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Beretta 21A Bobcat: For Backyard Bunnies

Nothing quite grabs our imaginations faster than a miniature, murdery pistol. It brings forth visions of Mossad agents doing wet work with secreted-away pistols in unusual places. While traditionally the Mossad was known for using another pizza pistol, the Beretta 70 threaded in 0.50x20mm, it doesn’t take too much imagination to see the 21A as a viable kissing cousin. When an Iranian nuclear scientist is found dead with a pair of small holes in their head, the Beretta Bobcat could easily be involved.

First introduced in the mid ’80s, the Beretta 21A Bobcat is a coveted possession for many. While technically the 21A is offered in both 25ACP and 22LR, we don’t know anyone this side of 60 who uses one in anything other than 22LR. Over the last three decades, there were several in-line updates mostly concerning tooling and material engineering, but this one saw the most changes without making it an entirely new pistol. But really, we’re mostly talking about that factory-threaded barrel (watch their SHOT 2020 video here).

Prior to this release, if you wanted to suppress this pocket rocket, you’d either have to get a custom adapter made or purchase a new barrel entirely. Because the outer diameter is so small, and because the barrel doesn’t protrude much, an adapter threaded in ½-28mm would typically be permanently attached by threading the barrel in a proprietary pitch for a flush fit. The cost of this service varies, but it’s somewhere in the realm of $150.

Instead of going the adapter route, Beretta machines the new 21A barrels as a single piece. A lot of the aftermarket work is exceptionally well done, but no longer will you have to spend the extra time and effort to have your own suppressed prison pocket pistol.

In addition to the OEM threaded barrel, Beretta added some new Cerakote and premium grip panel options. People were asking for all of this, and Beretta listened.

Initially, the plan was for these newer Bobcats to be released in Q2 of 2020, but then COVID-19 hit — and it hit Italy especially hard. Beretta still intends for a 2020 release, but we’ll look for them on the shelves somewhere near the end of the year.


The Beretta 21A is a blowback single-stack SA/DA pistol. The trigger breaks on our example at 4 pounds, 12 ounces in single-action and a long, hefty 8 pound, 11 ounces with a full double-action pull. The frame-mounted safety is only on the left side and is easily disengaged by the firing hand; rendering the firearm safe takes a little more contortion. The magazine release is the opposite of ergonomic and placed on the lower-left side of the grip, emblematic of weirdo European guns produced during that era.

The sights, if you can even call them that, consist of a too-thin front blade and a scallop with a notch serving as a rear. A precision pistol it ain’t. The trigger guard is large enough to be operated with gloved hands, but the grip’s so stubby you’ll be lucky to get two fingers around it.

The 21A has a fixed ejector and strangely, no extractor. The Bobcat relies on the gas expansion from the fired round to eject the spent case. Some may find this arrangement temperamental when it comes to ammunition, but that’s largely the case with any sort of blowback rimfire firearm.

The standout feature of the Beretta 21A is the tip-up barrel. A lever above the trigger on the left side is pushed forward and the spring-loaded barrel instantly pops up, giving direct access to the chamber. Beretta added this feature because the slide is small and exceptionally difficult to manipulate, especially when the hammer’s forward.

The tip-up barrel makes the 21A a breeze to load, check status, and render safe. The loading method we found works best was to insert a full magazine, tip up the barrel, and individually insert a single round into the chamber. Administrative unloading is performed in reverse order.


Clearly, this pistol is begging for a silencer, and we were quick to accommodate. One of the smallest possible packages comes in the form of Gemtech’s Pill Bottle or GSL Pill Box (see CONCEALMENT Issue 14). A grease-packed Bowers Bitty isn’t much larger and is quite effective with subsonic ammunition, but still we went further down the rabbit hole.

How about a legally registered homemade silencer built from a Maglite — and that still works as a flashlight? Yes indeed (see RECOIL Issue 46 for more homemade silencers).

beretta 21a flashlight flash hider
We used a C-cell Maglite and a solvent trap kit for the guts. This Maglite doesn’t have a button but instead twists to turn on. A Dollar Tree flashlight was gutted and glued into the head button cell batteries and all, and some copper conductive tape serves as a rudimentary twist-on switch. In a pinch it can even be used as a silencer with the flashlight head attached, but we don’t want to put rounds through our electrical efforts unless it’s some actual James Bond sh*t.

No, it’s not going to fool anyone with an X-ray machine, but it’s damned innocuous.


Installation of even the smallest diameter silencer will block the sights, but as previously mentioned, there are practically no sights to speak of anyway. This is very much a shoot-from-two-feet pocket pistol. Even though the 21A is known for being temperamental with ammunition, our example ate CCI and Gemtech subsonic ammunition like a steak dinner, and the increased backpressure from the suppressor aided in robust ejection. Running unsuppressed with dismally cheap Remington Golden Bullets resulted in inconsistent ejection, but we’ve yet to find a semiauto that functions perfectly with that ammunition.


Pricing is still TBD as Beretta (along with everyone else) unravels their pandemic supply lines but it should be somewhere in the realm of $600, give or take $50. While Beretta initially marketed the 21A Bobcat in the mid ’80s as a self-defense pistol, there’s no way we’ll advocate that use-case. The ergonomics are dated at best, the sub 2.5-inch barrel means terrible ballistics with any sort of ammunition, and hell, it’s a 22LR. And yet, this is just a damned cool piece.

The real draw here is having fun cosplaying Mossad on the range, or perhaps some real offensive use — if your job description includes field assassination.

You can visit Beretta online here

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