Second Strike Self Defense with A Tomcat?

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On January 26th, 2016, at about 6 p.m., a woman was attacked in a parking garage in Louisville, Kentucky. The man who attacked her had a knife, and demanded “everything you have.” He turned out to be an addict. The attack occurred as the woman was seated in the driver’s seat of her car. She had placed her purse on the passenger seat. Unknown to the assailant, she had a Beretta Tomcat in her purse. From wlky.com:

“And I thought he was going to kill me because he was pushing the knife toward me and before I could talk, my purse was in the passenger seat and he hit me on my left cheek,” the victim said.

The Tomcat is chambered for the .32 ACP round. It’s a handgun sometimes favored by women because it is compact and has a tip-up barrel design that allows it to be loaded without requiring the slide to be pulled back. (Some people have difficulty pulling back the slide on semi-auto pistols.)

The Tomcat is a double action/single action pistol; it can be safely carried with a round in the chamber. The first pull on the trigger both cocks the hammer and releases it. If the first hammer strike does not set off the round in the chamber, another pull on the trigger will result in a second hammer strike. Sometimes a second strike will be sufficient to set off a hard primer. I’ve had it happen, but it is rare.  It may have happened in this case. From wlky.com:

Investigators said in January, John Ganobick attempted to rob a woman with a knife.

She shot him, and later told police she thought Ganobick would kill her.

In an emotional interview, the woman said she pulled the trigger to save her life.

“And the first time I pulled, nothing happened. And he put his hand harder on my mouth and shoved the knife towards my face and then I shot again,” the victim said.

That time, the bullet hit its target.

That first shot appears to have hit Ganobick in the neck. The woman is reported to have fired four or five shots. Ganobick was hit twice. Other women who used the garage were interviewed. This was a common response. From wlky.com in January:

While charges are pending against him, many are praising the woman who took control of a scary situation.

“You have to protect yourself, being vulnerable, being a woman, you have to really protect yourself, I felt like it was justified,” said Pam Stiger, who lives in Louisville.

I don’t see many cases where second strike capability is needed and/or worked. Modern ammunition is extremely reliable.

Perhaps it was foreign military 7.65×17, the metric designation for the .32 ACP. I ran some FN military 7.65×17 through a Tomcat that I had, and it worked. Others have said that some of the military 7.65×17 may have hard primers. It might even have been a handload. If the primer is not completely seated, the first strike will sometimes seat the primer, allowing the second strike to fire it.

Is second strike capability something you look for in a handgun?

©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included. Gun Watch

comments

  1. avatar DMD says:

    May also have been old stale ammo–women who EDC carry .32’s or Tomcats are not our usual range-rat habitué types—and would not be expected to regularly cycle their ammo as we range-rats often do—very glad for her sake that she had her .32—and used it !!! DMD

    1. avatar Kevin in CO says:

      I have a 40 year old box of .38 spl that is in noways stale. Granted – I don’t have it in my carry gun, but modern factory ammo should easily last decades.

  2. avatar Specialist38 says:

    Not really. I would tap-rack with an auto or roll another with a revovler.

    My main problem with the Tomcat is that it doesn’t have an extractor.

    If a round fails to eject, you have to punch or pluck it out to load another.

    I understand that some people have a hard time with autos. For women and others with limited hand strength, the Tomcat makes sense for loading.

    Most people can become more proficient working a slide with a little practice.

    You also have to keep your pocket pal clean or a dustbunny can impede the hammer (Tomcat).

    It’s also possible that she had the safety on at first. She was there and I wasn’t. Glad she’s ok.

    Hope she thinks about the situation and stays prepared in the future.

    1. avatar JasonM says:

      Same here. Tap, rack, bang!
      I mostly shoot DA/SA CZs in competition, and when I have a dud, it goes over my right shoulder. Then after my run I go search for it to see if I made a mistake reloading.

    2. avatar TTACer says:

      it is a straight rather than delayed blow-back. That is also why the tip up barrel is nice, the spring is heavy and there isn’t much purchase on the slide. A locked action 9 is easier to rack.

      1. avatar Specialist38 says:

        Agreed. But they are larger.

        I see ladies and older folks having a hard time with an LCP.

        The LC38O and Walter PK380 are easy to rack 380s but also bigger.

        The DB380 is the easiest pocket pistol to rack, I just don’t trust them enough to recommend.

        If she is purse carrying (not judging), an LCR with a trigger holster is almost as light.
        It also has a trigger that most can master easily from my experience. The J frames take a little more time or an action job.

    3. avatar tdiinva (Now in Wisconsin) says:

      A Browning BDA or 1811-380 racks as easily as a 22. It doesn’t take a lot of hand strength.

      1. avatar Specialist38 says:

        I really like the 1911 380. Of course I liked the old Colt Govt Model in 380 but it wasn’t always reliable with hydrashok ammo.

        If she is purse carrying, don’t think I’d recommended a cocked and locked pistol though.

        The BDA or Cheetah would be better for that and has 14 rounds on tap.

    4. avatar Frank in VA says:

      A tap-and-rack requires two hands for most people. It’s not impossible to do one handed with the right sights hooked on a belt edge or other surface, but I would not want to have to try it under duress. If you are using the other hand to protect yourself from a knife or other weapon at close range, the option to just pull the trigger again is far better.

    5. avatar BLoving says:

      You had the right answer buried in your first sentence: Revolvers FTW!!!
      And yet I’m so unsuccessful at selling them… weird.

  3. avatar jwm says:

    The one Beretta Tomcat I had had the worse double action trigger pull of any gun I’ve ever used. I could picture in a struggle she thought she pulled the shot all the way and didn’t. The second pull, in desperation, got the job done.

    The only failure to fires that fired on the second go round, in my experience,has been surplus military ammo. I’ve had it happen with rifle and pistol ammo.

    A j frame would have handled that problem quite well.

    1. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

      The Beretta “cat” guns aren’t great examples of Beretta’s usually high quality workmanship. The triggers are rough, and their blowback designs have limitations. The outsides are often very nicely finished, however.

      A female friend once described her Bobcat as “noisy jewelry.”

      For many of the people who are attracted to the tip-ups, I’m with you: I recommend a small revolver.

    2. avatar kenneth says:

      Its a lot more common with surplus ammo, but Ive seen it happen with remington, winchester and Hornady factory loads. An a LOT in handloads…

    3. avatar RockOnHellChild says:

      Moving to the next round > second strike on a misfire…

      Revolver, FTW!

    4. avatar Scoutino says:

      I remember range officers reminding us before each “Reserve soldier’s club” bullseye competition NOT to tap-rack our issued vz. 52s if we get click instead of boom. Cock it (single action) and shoot again, otherwise you are round short on the target!

      We were issued exact count of rounds needed before each run and had to use the crusty old cartridges that army refused and nothing else. Old (1950s) east european military surplus 7.62×25 ammo needed second strike quite often.

      As a side note, it brings memory of competing with reduced 7.62×39 at 50 meter ranges. It was forbidden to shoot m43 rounds at such short distance. The reduced rounds had shorter, round nosed hollow bullet with white painted tip. Not hollow point, but empty as air instead of lead. They didn’t shoot groups, but rather pattern. The reduced power also meant lots of stove pipes in the old vz. 58 and lots of unburnt residue. I felt like fool when after the race of shooting all over the “reduced prone figure” target I was told to shoot three real rounds to ‘clean the bore’ and the three holes were touching each other. Still, good times.

  4. avatar pwrserge says:

    Yup, SIG or Walther, there’s a reason why I always carry a sa/da gun this is the exact reason.

  5. avatar Farmer Tyler says:

    My first thought was she didn’t pull the trigger hard enough the first time.

  6. avatar Omer Baker says:

    I prefer DA/SA. Double strike is not near the top of my list of reasons, but it is on the list.

  7. avatar Joe R. says:

    Anything with a hammer, has second strike capability, anything with a striker has an eject-catch as it’s falling-reinsert in barrel or ejected mag that needs to be re-inserted and re-“racked”- pull the trigger capability.

    I’ll go with a hammer, and alloy double-stack frame, and external safety, and .40 S&W, and . . .

    1. avatar graveslids says:

      Canik55 TP9 (non SA or SF) are striker fired DA/SA with 2nd strike capability, and it’s one of the reasons I’m a fan of the pistols. That the money goes straight back into gov’t coffers and feeds the Turkish corruption and blind eye turned towards terrorism will keep me from buying one.

      1. avatar Daniel in SC says:

        The Canik is a clone of the P99, so if the Turkish roots bother you then look for a p99 SA and there ya go…

    2. avatar TravisP says:

      My SW99 is striker fired and has double strike capability, my Walther PPX has a hammer and does not have double strike capability.

  8. avatar Crowbar says:

    All of my autos are Glocks so I don’the have to worry about second strike. They go bang everytime I pull the trigger.

    1. avatar Chrispy says:

      Sure, til they don’t.

      My Gen 3 Glock 17, (of all things) has given me a “click” instead of a bang on a couple occasions. Of course, a tap/rack always got a good round out of the gun next time I pulled the trigger. Luckily it’s only happened during a pistol league at a local gun club and not during a DGU.

    2. avatar Kendahl says:

      I’ve witnessed Glock failures during matches at my local gun club. 1911 failures are more common but it shows that Glocks aren’t perfect.

      1. avatar RockOnHellChild says:

        The perfection thing is just marketing, every company does it.

        “Nothing runs like Deere.” The Deere with the same 20 HP Briggs & Stratton motor as every other riding mower… “Chevy, Bulit like a rock…” But, never mind all those factory recalls.

        Listen, the only thing “perfection” in this world I’ve ever seen are in Kate Upton’s bikini top. The rest are all gimmicks.

  9. avatar DJ says:

    My P250 has it (really nice DAO trigger) my P320 doesn’t. I carry the P320, so I guess that’s my answer.

    I would carry my P220, but it’s just too darn big for “shorts and a t-shirt”.

  10. avatar Joel David Chewning says:

    Unfortunately, if you carry a revolver, you have to fire all the other rounds before you get a second chance at that dud.

    1. avatar Cliff H says:

      If you’re busy pulling the trigger on a revolver seven times (six for a snubbie) then you’ve got a lot more to worry about than the fact that the first round didn’t go bang.

      1. avatar strych9 says:

        Like the fact it might have been a slow burner and it’s now aligned in a way that it’s about to blow the gun apart in your hand?

        1. avatar jwm says:

          Really, S9? How often in reality has that happened as opposed to a semi being pushed out of battery or jamming because of contact during a struggle?

          If you want to carry a semi, do so. But you have more chance of hitting the powerball than blowing up your revolver under any scenario.

    2. avatar Frank in VA says:

      “Fortunately, if you carry a revolver, you get to fire all the other rounds before you have to make another try with that dud.”

      I’m guessing that is what you actually meant.

    3. avatar Swarf says:

      *get to

  11. avatar Andrew Lias says:

    An oft overlooked advantage of revolvers IMO rarely needed.

  12. avatar DMD says:

    Joel–you are right–but the 2nd chance at the BG is more important than the 2nd chance at the dud !! DMD

  13. avatar Kendahl says:

    I agree there are better choices than a Tomcat. Two examples are a Kahr CT380 and a Ruger LCR .327 mag loaded with .32s. Nevertheless, the Tomcat got the job done and that’s what counts.

    1. avatar Joel says:

      I must be slacking….. LCR in 327 mag?!?! I want to know more…..

      1. avatar Swarf says:

        Yup. 6 rounds in the same (okay, similar, for the nitpickers) frame as the .38 and .357 and .327 is quite impressive, from what I’ve seen.

        If I were going to recommend a gun to someone who wasn’t a gun person (they will practice minimally, buy little ammo and the gun will live in a nightstand or a purse. Basically I’m waiting for my Mom to ask), that would be it.

  14. avatar Larry says:

    Own a Tomcat , if one has the strength in their finger to pull that God awful trigger, they have the hand strength to rack it . The there is that terrible switch from Da to Sa , I often have to re grip it to even get the SA shot off.

    Tap , rack , bang is nice and all that, unless you’re in a struggle up close and don’t have a spare hand at the time…..

    1. avatar strych9 says:

      There’s an app for that.

      http://www.laserlyte.com/products/pb-3

      ROFL.

  15. avatar Shrike30 says:

    It sounds like this was basically a contact distance shooting; maybe the gun was out of battery or something interfered with the hammer coming down on the first pull?

    1. avatar RockOnHellChild says:

      Out of battery, yeah, good call.

      The slide doesn’t have to go far to turn the gun into a bludgeoning tool.

  16. avatar Mikial says:

    Whatever the pros or cons of a Tomcat, in this case it did the job it was meant to do and I am glad for her.

  17. avatar kenneth says:

    Is second strike capability something you look for in a handgun?
    No. It is a capability I demand in a handgun. At least one I intend to carry. For matches I’m a 1911 man all the way. But in a small concealment pistol I want nothing to do with a handgun w/o it. Which is why I own exactly zero Glocks.

  18. avatar Newshawk says:

    I also own a SIG Sauer P250. Its double strike capability is one of my favorite features. I may never need it but I’d rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

  19. avatar RockOnHellChild says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever had a second strike work on a round…

    Maybe there was lint jamming up the clockwork. I have seen that happen once or twice. The smaller semi-auto’s are more susceptible to this, as well.

    Side Note: I prefer the Jetfire to the Tomcat, but they don’t make ’em anymore.

  20. avatar Tom j says:

    We can’t know why it didn’t fire the first time, but there have been a lot of good explanations. It sounds like tap tack bang would have been impossible in this case though.

    I have had many first strike failures, second strike fires with my glocks. The root problem was some bad primers I was using. I think some srp might have been in there instead.

  21. avatar Larry says:

    Mikial, you are of course correct.

  22. avatar Shooter McGavin says:

    ***Dont EVER buy a Beretta***. My wife had a 4 year old Tomcat with only about 500rds through it and the frame cracked (reg ammo only). Beretta told me that they made it to breakdown instead of fail and it “was at the end of its life” and to “retire it”. Did nothing after numerous attempts climbing the customer service chain. Sold all my Berettas after that day and never looked back. Put your trust in Sig, S&W, Glock, Ruger or whomever will stand behind their product.

    1. avatar Bruno says:

      They fixed the frame cracking years ago on this model as well as 92’s. Grow up and quit pitching fits because yours cracked. Beretta is one of the finest firearm companies in the world, and probably the oldest.

  23. avatar LHW says:

    Glad she’s ok and this goes to show that any gun is better than no gun.

  24. avatar Bruno says:

    YouTube is chock full of videos of centerfire rounds failing to ignite in striker fired pistols. Not sure about hammer fired, but it sure doesn’t hurt, does it? With a blowback pistol it’s pretty much mandatory unless you feel you can subdue them by hitting them with the gun itself.

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