Time to move on to something considerably smaller than the .380 ACP/9mm kurz Beretta 84B Cheetah depicted above to the left. That brings us to the second of this week’s Beretta Week entries — the Beretta 21A “Bobcat.” The firearm you see here was manufactured in 1986 at Beretta’s former Accokeek, Maryland facility. As production of the Model 21A began in the U.S. in 1984, that would make this pistol a very early example. Today, the 21A Bobcat is made at Beretta’s Gallatin, Tennessee facility, as is its slightly beefier .32 ACP/7.65mm cousin, the wonderful Beretta 3032 Tomcat. Now for a look at this little gem chambered in .22 Long Rifle (.22 LR):
The Beretta Bobcat has a thumb safety that allows it to be carried cocked-and-locked (hammer cocked; weapon in single-action mode). The magazine release is placed in the same unusual position as on the Tomcat and the featured firearm in this week’s Fun Firearms Friday, on the lower left corner of the left-side grip. Now let’s talk about that nifty little lever you see just above and behind the trigger. That’s the barrel release, as this is one of Beretta’s famed tip-barrel pocket pistols. Just pivot it forward and the barrel pops up, away from the slide, exposing the chamber:
The tip-barrel allows one to do several things that cannot be done with a standard magazine-fed semi-automatic. You can drop a round directly into the chamber without raking the slide. You can clear the chamber without dropping the magazine and then raking the slide. And, finally, the Beretta 21A Bobcat lacks a decock, but because of the tip barrel that’s not a problem. If you want to safely decock the loaded weapon, just tilt the barrel, pull the trigger, and gently lower the hammer with your thumb (Beretta recommends against dry fire, so don’t let the hammer just fall). Using this procedure, it’s not even necessary to remove a loaded magazine to safely decock the weapon. Once the Bobcat is decocked, just push the barrel with the chambered round back into place. Voilà, your Bobcat is now in double-action mode.
Yep. Your read that correctly. The 21A Bobcat, like its similarly sized but weightier Tomcat cousin, is a true DA/SA (double-action/single-action) semiautomatic, and the magazine of the diminutive 21A holds an impressive seven rounds of .22 LR. But wait! There’s MORE! Is .22 LR a bit too persnickety for your tastes? Does the higher misfire rate of a rimfire cartridge leave you cold? Prefer the reliability of a centerfire round? Not to worry. The 21A also comes available in .25 ACP/6.35mm., and that variant holds 8+1 rounds.
Disassembly is incredibly simple: Cock the hammer, tip the barrel and pivot it fully forward, retract the slide a fraction of an inch, lift the front of the slide, then pull the slide forward off the rails.
So, what else came with this particular example? Well, like Monday’s 84B Cheetah, this Bobcat came with a box and an instruction manual. Unlike the Cheetah however, this box was original to this weapon:
How do I know this is the original box paired with this gun? The same way that I knew Monday’s 84B Cheetah box was not; the serial number on this box matched that on the Bobcat:
I’ve not yet fired the Bobcat, but its turn is coming. I’ll be taking it out at some future date along with this week’s Fun Firearm Friday. But before I do, I’ll need to acquire some .25 ACP/6.35mm ammunition for Friday’s subject. And, no, that upcoming pistol is not a .25 ACP variant of the Bobcat. It’s something a bit more historic in nature — a later, improved version of Beretta’s very first tip-barrel pistol.
Beretta 21A Bobcat specifications:
- Trigger: Double-action/single-action; cocked-and-locked capable
- Caliber: ..22 LR or 25 ACP (6.35mm)
- Steel slide, alloy frame
- Length: 4.92″/125mm
- Width: 1.1″/28mm
- Height: 3.7″/94mm
- Weight: 11.8oz/335gr
- Barrel length: 2.4 inches/61 mm
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