Brass Tacks: The Beretta 3032 Tomcat

The Beretta Tomcat  — this little flip-up (tilt) barrel semi-auto is a child of the 90s. Is it any good?

The Beretta Tomcat's flip-up barrel

This article originally ran in May of 2018. 


The Beretta 3032 Tomcat is a .32 ACP pocket pistol with a few twists. It’s a double-action/single-action design, so the first trigger press is heavy. After that, the single-action press isn’t too bad at all. The action is straight blowback, possible due to the small caliber chambering. In a cross between the old-school European heel magazine release slide levers and American buttons located up near the trigger, the Tomcat has a button on the side of the left grip panel, but near the base. It won’t win any speed reloading contests without some serious practice.

INOX frame Beretta .32 Tomcat
The new Tomcats are only available with the slightly thicker and more durable INOX frame.

The Tomcat uses seven-round magazines and when you count the cartridge dropped into the chamber, that’s a total of eight. Simple sights and its 4 ¾-inch overall length make the Tomcat well-suited for a second gun or backup use. It’s great to carry as a last-ditch option in an ankle holster.

.32 caliber Tomcat from Beretta

So What?

There are two things different about the Beretta Tomcat that make it stand out from the myriad of other tiny pocket pistols on the market.

First is the tilt-barrel design. Small guns have little surface area to grab onto and administrative functions like racking the slide can be a bit of a pain at best or nearly impossible at worst, at least for some users. Unless dealing with a malfunction, there is no need for slide-racking on the Tomcat. In fact, malfunctions like a dud cartridge don’t require a slide rack either. Whether loading or unloading, just flip the left-side frame lever and the barrel pops open from the breech end. The muzzle is hinged so you won’t lose anything. Drop a cartridge into the hole or shake the existing one out. That’s it. To clarify, loading from empty has you inserting a full magazine, opening the barrel, dropping a cartridge in the chamber, and setting the manual safety.

Here’s the magic of the Beretta Tomcat- the flip-up barrel means no slide racking on this pocket pistol.

The other unusual feature is the grip. It’s fat, but I mean that in a kind and compassionate way. Many tiny guns require weird hand contortions to operate because they’re too small for those of use with size large or bigger hands. With enough circumference to occupy your thumb and palm area, you get a very natural trigger reach on the Tomcat, so it’s easy to shoot well once you get used to the trigger.

All in all, the Tomcat is a nifty little backup pistol that’s actually fun to shoot.

Look for it in Die Another Day and Smokin’ Aces

Beretta's Tomcat 32
This well-used Beretta Tomcat has been upgraded with aftermarket wood grips. The factory grips are textured black plastic.
Tom McHale is a committed learning junkie always seeking a new subject victim. As a lifelong student of whatever grabs his attention on any particular day, he thrives on beating rabbit trails into submission. In between his time as a high-tech marketing executive, restaurant owner, and hamster cosmetology practitioner, he's published seven books and nearly 1,500 articles about guns, shooting, and the American way.

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12 thoughts on “Brass Tacks: The Beretta 3032 Tomcat

    1. They are in production, and the frame cracking issue was corrected with a redesign. What did you can’t get anymore are the Crimson Trace grips that were made for that pistol.

    2. Beretta is now quite specific about which ammunition to use with the INOX (perhaps out of production in the increasingly PITA USA) so I think “fragile” is misleading, and no longer applies. This is a simple limitation one must accept, just like using +p ammunion in certain handguns chambered for other cartridges. It still leaves some very effective loadings at hand.

      Overall, the Tomcat is a dandy, cleverly-designed, reliable and well engineered little pocket gun, and worth considering as a first line of defense with proper ammunition. Our questionable American love affair with larger calibers -witness police hit rates of 16% [!!!!!], no fault of our brave LEOs- is not shared by the rest of the world who accept the .380 ACP, and .32 ACP as standard police, military, and self-defense rounds. Should we wake up?

    3. Frame cracking issue was corrected; just use ammunition (all very effective) suggested by Beretta.

    1. Roacher: sir, Did YOU have this problem with a TomCat? Or just READ about it? Sites churn this stuff to generate readership. Junk, junk, junk. Stick to reliable sources like the one you are reading now!

      Funny. As an owner and avid shooter of a Beretta Tomcat, and ready to adopt another stray Tomcat, what is this “jamming” problem other than another Internet say-so? Mine shoots just about everything just fine from any position. What’s the issue? I can’t find one!

      If it ever existed, was Bertta informed so they could address it? If so, I’ll bet it it is fixed – if it ever existed. Which I doubt. Don’t be so credulous, and don’t spread rumors. At least give details. Like what SORT of “jamming”. Strawberry? Blueberry? Seriously, all kidding aside, details would lend credence to your claim. The Internet is filled with phony claims. Imam not about tomwaste my time looking for any “Tomcat jamming” without details or

      1. I experienced jams….lots of them using various ammo within Beretta’s recommended specs. I believe the manual indicates an unspecified “break in” period. At 300 rounds, reliability improved significantly.

        I’m positive the (3032 Tomcat Inox) manual indicates its not designed to be carried with a round in chamber, because it can fire if dropped even with safety engaged. If you have doubts, then carefully read your manual. This disclaimer says a lot about the design of this firearm.

        The initial jams & drop fire issues made me uneasy about using it as a defensive pistol, So it was retired to my gun safe. And I regret buying it.

  1. Writings like this show a richness of humour and double-sens; living with a hunting permit, I will get one TC, but would like, to bring my rather new book to the states. I like the old way of non-dao, and the relaxing security lever.

  2. Would like to find a set of those grips for mine. Please provide a source or web site to order a pair, please!

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