“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.“
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.
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.
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 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 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.
Covert Quiet Range Time
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|
|CCI||Standard Velocity 40 gr||847||2.6”|
|CCI||Subsonic 40 gr.||856||2”|
|CCI||Suppressor 45 gr. HP||776||2.8”|
|Wolf||Match 40 gr.||806||1.75”|
|Velocity measured at 10 ft/Accuracy 3 yards|
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 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.
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
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|
|Caliber||22. Long Rifle|
|Barrel Length||2 7/8”|