Famous Beretta Handguns: An Overview of The Cat Guns

Gun companies should take note: if you want to make an impression, name your gun after an animal, and a cool one at that. A while back, I talked about the Colt Snake Guns. Those guns are almost household names.

Today, however, we are looking at some of Beretta’s famous cat guns. Beretta tends to name their guns after different types of big cats and, well, regular cats, too. Most of the kittens, though, tend to be smaller-sized guns in small calibers. However, there are always exceptions. Let’s go to the pound and get familiar with Beretta’s kittens. 

The Beretta 418 – The Panther 

The Panther is the first Beretta I can find that took on a big cat’s name. The Beretta 418 was a micro-sized .25 ACP pistol produced from the early 1920s to the mid-1950s. These are very simple blowback-operated firearms that feed from seven or eight-round magazines. Italian officers carried these weapons, and the Germans purchased some. Ian Fleming carried one during his military service, and it was the first gun Bond carried. 

Beretta panther
The Beretta Panther was an OG of pocket pistols and James Bond’s first gun. (Proxibid)

The Panther moniker came in the late 1950s and was part of the gun’s marketing. It was also released as the Bantam. Beretta threw a few names at the wall until one stuck. The Panther namesake seems odd for such a small gun, but it started a trend that Beretta continues to this day. 

Beretta 950 – The Minx 

The Beretta 950 was Beretta’s first tip-up barrel pocket pistol. It was a pocket-sized handgun that encompassed that Beretta look and feel with the exposed barrel design. The Beretta 950 came in the .25 ACP and the .22 Short. The .25 ACP variant was known as the Jetfire, but the .22 Short version was called the Minx. 

Beretta minx in man's hand
The Minx is a tiny little gun.

The .22 Short is an anemic little round, but Beretta marketed the gun for self-defense purposes. It was most certainly small enough to drop in the pocket. The tip-up barrel made loading easy, and the weapon held six rounds in the magazine. It’s a straight blowback design, and the BS models featured a manual safety. The Minx was produced in 1952 and continued to be produced until 2003. 

Beretta 70 and 100 – Puma and New Puma 

The Beretta Model 70 was a .32 ACP pistol with a direct blowback action, a medium-sized frame, and a 3.5-inch barrel. It was about the size of a Walther and used a single-action design. The little guns were hammer-fired and used a single-action design. They held seven rounds of .32 ACP and were likely very convenient and easy-to-carry handguns for the era. This gun was marketed as the Puma. 

Beretta Puma
The Puma is a very comfy shooting weapon (Proxibid)

The Beretta Model 100 was identical in operation and design to the Model 70. The main difference was the longer 5.9-inch barrel and the fact it used an aluminum grip frame from the .22LR models in the 70 series. This model was marketed as the New Puma for a short bit. 

Beretta 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, and 101 – The Jaguar 

The Beretta 70 series was an entire line of handguns. Models 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, and 101 were all medium-size .22LR pistols. They were fairly compact and designed for self-defense, target shooting, and more. Barrel lengths varied between 3.5 inches and 5.9 inches, depending on the model. The 101 series was identical to the 70 series, but it used a different number. The 101 was known as the New Jaguar. 

Jaguar handgun
The Jaguar came in numerous different configurations. (Invaluable)

The Beretta 70 series are really neat little guns that are a ton of fun to shoot. They are quite reliable and very accurate. The accuracy is a big reason why Beretta would market a compact pistol as a competition gun. They eventually evolved into the 76, a gun with renowned accuracy. They were also famously used by Israeli forces, including the Mossad and Sayeret Matkal. 

Here’s a quick breakdown of the different models and their features. 

71 – Aluminum frame .22LR pistol with a 3.5-inch barrel. 

72 – Same as the 71 but came with a 3.5-inch barrel and a 5.9-inch barrel. 

73 – Target model with a 5.9-inch barrel and full-sized frame with a ten-round magazine. 

74 – Target model with a 5.9-inch barrel, full-sized frame, and ten-round magazine, but features adjustable sights. 

75 – Target model with a 5.9-inch barrel on a compact frame. 

101 – Identical to the Model 74 

Beretta 80 Series – The Cheetah 

The successor to the 70 series is predictably called the 80 series! This is no big surprise to anyone. Unlike the 70 series, Beretta stuck to one cat for eight different variations in the 80 series. These variants include a multitude of calibers, including 22LR, .32 ACP, and .380 ACP. The Cheetah series were all blowback-operated guns, and a big departure from the 70 series was the introduction of a DA/SA system. 

Beretta Model 81 Pistol, caliber .32ACP
A Beretta 81 Cheetah pistol in .32ACP, with G10 grips by LOK.

The Cheetah series are neat guns, and I’ve wanted one in .32 ACP for years. The series includes the tip-up model 86, which is all kinds of cool. There are two models of the .22LR Model 87, including a Robocop-looking target model. Magazines varied between single and double stack. Beretta recently revived the Cheetah series with the 80X, a .380 ACP design with a double stack magazine, Picatinny rail, and an optics cut. 

Beretta 21 and 21A – The Bobcat 

Though Beretta has produced the weapon since 1984, 2023 was the last year of production for the famed Bobcat. The Bobcat is a tip-up gun that effectively replaced the 950. 

Beretta 21a tip up barrel
The 21A offers an easy-loading tip-up barrel.

The real difference between the 950 and Bobcats is the DA/SA action. The 21 and 21A each feature what has to be the smallest DA/SA trigger systems on the market. It’s remarkably small, and that’s one of the reasons why I love the gun so much. It’s a ton of fun but not super reliable, in my experience. 

Beretta 8000 – Cougar 

While the vast majority of pistols that wear the cat-style moniker are small, blowback-operated guns in rather small calibers, the Beretta 8000 Cougar is a short recoil-operated pistol that chambered 40 S&W, .357 SIG, 9mm, and eventually .45 ACP. It started production in 1994 and was discontinued in 2004. 

beretta 800 handgun
The Beretta 8000 Couar was a compact option relative to the Beretta 92FS.

The gun was released as a more compact alternative to the big Beretta 92FS. It lacks the famed open-slide design and is a rather ugly pistol. Beretta installed a neat rotating barrel system to help reduce recoil, which is a system we’d later see in the PX4 Storm series. The Cougar was never terribly popular, and later on, a Beretta subsidiary named Stoeger would become the producer of the Cougars. Stoeger discontinued the Cougar in 2017. 

Beretta 3032 – The Tomcat 

The Beretta tip-up designs are known for chambering fairly small calibers, but Beretta upped the oomph with the Tomcat. They moved from the .22 rimfire and .25 ACP to the .32 ACP, a considerably bigger and heavier round. The Tomcat keeps the tip-up barrel and straight blowback operation with a beefier build and more reliable operation. It keeps the DA/SA design of the Bobcat, as well as most of the gun’s general layout. 

tomcat 3032 profile
The Tomcat is a bit thicker than the Bobcat.

The .32 ACP Tomcat started production in 1996 and was discontinued in 2023. The Tomcat came in numerous colors and configurations, including the Covert with a threaded barrel. While the gun is reliable, it’s finicky. Beretta advises that the frame will crack if you use ammo with more than 129-foot pounds of energy. 

Cool Cats and Kittens 

Beretta has clung to the various cat names for most of their guns, but they’ve dived into other animals. Some of the 70 series wore the Falcon moniker, and the Beretta 76 and 102 were called the Sable and New Sable, respectively. Beretta just released a 92X Squalo, which is Italian for shark. Still, the kittens, cats, and more stick around, making the guns memorable and well-branded. Call me crazy, but I really want a .32 ACP version of the 80X. Let’s call it the Lynx.

Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine Gunner and a lifelong firearms enthusiast. Now that his days of working a 240B like Charlie Parker on the sax are over he's a regular guy who likes to shoot, write, and find ways to combine the two. He holds an NRA certification as a Basic Pistol Instructor and is probably most likely the world's Okayest firearm instructor. He is a simplicisist when it comes to talking about himself in the 3rd person and a self-professed tactical hipster. Hit him up on Instagram, @travis.l.pike, with story ideas.

Sign Up for Newsletter

Let us know what topics you would be interested:
© 2024 GunMag Warehouse. All Rights Reserved.
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap