Beretta’s 21A Bobcat Covert – Bond Approved

Beretta 21A Bobcat Covert

Bond went into his bedroom and took out his two guns and looked at them. Neither was a part of him as the Beretta had been – an extension of his right hand – but he already knew them as better weapons.

― Dr. No (1957)

Ian Fleming introduced the world to James Bond in 1957. Casino Royale set the stage. Sixty-four years later, Bond remains the most popular secret agent in the world. Flemming went on to write another 13 Bond novels. In reading the early novels, it is important to put them in context. The European view of firearms is completely different than the American view. In the first few novels, Bond’s favorite firearm was the Beretta Model 418. The 418 was a very small, pocket auto, chambered in Italian 6.35mm, or .25 ACP. Bond later dumped his 418 for the now infamous Walther PPK.

Bond’s first love was the Beretta 418 in 6.35mm. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Beretta has always made quality micro semi-automatic pistols. The 21A Bobcat, chambered in .22 Long Rifle, was introduced in 1984. It became a favorite because of its size and features. Being in .22, it was economical and fun to shoot. Due to its compact size, and reliability, it also became popular as a backup for law enforcement and a personal defense pocket pistol for the armed citizen. Granted, the .22 LR cartridge is not the ideal caliber for defense, it can be effective at bad breath ranges. A small .22 beats not having a gun at all.

The new 21A Covert features a factory threaded barrel and upgraded stocks.

21A Covert Details

Last year, Beretta introduced the 21A Bobcat Covert with a threaded barrel. The 21A is a very user-friendly pistol with a number of great features. The 21A is a double-action/single-action pistol and has a 1911 style thumb safety. When engaged the safety not only blocks any movement of the hammer but also blocks the operation of the slide. This makes the 21A an extremely safe pistol to carry “cocked and locked.” For those who prefer, the 21A can also be carried hammer down with the first shot being fired double action. One rather unique feature is that the safety can be engaged when the hammer is in the lowered position.

The action on the 21A is a traditional double action/single action design.
The 1911 style thumb safety can be activated when the hammer is in both the cocked and lowered position.
Taking down the 21A for cleaning is very easy. As with other .22 LR pistols, the use of quality ammunition and regular cleaning is essential for reliability.

The 21A is a pure blow back design and does not have a traditional extractor. Should the user have a misfire, or a failure to extract, the round has to be pried out using the tip of a knife or punched out with a cleaning rod or another similar item. When proper preventative maintenance is applied, this should not be an issue. I can generally get through 100 rounds or so before this becomes an issue. Using a plated .22 round can improve reliability and reduce fouling.

The 21A features an aluminum frame and the grip is large enough to allow two full fingers on the front strap. The backstrap has a slight arch that fits the palm while a small extension prevents hammer bite. In typical European fashion, the magazine release button is located on the side of the left grip. Beretta upgraded the Covert with attractive wood stocks that are checkered and have finger reliefs for the thumb and trigger finger. The standard magazine holds seven rounds.

The rear of the backstrap is serrated and the new stocks provide ample gripping surface, even for those with large hands.
The tip-up barrel is a unique feature that allows for the user to chamber or remove a round without manipulating the slide.

The open top slide is a design Beretta is known for. Perhaps the most unique feature, that has made the 21A so popular, is the tip-up barrel design. By activating a lever on the left side of the frame, the user can tip the barrel up, exposing the chamber. This allows the user to load or unload the chamber without having to manipulate the slide. As expected, the sights on the 21A are nominal sights. The single-action measured 5 lbs./13 oz. on my Lyman electronic trigger gauge. The double-action exceeded the 12 pound limit on my gauge.

The width, at the stocks, is 1.3” and the Covert, with an empty magazine, weighs in at 13.4 ounces. It is large enough to shoot better than some other micro .22 autos while still being extremely concealable. For those users who want to reduce the thickness, they can install the older plastic stocks. The trigger guard is ample size for most shooters and the face of the trigger is smooth. While our test pistol was the black model, Beretta is also offering the 21A Covert in FDE.

The little 21A represents made-in-the-US Beretta quality.

Covert Quiet Range Time

The 21A ate every load we fed it. We had no reliability issues as long as we cleaned the chamber every 100 rounds or so.
It made no sense to shoot a suppressor-ready pistol without a suppressor. For most of the testing, we ran a Silencerco Sparrow 22 suppressor. This group was shot from five yards using the top of the suppressor as an index point.

The 21A Covert comes from the factory with a threaded barrel. It is always a good sign when a major manufacturer recognizes the suppressor community and offers suppressor-ready guns. I tested the 21A with three excellent loads from CCI and one from Wolf. The chart below shows the results of our test.

Beretta 21A Bobcat Covert
 ManufacturerLoadAverageAccuracy
CCIStandard Velocity 40 gr8472.6”
CCISubsonic 40 gr.8562”
CCISuppressor 45 gr. HP7762.8”
WolfMatch 40 gr.8061.75”
Velocity measured at 10 ft/Accuracy 3 yards
The Silencerco 22 Sparrow is a very effective suppressor and was ideal for range testing.

For the majority of our tests, I ran my first generation Silencerco Sparrow 22 suppressor. The Sparrow 22 is a monocore design that features their patented Multi-Part Containment system. For those not familiar with the MPC, the design has two half tubes that lock around the monocore. This MPC contains all of the carbon and debris making the removal and cleaning of the monocore significantly easier. The design also allows the user to go longer periods between cleaning. Needless to say, the combination of the 21A Covert and the Sparrow 22 worked very well. However, the Sparrow is a little over five inches in length which adds significantly to the overall size of the package. So, is there another option?

GSL Pill Box

I reached out to Greg Latka, the founder and owner of GSL Technologies. Greg is no stranger to the suppressor industry, having been in the industry since 1985. He was President of GEMTECH for over 20 years and holds numerous patents. While at GEMTEC, Latka was asked to design a micro covert suppressor for the .22 LR. The result was the infamous GEMTECH Pill Bottle. GSL Pill Box 22

The GSL Pill Box is a descendent of the GEMTECH Pill Bottle. It is a wipe design that is only 1.44’ in length. It has a slip ring to attach it to a keychain.
To further conceal the true purpose, a Caduceus is engraved on one side.

The GSL Pill Box is the latest iteration of the original design. The Pill Box is truly a micro covert suppressor that is ideal for a small host like the 21A Covert. The Pill Box is only 1.44” in length and has a diameter of .93”. The internals of the Pill Box consists of a single wipe that provides approximately 24 db of sound reduction. In order to disguise the true intent of the Pill Box, it features a key chain slip ring that screws into the threads, concealing the attachment point. To further conceal the true purpose, a Caduceus is engraved on one side. On the other side are the required ATF markings that include the manufacturer’s name, logo, city, state, caliber, and serial number.

Being a wipe design, the Pill Box is extremely efficient for its size. According to GSL, the wipe will last approximately 50 rounds before a replacement is called for. Due to ATF regulations, end-users that do not have a 07 manufacturer’s license are not permitted to possess “suppressor parts” including extra wipes. Owners that possess the Pill Box, on a standard Form 4, can send the suppressor directly back to GSL for reconditioning.

Given the long wait for ATF Form 4s to clear, and editorial deadlines, Greg was kind enough to send me a dummy, non-functioning, Pill Box for photo purposes.

Covert Carry

The 21A Covert is one of those pistols that are perfect for deep carry. I reached out to my friend, Josh Bulman, and asked him to design me an ankle rig that would accommodate both the 21A and the Pill Box suppressor. Josh’s ankle rig features a contoured leather cuff that is backed by dense wool felt. The retention strap runs through a “D” ring that takes the pressure off the Velcro. All of Bulman’s ankle rigs are stitched and molded for the specified pistol. When combined with the tension of the cuff, the rig provides solid retention of the pistol the need of straps. The entire package, with the 21A and the Pill Box, weighs in at a mere 21 ounces. Bulman Gunleather

Josh Bulman created this custom ankle holster for the 21A Covert and the GSL Pill Box

Final Thoughts

Overall, the little Berretta proved to be fun to shoot and, after more than 200 rounds of various loads, proved to be 100% reliable. Certainly, I would recommend running a brush through the barrel after each range trip to keep the chamber clean and ensure reliable extraction and ejection. The only negative observation is that the bottom edge of the trigger is sharper than I would like.

The 21A Covert is one of those pistols that begs to be carried and shot. It is fun and reliable. The fun is doubled with a suppressor, making it a good thing that .22 LR is back to being affordable. From a practical perspective, while not my first choice, it can serve as a viable personal defense pistol in certain circumstances.

I commend Beretta for answering the demand, from many suppressor owners, and I predict that this will be a top seller. For additional information on all Beretta products, go to Beretta US.

Beretta 21A Bobcat Covert Specifications
Caliber22. Long Rifle
Weight13.4 oz.
Length5.5”
Height3.7”
Barrel Length2 7/8”
Magazine Capacity7
ActionDouble/Single Action
MSRP$529.00

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{ 15 comments… add one }
  • Mad Mac August 13, 2021, 9:10 am

    Often said of real estate but equally applicable to firearms:
    There are only two stories; the one I should have bought
    and the one I should have kept.

    Once I owned a .22 Bobcat and then a .25 Jetfire Beretta.
    Regretfully, I sold them both.

  • KimberproSS August 12, 2021, 11:38 am

    I carry a 21A in a pocket holster in the summer months if I don’t wear a loose fitting shirt. Any self defense encounter is a wildcard on the outcome. I know the hardcore self defense people want as much power as possible and that may not work. My thinking though is the majority of those self defense encounters will end with the presentation of the firearm or after the first hit on the assailant, regardless of caliber. That assailant will likely not expect being shot (It hurts) and with that first hit will stop and run. Of course as the victim, I will pull the trigger as many times as I need to stop the threat. So, a .22 LR is OK for me sometimes.

  • Lee Thomas August 10, 2021, 11:44 am

    Would love this in a 9mm, not much use for 22

  • Matt Watson August 9, 2021, 6:29 pm

    Subsonic ammo is not necessary for such a short barrel. I fire “high velocity” (~1250fps) from a 5.5″ 22 without their “cracking off.”

  • Ken August 9, 2021, 3:34 pm

    Cute. Let me know when they can do at least a .380 (if doable)… a tip up 9mm (if doable) would sell like hotcakes.

  • LJ August 9, 2021, 3:18 pm

    I’ve actually been thinking about a threaded barrel for my G44 but this would be a cool little alternative. I used to own a Beretta 21A and it was a very well made little gun. But at over $500 I’m wondering if Beretta made the right decision on this one. I’ll pass …

    • Ej harbet August 13, 2021, 6:26 pm

      I recommend the g44 threaded barrel. Mine is excellent and very polite,lol

  • Jim August 9, 2021, 10:20 am

    I have a .32 Tomcat, a .25 950B, and a .22 948. They are all awesome firearms, and I do carry them, mostly the Tomcat. I wish Beretta would make a pocket 9mm with the tip-up barrel design, or even a .380. I’m familiar with the Nano and the Pico, but they never impressed me. Now, a tip-up barrelled 9mm pocket gun from Beretta… yeah, that would be worth $530. A .22… not so much.

    • Whine E Reader August 9, 2021, 1:03 pm

      Beretta already made a .380 ACP with a tip up barrel, the Model 86 Cheetah. It is similar to the more common single stack M85 variant with the exception of a barrel release that allows the breech to pivot up for loading the chamber, presumably to aid those with issues charging the pistol via the slide.
      As for a 9mm version, that would be an engineering challenge given that most 9mm pistols require a locking mechanism to delay the opening of the slide. Not saying it’s impossible, but given that pistols like the S&W Shield EZ exist, which achieve a similar end without a novel barrel/delay design, and the fact that the 86 didn’t sell well enough to be in production past the early 2000s, I doubt Beretta or any other maker will bring a tip up 9mm to market any time soon.

  • Nicky J August 9, 2021, 8:27 am

    Not a bad pistol if ya live out in farm land or just for home defense while going for your shot gun, as the old saying something is better then nothing. but $530.00…If it were a 22Magnum maybe? You could buy Two $260.00 380Acp or One $290.00 9mm pistol. Just saying…..Happy Trails Y’all

  • Christian M Willey August 9, 2021, 7:42 am

    I am an FFL licensee.
    8-51-0005-01-2E-00358
    Please send info the Bobcat21A Beretta
    I have an original .22 cal an original .25 cal and an original.32 cal. But would be interested in the threaded barrel model in all calibers if they are available

    • Matt Watson August 9, 2021, 6:32 pm

      Why do you feel the need to display your FFL # publicly? I think you should check it again, though–it has an extra digit.

      • Yep yep August 10, 2021, 9:20 am

        Some people like to feel special…..

  • Mike in a Truck August 9, 2021, 7:15 am

    Women don’t swoon much anymore. I guess its being bred out of them or maybe its cause girlie men are incapable of making it happen. Theres 3 guys in modern history that could make women swoon. Frankie Sinatra, Tom Jones and myself. Not because Im much in the looks or talent department. I own a Bobcat 21A stainless with Altamont rosewood grips. Oh yeah….they gonna swoon.

    • Garrett Rob August 9, 2021, 10:54 am

      😎😎😎 thanks for the comment!

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