Handguns Tools & Techniques

Beretta Tomcat .32 ACP Pocket Pistol

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The latest Beretta “Tomcat” is identical in most respects to the original. It is a tip-up barrel semi automatic pistol hammered for the .32 ACP cartridge and has a 7-shot magazine.

The Tomcat has been around for quite a few years now. This version differs from the original only in its sights. Although the official name of this new version is still the Tomcat, the folks at Beretta U.S.A. have apparently nicknamed it the “Alleycat.” In many ways, the Tomcat is a revival of Beretta’s other diminutive tip-up barrel pistols but chambered for the .32 ACP cartridge. In recent years, the .32 cartridge has proved to be a lot more potent than previously thought. Also, the tip-up pistols find favor with those with weak-hand strength or arthritis who have difficulty in operating the slide for loading purposes.

ACTION TYPE
Like Beretta’s other tip-up barrel pistols, the new .32 Tomcat is a pocket size blow back operated the semi-automatic pistol. The barrel is secured to the front of the frame and tips up when the barrel locking catch is disengaged. The pistol’s magazine has a seven-round capacity, and the pistol has a conventional double-action trigger for the first shot.

The controls, all of which are on the left side, include the barrel catch, magazine catch, and thumb safety. The latter can be applied when the hammer is at rest or cocked, allowing the pistol to be carried in a cocked and locked mode if desired. The magazine catch is of the button type and is positioned at the bottom rear of the grip panel.

The only real change to this Tomcat and the original is its sights, which are of the Ashley Express type.

The pistol’s barrel tips up for loading when the catch behind the trigger is pushed forward.

FIT AND FINISH
The pistol has the high quality of fit and finishes one expects from Beretta products. The pistol comes in a compact and rugged plastic case along with instruction manual and the obligatory trigger lock. The single action trigger has a pull of 51/2 pounds. The double-action trigger has a smooth relatively long stroke of around 11 pounds. The Ashley sights consist of a large white circular front post and a v-shaped rear blade with a white bar. The sights are easy to pick up when the pistol is brought quickly up to eye level. The front sight has a luminous insert that is visible in complete darkness.

SHOOTING PERFORMANCE
I shot the pistol on a pleasant sunny day in October of last year at the Petersen Ranch range. I used an assortment of .32 ammunition that included Black Hills 95-grain FMJ, CCI Blazer, and Winchester 71-grain FMJ.

Initially, I attempted to shoot the pistol for accuracy at 25 yards from a seated bench rest position but ran into trouble with the sights. The problem was I could not see the sights clearly when shooting at the 25-yard point because of the shadow cast by the sheltered shooting bay. I must hasten to point out that this was not the fault of the pistol.

Eventually, I abandoned this exercise and set up a target at 15 yards. At this firing position I had no bench rest, and I was restricted to shooting from a standing position. Because of the miniature size of the pistol, I found it more comfortable to shoot the pistol one-handed. With two hands I found the supporting hand tended to be more of a nuisance–fingers tended to get in the way. In any event, I suspect that one-handed shooting will be used in most defense situations with this pistol.

For accuracy, I did all my single shooting action. Groups varied in size from four to 51/2 inches. The Winchester ammunition delivered the best 15-yard group of four inches which is more than acceptable for this type of pistol.

The main difference between this new Tomcat and the original is a set of highly visible Express type fixed sights. The front sight has a luminous insert for night shooting.

SPECIFICATIONS
Beretta Tomcat .32 ACP
Importer: Beretta
Action Type: Blow back
Semi-auto
w/ tip up barrel
Caliber: .32 acp
Capacity: 7 + 1
Barrel Length: 2.4 inches
Overall Length: 4.9 inches
Weight: 14.5 ounces
Sights: Ashley
Express type
fixed
Trigger: Pull–S/A 5.5 lbs.
D/A 11 lbs.
Reach–S/A 2.25 in.
D/A 2.75 in.
Grips: Black checkered
synthetic
Finish: blue
Price: $362

As far as the regulation of the sights is concerned, I found that the pistol consistently grouped about three to four inches below my point of aim.

I found the pistol surprisingly pleasant to shoot. Recoil was negligible, while out of the shadow and the sights were well defined and easy to see. The trigger, while certainly not of target quality, was still quite manageable and controllable.

I then put up a B-27 target center and moved forward to five yards, which is the distance the pistol is likely to be used. Shooting fast 2-shot strings with the first shot being fired in the double-action mode, I had no difficulty in keeping all my shots in the nine ring of the target.

I repeated the same exercise at seven and 10 yards. On completion, I was pleased to find that all my shots were well placed in the center of the target with most in the ten ring and only three out in the nine.

Throughout this part of the shooting, the pistol was very easy to control. The Ashley sights came into their own being easy to access when the pistol was brought quickly up to eye level. The double-action trigger, while a little on the heavy side, did not adversely affect my shooting.
When shot one-handed from a standing position at 15 yards, the pistol delivered acceptable combat accuracy. The sights were reasonably regulated to the author’s point of aim.

Throughout the day I carried the Tomcat in my front trouser pocket. I found this mode of carry quite comfortable although I would use a pocket holster if I were to do this routinely.
Shooting fast 2-shot strings at five, seven and ten yards and firing the first shot in the double-action mode, the pistol kept all of the shots in the nine and ten rings of a combat center.

Regarding reliability, the pistol performed flawlessly with all of the ammunition that I shot. As with the original Tomcat that I previously evaluated, this pistol has all the same attributes plus the benefit of sights that are better suited for the shooting that one is likely to have to resort to in a close quarter’s emergency.

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Garrett

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