I mentioned the the Firestorm FS22, the .22 version of the Bersa / Firestorm line of pistols in a previous post and thought this little gun deserved a post of its own.
When I first started looking for a .22 pistol I originally considered the Walther P22. After reading about reliability issues and learning that it had a potmetal (zinc alloy) slide I decided against the Walther. I wanted something as easy to field strip as my P6, so a Ruger MKIII was out. I knew Laura and Breda both had .380 Bersa Thunder's and were happy with them. I'd also handled some Thunder's in a local gun shop and liked them.
It would take several months of scouring Gunbroker before I'd actually find a lightly used one for sale by an older man in Maryland. I think I paid around $250. I can emphatically say it's been $250 well spent.
The FS22 comes with rubber finger groove grips w/ finger rest, 3 dot contrast sights, and a key for the S&W style integral lock that I've never used. The sights are a bit small compared to those on my Sigs but still more than adequate.
The Bersa has excellent ergonomics. The gun fits the hand and points naturally. Most of the controls are easily manipulated. Field stripping takes a matter of seconds, just push down the takedown lever and pull the slide up off the frame. Next remove the recoil spring from the barrel, which is fixed to the frame. That's it, you're done. It's so easy a caveman could do it!
The safety is slide mounted and acts by both disengaging the trigger and blocking the hammer. It also doubles as a decocker. Up is fire, down is safe. Pushing the safety lever past safe decocks the hammer with a loud, disconcerting "snap" as the hammer falls with full force. (or maybe I'm just used to Sigs) The trigger is traditional DA/SA style and while it's nothing to write home about it's not by any means a bad trigger. You could do far worse.
Personally I use the safety on the FS22 only as a decocker. I almost never carry this gun and when I do it's hammer down, one in the pipe with the safety off. I dislike thumb safeties on DA/SA guns anyway and simply not using the safety make things simpler for this Sig guy.
I can't say that this little gun has been entirely reliable. It absolutely loves CCI Mini Mags and does well with Federal bulk pack, but tends to choke on cheaper, standard velocity ammo. This is especially true towards the end of a range trip, but a couple drops of CLP usually clears things right up. I generally buy high velocity .22lr anyway so this is almost a non-issue for me. I'd also point out that my FS22 doesn't like "high velocity" Winchester Wildcat. This isn't really a knock against the gun, since most .22 autos are ammo sensitive.
It's truly a shame Bersa doesn't market these more. I'm almost certain they'd sell like hotcakes.
As a side note, I still remember shooting the FS22 on my very 1st range trip. I had no gun lube, only Castrol Syntec 5W-20 motor oil. I used far too much and it ran out everywhere but the gun still shot fine.