Gun Review: Beretta 21A Bobcat Micro-Sized Automatic

Beretta 21A Bobcat .25 ACP

Beretta makes a great many famous firearms. Their 92FS became the M9 and served the United States military for decades. The Beretta 1301 is the current cool kid in the shotgun world, and their numerous double guns occupy the hands of working men, aristocrats, and royalty. And let’s not forgget they created the first SMG, numerous notable rifles, and so many more.

When you’ve been making guns since 1526, you will certainly have some winners. Beretta’s tip-up pistols have always had a cult following, and the smallest centerfire in the series is the Beretta 21A Bobcat, chambered in .25 ACP.

Why The .25 ACP Beretta 21A

The Beretta 21A is a micro-sized pocket pistol that came to be in 1984 and was recently discontinued along with the other tip-up pistols. The good news is that Beretta brought back the .32 ACP version as the 30X, but sadly, the 21A seems to be gone.

Luckily, it was produced in such numbers that they’ll be knocking around the used market for decades. The .25 ACP variant was never as popular as the other models, but offered a fairly interesting option for concealed carry.

Beretta 21A Bobcat .25 ACP

The .25 ACP version of the 21A Bobcat was the same size as the .22LR variant, but offered centerfire reliability. I own two 21As in .22LR, and they’re far from a sure thing. The .21A in .25 ACP gives you centerfire reliability.

The .25 ACP cartridge tends to be loaded more consistently and cycles surely. The downside is that .25 ACP often penetrates less than the .22LR, meaning you need to be incredibly picky about your ammo choices. Even then, picky shooters might feel underwhelmed at the .25 ACP’s performance.

Beretta 21A Bobcat .25 ACP

The Bobcat in .25 ACP holds eight rounds in a single-stack magazine with one extra in the pipe for a total of nine rounds. That’s not terrible for a teeny tiny pocket pistol. It’s one more than the .22LR version. MEC-GAR even produces a nine-round magazine for the gun.

The Charm of the 21A

The tip-up barrel design has its special charm. It allows you to load one round directly into the chamber, meaning there’s no need to rack the slide to load or clear the weapon. Due to its small size, the slide on these guns is fairly difficult to operate, but with the title barrel loading option, it’s often touted as a good choice for those with reduced hand strength, though I don’t really agree.

Beretta 21A Bobcat .25 ACP

Another part of the 21A’s charm is that it’s the smallest double-action/single-action pistol on the market. I like DA/SA designs — a lot — so that’s a big reason why I’m a fan of the 21A Bobcat. However, the double-action trigger pull is quite heavy and quite long. That’s why I can’t really suggest this gun to shooters with poor hand strength.

The 21A is actually a bit of an odd duck. It’s small, but actually thicker than most 9mm micro compacts like the SIG P365. At 1.1 inches wide, the weapon isn’t supermodel svelte. For its size, it’s more like a corn-fed gal from Iowa who’s thrown hay her entire life.

Beretta 21A Bobcat .25 ACP

The classic exposed barrel design of Beretta handguns is certainly there. The 21A Bobcat looks like the Beretta 92 had a baby, but that’s about all the two guns have in common.

The 21A utilizes blowback operation and relies on that operation to eject spent casings. Ergonomically, it’s an odd duck. The magazine release sits near the bottom of the grip. There’s a small, frame-mounted safety and a barrel release latch sits on the side of the frame.

Blasting Away

The Beretta 21A features rudimentary sights consisting of a small rear notch and a tiny front blade. It’s more like a suggestion of sights. Have you ever drunk a strawberry La Croix? Do you know how you can barely detect the taste of strawberry? The Bobcat’s sights are kinda like that. The small sights and short sight radius make this pistol too tough to use beyond 10 yards or so with any degree of accuracy.

Beretta 21A Bobcat .25 ACP

The sights give you a rough estimate of where your rounds will hit at anything beyond 10 yards. That long double-action trigger doesn’t help with accuracy at that range, either.

Within seven yards, though, you can make a hand-sized group without aiming much. When you’re that close, you can just use the top of the gun as a sighting system. The single action pull is much cleaner and much crisper. The short and light pull makes it easy to shoot rapidly and with decent accuracy.

Beretta 21A Bobcat .25 ACP

Blowback pistols tend to be fairly rough handling, but the .25 ACP cartridge doesn’t have enough oomph to beat you up. The recoil here is super light, and keeping the gun low and on target isn’t tough.

The problem you may have isn’t recoil as much as slide bite. It throws itself rearward and digs into your hand with every shot. If you’re used to getting a high grip on your gun, then you’ll want to get used to not doing that.

Beretta 21A Bobcat .25 ACP

The 21A in .25 ACP really runs well in terms of reliability. My testing ammo consisted of PMC and Remington. Both rounds ran without a problem. Firing a few hundred rounds of a relatively obscure caliber hurt my pocketbook, but every round fired without a flaw.

Packing a Pocket Pistol

Admittedly, the anemic .25 ACP cartridge keeps me away from seriously carrying the 21A Bobcat. The round has lousy penetration, and options like the 30X Tomcat or even the KelTec P32 offer a micro-sized gun with more consistent and adequate penetration. Even so, I’m not everyone, and maybe you need something even smaller with the reliability of a centerfire cartridge. If you want a .25 ACP, the Beretta 21A is one of the few modern options that’s worth the money.

Specifications: Beretta 21A Bobcat

Caliber: .25 ACP
Capacity: 8+1 rounds
Barrel Length: 2.4 inches
Overall Length: 4.9 inches
Width: 1.1 inches
Weight: 11.8 ounces (empty)
Price: Between $400 and $500 used

3 Responses

  1. ” I own two 21As in .22LR, and they’re far from a sure thing. The .21A in .25 ACP gives you centerfire reliability.”

    I only have one, but that, right *there* is why I cannot EDC it, as much as I love it. It is impossible to rack the slide and chamber a fresh round. You have to stop, ask your attacker to hold on a second while you use a fingernail to extract the dud round, snap it closed, and work the slide.

    I highly doubt your attacker will extend that courtesy to you, so you are well and truly fucked, without even a kiss from a pretty woman as compensation. or even a not-so-pretty woman with hinges on her heels and a delightful, evil glint in her eye.

    It makes me sad, because it is such a delightful little gun in all other aspects, sweet wood grips that fill the swell of your palm, and a proper threaded barrel… 🙁

  2. I have the 21A in 22LR. It was my EDC for 8 years. I trained with it. I took it to a “pocket gun” class. I practice shooting out to 25 yards.
    It’s a great gun. And yes I did practice for a failure to have ignition.

  3. I do not have un Beretta 21A , I do have the Beretta 950 in 6.35/.25 ACP. Mine is an early import from 1957. I am a Beretta-phile, their stuff tends to be better than many. Mi piace Beretta e i loro fucili/armi

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