A Tiny Tiger:
Beretta’s ‘Too Cute’ 950B

37

The classic Beretta 950B with longer barrel and in .22 Short was a
great find by Roy. Note the .44 Special HoneyBadger for size.

When I saw it, I knew it was coming home with me. The store I was in specializes in jewelry, antiques, collectible guns from the 1700s to the present, and a lot of other marvelous, sometimes even astonishing things. At first, I thought the little Beretta was maybe a 21A Bobcat or similar, but the long barrel had me confused — and had my attention. I’ve often pitched makers like NAA, Ruger and others to put longer barrels on some of their tiny pocket autos. For some ridiculous reason, a 3″ or 4″ barrel on a Ruger LCP MAX, for instance, is just begging to be done, at least to me. But alas … when I bring it up, they just stare blankly, hoping I’ll leave their booth soon.

So, seeing this delightful little Beretta with a longer barrel really caught my attention. As I dug a bit deeper, I realized it was an early 950B in .22 Short, no less. Call me what you will, but a tiny auto in .22 Short — especially with a longer barrel — is just captivating to me for some impractical, senseless reason. I also noticed this one didn’t have a thumb safety, putting it prior to 1968 — even better. I began to reach for my wallet.

These early guns had an inertial firing pin and were made to be safely carried with the hammer down on a loaded chamber. So the drill was to flip the lever on the side, the barrel pops up, drop the minuscule .22 Short into the chamber, snick the barrel closed, and, making sure the hammer is down, pocket the little charmer. To get it going, you thumb the hammer back, point it at the bad guy, and gravely hope you don’t have to shoot, as it would very likely make them angry and disappointed in you.

I finished the paperwork and walked out with my new little friend. Living in a free state has assorted advantages, and seeing a gun you want, buying it, and walking out of the store with it is one of those rewards. Hate us if you must, or just move and enjoy the freedoms we have.

The 950B (top) and 21A (.25 ACP) both have Beretta’s novel
tilt barrel, making loading and unloading a snap.

Chronicles

The little Beretta autos have been the darlings of spy novels and remain the go-to “tiny guns” to tens of thousands of shooters. Not always the most practical, they are, nonetheless, small, reliable and simply great to toss into a pocket. I’ve known legions of cops and just regular folks who have relied on a Bobcat, Jetfire, or Mix (.22 to .32 ACP sizes) as backup guns and even primary carry guns. I’m not saying I’d do the latter, but the former makes perfect sense, and they are great at it. The “flipping” barrel makes them easy to load and unload safely, and that’s very good for novices who are learning to shoot semi-autos.

After the 950B entered the fray and time passed, the other models, based on the core design, appeared. There’s also the Model 71, bearing a passing family resemblance but without the flip-up barrel. And it’s a tad bigger, more like the classic Model 84 in size, but in .22 LR. So, I have the 950B, the Model 71 and even a 21A in .25 ACP. Where I think the 950B wins hands-down is in its overall svelte design. It has a much narrower grip than the others, and just seems more lissome — if a gun can ever be such a thing.

I know, I know … none of these should be relied upon for serious personal defense. But that’s not what this is about at all. To me, they are simply interesting exercises in the gun-makers art and, just as we all love puppies and kitties, about anything small and cute bears wanting, eh?

The 950B .22 Short delivered well-centered groups like this at 10 yards.
The 82-yard steel gong was soon going “tink” regularly.And they say
little guns can’t shoot. Ha! Target: Tactical Target Systems

Who says guns can’t be cute? Roy couldn’t
resist the 950B and doubts you could either.

Shooting?

Of course. I’ve targeted the little 950B at 10 yards and much to my utter amazement and delight, it delivered neatly rounded 1″ groups centered exactly where you aim it. Was I blessed by the gun-buying gods or what? The single action trigger is about 4.5 lbs. and unexpectedly crisp.

Remington .22 Short “High Velocity” ammo — a 29-grain bullet rated at 1,050 fps from a rifle — flashed over my chrono at around 840 fps. Actually, that surprised me a good deal as I was expecting more in the 650 fps range. And because I couldn’t resist doing it, I carefully aimed at my 82-yard steel torso, and once I had the elevation, I heard the pleasant little “tinks” regularly. I’ll have to make a video of that, or no one will believe me. Most pocket pistols will shoot surprisingly well if you take your time. Try it.

The .25 ACP 21A pushed some old Winchester FMJ ball over the screens at a whopping 595 fps. I also had a bit of Buffalo Bore’s new “Heavy” .25 ACP load on hand. It’s a 60-grain hard cast, flat point lead bullet, and it delivered 720 fps out of this tiny gun. Bear protection? Maybe not, but certainly better than a rock — sorta’.

The accurate Model 71 .22 LR showed us that good old CCI Mini-Mags trundled over the screens at a surprising 895 fps. I normally carry this in my electric off-road bike I use to get around here, and when the gray squirrels see me coming — they hide.

A Beretta trio of fun: Model 71 .22 LR top, 950B
center and 21A bringing up the bottom.

Small guns mean small cartridges. The 950B digested Remington “High Velocity” shorts easily. The Model 71’s favorite load is CCI Mini-Mags and the Model 21A upped the game with the Buffalo Bore “Heavy” .25 ACP!

Agreeable Thoughts

After targeting the 950B and discovering how precisely it shoots — and how fast those little .22 Shorts exit — I may swap it out for the Model 71 for bike duties. Then again, with the “Heavy” Buffalo Bore .25 load, I wonder how that 21A could handle a charging gray?
Much to think about here and more studying to do, I fear.

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