The Browning BDA was produced from 1976 all the way up until 1997. It was designed by FN and produced by Beretta. Beretta made this very similar to the Cheetah, which is their model 84 in 380 ACP. It holds 13 plus one and a double stack magazine, it’s double-single action, has the blowback design—but there’s some definite differences between the BDA and the Cheetah. FN produced their model 140 DA, which was in 32 ACP, in the exact same design as the BDA. This is a great little pistol, very light recoil, but still it’s pretty large and honestly eclipsed because of all the smaller 380 ACPs. Especially today, there are so many different choices and really, this is about the same size as a Glock 19. The only law enforcement agency that ever adopted the Browning BDA was the Belgian police which was for their female officers. I had a good friend of mine that had one of these years ago and I loved shooting it so I got on Gunbroker and I found one—which they can be pretty expensive because they are collectible. I ended up getting a really good deal on this one and it is a beautiful pistol.
As you know, there’s a lot of choices out there and really with polymer striker fired pistols, they’re very efficient, they’re effective. There’s a lot of reasons why we have gone to that including the fact it’s a great evolution to be able to put on your hip and to carry something super lightweight and yet very effective. But, one of the things about these older firearms is there is a lot of craftsmanship that goes in it including that beautiful blue finish, the walnut grips, and there’s something about taking this out to the range that’s very appealing. Honestly, you want to carry something like this on your hip. The recoil on this is so mild, and it’s such a joy to shoot. The double-single action is so smooth, it’s very pointable and the grip is full in your hand. However, it definitely has some limitations considering a lot of the modern pistols that are out there. So I really enjoy taking firearms like this out to the range and honestly, I end up carrying them at times. But again, I end up going back to those polymer striker fired pistols because they’re just so easy to carry. But there’s something about having something like this on your hip that is very pleasing. With the 13 plus one 380 ACP, it gives you some capacity and yet, if you’re recoil sensitive, this makes a great option. 380 ACP is a good ballistic caliber and it still has its place. And honestly, if you’re that recoil sensitive, it’s better off to have something that you really have some confidence in and you feel like you can control than to have something that when you pull that trigger, you flinch. The 380 ACP is still a very viable option in today’s market and when you get into these older designs, they’re still beautiful firearms that can be effectively carried.
As far as pros and cons. Pros is that it is just a beautiful firearm all together. It’s made by Beretta, so it’s really good quality and offered by Browning so it’s just got two names behind it. The double-action, single-action trigger pull is excellent, it has beautiful wood grips, it has beautiful bluing. It is a larger pistol for 380 ACP, and that’s probably one of the biggest cons. I mean, 13 plus one is nice, but you can get pretty close to that, again, about half that size in a firearm. This is more of a want-to than a have-to. It’s definitely a beautiful handgun that can be used for self-defense. So again, it’s up to what you’re looking for and up to your budget. And you could be like me, you just want something really nice and you have other guns that you’re carrying, but you just want to add this to your collection. When it comes to 380 caliber, I mean, that’s a plus for those who are recoil sensitive. It’s a minus for those who want to take advantage of all the ballistic capability they can, and definitely 9 millimeter is more of the standard. However, 380 ACP is still considered an adequate self-defense round.
It’s a classic and it’s a beautiful firearm. If you’re looking for something that’s in 380 ACP that’s light, and yet has a high capacity and is absolutely beautiful, the Browning BDA is a classic. Yes, there are a lot of better options out there—but there’s none that looks so good.
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