By Bob Walsh
The Gun of the Week this time around is the beautifully made but nearly useless Colt 1908 vest pocket .25 automatic.
This weapon was introduced when it was common for men to wear vests and therefore practical to carry a small pistol like these where you could get to it easily. The reason I refer to it as useless is that a .25 automatic will not reliably stopped a pissed off hamster let alone a human being, barring a CNS hit. It will KILL a human being to be sure, but the object of a defensive weapon is to keep the other person from killing you.
This pistol (known formally as the Model N) could be palmed by someone with a decent size hand. It is only 4.5 inches long and weighs only 13 ounces with an empty magazine. The barrel is 2 inches long. It holds six rounds in the magazine and can be carried with one in the pipe with reasonable safety due to a grip safety. The weapon also features a thumb safety and late production had a magazine safety as well. The magazine safety was touted in advertising beginning in 1917. The sights are for all practical purposes nonexistent. The gun was produced until 1948 and about 425,000 were made. The famous Baby Browning pistol is an updated design of this pistol and is, I believe, still in production.
The pistols were mostly made in the beautiful Colt Royal Blue finish, though nickel and some special order finishes were available. Standard grips were hard rubber or checkered walnut, though mother of pearl and ivory were available.
This thing is a huge amount of fun to shoot, though .25 ammo is fairly expensive now days and not really practical to reload. For that reason I only shoot my .25 autos about once a year.
They do have an advantage over the very small .22 automatics in that they tend to be more reliable due to the cartridge design. A lot of people carry them. Women often as a purse gun, though if you don’t have a purse holster it can get lost in your purse really easily. Also, if you carry it with a round in the chamber it might end up being fired accidentally with tragic results. I know they are commonly disparaged as “mouse guns” by many people (including me) but I guess it may be better than throwing rocks or rude comments if the excrement hits the air circulation device. (Or maybe not. The jury is still out on that one. Colonel Cooper once said that if you own a .25 auto you should never, never load it because if you did so you might have occasion to shoot somebody with it and they would then get pissed off and beat you to death.)
Editors Note: I haven't seen one of these .25 Colts in years. I carried one as a backup piece in the late 70's on patrol. It was small enough to fit in my right front pants pocket. I would place it there and forget about it because it was so light. I once booked a prisoner into the downtown Harris County Jail and halfway through the process remembered the .25 was in my pocket. OOPS! It was too late to say anything. No one was the wiser. But it was a colossal fuck up.