Beretta .32 Tomcat


January 30, 2009, 12:27 AM
I've read some comments about the Beretta .32 Tomcat on some other threads, but I would like to start a new thread and get some good discussion on the gun.

I personally, have never fired, or had any experience with the gun. I also, don't really have any desire to get one for myself. I use and carry other "bigger" guns and I won't mention what they are, because I don't want to start a discussion on the merits of those guns. I am interested here, in discussion about the Tomcat.

My interest in the Tomcat is for my wife. She wants a "pocket pistol" as she rarely wears a belt and carrying a holster on her waistband is difficult and uncomfortable. She currently has a Smith and Wesson Airweight .38 revolver, one of the hammerless models, with Crimson Trace grips. I like the gun, it is reliable and I often carry it in my pocket. But, it's a bit bulky for her pockets.

My wife once saw a Beretta .32 Tomcat in a gun store and she absolutely fell in love with the gun! It was smaller than her revolver, fit in her pocket better, and there's one other feature about it that she really loved.

I have tried to get my wife to use small semi-auto pistols before, (I have some and have showed her others in stores), but she has always rejected them, because it is difficult for her to grip the slides and pull them back to chamber that first round. She found the Tomcat's tip up barrel, which allows her to simply press down on that barrel release button, tip up the barrel, load that first round, then press the barrel back down, to be really easy to do and comfortable for her. She felt good about being able to handle this gun. She also likes the double action of this gun, being able to load that first round without the hammer being cocked afterward, and yet still being able to shoot the gun without having to cock it, just like she does her revolver.

So, bottom line, she likes this gun.

My question here is; Those of you, who have used the Tomcat, what has your experiences been and what advise would you give about purchasing one? Also, if you have any experience with the Crimson Trace grips for the Tomcat, what's your opinions on those, with this gun?

Now BEFORE y'all start jumping in here; PLEASE READ THIS:

I am NOT interested in getting into a discussion about the pro's and con's of the .32 as a self defense caliber. I am gun savvy enough to know, the .32 is the low end of the recommended self defense caliber range. If I had my way, I would have her carrying something bigger. But, I prefer she carry "SOMETHING", rather than being unarmed! So, I am really interested in specific comments from anyone, who has actually used/owned a Tomcat and can give me any advise about the gun.


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January 30, 2009, 12:41 AM
My Beretta .32 Tomcat cracked the frame in under 150 rounds. Do some research at google on "Beretta Tomcat cracked frame" ect. Many other people have had issues with cracked frames on Tomcats with low round counts 50 to 200 rounds. I give this gun a big thumbs down.

January 30, 2009, 12:56 AM

Thanks for that info, I'll look into that. I have heard that the Tomcats had several "problems" when they were first introduced, but that many of those have since been fixed. Was yours an early model? Or is this a recent gun and problem?

January 30, 2009, 01:14 AM
IMO the Tomcat has very high recoil for it's size and weight. I would say more than the Keltec P32 (32 acp), but a little less than the P3AT (380 acp).

My tomcat had a strange habbit of partial dissasembly during rapid fire with "hot" ammo. It also developed a crack shortly after 500 rounds.

Accuracy is okay, considering it's size and weight. The slide is difficult to rack, making the tip-up barrel more of a necessity for many people.

I would choose the North American Arms version over the Tomcat. Both are recoil operated pistols, rather than locked breech, like the LCP and Keltecs.

I personally prefer the Keltec P32 (own 4, 2 for me and 2 for the wifey). It weighs less, recoils less, the slide is much easier to rack and the latest version has very useable sights.

Many people poo-poo the P32, because there are a lot of people reporting "lemons". This is true. However, it is also true that Keltec has manufactured more P32s than all other current production 32 acp pistols combined! They have made a rediculous number of those little pistols, and they still back all of them with a lifetime warranty.

Finally, with small pistols, a good way to rack the slide is to present the pistol horizontally, grasp the entire slide with the non-dominant hand and simultaneously pull back on the slide and push forward on the grip. Let the push on the grip pull the other hand off of the gun, letting the slide to sling forward.

January 30, 2009, 01:24 AM

Thanks for the advise. What do you mean by "partial disassembly during rapid fire with hot ammo"? What kind of "hot ammo" were you using? Were those custom reloads? Or, some sort of "hot" factory loads? Could the crack that developed have been caused by extended use of this "hot ammo"?

As for your suggestion about;

"Finally, with small pistols, a good way to rack the slide is to present the pistol horizontally, grasp the entire slide with the non-dominant hand and simultaneously pull back on the slide and push forward on the grip. Let the push on the grip pull the other hand off of the gun, letting the slide to sling forward."

I am fully aware of that technique for racking a slide on a small gun and have tried to teach this to my wife, but she doesn't feel comfortable with having to do that, so I appreciate your suggestion, but I'm still looking at the Tomcat because of it's tip up barrel.

Do you, (or anyone else reading this), know of any other small semi-auto pistols like the Tomcat with a tip up barrel?

January 30, 2009, 01:47 AM
I had a Tom Cat for awhile a dozen years ago. I probably didn't put more than a couple hundred rounds through it. I had no issues with anything other than the fact that the gun didn't like some brands of HP ammo and wouldn't feed it dependably. Don't remember which ones it disliked.

I bought it because I had a Bob Cat (.22LR) which is the same design but a size smaller, and it was/is super dependable with anything I feed it.

You might want to consider the smaller Bob Cat. I know .22 is hardly a defensive caliber but unlike the Tom Cat, it has almost zero recoil and your wife could empty the magazine in a Bob Cat by the time she is ready for her second shot with the .32. It is very accurate too.

January 30, 2009, 02:19 AM

Thanks. Good advise. I'll take that under consideration.

January 30, 2009, 09:26 AM
While the "tip-up" barrel is a nice Beretta feature, IMO, the NAA Guardian is a better .32acp. Unfortunately, it weights about as much as the S&W Airweight. In my experience, learning how to carry is the second most important decision a person needs to make after deciding to carry a concealed handgun. In order to be useful as a self-defense weapon - the firearm must be accessible. Women seem to have the most difficulty with this since their weapon frequently ends up in the bottom of a purse or tucked away in their car. I suggest you encourage your wife to think carefully about her intended mode of carry - then select a firearm that will work. My guess is the Airweight can serve this purpose better than a Beretta .32.

January 30, 2009, 10:20 AM
I bought a new Tomcat last year. Frame cracked after 60 rounds. Beretta replaced it. Replacement pistol cracked after 60 rounds. I was careful to use the proper ammo. Beretta replaced that one with a FS92. Stay away from the blued Tomcats, Inox are supposed to be ok. Recoil is stong.

January 30, 2009, 10:41 AM
I have not used or bought a Tomcat, but almost did a few months ago. I did all the research like you're doing now. It seems the Onox versions are good. No cracking. So if you get one, stick with that version and you'll be OK. They look nicer also, IMO.
I ended up getting a new Bersa .380CC for $300 vs. $400 for the Tomcat I was looking at.

January 30, 2009, 10:42 AM
because it is difficult for her to grip the slides and pull them back to chamber that first round.

Why not teach her to grip to gun in her right hand, then grab the top of the slide with her left and push with her right rather than having to pull back. I've seen this taught to folks who have trouble pulling the slide back and it's MUCH easier.

My wife once saw a Beretta .32 Tomcat in a gun store and she absolutely fell in love with the gun!

That's all you need. It's a quality gun and if she really loves it then ya'll will probably get more time in at the range.

Get the Inox version

January 30, 2009, 11:36 AM
I appreciate the suggestions, folks! I really do, it is helping me to make a more informed decision.

I am a little concerned about all these reports of cracking slides. That doesn't sound good! A couple of you have said the Inox versions don't have a history of doing that? That is one very useful piece of info!

Yes, I know about teaching my wife how to grip the top of the slide and push the bottom of the gun rather than pull the top. Believe me, I have tried, but fellas trust me, my wife ain't stupid, nor is she so uncoordinated that she can't handle a gun, but SOMETIMES she just gets it in her head she "can't do something" and that's the end of the argument! LOL.

I appreciate the comment from Weedmonk about the 2nd most important thing about carrying a gun is learning "how to carry". I am well aware of that and have been "learning" that, myself, for several years and I have a box full of holsters to show for it! LOL.

My wife wears jeans most of the time, without a belt, and usually has her shirt hanging out over her waist. She has tried different waistband holsters, both inside and outside, but without a belt, none of them stay in place very well and are uncomfortable to wear. She uses different types of purses and some of them, (believe it or not fellas, I'm telling the truth here!), are too small to put her Smith in and so, too small for most other guns as well. Besides that, I have encouraged her NOT to carry her gun in her purse, she has left her purse places and had to go back to get it, and it could be "taken" from her. I prefer her to carry it "on her", so she has decided that pocket carry is probably her best option. That's why I'm looking at the Tomcat for her, it's small enough to fit in her pocket well, it's DA on that 1st shot making it safer to carry in her pocket and simplistic to use like her revolver, and she'll have that tip up barrel to load it, a feature that she LOVES.

Anyone have any other comments about the Beretta Tomcat .32?

January 30, 2009, 12:47 PM
I bought a Tomcat about 10 years ago. It is stainless, so probably stronger than blue steel models. Don't know how many rounds, somewhere between 2 to 5 hundred. No problems with cracks in the frame - so, maybe a stainless model is better? It has been a few years since I have shot it, so my memory is not fresh. Don't recall any FTF or "stovepipes". It is pretty heavy for what it is, don't remember any recoil problems.

Hope this helps.

January 30, 2009, 12:51 PM
The tip up barrel is a very cool feature, I think. As I said previously, I don't think you need to worry about the Inox version of this pistol.
I got my Bersa because it was $100 less, and if I remember correctly, the Tomcat I was looking at was used. My usage of the gun is just for around the house, so it would be used very little, so I couldn't see spending the extra hundred. But I still think the Tomcat is a neat pistol.

January 30, 2009, 04:43 PM
When looking for a gun for myself, I had the same concerns your wife had. On paper, the Tomcat looked like the perfect option. I especially liked that I wouldn't have to rack a slide. Along with several other models, I took the Tomcat out on a test run and found that despite the smaller caliber, the recoil was quite significant -- too light weight I guess. I went to a local range that allowed me to try out all types of handguns to get a good feel for how well I could handle them. One gun that is a nice size, easy to handle, and shoots with a good deal of accuracy was the Bersa. I ended up with the Firestorm 380, but they also make a smaller CC model (probably has more kick though).

I also found this very useful resource which helped me rack semis a more confidently. It worked well on the Bersa:

good luck!

January 30, 2009, 06:54 PM
I've had a tomcat for a while now and use it only when a particular situation prevents carrying anything bigger. After a few hundred rounds, an internal problem developed that would not let the sear engage the trigger. I sent it back to beretta and they replaced the gun with an Inox version. I've not had any more problems with it but questionable reliability is always in the back of my mind. I have had problems with rim lock when shooting JHP rounds and would stick with FMJ ammo. I've been told that expansion in JHP isn't significant and penetration is more important in this anemic caliber. The recoil is a lot stiffer than you might expect and I've been 'bitten' by the rearward motion of the slide due to improper hand placement in my grip. A lady friend agrees that a pistol should never be in a purse. "If they get your purse, they have your gun". If I had to do it over again, I'd pass on the tomcat. I would encourage your wife to start wearing a belt and carry her j frame or some other sub compact. There are many out there to choose from that would serve your wife better than the tomcat. In your post, you said she found carrying IWB to be uncomfortable. Someone on this forum once said that while it may be uncomfortable, It should be comforting. Hope this helped.

January 31, 2009, 07:13 AM
The firing pin on my Tomcat fell out (broken) in less than a week and under 100 rounds of use. The gun shop sent it to Beretta and it was repaired for free obviously, but it did shake my confidence in it and cause me to go trade it in toward a S&W M&P360. I liked the gun as far as comfort, for its size it fit in my hands better than most, I hate kel tecs I cant shoot the damn things without dropping the mag, they just dont fit in my hand like the Tomcat did. I didnt feel like it was too snappy or anything for its size. The flip barrel is gimmicky and neat, but also a weak point as it can come loose or develop a little wiggle, not really a huge deal in most cases I have seen but still concerns me personally.

January 31, 2009, 07:44 AM
Nicest feature is tip up barrell. but relibalty issues are too many .I my self carry a seecamp 32. every day .owned all kt .naa. bersa.walther.Seecamp best for my money hands down. try before you by .happy hunting:)

Marlin 45 carbine
January 31, 2009, 07:57 AM
I have a Tomcat I carry when lightly dressed, I've had no problems with. IMO stick with FMJ ammo in the clip and a hot HP in the chamber. recoil is sharp but not severe, so take into consideration that she may need quite a bit of practice to get used to it.
I don't know about the grips, it's a close range gun you know although I get repectable acccuracy at 20' useing the sights I have to hold high, on the edge of the circle to get center hits.
I like it much better than any .25acp I've ever shot.

January 31, 2009, 11:17 AM
My wife has a stainless (Inox) one. Through a thousand rounds or so with no problems. She like it a lot. The one time I tried it, I was very pleasantly surprised with the accuracy of the little thing.

January 31, 2009, 12:25 PM
I think it's fair to say that Beretta has gotten a very mixed review on this pistol. While there are a good many quality .32 autos out there, as the other members here have posted, IMO there are more efficient (read that powerful) rounds out there in packages of comparable size. I've owned a few .32s including a Tomcat that worked flawlessly for me. I got rid of them as well as the .380s I owned because I found that my SIG 239s ( a 9MM and a .40 S&W) were sufficiently small enough to stash in my pocket and packed way more punch. The thing that concerns me about your wife (as well as mine) is their lack of sufficient strength to fully operate pistols in all of their aspects. If I've learned anything about firearms it is that the unexpected occurs at the worst place and at the worst time. Unless you are 100% conversant with the operation of your firearm and have drilled yourself on its operation to the point that you can instinctively put it into play, reload and clear a stoppage (Some folks call the muscle memory) I really don't think an auto is the best option for you. If your wife has to use this weapon in a real life or death emergency and is not fully able to do all of these things the end result could be tragic for her. These types of situations occur quickly and often without warning. The outcome is usually decided in something less than five seconds. How would you like to find out the hard way that she got scared and accidentally dropped the lever that caused the barrel to tip up on the Tomcat? Stick with the short barreled revolver...all she has to remember is point and pull the trigger. My wife carries a S&W 638 loaded with 125 grain Silver Tips...nothing to think about, nothing to remember except point and shoot, packs a hell of a lot better punch than any .32 you ever heard of and weighs less than 16 ounces. If you do decide to go with the auto for God sake...make her practice until she can make it run in her sleep!

January 31, 2009, 12:25 PM
I bought one for my wife after a visit to the local gun shop a couple of years ago. She liked the size, the feel, the looks, and the fact that the tip-up barrel allowed her easy access (she had trouble racking the slide on many of the smaller and midsized semi-autos that we considered).

Long story short: On its first and only trip to the range, the trigger gave up the ghost after 66 rounds and we were not able to get a single magazine through it with some sort of failure: FTE, FTE, etc. The gun went back to Beretta on our dime (thanks very much), they kept it for more than 6 weeks without a word of acknowledgment -- even that they had received it -- and eventually shipped a second Tomcat back to us.

The experience was enough to have us go in a different direction for my wife's pesonal protection.

January 31, 2009, 01:23 PM
Joe: Run away from this gun as fast as you can - especially if it's for your wife.
My first one (blued) got the crack in the frame just below the slide with not even 300 rounds through it. After doing some reading, I asked Beretta to upgrade me to the INOX when I sent it in. They nicely obliged my request. ($$)

As a side note, this gun is NOT fun to shoot. VERY snappy - kind of like a PPK in .380. My hand got sore quickly and my wife was intimidated by it.

Again, at the 200-300 round point I had issues - this time with the trigger. Something called the trigger bar that works in conjunction with the sear and the hammer broke in half.
They replaced the gun with another INOX that I promptly traded in for a NAA Guardian .32acp.
Loved that gun! But a tad heavy, so when I got the opportunity to buy TWO Seecamp LWS-32s dirt cheap, I jumped on it! That's what I now carry in the summer and my wife carries year round. Teaching her how to cock it didn't take long at all and she loves it!

Good luck and happy shooting!

BTW, I REALLY wanted to love the little Beretta as I am a HUGE 92FS and Storm fan! (Carried the M-9 in the AF with nar a hiccup!)

January 31, 2009, 03:27 PM
My "vote" goes FOR this gun: I have nothing but positive things to say about the Beretta 3032 Tomcat (inox).

-- John D.

January 31, 2009, 04:11 PM
Go to the Beretta forum (where they are partial to Beretta pistols) and do a search for Tomcats. I doubt you will buy one after perusing their inputs.

Though I've never owned one, my brother does. On the good side, he reports total satisfaction with his Tomcat. On the (potentially) negative side, he has fired less than fifty or so rounds through it.

Apparently with this pistol, you pays your money, you takes your chances.

February 1, 2009, 04:45 AM
I am a little concerned about all these reports of cracking slides.


It's not the slide that cracks, its the frame. I purchased one for my wife in July of 2007 and the first trip to the range resulted in regular jamming. We were unable to get through a mag without at least one jam. I was checking out some videos on YouTube and I ran across a video of a guy explaining the cracked frame and showing his weapon. Here is a link to the video:

After watching this video I retrieved our Tomcat and discovered that the frame had broken in the same place. It had cracked in less than 50 rounds. :fire: I called Beretta and the guy accused me of using "hot ammo." I was using the Winchester Silver Tip ammo that they recommend in the owners manuel. I returned it to them and they sent an INOX about 6 weeks later. But my wife had lost faith in the gun due to the jamming. And I was unwilling to trust my wife's life to it. I traded the INOX and got her something that she preferred.

I must tell you that I was willing to overlook the cracked frame. Lemmons slip through during production. But the customer service has made me reject Beretta products. After asking if I was using hot ammo, he asked if I was limp risting the gun. .32 acp is the smallest caliber I own. I was not limp risting it. I asked why he was assuming that the cracked frame was my fault in light of the fact that there are so many Tomcat owners complaining about cracked frames. He said that we are all using the wrong ammo. That's when they lost me.

The Tomcat is a POS and I do NOT recommend it. I do have a NAA Guardian .32 and it is a gem; not to mention the fact that the customer service at NAA is awsome.


February 1, 2009, 08:40 AM
I think this particular gun is the Ford Pinto of Beretta. It is simply a bad design. Period. Dot.

February 12, 2009, 11:30 PM
I have blued version with CT grips. Like mine. I shoot the recommended ammo. Eagle fmj and winchester silver tips. no problems. Do have to hold it steady and firm so no ftf's once I mastered that. I have read extensively on the Tomcat and would buy the inox if CT grips are not a must have. I also have a used beretta Jetfire that I picked up for 125 bucks a few months ago. That is really thin and easy to carry but 25 acp. much easier to cock than the Tomcat.

Mark whiz
February 14, 2009, 08:24 PM
Hey now - Don't knock the Pinto................. I had a '73 that was as good of a car a teenager could ever want. And got better gas mileage out of a 2 liter carburated engine than most of the little "green" cars sold today for 10X the price. Wish I still had the old girl.
The Tomcat - it's frame broke and I let the Ex have it in the divorce. :what:

February 15, 2009, 07:07 AM
A couple that I see regularly at the club range decided that a new tomcat was just the thing for her. I was there when they tried it for the first time and the frame cracked and the pistol stopped working in the first box of shells. She tried my P3-AT and decided she could learn to handle it, and that's what she ended up with. Due to her job she has to have something very small.

February 15, 2009, 10:51 AM
Shot one during our ballistics testing of that caliber (, as the "real world" gun for comparison. It was, in a word, brutal to shoot. Worse than my Rohrbaugh 9mm in terms of felt recoil. Didn't strike me as terribly accurate, but that wasn't what we were testing for. My buddy who owns the gun rarely shoots it because it is so unpleasant. I'd suggest that if she is interested in one, see if you can find one for her to shoot before you buy.


February 15, 2009, 04:59 PM
we went with the 32 kel Tec lighter cheaper easy to rack . she carries every day and loves it. Took 18 years and several pistols but made it

February 15, 2009, 08:58 PM
Hey now - Don't knock the Pinto.................

Are you kidding? Have you ever heard the term "crispy critter"?

February 16, 2009, 11:36 AM
If you really have to get one, get the Inox version, it may last a few hundred rounds that way.

I had a blued version and it lasted about 13 rounds before the trigger bar broke - can't say I wasn't warned.

Without question the worst handgun that Beretta has produced in modern times.

February 16, 2009, 02:36 PM
Have you tried to geta BERSA 32 cal. pistol?? My local shop says they don't exist. When I showed them the web site, they said the distributr they use can't get them. Mabey yours can??

February 16, 2009, 02:39 PM
I'm now up to four digits in rounds fired without more than a handful of ammo-related malfunctions...

Mark whiz
February 16, 2009, 09:21 PM
The Crispy Critter was WAY over played SwampWolf.............hell if you hit ANY car from behind at 80 MPH that is likely to happen. And the big recall to "fix" the problem was nothing more than a 1/8 inch thick sheet of ABS plastic - so it couldn't have been a major issue.

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