Two Small Guns for Concealed Carry – Taurus 709 and Bersa Thunder 380

By David Freeman

Taurus 709 SlimI recently traded a revolver for a Taurus 709 Slim. I thought maybe the 709 would make a good carry gun for my wife Joyce. It does fit her hand well and she likes the fact it’s a 9mm instead of a 380, but she hasn’t shot it yet. More on that in a minute.

When I got the 709 home I discovered I couldn’t rack the slide consistently. In fact it would sometimes hang to where the only way I could get it to open the action was to lift up on the slide, then pull it back. My good friend and fellow instructor, Jerry Colliver, took it to his shop, did a little grinding and polishing and now it racks reliably every time.

The previous owner told me it didn’t like Winchester White Box ammo. He had settled on Winchester SXZ-9, which he said worked well in the gun.

I took it to the range with some Federal FMJ, the Winchester SXZ and some Hornady Critical Defense, I also had a few rounds of WWB. After Jerry’s work on the gun it handled all of the ammo without a problem.

How did it shoot? It’s accurate, surprisingly accurate. But it’s not going to be a gun Joyce will like. There’s just not enough room to get enough grip on it to hold it down when it fires. In my hands, the recoil seemed stronger than either of my 45s. It’s just a lot to hold onto. And to think they make this gun in a 40 caliber, too. It’s not a fun gun to shoot, but it is an easy gun to conceal and if you’re using it for defense because you can’t conceal a bigger gun, I can see where it would have it’s advantages.

The second gun I want to tell you about is the Bersa Thunder 380. Jerry is a fan of this gun and he’s told me on numerous occasions it would be a gun Joyce could handle and would probably enjoy shooting. Two CHL classes ago we had two of the little Bersa’s in the line-up. Academy Sports has very reasonable prices on them, so I decided to add a .380 to my collection.

 If it looks like a James Bond gun, that’s because its design is based on the PPK Bond used to carry. It’s all steel and the one I got is in DuoTone colors as shown here. The external dimensions of Bersa Thunder and the Taurus 709 very similar. Though they’re shaped differently, they fit in the same space. The Bersa is slightly heavier and shooting .380 as opposed to 9mm it has less recoil. Whereas I found the 709 uncomfortable to shoot, I could plink with the Bersa all day.

It turns out that neither of these guns was right for Joyce. In fact she can handle a Glock 19 better and enjoys shooting it more. But that doesn’t detract from either of these pistols as a small concealed carry option for me or anyone who can rack the slide.

Sometimes Peer Pressure is a Good Thing

By David Freeman

Springfield XDm 45I’m an instructor, right? But the gun I’ve been carrying  everyday isn’t one of the big three:  Glock, SIG, or Springfield. It’s a Taurus! A sweet shooting, accurate, easy to carry Taurus, reliable enough when I feed it the right ammo. I like the Taurus.

Since it was a concealed carry firearm, so there was no real opportunity for eyebrows to raise or for the small nods that seem to say, “Well, if that’s all you can afford, it’s a good gun.” The fact is nobody put any peer pressure on me. I put it on myself. I don’t care for Glocks. I’ve got a SIG, but it’s a 9mm, but I’ve wanted a Springfield XDm they first came out. I didn’t get a 9mm, passed on the 40, but when it came out in .45 I begain drooling over the ads again. All the time, I’ve watched students in our CHL and NRA classes blow the center out of their targets with an XD time and again.

A little insurance money came my way from my Dad’s passing and yes, there were a lot of projects that have been put off for a while, but I took a little of the money and bought a Springfield XDm 45.

First time I took it to the range, I was actually instructing a Basic Pistol student. At the end of the lesson I asked if she minded if I put up a new target and fired a few rounds from my new pistol. “No problem,” she said. I fired 20 rounds of Winchester Silver Tip Hollow Point. The center of the target disappeared and there were no shots outside the center ring. Impressive.

When I tore it down to clean it later, I was impressed with how strongly the XDm is made. The return spring is so strong it’s almost more than I can compress by hand when putting it back together. Teardown was simple, cleaning straight forward.

Subsequent trips to the range have shown that the Springfield will digest whatever I feed it and put the rounds where I point the gun. It’s a little bigger than my Taurus 24/7 and it weights 3 ounces more–not enough to notice. The Taurus has become the upstairs house gun, loaed with the 185 grain Winchester Silver Tip it likes. The XDm is on my hip loaded with whichever personal defense rounds are readily available. If anybody ever asks there instructor what I carry, I can smile and say, “a Springfield.”