Beretta 21A Bobcat – Pint Sized Self Defense

The world of tiny pistols wasn’t always so populated. There was a dark time when pocket pistols weren’t the weapon of choice for really anyone. Between the era of the modern pocket .380 and the Colt 1908 Vest-pocket, there weren’t a lot of microguns. One constant was Beretta with their various tip-up barrel .22s and .25 ACP pistols. The original was the Jetfire, which evolved into the Model 20 and now into the modern Model 21A, aka the Bobcat.


The Bobcat is a .22LR or .25 ACP pocket pistol. However, I’ve never seen the .25 ACP version. The .22LR version is much more popular than the variant we are discussing today. The Bobcat is a stand-out pistol in the pocket pistol realm. It’s a DA/SA design, which is rare; it has an all-metal design, which is also rare, and it uses a tip-up barrel system. It’s an oddball and a breath of fresh air in a world of striker-fired polymer frame pistols.

While many will scoff at carrying a .22LR for defensive applications, with the right ammo and holster, it’s a viable option. It’s one we’ll explore today. Let’s see what it takes to make the mighty Bobcat an effective concealed-carry firearm.

Perks of the 21A Bobcat

The Bobcat offers an all-metal .22LR pistol. It weighs 11.5 ounces, and even though its tiny recoil is almost nil. You don’t have much muzzle rise, either. The gun is very easy to fire and control. Even with a single hand, the weapon is easy to shoot and control.

Ammo for the Bobcat is cheap. It’s really cheap, giving you plenty of low-priced practice. If you’re carrying a .22LR for self-defense, you should certainly train. Low-priced ammo and no recoil make it cheap and fun to train.

The tip-up barrel allows you to directly load a round into the chamber. This makes it so you can load the gun without racking the slide. It’s perfect if your hand strength isn’t up to par. This also makes it very easy to clear the gun.


The Bobcat is plenty accurate, and I could hit IPSC targets out to 25 yards. It’s surprisingly accurate, especially in the double-action mode.

Downsides of the 21A Bobcat

There are a few downsides. First, the double-action trigger is quite heavy, which might be challenging for those with poor hand strength. Manually cocking the gun into single action is always an option.


The gun also tends to be ammo-picky. You need to use high-quality, hot-loaded .22LR like CCI Velocitors and Aguila Super Extra to ensure complete reliability with the gun.

The gun does lack an extractor and relies on the blowback action to eject cases. If you have a malfunction, it’s tough to clear without an extractor. Another problem comes from the fact the gun will fail to extract when dirty, so you need to keep the chamber clean.


The sights are also fairly small. They are not quick and easy to see, so dim environments turn them into a point-and-shoot type weapon.

How to Carry the Beretta 21A

Now that we know the pros and cons of the little gun, let’s talk about how we set the gun up for carry. First, what’s the best way to carry the Bobcat? First, let’s cover the carry position. It works extremely well as a pocket gun. Sure, there are other holster options, but if you’re carrying a gun this small, why not exploit pocket carry?

Toss the Beretta 21A in a Crossbreed Pocket Rocket, and you’re off to the races. In the pocket, you get a deep concealment option that’s comfortable and easy to carry all day, every day. The Pocket Rocket’s design makes the holster appear to be a smartphone, making it easily disguised.

We need ammo that cycles the blowback action, but we also need ammo that can penetrate a bad guy. This means you want a hard, sold tip round. No JHPs in .22LRs. Rounds like Federal Punch and CCI Velocitor are excellent defensive rounds for this little gun.

You should also carry the hammer down. It might be tempting to carry it with the hammer back and safety on, but the safety only blocks the trigger. It doesn’t block the firing pen. This means the gun isn’t drop-safe, so hammer-down carry is the safest way to carry the gun.

Get Shooting

If you are going to carry a .22LR pocket pistol like the Bobcat, then you need to train. Train hard and practice with your gun. Little guns are tough to shoot well, so if your life is on the line, you should be able to handle the weapon like a champ. The Bobcat is plenty fun to shoot, so treat yourself to a rather unique pocket pistol. What do you think about the Bobcat? Let us know below.

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Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record-setting 11 months at sea. Travis has trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines, and the Afghan National Army.

He serves as an NRA-certified pistol instructor and pursues a variety of firearms-based hobbies.


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