Beretta’s diminutive tilt-barrel pistol, the 21A Bobcat, has been in production since 1984. Chambered in .22 LR and .25 ACP, the Bobcat lives comfortably in purses, night stands, glove compartments, fanny packs, and pockets. Looking to entice the modern shooter with a classic gun, Beretta has released a few good-looking Bobcat (and .32 ACP Tomcat) flavors complete with threaded barrels for suppressed use.
I got my hands on a Kale Slushy Bobcat and put it through its paces.
I mean…come on! This thing is tailor made for showing off at the range and on the interwebs. It even looks great at an ATF party.
“Kale Slushy” means a slide and barrel that are Cerakoted OD Green.
The frame is anodized in a forest green color with a hint of bronze (at least according to my camera) and the textured G-10 laminate grips have green, tan, bronze, brown-ish, and other shades blended in to pull it all together.
It’s a very good-looking little pistol. The Kale Slushy Bobcat stands out, yet it also blends in. A great color scheme, well-executed.
The Bobcat’s most notable feature is its tilt-barrel design. This makes it (and other Beretta models like it) uniquely well-suited to folks with diminished hand/grip/arm strength.
With full access to the chamber, the 21A Bobcat can be operated without the user ever racking the slide.
That downward-facing lever in front of the grip panel, just under the slide, is the release lever for the barrel. Push it forward and the barrel pops up under spring power, the lever returning automatically back to its resting place.
Insert a round into the chamber, click the barrel back down into place, and the Bobcat is ready to run. No need to ever manipulate the slide.
A double action/single action (DA/SA) pistol, the American-made Bobcat can be carried with the hammer forward for a longer, heavier trigger pull on the first shot (about 10.5 pounds). Lowering the hammer with the barrel tilted up eliminates the risk of a negligent discharge without requiring a built-in de-cocking mechanism.
If you’d prefer a shorter, lighter trigger pull (about 5.5 pounds), the Bobcat’s hammer can be cocked manually and the gun will run in single action mode. The two photos above show the location of the trigger when the Bobcat is in double action versus single action mode.
While reaching the trigger isn’t an issue on the little Bobcat as it can be on some larger pistols when in double action mode, the trigger does come fairly close to the front of the trigger guard. If you have fat fingers or want to fire the Bobcat with gloves on, you may want to stick to single action just for finger clearance purposes.
The Bobcat’s manual thumb safety is right where it should be, up at the top right of the frame. Down for “fire” . . .
Up for “safe.” The lever is small and sculpted, but snicks down reliably with a sweep of the thumb and clicks into place with a sharp, snappy detent.
The two included steel magazines are skinny and easy to load. A thumb tab on either side of the follower allows the shooter to pull it down as 22LR rounds are dropped into the top. Beretta 21A magazines hold seven rounds.
Deviating from where you’d typically find it, the push-button magazine release is in the left grip panel, down toward the heel of the Bobcat. Mags don’t drop free, but they do come out easily.
With its ½x28 threaded barrel, the Kale Slushy Bobcat obviously begs to be suppressed. I’d recommend a small, lightweight silencer since it’s such a small pistol.
Out on the range the Kale Slushy is barrels of fun. It’s such a tiny little guy that it actually moves and provides some feedback, whereas many .22LRs just kinda sit there.
Despite its extremely small sights, I shot the Bobcat fairly accurately. It put up legitimate little groups with varied types of ammo.
I think the largest group I shot was with CCI Mini-Mag ammo as seen above.
Maybe I was flinching more than usual, as blowback from this little kitty cat is quite noticeable when shooting suppressed with high velocity ammunition. With standard velocity ammo I felt only a small amount of debris coming back toward my face — like three grains of sand flying in the wind — but with really powerful .22 rounds like Mini-Mags and others the blowback was annoying.
It wouldn’t stop me from having fun on the range or using the powerful stuff for hunting, but it was annoying. Some of this is to be expected with any straight blowback firearm, of course.
Given the small size of the Beretta 21A though and its open-top design when the slide reciprocates rearward, it doesn’t do much of anything to deflect blowback. I’d definitely recommend shooting standard velocity or silencer-specific ammo when shooting suppressed.
One aspect of the 21A Bobcat to keep in mind — Kale Slushy or otherwise — is how you grip it. As I may have mentioned, this is a tiny little gun. It has a little beavertail, but it’s a little beavertail.
Which may end up looking a little like this. Don’t be stupid like me. You aren’t shooting an IPSC stage with the Kale Slushy and you aren’t Operating. Place your hand where it belongs and don’t let your chubbiness flow over the beavertail. It’s where it is for a reason.
Aside from the horrific flesh wound, that’s a cool looking setup, though, eh?
Both the front and rear sights (see the previous two photos) are machined directly into the barrel and slide, respectively. They’re about the style typical of a WWII gun, but they worked for me.
Beretta’s 21A Bobcat has been a popular pistol for nearly 40 years, and for very good reason. It’s reliable, accurate, and a ton of fun. With a couple modern touches like a threaded barrel and a great-looking color scheme, Beretta has done a good job making it appeal to a new, younger audience looking for cool, unique firearms to collect and show off on Instagram. Which describes me exactly.
Run the right ammo with your silencer to avoid a mild microdermabrasion and don’t grip the poor Kale Slushy too darn high and hard, and you’ll be extremely happy together. This thing is just plain cool.
Specifications: Beretta 21A Bobcat Kale Slushy
Barrel length: 2.9 inches
Caliber: 22 LR
Height: 3.7 inches
Length: 5.4 inches
Width: 1.1 inches
Weight unloaded: 14.5 ounces
MSRP: $649 (about $599 retail and Beretta currently has a $150 rebate offer as well)
Ratings (out of five stars):
Reliability * * * * *
The Kale Slushy Bobcat ran 100% without a single hitch shooting five or six different types of ammo from low-power, subsonic stuff up to ultra velocity rounds.
Accuracy * * * *
Given the teeny sights, the darn thing shoots more accurately than I expected.
Instagram Factor * * * * *
It’s an attention-getter!
Overall * * * *
I love it. It’s fun, it’s quiet when suppressed, and it looks great. Super unique, too, with a compact silencer on it. If they modernized the sights or went crazy and allowed for an optic to be mounted on top of the barrel or something, I’d probably give this bad boy five stars.