Sunday, February 22, 2015

Shaken not stirred - The Beretta 3032 Tomcat

  • Roberta X has a post up earlier this weekend about a nifty "improper lady's gun" she picked up at the Tri State gun show - a .25 Beretta 418 which got me thinking about this little back up piece.

The .32acp was a standard police round in Europe for decades, and is still seen around in small, inexpensive pocket pistols in the US and elsewhere.  One of those is the Beretta 3032 Tomcat is a simple blowback pistol with a single and double action mechanism. Fitted with a frame mounted thumb safety, it's small but it's not crafted cheaply. The frame is aluminum alloy, and the slide and barrel are either carbon or stainless steel though the grip material is plastic. It is available in an "Inox" variant, with stainless steel barrel and slide and the frame anodized to look the same.

For a short time a titanium model was also available. It's been reported that only 1,500 of the titanium models were made, but I was not able to verify that.
There was also a Tomcat Tritium version with tritium night sights.

The 9 mm is often pointed to as the minimum caliber for serious defensive uses and for good reason. I'm one of many who consider that too small. For home defense, I have a .45 with hollowpoints. In concealed carry, unless clothing prevents otherwise, I carry a .45 while traveling in areas I might need it, and 9 mm otherwise. 9 mm, compared to the .45, is smallish and the .32 acp, in comparison, has about half the power of the 9 mm. It's a 70 grain slug at about 850 fps. Not man stopper. Perhap's not even a man-slower, if they are high on drugs.

On the other hand, it's a small hideout pistol, meant to be quite the little surprise when you pull it out of your pocket holster or small bag. Draw, fire until the bad guy is distracted or down, and run like hell. Perfect for slipping in your pocket if you're running to the corner store. Or for deep cover concealment when nothing else is available.

One feature on the Tomcat (which I believe was adopted by Taurus) is the 'tip up' barrel. (meaning the barrel can be released to pivot on a pin under the muzzle).This feature allows a round to be inserted into the chamber directly, without manipulation of the slide. Likewise, the chamber can be easily inspected for its load status. Ammunition companies have also improved on the .32 acp load, by making it in 60 grain hollow-point. CorBon is making some serious kick-butt defensive ammo for the .32 acp. It's not .45 or 9 mm but it's a step up.

To load the pistol, insert a loaded magazine. Then, you can chose to rack the slide OR push a lever and tip the rear of the barrel up, exposing the chamber. You drop in a loaded round, push the barrel back into place, and the weapon is loaded. The slide never need be operated, and the hammer need not be cocked as a result. Since it's a double action pistol (like my trusty Sig), the shooter can just squeeze the trigger to fire. Also easy for people with weak hand/arm strength to load.

So what about accuracy? Don't expect a
whole lot, it has a very short barrel and small, all matte sights - notch in the rear and a blade up front with no dots to line up. But then again, not a real issue, the piece is meant for close range work where there won't be a lot of opportunity for aiming. But it's quite accurate for it's size, even with the little sights.

Ladies, you may find the DA trigger a bit heavy, though I prefer it to the .32 Kel-Tec's trigger pull. SA is fine. With the blowback, recoil is snappy for it's size, but more than manageable. If you have small hands, this works well. People with large hands may only get a couple fingers around the grip, and if you have larger hands like I, there's a chance of slide-bite. You can add a stock with a large palm swell as an alternative.

Another drawback, other then the firing power, The pistol lacks an extractor, relying upon the expanding gasses to force the spent casing rearward. This means that racking the slide will not remove either unspent or defective cartridges. This can lead to complications in a self defense situation, but is often balanced out by the tip-up barrel. There have also been some design issues, with reported frame cracking and failure to feed. This gun has not experienced it, and has been nothing but reliable.

By American standards, underpowered, though I'm sure many of you can relay stories of how it was quite lethal. In my opinion though, in self defense I prefer the 9 mm and most definitely the .45.

For me, if there's an imminent threat to my life, the .32 is one step above "Look. . a Squirrel!"

Yet there are times this gun might come in handy. Certainly, if I was a criminal, I'd give pause if I was looking at this, as opposed to no gun.

There are better concealed options, but if you have you mind on one of these as an ultra small concealed option there are others you might look at as well. Kel-tec is one. Compared to it, the Beretta is a bit large and thick. But I didn't like the Kel-tec near as well, for feel in my hand and looks alone. It felt like a little plastic squirt gun to me though a partner at work loves his Kel-tecs. On the other hand, it's light, it's thinner and their customer support is really good. If you're buying, try out both. Look and feel and comfort are important in any gun that may, on a given day, be a concealed piece for you.

But, for tiny pocket pistols, I'd stick with the Tomcat. It's better than an unkind word, and almost as easy to carry. It's so small and light it would be easy to lose it in a purse (it's less than 1 pound) so make sure you have a purse with a built in holster for stability and easy access (perhaps my readers could suggest one).  It's also  good for clothing that's snug as well. Keep it clean (it doesn't like lint) and lightly lubed, feed it some nice Silvertips, Gold Dots and Federal HS JHP's, house it in a nice pocket holster and you'll have a another friend for life.

I miss you Barkley.


  1. I don"t how do you know when you will not need a .45 Cal. in a 9mm zone? Do we now have zones for bad boys? My wife felt my CCW weapon in Church one Sunday and ask if I really had to carry in Church so now I ask her do you know I will need the weapon when leave the house and after we see so many Church shootings she understands our minister also is armed every where he goes.

  2. Good post, and you're right A gun is better than NO gun. As for as carry purses, the Gun Goddess site has a nice selection-

  3. How many rounds have you put thru the Tomcat?


  4. Merle - it's had a couple hundred rounds through it, no frame cracking, and pretty dependable but I prefer my Sig 232 as a BUG.

  5. I thought, for a moment, that the pictures were of mine....

    'cause ya know, that is my bear gun.....

    All I have to do is shoot the guy next to me in the knee and run like hell while HE deals with the bear..

    I carry one where I cannot easily or socially carry my .45. Some gun is better than no gun. It is easier to conceal than my TCP or any other pistol I own. It is not as easy for me to shoot, because I have larger hands, but I can use it, and shoot well enough to defend myself or others.

  6. When using something smaller than 9mm, the real key is practice...lots of practice. Start with a tennis ball, then a baseball, and finally a 13" (men's league) softball. Once you're proficient throwing those for velocity and accuracy, you may be able to do the same with a .32 ACP pistol in a tight scrape.

    Full disclosure: OK, OK, I do have a Seecamp clone flea-swatter.

  7. They've pulled .32s out of people skulls without full penetration. My buddy carries a Tomcat. It's also a play on his name. I tell him it makes for a good fist weight after you've emptied it and you're hand to hand. You will be.

  8. I have one of the Inox Tomcats, myself. Nice pistol but, as you say, underpowered. Can't always carry a full-power .45, though.

  9. I LIKE the iPad concealed carry cases at Gun Goddesses website in Old NFO's link above. Very nice!

  10. I've owned and loved both 1911's and other .45acp's, but in the end I had t o admit that they no longer loved my aging and arthritic thumbs. It got to be no fun to go to the range and shoot 45 for practice, and then have my hands ache all night. But with 9mm, I don't have that problem. So I stepped down in caliber, and up in capacity.

  11. There is a neurosurgeon in Rochester, who is a very experienced firearms owner. He maintains that once you get above a 9 mm in caliber it is placement more than the size of the bullet that counts. My opinion of a .22 or .32 for self defense is you may as well be throwing rocks at an agitated grizzly bear. What I carry depends a lot on what I'm wearing. I have everything from compression shirts, holsters, to a purse/holster. I have a S&W 686 Plus, a S&W M&P Shield in 9 mm, a Sig P220, and a couple of others. For jeans and a shirt with a vest or jacket, I carry my Shield on a clip holster. I do own a Glock but when my life is on the line, I trust S&W or Sig Sauer.

  12. I carried a Tomcat for a long time, sold it, regretted it, bought another one years later and then the Glock 42 came out. I sold my second Tomcat to buy the Glock and haven't regretted it (yet). What I loved about the Tomcat was that it was small enough to "stash" in the car. I carried it in the net portion of a CD carrier that strapped to my sun visor.

  13. Buffalo Bore makes a pretty hot 32 acp, it is another one to try.

  14. Hmmmm... At least according to Wikipedia, the .22LR can be more energetic than .32 ACP; by about 15%. And Beretta does make the similar Bobcat. Any other suggestions for a deep concealment .22LR auto?

  15. Charlie Foxtrot, I'm a little late to this party but I've had a .22LR Bobcat for many many years now. I've lost count of the number of 500 round bricks that little gun has digested at the range (back when .22 was readily available at Big Box Stores).

    It has been 100% reliable with CCI Stingers loaded but bulk ammo can cause some issues with stove piping and failures to eject.


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