbed the BP9CC, incorporates a number of in-demand features and is destined to be a huge commercial success.
The Bersa BP9CC is a lightweight, semi-auto 9mm that fires from a locked breech. Upon handling the BP9CC, one instantly notes how thin it is and this, of course, makes it ideal for concealed carry. At a scant 0.94 inches wide, the BP9CC is significantly trimmer than the subcompact versions of any number of popular service pistols. The single-stack grip frame, also, is very thin but didn’t prove the least bit uncomfortable when firing hot 9mm defensive loads.
To create the BP9CC, Bersa used a familiar recipe of mating a lightweight polymer frame to a steel slide and barrel. Metal surfaces on the sample pistol I examined were finished in a non-reflective matte black. A duo-tone pistol with a nickel finish will also be available. A series of slightly curved serrations, reminiscent of tall grass in the wind, are present on the rear of the slide to facilitate manipulation.
The polymer frame is nicely contoured and the grip will accommodate a wide range of hand sizes. Fore and aft serrations, plus an aggressive raised surface on the side panels, keep the hand from moving about during rapid fire. The triggerguard is slightly undercut in order to get the axis of the bore close to the shooter’s hand and minimize muzzle flip. Like many contemporary pistols, the BP9CC has a Picatinny rail molded into the frame to accommodate a white light or laser aimer.
At 6.35 inches long and 4.8 inches tall, the BP9CC is just a tad big for pocket carry, but this is largely offset by the trim 0.94-inch width. This pistol will be rendered nearly invisible in an inside-the-waistband holster. Barrel length is 3.3 inches long and the micro polished bore features polygonal rifling. Polygonal rifling not only extends barrel life but provides a better gas seal and boosts muzzle velocities beyond that of conventionally rifled barrels.
In an era of time when many pistols feature lawyer-designed triggers, the BP9CC is a refreshing departure. Although billed as a short reset DAO, trigger action is very light and I would guesstimate that shot break was about 4 pounds on my sample piece. When bringing the trigger to the rear, you will first encounter a bit of slack and then resistance, much like that of another popular polymer frame pistol. The trigger reset is easily defined which will enable the user to fire quick, accurate, follow-up shots.
While there is no active safety on the BP9CC, the design does employ multiple passive systems. They include a firing pin safety, trigger safety, and magazine disconnect safety. A loaded-chamber indicator on top of the slide will give the user instant tactile feedback, whether or not there is a round in the chamber.
The BP9CC is also equipped with an integral lock. By inserting a key in a slot at the right rear of the slide, the BP9CC can be effectively disabled. Should an unauthorized person gain control of the gun in this condition, they will not be able to fire it.
Bersa took an interesting approach with the sights. The rear is a polymer Glock type with external geometry identical to the Austrian pistol. The dovetailed front is true to the Sig Sauer system. If the factory 3-dot system is not to your liking, it can be quickly swapped out. Since Glock and Sig Sauer are among the most popular of pistols, finding aftermarket sights will not be a problem.
The metal single-stack magazines hold 8 rounds, giving the BP9CC a total capacity of 9 rounds. This is more than adequate for all but the most unusual emergency. I know some may feel shortchanged, but a trim grip that fits the hand is far better than a fat one that doesn’t. An ambidextrous magazine release will play well to both left- and right-handed shooters.
The BP9CC was indeed virgin territory and I had no idea what to expect in the way of performance. To see what this pistol was capable of, I rounded up a cross-section of 9mm ammunition along with my Oehler 35P chronograph and set off to the range.
To break the ice, I set up a steel silhouette a dozen yards away and began blazing away with the little Bersa blaster. The sights proved to be an easy read and almost immediately, I was getting rapid, center hits. I would stop short of categorizing the trigger as match quality, but it certainly helped my cause. Unlike some striker-fired pistols, trigger reset is very distinct and I was able to deliver quick hammers with very little effort.
Despite the fact that the barrel is only 3.3 inches long, the BP9CC posted some very snappy velocities. Vintage Federal 115-grain +P+ JHPs trotted through the Oehler screens at 1,249 feet per second (fps), while Speer’s highly rated 124-grain +P Gold Dot load averaged 1,172 fps. That is just about as fast as some service length barrels with the same ammunition. No doubt the polygonal rifling does light the afterburner, which translates to more on target energy.
As a point of reference, the two above listed loads run neck and neck with like weight .357 Mag offerings when fired from a short-barrel snub. The BP9CC will prove far more agreeable than any lightweight .357 snub.
To get a handle on practical accuracy, I rapid fired a series of 5-shot groups from a distance of 10 yards. This would give me a better idea of this pistol’s combat potential than firing from a rest at 25 yards. With a shot cadence of one round per second, 5-shot groups ran no larger than 4 inches, with most well under 3 inches. Federal’s BPLE load posted a slight advantage and this hot load proved very controllable. Just for giggles, I did fire a number of rounds from 25 yards and once again, was able to tag my steel silhouette.
My initial impression of the BP9CC is very favorable. Bersa may not have the name recognition of some of the industry’s giants, but rest assured this is no second- tier gun. Operation was entirely reliable and ball, hollowpoints, and even lightweight frangible fed and fired without incident. Felt recoil was very mild and even though there was a bit more muzzle flip with the hotter loads, the BP9CC is easily managed.
The BP9CC is a pistol intended for a very serious purpose and we cannot lose sight of its true mission. In short, anything we trust our life to has to work each and every time. There are no alibis in the unforgiving, real world.
The Bersa BP9CC has all the makings of a winner and I’m confident time will prove me right. It is a user-friendly platform, reliable, and fits the hand very well. I certainly encounter people (especially in public service) trying to get by with guns that are too big for their hand and a well-engineered gun like the BP9CC would be just the ticket. Of course, a trim pistol like this is ideally suited for belt carry and with the right holster/clothing combination, it can easily be camouflaged as you go about your daily routine.
I really don’t have much to take issue with on this particular pistol. All things considered, I would rather not have a magazine disconnect safety. That may make some sense on a police duty pistol, but not on a gun intended for concealed carry. I suspect the magazine disconnect safety was included so the BP9CC could score enough points to be imported. I don’t, however, consider its inclusion as a deal breaker.
Savvy shooters have been looking for a lightweight, striker-fired pistol for years and the arms makers have now granted their wish. The fact that Bersa can deliver such a well-engineered pistol at a reasonable price will help ensure its success in the micro-nine sweepstakes. Find out more by visiting bersa.com or calling 732-493-0333.