Beretta 21a – Small pistol, excellent performance
In the first decade of this century, there has been a great boom in the market of polymer pistols of increased capacity and lower weight, they seemed to push out all calibers lower than 9mm as “insufficient”. Small pocket handguns have been almost completely neglected. Italians, Germans, and Spaniards seem to still like making these weapons – and they make them well.
One of the best small pistols (and possibly the best looking one), is one of the newest Berettas – 21A with .22LR caliber. It is a small, double action (SA/DA in calibers 6.35 and .22LR) pistol with total length just reaching 5 inches. It weighs less than 12 oz., and is smaller than most people’s hand. Its barrel is 2.3 inches long and has a Steyr-Pieper system, firmly fixed to the frame with a hinge near the muzzle. Rear part of the barrel that can be moved up or down when disassembling or cleaning the pistol. When it is in “working” position it is firmly fixed with a cog that fits into the frame. This ensures there is not even slightest movement during firing, allowing for excellent accuracy of this handgun. However, this system does not allow for the presence of the extractor, meaning that a bullet or a shell have to be removed manually. With 6.35 caliber this is not a problem, but when using .22LR, you should really take care and get quality ammo.
As soon as you take it into your hand, you will see how comfortably it fits there. Grip is secure and comfortable, much better than in the first M950 series thanks to the longer and thicker handle. Barrel and the slide are both made from inox, and aluminum alloy frame has been blued with almost identical finish that does not reflect the sunlight. It gives the impression this pistol has been made from stainless steel. The trigger, hammer and have been mat blued.
Safe with a Bullet in the Barrel
The 21A comes in a deluxe variant, done in the style of luxury Parabellums. It has a highly polished blue finish and gold marquetry on edges of the frame and slide, as well as very soft and gold anodized controls (trigger, levers). At the same time however, it is twice as expensive as a standard model, so if you just want an efficient, no frills pocket handgun, stick with the standard blued model. The grip is made of finely checkered plastic that allowed for excellent grip for such a small handgun. This pistol comes with only one magazine, with seven .22LR or eight 6.35 bullets, you need to order backups separately. Safeties are just as they were on the M950 model – half-cock and trigger safety on the left side, allowing you to carry a pistol with a bullet in the barrel perfectly safely.
Quality Ammunition Required
In cold weather, upwind and at a distance of 10 yards, the results were very impressive. However, poor, quality or weak ammunition will severely impact the performance. Although accurate, second rate ammunition can cause significant operating problems, including jamming the pistol. CCI Stinger ammunition, for example, has not shown any operational problems. 21A demands higher grade ammunition, even though it cannot rotate it at full speed due to the shortness of the barrel.
This is a small, pocket pistol, there’s no two ways about it, while not my favorites, these kinds of weapons have their consumer base and people who have a use for them. As far as small caliber, pocket firearms go however… this one is definitely worth a look. It is an accurate and reliable (provided you use good ammo) weapon, it can easily fit into your pocket and it would be difficult to find better in its own class.