Bersa Thunder 22 Semi-Automatic 22 LR Pistol


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

April 17th, 2011


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Bersa Thunder 22 pistol.





Sights are very good, especially for a small pistol.





Thumb safety and slide lock, with magazine release below.







Shallow feed angle contributes to the Bersa's reliable feeding.





Back in November of 2004, I reviewed the Firestorm 22 pistol. The Bersa Thunder 22 shown here is pretty much identical, with different grips. This particular Thunder 22 is also satin nickel plated, which is a worthwhile option for a weapon that might be carried close to the body, or in a damp environment. Like that little Firestorm, this Bersa is a dandy pistol. Much like the Bersa Thunder 380, which is a popular defensive pistol, the 22 operates in the same manner. The Thunder 22 would make an excellent understudy to a Thunder 380, allowing the user to get in a lot of inexpensive practice using low-cost 22 rimfire ammunition, as opposed to the more expensive 380 ACP ammo.

Many folks frown at the thought of using a 22 rimfire for defensive purposes, and there are many more powerful choices, but the first rule of a gunfight is to have a gun. Many people, for whatever reason, cannot handle recoil, whether it be from an injury or arthritis, many of the people who are most likely to be victimized are least able to fire a powerful weapon. For them, the 22 Long Rifle in a pistol that is easy to fire is a good choice. Properly loaded, the twenty-two can do a decent job, and this Thunder 22 allows the user to put eleven holes into a target in about four seconds. Recoil is almost nonexistent, and this Thunder 22 is easy to shoot fast, and makes it easy to put those bullets on target.

Critical specifications for the Thunder 22 are listed in the chart below. The weights are listed in ounces, and linear measurements in inches. The grip and frame widths were measured at their widest parts. The maximum width is measured across the slight ambidextrous thumb rests. The height includes the sights and magazine base. The trigger pull on the Thunder 22 was smooth in double-action mode, stacking before the release. The single action pull is very good, with a smooth release and slight overtravel. The trigger pull is listed as pounds of pressure.

Weight 19 oz.
Height 4.875"
Length 6.5"
Slide Width 0.861"
Maximum Grip Width 1.18"
Frame Width 0.63"
Maximum Width 1.18"
Trigger Pull SA 5.25 lbs.
Trigger Pull DA 7.5 lbs.
Trigger Reach SA 2.46"
Trigger Reach DA 2.84"
Barrel Length 3.62"
Magazine Capacity 10
Magazines Supplied 1

Shooting the Thunder 22 proves that with any firearm, and 22 rimfires in particular, ammo makes all the difference. With cheap bulk 22 Long Rifle ammo, the Bersa would not run reliably. I ordered in some quality 22 ammo from Lucky Gunner, and the Thunder 22 ran very well after that. I had many problems with the last batch of Federal bulk hollowpoint that I bought, with misfires in several different guns. The CCI ammo that I tried in this Thunder 22, along with Remington Yellow Jacket, did very well. I had one failure to fire with the CCI, and no other problems at all. The Bersa cycled the ammo perfectly, and the slide always locked back after the last round was fired. I particularly like the CCI Velocitor 40 grain hollowpoint ammo. It achieved nearly 1000 feet-per-second from the Bersa’s barrel, and was very accurate as well.

As I do with all of my defensive pistols, I mounted a Crimson Trace laser on this Thunder 22. This pistol uses the same Lasergrip as does the Thunder 380, and it works very well for making hits upon the target under low light conditions. The Thunder 22 has a pretty good set of sights, with the rear being adjustable for windage correction. The orange dot inserts make the sights easy to see in good light, but when it gets dark and the punks crawl out of hiding, a good laser sight is hard to beat, and I will not carry a defensive pistol without a Crimson Trace laser. The laser makes hitting the target faster and more accurate for me, particularly if fired from an awkward position or under stress.

The Bersa Thunder 22 is a well-made pistol. The Bersas offer some of the best values on the market today. They are consistently priced below their competition, and they have a good reputation for reliability. I have owned several Bersa pistols, and get lots of email from satisfied Bersa users. The Thunder 22 is not the most powerful handgun available for defense, but it can serve well as a field pistol, for target practice, and as an understudy to the Bersa Thunder 380. It can also serve as a defensive weapon when needed. It will not bowl over an attacker like he was hit with a burst of 50 BMG rounds, but I know of no one who wants to be perforated with several 22 caliber holes. In the right hands, with a steady aim, the 22 can do the job, when called upon to do so.

Check out the variety of Bersa pistols and accessories online at

For the location of a Bersa dealer near you, click on the DEALER FINDER at

To order the Thunder 22 online, go to

To order quality 22 ammo at good prices, go to

Jeff Quinn

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Jeff considers a Crimson Trace Lasergrip to be essential equipment for a defensive pistol.





Internal key locking mechanism.



CCI Velocitor ammunition is the author's choice for this pistol.