Every week I feature a gun from my collection. This week it is a Beretta 21a in .25. You can see all the previous gun of the week posts here. I bought this gun at my local favorite gun dealer a few years ago for $225. This is the gun I carry when I need to quickly arm myself. I throw it into a pocket in a pocket holster. In the summer, when wearing a thin t-shirt and shorts, I will be carrying this gun. I use defense ammo in this gun to increase the damage, it may incur because of the small caliber. Note: my regular carry gun is it’s big brother, the Beretta 92FS, a former gun of the week.
The Beretta 21A Bobcat is a small pocket-sized semi-automatic pistol designed by Beretta in Italy. Production began in late 1984, solely in the Beretta U.S.A. facility in Accokeek, Maryland. It is a further development of the Beretta Model 20, whose production ended in 1985.
The Beretta 21A Bobcat is available chambered for either .22 LR or .25 ACP (6.35 mm) ammunition. It has a simple blowback operation, with a single and double action trigger mechanism, and exposed hammer. It has a magazine release button in the left side grip, located between the grip retaining screws. The frame is made out of aluminum alloy; the slide and barrel are either carbon steel or stainless steel, depending on the model. Beretta claims that the pistol is intended for off duty police and pistol carry permit holders that seek a highly concealable, but reliable pistol. Thus in effect, the handgun is designed for self defense.
One defining feature of this pistol is the ‘tip-up’ barrel. The barrel pivots on a pin under the muzzle so that the chamber may be loaded with the slide in the closed position. It is released by a lever on the left side of the frame, above the trigger. This simplifies loading, unloading, and checking load status, as the slide can be difficult for some people to retract by hand.
Also, the Bobcat was designed without an extractor, relying on pressure from the expanding gases of the fired cartridge to simply blow spent cases from the chamber. This makes it particularly sensitive to choice of ammunition relative to dependable operation.
The weapon design creates a unique ejection path. Instead of ejecting spent brass to the side as do most semi-automatic hand guns, the Bobcat ejects the spent brass backwards and up, usually over the head of the shooter, but occasionally striking the head of the shooter or entering the front of the shooter’s shirt.
Most styles of CCI or Federal brand .22 LR high velocity cartridge work well. Many users prefer CCI’s hyper velocity Velocitor or Stinger ammunition. Federal Spitfire does not function well, as it is slightly shorter than a standard cartridge. Most brands of FMJ (full metal jacketed) ammunition function well in the .25 ACP version.
The Bobcat 21A is available in either .22 LR with 7 round magazine capacity or .25 ACP (6.35 mm) with 8 round magazine capacity. The .22 LR version is currently available in either matte black (Beretta’s “Bruniton” finish) or stainless steel (“Inox”) versions. The .25 ACP model is available in black only.
In the .22 LR “Inox” version (introduced in 2000 only the barrel and slide are stainless steel, and the alloy frame has a matte light gray Bruniton coating. The remainder of the gun is unchanged.