March 1998

Firing Line 03/98

Beretta Tomcat
I have just read Downrange in the December 1997 issue and have subscribed to Gun Tests for several years. You deserve the highest marks available for objective testing. I, too, recently bought a new Beretta 3032 Tomcat after a year’s wait. I was shocked to read that Beretta admits its Tomcat has a 1000-round service life. I purchased this gun (my first Beretta product) because of its size, caliber and manufacturer reputation. I shoot quite often and most certainly would not have bought it had I known its limitations.

This, however, is not my only problem with the gun. So far, I have put 150 rounds of ball and Silvertip ammunition through it. The ball feeds fine, but the 60-grain Silvertips will not feed at all through this pistol. I have yet to fire three Silvertips in a row. Occasionally I get two shots off in a row, but that is the exception. The case rim seems to be hanging up in the firing pin hole. A tiny pull of the slide to the rear will allow the round to feed.

I called Beretta and was told to ship them the gun and it would be fixed under warranty. They said, however, it would take at least six weeks to return it. I personally feel this is too long.

The Tomcat’s instruction book on page 5 states each gun is tested for reliable functioning at the factory. Since Beretta’s ads plainly recommend Winchester Silvertips, it would seem to me this round would be the one they test. I have had autos which needed some break-in, but the functioning of the Tomcat is pitiful. Now, I find out I may stress the frame by simply breaking in the gun.

I’ve decided not to send the gun to Beretta. I’m going to trade it off and I’ll tell the dealer its problems. I’m sure I’ll lose a substantial part of my purchase price, but I will not sell someone else my problems without making them aware. I will also refrain from ever buying another Beretta; not because their other models are poor, but because I was not informed of the gun’s shortcomings before purchasing it.

Again, keep up the good work!

Steve Schilb
Sedalia, MO


This next letter, from the Executive Vice President of Beretta USA, addresses the issue of the Model 3032 Tomcat’s service life.

We recently received a copy of your December 1997 issue in which, in a Downrange editorial, you discuss a letter which had been sent by a Beretta service department clerk to a customer which said that the Model 3032 has a 1,000-round service life. Although your editorial accurately repeats the letter, the letter itself was in error. The employee who had sent the letter was new to the company and the letter itself was sent without company review, which would have corrected the erroneous information presented.

Beretta does not set a minimum life on its products. The life of any firearm depends on its regular maintenance by the owner, the ammunition used, and many other factors beyond the company’s control. For this reason, Beretta (as is the case with all gun companies) sets its warranty based on years of use, rather than round count. Beretta stands behind all of its products and if a customer has a problem with a Beretta firearm, we ask that they send it to our service department for exam-ination and repair.

The round count referred to in your editorial comes from tests performed on a large number of Tomcat pistols during the weapon’s development. The tests were not intended to set the expected life of the pistol and, in fact, all of the pistols were fired to that round count without difficulty, which means that the actual life of these guns would be far greater.

The 3032 Tomcat is a small, lightweight, affordable pistol specifically made for self-defense. Since its introduction, the Tomcat has received numerous accolades from experts, writers and customers. Since introduction of the Tomcat, a number of ammunition manufacturers have developed higher pressure rounds, which, as with any firearm, increase wear and tear on the gun. Beretta recommends that 60-grain Winchester Silvertip or comparable rounds with a muzzle energy at or below 130 foot-pounds be used in the pistol. We will be putting a notice to this effect with the pistol and we appreciate your recom-mendations in that regard.

Robert L. Bonaventure
Executive Vice President, Beretta USA Corp.