Trials and Tribulations with a Tomcat.


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shield20
March 20, 2009, 05:59 PM
I bought a used but visibly as-new condition Beretta Tomcat. Quite a different little beast. Overall, I like this piece, but it has not been easy going. Here is why…

1) Grips. Because it was used, I wanted to take the grips off during my 1st cleaning and make sure everything was nice and oiled under there. Not too big a deal IF you know what to watch for. Right grip panel – no problems. The grip panels have a beveled arc-shaped “tab” about 1” wide molded as part of the underside front edge. This tab slides into a matching arced-shaped groove in the front of the grip frame. The panel must slide rearward 1st about an 1/8” to free the tab. Well, being an Inox, the pistol has the extended thumb safety, which extends both under and over the back of the left grip panel, and keeps it from moving back or off freely. This means that in order to get the grip panel off, the thumb safety has to come out too, as the safety effectively ‘latches’ the back of the panel in place while the tab keeps the front of the panel from pulling straight off away from the frame.

Danger #1 is in the safety detent plunger and plunger spring – they are tiny! When the safety is pulled away from the frame, they will spring out once they clear the frame pin they press/work against. The safety easily pulls out, it is the grip that holds it in.

While it is somewhat easy to remove the panel (shooting plunger aside), it is pretty tricky getting it back.

Danger #2 is potential damage to the grips. DO NOT bang the panel straight in (as I did the 1st time). The tab can chip (as mine was already), or the whole panel can/will crack (as mine did eventually). The front of the panel/tab must be slid in slightly from the rear at the same time the rear of the panel is pushed in ALONG with the safety – all while depressing the safety plunger & spring with a crew driver or similiar. Yeesh – sometimes it is easier then others, but it goes eventually.

The panels actually serve other functions, as the 2 sets of recoil springs, spring covers, and recoil bars mount & ride outside each side the frame. The tops of the bars fit into notches on the underside/outside edges of the slide. While the bars won’t just pop off, it doesn’t take much to set them free once the panels are removed. The in-place panels also keep the tops of the bars from pushing/tilting too far forward when the slide is removed. (also note this when replacing grip panels). These bars also get in the way of the grip panel “tabs”, as they form a space with the grip frame that the panel tabs need to fit in.

2) Firing Pin. Danger #3. DO NOT DRY FIRE the Tomcat. I did a few times in the store when trying to decide if I wanted it (without knowing it was a no-no), and who knows who else had. Anyway, after putting on my new grip panels, I test-fired the gun again, and after 4 shots the pin broke. I had already shot about 25 rounds previously. Was it cracked already? Don’t know.

The firing pin is held in place by a small retaining pin. It is shaped like a nail, and gets set in from the top of the slide, punched out from underneath. Getting it out was a REAL bitch. The thin part of the pin that must be punched out is small – less then 1/16” diameter. According to Beretta, a “#2 flat punch” is required. OK. I ended up using a .05 drill bit, sanded short. It took a LOT of banging to get the pin loose. Nothing else was holding it in but friction.

The +/-5/32" dia firing pin has a notch on it (for the retaining pin to pass through), and thins down in diameter twice – once for the firing pin spring and once for the actual striker part. Mine had cracked off at this last transition. I thought it might be a cast part, as it is a brown “blued” color. Not sure really. The new ones are dark blue. Both feel heavy.

Replacing was easy enough, though it took a bit of force to get the retaining pin back in. I ended up using a vise to press it in (using wood and taped over aluminum to protect the slide & pin), instead of more banging. Again it was a TIGHT fit...which was actually good as Beretta recommends staking the pin. Highly doubtful this is required, though I did attempt to use a little Lok-tite just in case – not sure how much was left after getting the pin in though.

3) Beretta. I ordered and received new grips and new firing pins from Beretta (E-store 800 # for firearm techs). Firing Pins were back-ordered, but only took 2 days to get. Grips were supposed to come next day, but also took an extra day to receive. I also ordered an extra safety plunger and spring just in case. Guy I spoke to (Jim) was very knowlegable - he knew the pistol, the parts and the procedures.

OK. Why I still like the Tomcat. Firing pin and grip issues aside… It has been 100% reliable shooting-wise. Cor-Bon 60s, Gold Dot HPs, WW Silvertips, Blazer FMJs, and Remington FMJ all feed & shoot fine. (Noticeable difference to the Cor-Bons – more blast and louder, etc. – I won’t use those for carry).

There is no recoil. Amazing really, but the thing barely moves when firing. I had a Walther .380 way back when and this is much easier to shoot recoil-wise. My 12 yr old had no trouble shooting the pistol.

It is accurate enough – will hit POA when slow firing. Firing quickly is hard for me due to the small silver front sight. I did get better as I shot more rounds. Must practice more!

Ergonomically, it fits my hand pretty well. Tuck the pinky in and it doesn’t feel bad at all. This is one of the major reasons I liked it so much compared to other pocket pistols I was interested in the store.

I like the tip-up barrel - very convenient to load/unload. Easy break down re:slide removal for basic cleaning.

OK - so assuming the firing pin was due to dry firing and not normal firing, (i.e. it won't happen again!!!!), and assuming I don’t plan on taking the grip panels off too often again, the Tomcat is a nice shooter, feels good, and seems reliable. For a limited-use pocket pistol, I think it will do fine.

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makarovnik
March 20, 2009, 06:51 PM
Use a plastic bag when you think springs might go flying.

MaterDei
March 20, 2009, 06:54 PM
Good tip, that. :)

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