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Strayhorn
January 22, 2001, 01:50 PM
Friends -

Lately I've become interested in the little .25 pocket pistols. I understand these are a Browning design, and were marketed by FN, Browning, and Colt (plus copies made by MARS and other European concerns).

Where I've become confused is which model is which. I believe the original is the Browning Model 1906, the so-called Baby Browning, and it was imported to the US under that name. FN sold the same pistol as the M1906 Pocket Pistol in Europe.

Colt, meanwhile, used the design under license to produce the same pistol "as long as it does not interfere with FN-Browning" (and how selling the same pistol, in the same country, as Browning constitutes "does not interfere" is a question for another day).

Now, here is my question - is the Colt pistol in question the "Vest Pocket Model" or the "M1908 Pocket Hammerless". The reason I ask is that the M1908 has a grip safety, and the Vest Pocket Model does not. Furthermore, the two magazines do not interchange, as I thought they would. I've seen both pistols side by side in shops and while they look exactly the same, the grip safety and different mags would indicate a different frame.

Any clarification would be appreciated.

Ken Strayhorn
Hillsborough NC

James K
January 23, 2001, 03:03 PM
Hi, Ken,

I think there is some confusion here. Other than the Spanish made guns marketed by Colt in the 1960's and 70's, Colt only made one .25 caliber pistol, the Model 1908 (or Model N, or "vest pocket", or .25 Hammerless). Early ones had no magazine safety. The Browning Model 1905 (or 1906) does have a grip safety and is identical to the early Colts. Early ones, however, had no manual safety.

The Baby Browning is a post WWII development and is an entirely different pistol. There is no parts or magazine interchangeability between the Baby and the earlier pistols.

In a day when just about every reasonably well dressed man wore a vest with pockets for watch, cigar cutter, etc., the term "vest pocket pistol" was applied, formally or informally, to almost any small handgun. The German term is Westtaschenpistole, which is abbreviated WTP, a term which should sound familiar.

There have been literally dozens of models of .25 pistols made, ranging from direct copies of the Browning/Colt to look-alikes (most with hammers), to guns that are similar in function and use, but with no other similarity (like the Beretta and Le Francais with their tip-up barrels and recoil springs in the grips). There were even revolvers and "bar" pistols chambered for the .25 (6.35mm) caliber.

Mathews lists 159 .25 caliber semi-autos and that does not include revolvers and odd-balls. Have fun!

HTH

Jim

Strayhorn
January 24, 2001, 11:09 AM
Jim -

Thanks for the reply - after a good deal of digging, I finally found that I was indeed confused. My primay interest is the Browning 1905 design and its cousins. I wish the Browning site was a bit more forthcoming about obsolete models - a complaint I can make about most firearm company's websites, unfortunately. And the FN site is horrible on a number of levels - apparently their PR department is non-existant or, like any number of companies that sell primarily to governments, they just don't care about the public.

As for the pocket pistols, I have found them to be a fun and interesting side-road of firearms history. Plus, now that full-power pistols like the Kahr are on the market, these little collectables are being sold and the prices are depressed somewhat. I recently purchased a little Haenel and later found it to have been designed by Hugo Schmeisser. the submachinegun designer.

It's just the thing for "going to meeting", as my grandfather used to say about getting dressed up.

Ken Strayhorn
Hillsborough NC

James K
January 24, 2001, 01:01 PM
If you want to expand out of the Browning designs, an "neat" pistol that you should pick up if you can find one is the Frommer Baby, which is the size of a .25 but is a .380. Very interesting long recoil design. I saw a Clement .25 at a gun show last week; that is another good one for your collection.

Jim

Strayhorn
January 24, 2001, 03:32 PM
Yes! I have been keeping my eyes open for a Frommer ever since it was featured on the Cruffler site last August.

As a sad addendum to my previous post about lower prices, many WWII vets are going to their reward and their trophies are being placed on the market by their widows or children. My Haenel was just such a trophy,
as is a MARS .25 that I have my eye on. Perhaps I'll find a Frommer in the near future.

Thanks again,

Ken Strayhorn
Hillsborough NC