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Beretta .32 Tomcat

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by JoefromTN, Jan 30, 2009.

  1. JoefromTN

    JoefromTN Active Member

    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.

  2. Runningman

    Runningman Well-Known Member

    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.
  3. JoefromTN

    JoefromTN Active Member


    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?
  4. gazpacho

    gazpacho Well-Known Member

    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.
  5. JoefromTN

    JoefromTN Active Member


    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?
  6. owlhoot

    owlhoot Well-Known Member

    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.
  7. JoefromTN

    JoefromTN Active Member


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

    Weedmonk Well-Known Member

    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.
  9. paradox998

    paradox998 Well-Known Member

    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.
  10. wbwanzer

    wbwanzer Well-Known Member

    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.
  11. MikeS63301

    MikeS63301 Active Member

    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.

    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
  12. JoefromTN

    JoefromTN Active Member

    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?
  13. LlanoEstacado

    LlanoEstacado Well-Known Member

    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.
  14. wbwanzer

    wbwanzer Well-Known Member

    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.
  15. Loolaw

    Loolaw Member

    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: http://www.corneredcat.com/RunGun/rack.aspx

    good luck!
  16. glassman

    glassman Well-Known Member

    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.
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2009
  17. Rushifell

    Rushifell Active Member

    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.
  18. mrt949

    mrt949 Well-Known Member

    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:)
  19. Marlin 45 carbine

    Marlin 45 carbine Well-Known Member

    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.
  20. 420Stainless

    420Stainless Well-Known Member

    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.

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