The Beretta 950BS .22 Short: An Italian Mouse Gun

I really adore the Beretta tip-up guns. I’m not sure why they strike my fancy, but my ultimate goal is to collect them all. Finding the Beretta Tomcat and Beretta Bobcat proved to be fairly easy. Finding the Minx and Jetfire has taken a little more time. Luckily, on my birthday, I got my hands on the Beretta 950BS, which is also known as the Minx. At the very least, I’ve completed the cat collection from Beretta.

The Beretta 950 series is split between the .25 ACP Jetfire and the .22 Short Minx.

Beretta minx profile
The Beretta Minx is incredibly small and a ton of fun to shoot.

The Wee Little .22 Short

The .22 Short isn’t a round that gets a ton of attention. It certainly doesn’t inspire confidence in its ability to thwart a threat. I’m not saying the .22 Short is a cartridge that will bounce off the well-muscled chest of every tough guy behind a keyboard. Like any firearm cartridge, it can be deadly. However, it’s not a round that consistently penetrates deep enough to reach the vitals. In fact, through ballistic gel, the high-velocity rounds penetrate around 7 inches if you’re lucky.

22 short and long rifle side by side
The .22 Short is quite small compared to the .22 LR.

It’s not rare by any means, but with the existence of the .22LR, it’s really not a super useful cartridge. However, if you were to ask me to show you a mouse cartridge, it would be the .22 Short. It’s an odd twist of fate and a sign of universal irony that a round best described as a mouse cartridge would wind up in a firearm famously named after a cat. The .22 Short was produced for handguns, specifically the old S&W No. 1 revolver. It makes little sense in a rifle.

Finding .22 Short ammo wasn’t too hard, but you are more likely to run into .22 Short CB cap, which doesn’t necessarily cycle the Minx. However, my first stop at a dedicated gun store revealed some full-powered CCI .22 Short, so I didn’t have to look for long. The CCI High Velocity promises 1,080 feet per second, but I’m betting that’s measured from a rifle. I doubt the Minx makes it that fast.

Beretta Minx loaded magazine
The Beretta Minx holds just a few rounds of .22 Short, so you better make them count.

Ultimately, the Beretta 950BS Minx was designed for self-defense, but it doesn’t hold up to modern standards. It’s better than harsh words, but in this era, there are better guns than a pocket .22 Short from 1952.

The Italian Mouse Gun

The original 950 guns had no safety. They had an internal firing pin, and users were to carry it with the hammer at half cock. Unlike the Tomcat and Bobcat, the Minx is a single-action-only weapon. The 950BS came about in 1968 when they added an external safety lever to the gun. However, it’s not drop-safe and should be carried at half-cock. Although, I wouldn’t carry the gun in any way.

Beretta minx grips
The Minx is one of Beretta’s many kitten guns.

Like the other two kitty cats in the Beretta’s lineup, the Minx has a tip-up barrel system. A lever releases the barrel, and it springs to life and out of the gun. This makes it easy to load the chamber directly. You don’t have to manipulate the slide. This had two benefits. First, those with weak hands can easily access the chamber. Second, you could load the chamber without cocking the hammer.

The gun lacks an extractor and ejector. It relies on the blowback action to eject the case and cycle. The gun is a simple blowback design, which is the only way it can reliably cycle.

Beretta minx barrel tipped up
The barrel tips up to make it easy to load and unload.

The Beretta 950BS weighs 9.9 ounces, which is quite light for an all-metal gun. The total length of this gun is 4.7 inches. It’s shorter than the barrel of a Government profile M1911. The weapon is .9 inches wide, and it’s 3.4 inches tall. It’s uber small and fits in a pocket or purse without issue. For the era in which it was created, this gun was very, very small.

The Beretta 950BS does have sights, but they aren’t super useful. The single magazine holds a total of six rounds in the magazine and one in the chamber. Shooters could choose between an inox variant and a matte black model.

To the Range

I was absurdly excited to shoot this thing. I’m not sure why, but I have wanted a semi-auto .22 Short. I have two .22 Short revolvers, and wanted to see if the gun would even cycle. In my head, it would be an adorable pea shooter to the extreme, and oh boy, it was. I loaded a mag full of the CCI High Velocity and hit the ground running. The noise seems like it comes from a completely separate gun.

Minx front sight
The Sights aren’t great by any means.

It seems way too loud to have such little recoil and result on target. The gun is a real pipsqueak, and it barely moves or bucks in the hand. It’s so loud but so smooth to shoot. Like most tiny guns in my hand, I got hit with a little dose of slide-bite. It stung but didn’t draw blood, and I only cried for five minutes!

Minx rear sight
That’s all you got for your rear sight.

In reality, I just need to keep my hand a hair bit lower to avoid it. There are lots of ways to describe recoil. I’m at a loss for words outside of the term, cute. The recoil this firearm generates is just cute. It’s just a little “poof.”

Does it go bang?

With my .22LR Tomcat, reliability is a major concern. It barely runs, and it’s very ammo-picky. Even with the Hot CCI stuff, the Tomcat still chugs when you need it most. The 950BS, on the other hand, was surprisingly near problem-free. In 200 rounds of CCI .22 Short, I had two failures to extract/eject properly.

Sadly, when you get that problem with this gun, it’s a major malfunction. You have to drop the magazine, try to open the barrel, and work the slide. The slide doesn’t lock open. You have to tip the barrel up to treat the malfunction. You need a sharp fingernail or a pocket knife to pry the case out of the barrel. It sucks, but that’s the nature of the game.

Beretta minx on block
The Minx is easy to shoot and surprisingly reliable.

Just for fun, I tried some CB caps. These are 22 Shorts with no powder. I didn’t expect it to work. However, it actually reliably cycled one time, much to my amusement. That must have been a hot primer.

Hitting anything?

The gun technically has sights. There are a couple of lumps across the top of the slide that certainly look and act like sights. They aren’t necessarily the most functional sights and are so small they take time to really use and get behind. For defensive use, they are useless; honestly, just point and try to get front sight on meat and start pulling the trigger.

minx in pocket
The Minx drops right into a pocket with ease.

With some practiced slow shots that required very careful use of the very small sights, I was able to land some fairly accurate shots with the little gun. I have a small dueling tree designed for rimfire guns. I can hit the three biggest gongs in one shot at 15 yards. Keep in mind the largest isn’t very big.

The Minx’s Meow

The Beretta 950BS (the Minx) is a downright fun little gun. It was as much fun as I expected it to be. I was mostly surprised by its reliability. A gun isn’t fun if it doesn’t go bang when you press the trigger. While it’s named the Minx, it’s really more of a kitten. Of all the Beretta tip-ups I have, this is my favorite so far.

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.

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