Some of you may remember that I have been in the market for a Beretta Bobcat for a while. Especially after a certain incident at last year’s NRAAM steered me away from Taurus’ PT-22. Unfortunately, it seemed like the moment I decided to buy one, the supply dried up. I was even told by a trusted gun deal “good f’ing luck.”*
Well, fast forward to New Year’s Eve, and I spotted one on one the local FaceBook gun swap groups. A guy had got one in a trade, and was asking what it was worth. Several folks were offering to do him a “favor” and give him roughly half of what it was worth. I chimed in telling him to look at what it was going for on Gunbroker, and that I’d be interested if the other offers fell through. The next day, he contacted me offering to sell it for somewhere in the middle of what those guys were offering, and what the ones on Gunbroker were selling for. After a quick drive out to meet him, I came home with this little guy:
This particular little guy is in .22lr, although it also comes in .25acp. After doing a little research, it looks like I can convert it to .25 by ordering a new slide, barrel, and magazine from Beretta for about $130. While I don’t plan on doing this conversion now, I might down the line if I ever decide to actually carry it. .25, by virtue of being a center fire round, is more reliable, but significantly more expensive. Oddly enough, the .25acp mags hold 8 rounds instead of the 7 round capacity of the .22.
For those of you that are unaware of the Beretta 21a “Bobcat” pistol, it’s really a relic of the past. There was a time when there were several companies that made true pocket pistols in small calibers (.22lr, .25acp, .32acp, etc). For the most part, these have given way to guns that are slightly larger, but fire “more serious” cartridges like the .380acp and 9mm. Heck, you can now get a Boberg or Springfield XDs in .45cal! I’m sure some of this has to do with modern manufacturing/materials allowing for things that just weren’t possible even a couple decades ago, but it’s also damn convenient to share ammo between your carry gun and your range gun (to say nothing of stopping power). These tiny guns have been described as “guns for when you can’t carry a gun” due to their ability to disappear in a pocket, and are really designed for little more than contact distance.
One of the interesting design traits of this gun is the tip up barrel. The barrel is spring loaded and will tip up when you hit a lever (as seen above). This allows you to load or unload a round in the chamber without racking the slide. While that’s not a big deal on larger guns, it’s a nice feature on something this small where the slide is too small to easily grab. The downside is that there’s no extractor, so the only way for a casing to leave the chamber is either through the recoil of firing it, or prying it out with your fingernail.
Another interesting design choice was the placement of the magazine release. You can see it in the picture above between the two screws on the grip. I know Beretta has released a few models with the magazine release there (including a very early version of the 92), but I’m unaware of any other company to do so. While it is in a location that pretty much guarantees you won’t accidentally hit it, it also means that you will need to use both hands to drop the magazine.
Even though .22lr is still scarce around here, I did have some on hand and have been able to get to the range to try the little guy out. Unfortunately, most of the ammo on hand was in the form of Federal bulk made during the true insanity, and not exactly the most reliable ammo. This was proven to follow form, by that ammo causing several stove pipes and failure to fully cycle. I did have a 50 round box of Winchester Sidewinder with me, which performed flawlessly. The difference between the two sets of ammo was demonstrated by the Sidewinder ammo producing a noticeable fireball when fired from such a tiny barrel. Also of note, you can load 8 rounds into the magazine, but it will not actually seat in the gun with more than 7, which is the advertised capacity.
I was rather surprised by the accuracy. The trigger was fairly nice in either double action or single action mode. I’ve definitely dealt with worse triggers on more full sized guns. The sights, while definitely usable, are… difficult. They are very low profile, and the rear sight is rounded. If you’ve ever handled a single action revolver with the old school “complete the arc” sights, think that… only smaller. That said, I was able to easily keep rounds on a 6″ target at 5 yards, which is pretty good considering the shooter and the optimal range is best described as “shove up bad guy’s nose, pull trigger.”
I will say that I have already made one “upgrade” to this little mouse gun. Beretta was having a sale that included wooden grips half of. For some reason, I just couldn’t resist the look of the wood with the little brass medallions.
And… of course… one of my cats had to get in on the act
The last thing to talk about is why I bought this. Honestly, I can’t give you a good answer to that. While it was designed to be a pocket pistol, there are modern guns that do that job better. While I would have no qualms over carrying this pistol with either the hammer down or cocked and locked, I would rather have something like a .380 or 9mm in my pocket. It is a lot of fun at the range, but it’s not a marksman’s pistol like my Buckmark. Heck it doesn’t even share the same controls as a gun I would/do carry like my Bersa Thunder 22.
In the end, all I can say is “it makes me giggle.” Of course, is that necessarily a bad thing?
*incidentally, I have since seen 3 at the local gun show. All in .25acp and for at least $100 more than I paid. Such is life.