Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Tip-up reasoning?

In comments regarding the tiny pocket tip-up Berettas, reader Scott J notes:
"I think the original tip barrel designs were intended for use by dainty ladies with dainty hands lacking the strength to work a slide.

But that's just more picked up over 20+ years of gun ownership. I can't cite a definitive source so apply appropriate sized grains of salt."
Which got me to pondering...

I think the reason may have been that the tip-up barrel allowed them to dispense with an extractor on the pistol (on most small blowback pistols, the extractor is only needed for manually clearing the chamber; backpressure on the case handles the job just fine without mechanical assistance during the firing cycle.) Combine the lack of an extractor with an open-top slide, and you've enhanced both feeding and ejection reliability on a bitty little pocket gun.

I'm just spitballing here, though, if you'll forgive the metaphor...

21 comments:

Scott J said...

Wow. Flattered that in less than a year of reading and commenting I put up something worthy of a main post :)

Also now you've gotten me curious about my PT22. I thought it has an extractor but can't remember. I've not had it out of the safe in a year (shame on me). I'll have to dig it out tonight and check.

tailwind said...

There are some other technical reasons Beretta used a tip up barrel, mainly having to do with size, weight and recoil spring strength:

http://www.guns.com/2013/03/14/baby-berettas-a-tale-of-tip-up-barrels/

Note that Beretta wasn't the first to use this design.

Scott J said...

"Note that Beretta wasn't the first to use this design"

A French company is credited with creation and first use of the design IIRC.

[insert surrender joke here]

Paul said...

I've got a PT22. It has a tip up barrel. No extractor. And the fattest feeling grips I have ever come across. Been thinking about getting some thinner grips to make the thing fit into a waist band or pocket a little better. On the other hand, it is real easy to shoot one handed and be accurate. Put a couple three rounds into the voice box and I would expect any bad guy would think his time better spent elsewhere.

I've got bigger guns, but I do like carrying the little guy.

1911Man said...

I hope said dainty ladies are skilled at reassembly. My Beretta Bobcat was the single worst gun I have ever owned. Every 15 or so rounds, it would disassemble itself into three big pieces. Insert your favorite Italian Engineering joke here.

billf said...

Huh;I always assumed tip -up pistols were made (same as single shot break-action shotguns,and H&R 999 revolvers)because less moving parts-no extractors,no springs-should be simpler to manufacture,lighter and cheaper.It never occurred to me it was to fit smaller hands.
Billf

Damocles said...

While not likely an intended design feature, the tip up barrel does make the firearm easier to use for those with a weak grip. In the 90's one of my fellow officers took a round through his weak wrist/forearm. The injury medically retired him from day to day duty. Being unable to easily retract the slide on a larger firearm, and unwilling to carry a revolver, he settled on a .32 tip up for personal carry which he could load one handed.

Windy Wilson said...

"just spitballing here"
Is that a reference to the .25ACP?

Old NFO said...

Gotta agree with BillF. Actually I don't think I've ever actually SEEN one in the flesh so to speak either..

The Raving Prophet said...

I had a Beretta Tomcat (gave it to my sister), it's a decent little gun. The trigger is long and mushy but it isn't hard to handle at all.

That tip-up barrel, no matter the intention, does make it a decent choice for those who have a difficult time racking a slide. Still, the Sig P238 seems to be better in every way (at about half again as much) and hits harder than a .32. It's also very simple to manipulate for those of limited hand strength. I expect to see the tip ups gradually fade away, even though they fill a useful niche.

Tam said...

tailwind,

Interesting article, despite a few inaccuracies. :)


1911man,

While I've seen the little blowback Berettas disassembled unintentionally by someone racking the slide manually, I've never seen it happen while firing, and I've owned two Tomcats and several Jetfires.


billf,

I dunno; any parts saved by deleting the extractor and extractor spring are added back with the barrel latch assembly.


Scott J,

Steyr-Pieper? :)

mikelaforge said...

I've a Beretta .25 tip-up. Fun to shoot. Crappy little plastic grips I should look at replacing though.
Thanks for the nice discussion.

Will said...

Tam,
I've had a .25 Jetfire spontaneously disassemble itself in a rather dynamic fashion.
This was the second of three Jetfires I tried.

I was sure I had locked the barrel, but two or three rounds into the string, the mag fell out, the barrel popped up, and the slide ended up hanging off the back of the frame, dangling by the recoil spring.

After reassembly, I think I got another one or two mags through it before it locked up solid.

Oh, and this gun was also keyholing at 10-15 feet.

Gun #3 was good out to 15 yards. Gun #1 was still punching round holes at 25 yards (max distance at the indoor range).

They all had the same problem, though. There is a cross pin that runs from one rail slot to the other side slot. It was supposed to be staked in some fashion, but the factory didn't do it. The pin will walk out and tie up the slide. Might happen in ten rounds, or a hundred.

This was in the late 80's, when Beretta was busy with the Army's pistol. The three serial #'s were not anywhere close to each other, and the warrantee dept didn't even want to know about it.

I'm guessing there are a lot of these little guns out there with the floating pin, that never got shot enough to get noticed. One of mine could still function if you tapped the slide into battery, even with maybe 100 rounds through it. One locked up very quickly, and required a mallet to move the slide. No way was that one moveable by hand!

I kept #3, and fixed it myself. Should have kept the first one, it was clearly the better of the three guns. The quality difference between the three barrels was surprising, like night and day, between the best and worst.

Stuart the Viking said...

My dainty little Mom has one of the tip-up barrel Taurus pistols. She has physical issues that make manipulating a slide on just about anything is beyond her physical abilities.

She went with the .22 because the ammo was so common and cheap that she wouldn't feel like she was spending a lot of money shooting it. My thoughts were "better a .22 that she's fired enough to be familiar with it than a .32 that she refused to practice with because of expense"

Then this ammo mess happened... derp.

s

Jim said...

My Step-Mom had a Tomcat that would spontaneously disassemble. After it's 2nd trip back from the factory, it came to pieces in my hand, while shootin'

Frame was cracked, plain as day. Beretta replaced the gun, and it's replacement has run w/o problems.

Wee thing was surprisingly accurate, too. Back when my eyes could resolve the sights, that is.



Jim
Sunk New Dawn
Galveston, TX

mikee said...

I have a .22LR Model 21 Beretta, purchased on a whim more than for any reason, and I have racked the slide on it once or twice in the past several years just to see if I could. The slide is hard to grip, being very small, and has a relatively strong spring to pull against with a thumb and forefinger.

On the other hand, why ever do so?

The tip up barrel allow a full mag +1 to be loaded easily, and the trigger can be thumb cocked to prepare to fire.

I don't complain that my revolvers don't have blocky Glock grips.

Likewise, I don't complain that I have trouble slide racking my Beretta.

The design defines the use.

Critter said...

Meh, I like the little things and I've never had trouble with guns falling apart in my hand while shooting. The newer Taurus polymer frame tip ups are very sexy looking, too. :)

Sigivald said...

As someone who actually owns a PT-25 (Taurus' copy of the Beretta mousegun), it's difficult and awkward to run the slide, because of the heavy spring and small size.

Also, tip-up lets you load the thing without any worries about somehow dropping the hammer as part of the slide-release step - and equally, clear the pipe with the same relative safety.

Tam (remotely) said...

Sigivald,

As someone who's actually owned better than a half-dozen tip-up Berettas, thanks. ;)

MikeyB said...

I looked at a Tomcat a while back at the local gun store. When I tried to rack the slide, it sliced the sh*t out of my fingers. Anyone else experienced this situation?

MikeyB

Anonymous said...

I got a tip-up Beretta for my wife years ago because she did not have the arm strength to rack the slide of any semi-auto on the market.

As a young child she had a wringer-washer injury. Maybe you recall those old dual cylinder mechanisms on washing machines to wring the water out of clothes? She got her fingers trapped in the rollers which sucked her arm in and stripped the triceps completely off her left arm.