Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Review: Beretta 3032 Tomcat 32 Auto INOX

Beretta 3032 Tomcat INOX

You never know what you're going to find in your LGS. Stopped by one local shop, Cracker Boys, today to restock .32 S&W for my pre-1909 S&W Safety Hammerless. I started chatting with the gal there and mentioned that I really like .32 pistols but never can seem to find them.

She says, "Oh. We have one new in the box on the shelf that was ordered by a customer a while ago but never picked up. Would you like to see it?"


So she goes into the closet off the shop and returns with a blue box:

The owner of the shop then said, "It's for sale."


Turns out to be:
Just the pistol I've been looking for! A made-in-the-USA Beretta 3032 Tomcat 32 Auto INOX. This pistol has a stainless slide, aluminum frame and comes with only one magazine. As you can see, I've already swapped the flat plate for a Pearce Grip extension. Beretta currently has bulk-packaged magazines for $20, which I think is reasonable, so I've ordered two, along with $35 checkered wood grips.

While waiting for the mail order, I decided to go to the range and check out the pistol. I set up the target for 5 yards, then let loose a box of 50 rounds. Here is the target from a second session of 10 rounds:
Believe it or not, the splotch of green at 8 o'clock represents three rounds! Recoil of this pistol is remarkable light, just a tad more than the wonderful Kel-Tec P-32. There were no hiccups out of the first box of 50 rounds, and I expect the action and trigger to smooth out a bit more as we go along.

I played with various types of battery, using the safety, using the tip-up to load, racking the slide. The slide was easier to rack than the NAA Guardian .32 ACP.

Takedown is a breeze, and I was able to quickly wipe off residue, swab the barrel and do a general clean up at the range bench. Quite remarkable.

I think we have a winner here.

Dating Your  Beretta

Beretta USA is kind enough to provide an on-line database of serial numbers for its pistols (and IIRC, other weapons):

Info for my Tomcat reveals:

Serial Number: DAA554XXX
Model: J320500
Product Description: 3032 TOMCAT 32 AUTO INOX
Approximate Manufacture Date: 2018
Parts Listing: Parts
Owners Manual: Manual
Product Brochure or Literature: Brochure
Barrel: Not Available

You'll find a link to parts (resolves to Brownells), the pistol manual (an old one featuring a blued Tomcat), and 'Brochure' (actually only a link to a product page, not a document). Also note that the manufacture date is 2018, so all the so-called 'experts' who have been saying this pistol has been discontinued are *wrong*.

Drifting the Rear Sight

Note that the rounds were hitting left of target. This indicates to me, and for my stance, grip. and eyesight, that the rear sight needed to have a slight drift to the right. I took a pencil and scribed a line on the right side of the rear sight, then taped two layers of electrical tape on the left side of the sight. With some light judicious rounds of tapping using a brass punch and hammer, I was able to easily see the sight move to the right without scratching or damage. The pencil line should be just enough to have the rounds start hitting point of aim. 

And, as I thought, this worked for me. Took the Tomcat to the range this morning and ran some vintage Winchester flat-nose jacketed rounds and Korean-made PMC full-metal jacket rounds. The little cat now shoots point of aim for me!
By the way - take a look at the green ammo box. This is an MTM 50 Round Flip-Top Ammo Box 25/32 (Green) from the 'zon. Currently at $1.69 per box, this is the only .32ACP storage box on the market. Unfortunately, the recessed square holes are too deep for either .25ACP or .32ACP. The solution for me was to cut up felt furniture pads into little squares, then to push each square into every recess - works perfectly!

Getting a Grip

After a few days, Beretta sent two additional magazines and a set of wood grips. I thought the cost, at $20 each for the magazines and $35 for the grips was reasonable. There appear to be numerous horror stories about grip replacement involving safety removal and a flying spring and piston.  So it was with some trepidation that I approached the task, taking the precaution to attempt the left grip removal while the pistol was inside a large bag (actually the packing bag for a Beretta shirt that I had also ordered at the same time.

After removing the slide, I put the hammer back into double-action position (up) and put the safety on. Next, I removed the right side grip first, then the screws from the left side. Then I attempted to pry off the grip.

I needn't have worried. The secret apparently is to first push from the back of the grip from the other side of the pistol, then pry up from the *bottom* of the grip to get it over the magazine release button. The grip came off with the safety intact and on the gun. A lot easier than I anticipated.

As a bonus, a few spare North American Arms pinky extensions for the Guardian pistols also fit the Beretta Tomcat's magazines:

So now my Tomcat sports new grips and two extra magazines. I'm going to enjoy this pistol.

Lightning Strikes Twice!

And wouldn't you know? Swung by a local custom shop looking at consignment pieces and I found a another, basically NIB! It came home with me. And it was a nice find on my birthday:
  BTW, here's the recommended ammo for the Tomcat (from Beretta's technical data service):

PMC runs pretty well in the Tomcat. Ran a box of 50 with no malfunctions at all:

After searching for a bit, I finally hit upon some PPU FMJ at a decent price. We'll see how it runs:

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