In 1897 John Moses Browning was granted a patent for a small 7.65mm (.32 calibre) pistol. The Belgian firm of Fabrique Nationale d’Armes saw its potential and marketed it as the Pistolet Automatique Browning Modéle 1900. It became so popular that in many parts of the world ‘Browning’ became synonymous with ‘semi-auto pistol’ and soon dozens of competitors were marketing similar pistols.
Five years later FN released the Pistolet Automatique Browning Modéle 1905 chambered for a 6.35mm (.25 calibre) cartridge which was small enough to be carried concealed by anyone but an under-dressed nudist! It was another instant hit and was copied by gun makers everywhere. Because the 7.65 pistols could be carried in a coat pocket, they had become known as ‘pocket pistols’ (Taschenpistolen in German). Shortly after the introduction of the Modéle 1905 it, and its small brethren, were baptized ‘vest pocket pistols’ (Westentaschenpistolen).
While small 7.65 and 6.35mm pistols were immensely popular with European civilians, police and military officers in the US, they never replaced the snubbie revolver as the preferred concealable handgun. But as I explained to my daughter as she grew up, “Nothing remains the same....everything changes eventually” and the popularity of ‘pocket pistols’ in the US has grown exponentially in the last few decades.
While never as popular as their larger calibre cousins, there has always been a demand for .22 calibre pocket pistols and such well-known gunmakers as Walther, Taurus, Colt, S&W and Astra have offered them. One of the more popular was Beretta’s Model 71 which, I’ve been told was and still is, a particular favourite in South Africa.
Just before the 2020 SHOT Show, Ruger announced a new addition to their line of Light Compact Pistols (LCP). While all previous LCPs have been chambered for the .380 ACP (9mm Browning Short) this one followed the beat of a different drummer by being chambered for the .22 LR cart-ridge and has a number of features that make it much more user-friendly than similar tiny pistols.
Read the full article in the July issue of Magnum.