The Beretta Tomcat – Micro-Sized Bite

Authors Gun Reviews Handguns Travis Pike

Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

I have a soft spot in my heart for DA/SA guns. I have always enjoyed the DA/SA action and design. Some of my favorite guns include the various hammer-fired CZs, the S&W 3rd Generation guns, the Walther P99, and, of course, the Beretta 92FS. I was issued an M9 during my time in the Marine Corps and loved the beat-up old blaster. This love of DA/SA guns has brought me to the smallest of DA/SA guns, the Beretta tip-up series, specifically the Beretta 3032 Tomcat. 

The 3032 Tomcat is the second smallest centerfire DA/SA gun currently in production. The only other option is the Beretta 21A in 25 ACP. It’s also the only 32 ACP DA/SA gun currently being produced. The micro-sized Beretta keeps that famed Beretta appearance, specifically the open slide design and exposed barrel. The Tomcat is a pocket-sized pistol with a fairly unique degree of features. It’s certainly not another KelTec P3AT clone. The Tomcat is an interesting pistol. It’s a gun I like and enjoy, but it is also a gun I wouldn’t recommend to most shooters. 

Inside the Beretta Tomcat 

While this gun keeps the classic Beretta look, it doesn’t use the Beretta short recoil operating mechanism but a direct blowback design. One of the more unique features of the Beretta Tomcat kind of forces the gun to be a direct blowback design. The Tomcat is a tip-up barrel design. When you press a small lever on the side of the gun, the barrel pops up and out of the gun. This exposes the chamber and allows you to directly load a round into the chamber. 

The Beretta Tomcat with barrel tipped up outside on wooden platform
The Tip-Up barrel design makes loading the chamber easy

It’s often touted as a great feature for people with reduced hand strength. You don’t have to manually operate the slide. However, the double-action trigger is extremely long and quite heavy. If you have weak hand strength, then it’s likely going to be quite difficult to pull the double-action trigger. There is still some value in the tip-up barrel for most shooters. The slide on the Tomcat is exceptionally small and difficult to manipulate. 

Tip-Up Barrel

Additionally, the tip-up barrel is somewhat of a necessity since the gun does not have an extractor. The Tomcat relies on the blowback action to eject the case. If the gun fails to extract, you have to pop the barrel up to remove the round. The same goes for clearing the weapon. You can’t rack the slide to eject the live round. 

Beretta Tomcat side angle with logo and grip easily visible set on wooden post
It’s a tiny gun, impressively so for a DA/SA design

Loading the chamber also makes life a little easier since the gun lacks a decocker. You can load the chamber without having to worry about the gun cocking into single action. If you do need to decock the weapon, there is a safe way to do so. You can drop the hammer with the barrel tipped upwards. Hit the barrel lever, and then ride the hammer forward. 

The Intricacies of the Tomcat

The Beretta 3032 Tomcat is pint-sized but still fairly bulky. The barrel is 2.4 inches long, and the gun’s overall length is 4.92 inches. The Tomcat is 3.7 inches tall. That’s all fairly small, but the 3032 is 1.1 inches wide, making it wider than 9mm guns like the P365, which also holds more ammunition. The gun itself weighs 14.5 ounces. It’s still a pocket pistol. It’s just a bit thick. 

We have a frame-mounted manual safety that can be used on either double or single-action modes. The Beretta 3032’s safety is not a drop-safe design. It doesn’t block the firing pin. The weapon should be carried with the hammer down for safety’s sake. You could carry it cocked and locked, but that doesn’t seem advisable. The magazine holds seven rounds, and you can easily pop one in the chamber. 

Beretta handgun with PMC ammunition
The Tomcat can be ammo-picky, mostly because if it’s too hot the gun can break.

The gun comes with a big piece of paper that states you cannot use ammunition that exceeds 129 foot-pounds. The very small and lightweight Tomcat cannot take the pressure of hotter .32 ACP loads. If you use loads that exceed 129 foot-pounds of energy, then you can crack the frame or slide of the gun. 

Most American 32 ACP loads won’t exceed this pressure level. PMC, Remington, and Winchester are fine. Aguila is also fine. I’d stay away from Fioochi and Pvri Partisan loads. You have to be very selective with your ammunition selection. 


The Tomcat has some odd ergonomics. A short and fat grip is quite comfy. The plastic grips are nicely textured and feel good in the hand. The little hump at the rear is supposed to protect your hand, but it doesn’t work well for me. Lots of slide here. The lever for the tip-up barrel is easy to reach and reacts instantly. 

The safety on Beretta's Tomcat handgun
The Manual safety isn’t a firing pin block, so it’s not drop-safe when carried locked and cocked.

The frame-mounted safety is also very nice and clicks up and down without complaint. The magazine release is oddly placed on the grip. It’s a big button on the rear bottom. It’s functional, but you won’t reload quickly, especially since the magazines do not drop free. 

Taking the Tomcat For a Walk 

Shooting the Tomcat is an interesting experience. Most of us expect a lot of recoil from a gun this small, especially when it’s blowback operated. However, the 3032 Tomcat is fairly soft shooting. It’s very loud but is soft shooting and comfortable. The fat bottom grip must certainly help. Where you can run into a little pain is slide bite. The gun can take a chunk out of your hand if you hold it a little too high. Avoid that because it does hurt. 

Beretta Tomcat sitting with extra loaded magazine on human palm
The tiny Tomcat doesn’t bite hard in the recoil department.

The minimal recoil makes it easy to shoot the gun quickly and accurately at close ranges. You can spit some pretty rapid double taps with the weapon. It’s also super easy to shoot with one hand, more so than most other pocket pistols. While the grip is quite small, you can get a good two-handed grip on the gun for maximum control. 

Shooting Straight

You can shoot fast, but can you shoot accurately? Surprisingly, yes, you can. The gun has some very small sights, but it does have sights. It can be tough to track the tiny blade of a front sight since it blends in well with the rear sight. A little touch-up from a paint pen adds some contrast to the front sight, makes it much easier to see, and amps up the gun’s accuracy. 

Lots of people will describe these as belly guns, but that’s because they can’t shoot. At 25 yards, I can hit an IPSC target in the A and C zone. Even from the draw at 15 yards, I can place a shot on a 10-inch gong fairly quickly, in under four seconds. It’s nowhere near as fast as a bigger, easier-to-shoot gun, but it’s still more accurate than most people give the gun credit for. 

Small gun in person's hand
The gun’s small sights aren’t much, but they get the job done

The biggest problem with the gun is the super heavy double-action trigger. It’s one of the longest and heaviest I’ve experienced. It’s gritty as it moves and is far from smooth. The single action is much better. There is some take-up, but the pull is short and sweet. With the double-action trigger, I’ve found it best to pull it as fast as I can to get accurate shots. The slower I go, the worse my accuracy seems to be. 

A Pile of 32 ACP 

After shooting several hundred rounds through the gun, I’m happy to say it’s quite reliable. I ran into one issue when a round failed to extract, which created a type two malfunction. A had to hit the tip-up lever and drop the mag to clear the gun. Fixing malfunctions can be quite difficult, and it’s not always a fast process. Tap, rack, bang does not apply with this gun. 

READ MORE: Beretta’s New American-Made Turkey Guns

Beretta Tomcat with parts around it set on aged wood
The gun is very simple

Should You or Shouldn’t You? 

The Tomcat is best described as finicky. You have to use the correct ammo or the gun breaks. You’ll get bit by the slide if you’re not careful. Don’t forget the lack of an extractor makes any malfunction clearing a matter of tens of seconds. The double-action trigger sucks, and you can’t carry it cocked and locked. Plus, the guns aren’t cheap. Depending on the variants, the Tomcat can cost anywhere from 450 to 650 dollars. I love the .32 ACP cartridge, but it’s also fairly expensive. 

Beretta Tomcat and loaded magazine propped on wood

There are other, much less finicky pocket pistols out there that are cheaper and even smaller. They aren’t DA/SA guns, but they function quite well. I love the gun, but it’s because it’s odd, with the micro-sized DA/SA design, the tip-up barrel, and the small, bulldog-like nature of the gun. At the same time, it’s not a gun I’d suggest for other shooters unless they are DA/SA nerds. 

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  • Will March 8, 2024, 2:26 pm

    I have the Taurus PT-22 copy, and absolutely love it… The pistol & 2 spare mags fit in a cellphone pouch, making for an easy concealed carry nomatter what you wear. 22LR HV-HP ammo give it enough bite to be dependable for defence… My only ‘complaint’ is that the slide is VERY stiff to rack. It’s quicker & easier to just pop the barrel & insert a loose round to function in double action. For its size it’s a heavy little pistol, which I consider a good thing. It’s stout, well made, & dependable… I would love to see a small format laser for it due to my aging vision, but it’s accurate using the sights alone out to 50 feet with practice.

  • LJ March 8, 2024, 8:11 am

    Back in the 70’s I owned one of the early cool little Beretta 950 Minx .22 shorts that came with a shoot-thru leather holster. What a neat little toy it was, but being a .22 short it was absolutely worthless as anything more than a novelty. Surprisingly it was very reliable and seldom misfired or jammed. I guess at that time it was better than carrying a slingshot! I believe those shoot-thru holsters are illegal now, but I wish I still owned it as a collector piece. It was very well made!

  • LJ March 8, 2024, 8:03 am

    Back in the 70’s I owned one of the cool little Beretta 950 Minx .22 shorts that came with a shoot-thru leather holster. What a neat little toy it was, but being a .22short it was absolutely worthless as anything more than a novelty. Surprisingly it was very reliable and seldom misfired. I guess at that time it was better than carrying a slingshot!

  • GomeznSA March 5, 2024, 7:53 am

    IMHO the little Tomcat is a niche gun but nothing else really fits that niche quite as well with the possible exception of the Keltec in .32.

  • Mac Lobo March 4, 2024, 10:09 pm

    I only wish they were thinner. For concealing the thickness is a big disadvantage.
    The Double Action Only Seecamp is an option I prefer.

  • Mac Lobo March 4, 2024, 10:04 pm

    Allow me to correct you: The 3032 Tomcat is the THIRD smallest centerfire DA/SA gun currently in production. And only the SECOND 32 ACP DA/SA gun currently being produced, after the Seecamp, who makes the smallest 32 and 380 DA/SA. You should try them because they are superior than the Beretta fat cats.

    • Rick Glessman March 8, 2024, 9:23 am

      I too own both a .32 and a .30 Seecamp. The 380 slams the bottom of my trigger finger so hard on recoil you ALMOST drop the gun. BUT, they are tiny, DA only, no sights to snag and have never failed to go bang.

  • MP Gunther March 4, 2024, 9:21 pm

    I’m lucky enough to own a 1st generation with a beautifully blued finish. this generation was much thinner and the one at first being prone to the cracked frame syndrome. I have always shot the PMC Bronze HP’s which are the lowest Horsepower 32’s on the market. Enjoy shooting these little mice!!

  • Chris Knight March 4, 2024, 8:59 pm

    I have had a Tomcat for about six years. I have shot it several times and all of you comments are right on. Yet, it is a gun that I really like to shoot, especially one handed. My conceal gun is a glock 19. I keep the tomcat nearby in my home at all times because I can simply pick it up chamber and the shoot one handed and I , like you, have very good accuracy at close range 15-25 feet in my home. I could quickly put 3-4 rounds in a target accurately without a lot of double handed siting. Yes there are drawbacks but for my limited purposes I am glad it is a part of my home protection program.

  • james parker March 4, 2024, 11:55 am

    I prefer a small revolver. An old cop once said that you don’t need a .44 in a pocket gun, you just need to fire the first shot. The average guy who’s trying to get the drop on you will go cold as soon as he realizes that he’s been shot, so give him three or four in the chest and watch his fighting spirit fade.

  • Anthony C. March 4, 2024, 11:44 am

    I bought one of these about 20 years ago. I guess they have made or improvements since then on the Tomcat or I just got a lemon. It was the most unreliable gun I’ve ever owned. It stove-piped literally every time I shot it (with plain factory ball ammo). Ended up getting rid of it for a song at a gun show.

  • Rick Winningham March 4, 2024, 9:35 am

    In the early part of the article, you say “it can be carried cocked and locked, but it’s not advisable”. In the conclusion you state “you can’t carry it cocked and locked”. Confusing, yes?

  • DAVID BARNES March 4, 2024, 7:33 am

    For concealed carry, I beleive that the Pico is a superior package in firepower and concealability- only slightly larger length & height but significanly narrower width and weight. The Pico is rated for the most powerful .380 you can find.
    Length Height Width Weight
    3032 Tomcat 4.92 in 3.7 in 1.1 in 14.5 oz
    Pico 5.1 in 4 in 0.73 in 11.5 oz

  • J Bernard Fiedlet March 4, 2024, 7:25 am

    Check out the Alley Cat version. It has a big dot sight that really helps.

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