The Tiny (But Not Really)
Beretta Tomcat


© Tom McHale

I’ve had a special place in my safe for Beretta firearms for, well, decades. For some unexplainable reason, a Beretta 92 FS was my first daily carry gun. To be clear, it’s a great pistol with proven reliability; it just may not seem the ideal concealed carry pistol with its generous size and moderate weight. Of course, capacity is more than adequate, so there’s that.

Then again, maybe the whole “carry a large gun” (meaning in physical size, not power) was a foreshadowing of my eventual carry strategy. These days, I also carry a full-size pistol daily, just a different model. Somewhere in in-between years, I opted for smaller guns like an old Walther PPK/S .380, Glock 32, Sig P320 Compact Carry, a series of Beretta PX4s and even a Kel-Tec P3AT for a short stint.

Small … But Fulfilling

During a few mile markers of life, I went through a period of time where frequent ankle carry was a preferred carry method. Yeah, I’m fully aware of the pros and cons, but all things considered, it was my best choice at the time. Somehow, during that stretch, I found myself carrying what became one of my favorite little pistols, the Beretta 3032 Tomcat.

Sure, .32 ACP isn’t the ideal caliber for self-defense, and the Tomcat isn’t nearly as small as it could be to package and launch the relatively small cartridge. Yet, it has a special something that makes it a delight to handle and shoot.

Built for Tiny, But Comfortable

There are two stand-out “features” of the Beretta 3032 Tomcat.

First, the tip-up barrel system is perfect for a tiny semi-auto. By its very diminutive nature, admin functions like racking the slide can be a challenge. There’s not much to hold on to, and combined with strong springs, there are better ways to skin the cat for common functions like loading and unloading.

The tip-up system features a barrel hinged near the muzzle and released via a small lever on the left side of the frame about where a decocker would be on a DA/SA semi-auto. Push that lever forward, and the barrel flips up via spring action. With this system, loading (or unloading) requires no slide manipulation. Simply insert a loaded magazine, flip the barrel open, drop in a cartridge, and snap the hinged barrel shut. Since the pistol is a true double/single-action, no other manipulation is required to prepare to fire. That first shot requires a pretty heavy DA trigger press, but like other DA/SAs, subsequent shots are easy in comparison.

The second “feature” is the Tomcat’s palm-filling shape. Even with the factory grip panels, the grip area is generously sized—far larger than the single-stack, seven-round magazine requires for space. This is a good thing. One of the reasons that Kel-Tec P3AT was short-lived in my carry rotation is that it was literally too small to shoot using my moderately sized hands. I had to contort my grip to reach the trigger somewhat properly. Not so with the Tomcat. The generous grip size makes it easy to handle even though the entire gun is just 4 ¾” long. True, it won’t pocket carry quite as easily as something like a Kel-Tec or Ruger LCP because it’s not as flat, but it sure is easier to shoot well. To be clear, it does pocket carry with a proper holster; it’s just a little bulkier in the pocket. And it’s a cinch to ankle carry.

New models offer threaded barrels, more finish options and adjustable sights.

Other Considerations

Back in the day, the Tomcats had some troubles with cracked frames resulting from the light weight and abuse from its blowback design. Mine never had the frame problem, but the grips did eventually crack from use, so I replaced them with some Altamont Super Rosewood Grip Panels. What an improvement, both in appearance and function.

The frame-mounted safety is a positive one that locks things up, unlike the decockers in other DA/SA guns. I suppose you can carry it cocked and locked, but I always preferred to rely on both the safety and a heavy DA first trigger press with a pocket gun like this.

The sights on the original series, like mine shown here, are like the older 92 series pistols, with a milled-in and very non-adjustable front sight. That’s okay; it’s a short-range gun.

New Stuff

A couple of years back, Beretta re-introduced the Tomcat line, offering a slew of new variants. Not only different finish and grip options but now you can choose a threaded model or upgraded versions with adjustable night sights and such.

It’s a nifty little gun. Not many pocket guns are fun to shoot, but this one, with its comfortable hand fit and .32 chambering, will make regular practice a desirable activity.

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