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Discussion Starter #1
This may seem like a silly question, but is the vest pocket a fun gun to shoot? I'm thinking about picking one up, since it seems like it may be a good deal, but I'm wondering if this gun is actually fun to shoot, or whether I'd just be buying a very attractive paper weight that will sit in the safe. The gun I'm looking at is high-90s percentage wise, and seems to be well priced.... On the other-hand, that money could be put towards other guns (revolvers) that are known fun to shoot.
 

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There are precious few firearms that are not fun to shoot. I can't think of any just now, but there are some , I'm sure.
The Model N 1908 .25 acp is not only cute, fun, and historcally significant, but they are an emminently concealable, flat, smooth, light weight hideout piece. You can carry it when other options aren't feasable, and it makes a decent last resort belly gun.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Its always a gas to just light off a few rounds. I've had afternoons where I've stepped out back for some target practice, and after blowing through 50 or 60 cartridges, realized that somewhere between the first and second half I'd stopped shooting for accuracy and was shooting just because it was a hoot to take fast shots at tin cans. (Usually at that point I either call it a day, or focus on tightening up my technique so I don't learn bad habits.) That said, there are some guns that are less fun to shoot than others. A good example is my FN 1922. Its a historically interesting gun, not least because it was from the later part of WW II and if you look closely you can see how QC fell off as the war began to turn. As a shooter though, it doesn't hold a candle to my Colt 1903, and it now sits at the back of a safe. I'll probably sell the FN at some point, sooner than later.

The 1908 vest pocket is a really attractive example of a well-crafted concealable gun. Nowadays its pretty outclassed as a carry gun. The one I'm looking at is a very nice example, so even if it were a good carry gun, I wouldn't use it for that. But since only a couple of my guns are consigned to the true safe-queen-never-shoot category, this one would go out to the back for some play time. Which is where my question(s) comes in: Does the gun feel good in the hand, point naturally, and provide reasonable accuracy given the caliber and size of the gun? The 1903 provides this in spades, but I've never shot a gun as small as the 1908 N vest pocket.
 

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All three of the 1903/1908s (.25, .32, and .380 acp) are a joy to shoot. The bigger guns are easier to hold (great grip) especially because of the grip safety. I have several little 6.35s that maybe this week I'll so a comparison shoot; the Colt 1908, a new version Colt .25, and a Schmeisser, that's magazine is compatible with the Colt 1908s.




The Schmeisser came in the box and included 1 unopened and 1 partial box of Belgium 6.35 ammo:

 

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I find they're kinda hit and miss at 100yds...lol. Other than that, watch your web, the grips might seem small, but aside from that they provide the grin factor. Other problem is the ammo gets a little pricey. I have a hard time putting down either my Baby Brownings or my Vest Pocket.
 

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Baby Brownings are fun to shoot..... until they bite you

Prefer the Colt
 
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very much so!

Other than being a little expensive, and in this podunk town sometimes hard to find ammo, they are a lot of fun to shoot. I have only had mine for a few months and have only shot a couple of boxes of shells through it and have become quite good at 7 yards. I have never had any type of malfunction while shooting it. I do carry it sometimes and give my S&W M37 a break. Try it, you'll like it! have a great day, Gordie
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for all the replies. You'd convinced me. I had run across a good one, in very nice condition, for a reasonable price. But by the time I'd made up my mind, stuck the cash in my pocket and headed on down to the store, it was gone. Sometimes I think too long and don't just go with my gut, when I should.
 

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I had fun writing this up some years back and have stuck it up on several forums. I love shooting the Colt Model 1908. It's a dead reliable automatic pistol and very entertaining to shoot.

Cartridge Discussion: .25 ACP
How many folks out there are going to admit to having a handgun chambered for the .25 ACP? If ownership of the .25 ACP is admitted then how many have actually carried a handgun so chambered? It’s a cartridge that is frequently criticized as being too unsubstantial for use for serious self-defense yet ammunition is sold each year for this pipsqueak . Somebody’s using it for something.

The .25 ACP is one of our really old semi-auto pistol cartridges. It was introduced in 1905 or 1906, depending on the reference, in the FN Model 1906. Both pistol and cartridge were of Browning design. Once the semi-auto pistol became accepted and came in general use at the beginning of the 20th century, a number of designs in different sizes and chambered for a host of new cartridges were marketed to those who felt the need to possess a handgun for self-defense. The smallest practical sizes marketed were any of several models termed vest pocket pistols. Most of these were designed around the .25 ACP or 6.35 Browning as it is known in Europe. These diminutive pistols occupied about the same space as the smallest one or two shot derringers of the previous century but featured higher ammunition capacity contained in handy magazines that made recharging more convenient. Due to the relatively high velocity of the .25 ACP cartridge, handguns so chambered offered striking effectiveness equal or exceeding many of the low-powered rim fire, pin fire, or center fire pocket pistols marketed in the later decades of the 19th century. A light-weight-for-caliber .22, .25, .30, .32, .38, or at best .41 caliber bullet traveling at 400-500 fps is anemic in the extreme. Many thousands of small semi-auto pistols taking the .25 ACP were sold worldwide over the next 75 years or so. Among the well known brands were some really fine handguns made and sold in .25 ACP including Astra, Beretta, Browning, Colt, FN, Mauser, Ortgies, Sauer, and Walther. These are finely made and exhibit design and craftsmanship fully equal to larger handguns from those firms.

GCA ’68 and a change in tastes caused the popularity of high quality arms chambered for the .25 ACP to wan by the 1970’s. The cartridge became the provenance of the inexpensive semi-auto pistol. It seems that such low quality pistols, with their uneven functional reliability, further tarnished the reputation of the .25 as a serious defensive cartridge. Design advancements in the 1980’s and 1990’s made more powerful cartridges available in pistols almost as small as many .25 pistols. These days there are not a lot of choices out there if one wants to purchase a new .25 pistol.

So, What Can It Do?

For starters the .25 fully possesses the capability to kill a person very dead. It has laid many low in it’s century plus usage. It must be remembered that the .25 pistol is not a toy and absolutely must be given the same respect that any firearm should be accorded.

I’ve toted and used the .25 on occasion and have some notion of its capabilities. Upon considering the Kel Tec P3AT, it’s .380 ACP cartridge, and it’s overall size compared to my Colt Model 1908 I decided to retire the .25 as a deep concealment handgun and go with the P3AT and its more effective cartridge. Previously I’d slipped the little Colt in my hip pocket behind my wallet if I didn’t think I could contrive to hide anything larger.


The Kel Tec P3AT is scarcely larger than the Colt Model 1908 but offers significantly more punch.

Years ago I saw my first example of .25 ACP effectiveness and it was sorry indeed. I’d left a hunting vest on a tank dam where I’d been dove hunting one afternoon. Before work the next morning I drove out past the edge of town to the pasture to retrieve the vest. I slipped my Beretta Model 1919 .25 ACP behind my wallet and began hiking up a fence row to the stock tank. About 300 yards up the path from the road I suddenly found myself face to face with a coyote which was sitting on it’s haunches in the broom weeds at the edge of the path I was traveling. Pleased to have an opportunity to rid the countryside of one of the varmints I whipped out the .25 pistol and fired full into the center of the coyote’s chest, seeing dust and fur fly where the bullet struck. The distance couldn’t have been more than 5 yards. The coyote whirled and ran off. I’m sure I could ascertain a baleful look in its eye as it turned to run, contemptuous of my ordnance.

Someone once dumped an old washing machine in a gully on our gun club property. I took advantage of the opportunity to fire a few shots into its side with this .25 Beretta. The result was chipped paint and deep puckers. No bullet penetrated the side of the washer. A few more shots with a Smith & Wesson Model 17 .22 Long Rifle revolver penetrated the washer’s side. What was this? The .22 would pierce the sheet metal. I knew the Beretta was old, its bore ravaged by corrosive priming. The rifling was only a shadow in the pitted surfaces of the bore. I speculated that bore condition could be affecting my .25’s effectiveness.

At the next Fort Worth gun show I swapped the Beretta and cash for a Colt Model 1908 .25 that had a sparkling clean bore Since the washer was still at the range I stopped by and fired some more .25 ammo at its side. The shots from the Colt completely penetrated the sheet metal. Moral to the story is: if ya’ pistole ain’t got much horsepower to begin with, be sure it’s in good condition ‘cause you’re gonna need all the help you can get.

One evening my brother-in-law called me to talk handloading and guns. I was walking around in the house on the cell phone while visiting with him and happened to look out our front door. There on the porch sat a feral cat that I’d been gunning for. With no explanation other than “Hang on Bo” I held the phone against my chest with my left hand, fetched the .25, which happened to be nearby, eased the door open a crack, and popped the cat through both shoulders. The bullet exited and made a small, flaked mark in the concrete. The cat launched itself off the porch but immediately keeled over at the edge of the sidewalk in the grass. He’d traveled about 8 feet. He was about 10 feet from the muzzle of the Colt when I fired. Bo exclaimed, “What was that?” I replied that I’d just taken out a cat that was hanging around tormenting Wally, our kids’ new kitten.

I used the Colt .25 to administer a finishing shot to a buck once. I’d hit a buck deer high in the spine on a broadside shot with a .30-30 as he trotted through the edge of some oak woods. He was down but not out so I placed the .25 down close to the back of his head and pressed the trigger. As the shot rang out I observed the spent .25 FMJ bullet roll out of his right nostril onto the leaves, completely undamaged except for the rifling marks. The .25 effectively administered the coup de grace but was completely spent in traversing the deer’s head.

A few armadillos, ‘possums, and a ‘coon that was found beneath our camper on a deer lease have given their all to my .25 ACP and it proved to be effective on these varmints.

A Stinker to Shoot

I’ve owned an Astra Model 1916 (?), a couple of Colt Model 1908 .25 pistols, a Helfricht Model 3, and a Browning Baby since I traded out of that old Beretta. I get a kick out of shooting the diminutive pistols but can’t say I’m good at it. The sights are rudimentary, the triggers are a chore, and there just isn’t much for me to hold onto. The Browning Baby was about as tedious as shooting a .44 Magnum with full power loads because of this. The Colt Model 1908 seems to offer a bit more to hold. All .25 ACP pistols are loud enough to ring one’s ears if hearing protection is not worn. Despite the small pistols’ general unsuitability for use I’ve been know to wile away part of an afternoon trying to shoot distant targets with them for fun. There’s a good-sized mesquite tree at the end of the road leading to the lake cabin that is slightly smaller in diameter than a skinny man. The distance is around 100 yards from the cabin yard. It’s possible but not easy to chip and nick the bark on the tree with .25 bullets. The last time I played at this game I had my best results shooting prone.

Oh the Raw Power

The traditional factory ballistic figures quoted for the .25 ACP with it’s standard 51 grain full metal jacketed bullet is 760 fps with 64 ft./lbs. of energy. Most consider the .25 ACP to be inferior to the .22 Long Rifle for self defense. This isn't entirely true as may be seen. It’s one thing to fire a .22 Long Rifle from a handgun with a four inch to eight inch barrel yet quite another to fire it from a typical vest pocket pistol with it’s barrel length of perhaps two inches at most. Perspectives change when firing both cartridges from similar handguns. It is said that the .25 ACP feeds more reliably than the longer rimmed .22 Long Rifle. There may be some truth to that statement as my .25 ACP semi-auto pistols have fed and functioned with perfect reliability.

 

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Because some folks are gluttons for punishment, die sets for handloading the .25 are available. Picking out .25 ACP cases from the typical litter of .22 rim fire cases on the ground at the range is enough to make one cross-eyed. Once set up for handloading the tiny components aren’t quite as bad to handle as may be imagined. I handload for the .25 ACP as I must have a low threshold of entertainment. My RCBS Uniflow powder measure can just be adjusted to reliably throw the maximum listed charge of Unique. It won’t go any lower and is easier to set just a little over the maximum listed charge weight for Unique. I’ve only attempted to load Bullseye and Unique in the .25 ACP. I’d assumed that Bullseye would be the best choice but Unique gives higher velocities using maximum published loads. The .25 ACP would have to be the least expensive cartridge of all to handload if one troubled himself to cast bullets for it. I’m just not that dedicated.

The Inevitable Tests

My brother-in-law and I recently spent a pleasant afternoon testing the .25 ACP and the .22 Long Rifle in a pair of Berettas he has. These two pistols have barrels of the same length. Below find data from this afternoons tests along with some additional .25 ACP data including handloads.


The two Beretta pistols used in testing.

.25 ACP Factory loads

Remington 51 grain FMJ, MV 789 fps, ME 71 ft./lbs.
Winchester 50 grain FMJ, MV 852 fps, ME 82 ft./lbs.*
Hornady XTP 35 grain hollowpoint MV 1004 fps, ME 78*

.25 ACP Handloads

Remington 51 grain bullet, 1.6 grains Unique, MV 853 fps, ME 82 ft./lbs.
Remington 51 grain bullet, 1.2 grains Bullseye, 728 fps, ME 60 ft./lbs.
Remington 51 grain bullet, (can't tell-it's a secret) Unique, MV 933 fps, ME 99 ft./lbs.



Selected .22 Long Rifle cartridges fired from a Beretta Model 21A

Remington high-velocity copper plated 40 grain solid (Golden Bullet)*
MV 842 fps, ME 63 ft./lbs.

Remington high-velocity lead 36 grain hollow point*
MV 865 fps, ME 60 ft./lbs.

Winchester high-velocity lead 40 grain solid*
MV 854 fps, ME 65 ft./lbs.

Winchester high-velocity copper plated 36 grain hollow point*
MV 894 fps, ME 64 ft./lbs

A Colt Model 1908 and a Oehler Model 12 chronograph were used except (*) in which a Beretta Model 950 B .25 ACP and a Beretta Model 21A .22 Long Rifle were tested over a Chrony chronograph. Coincidentally, the Winchester factory 50 grain load checked out identically when fired from both the Colt and the Beretta and the Unique handload was only one foot per second faster.


When considering the midget automatics I'd prefer the .25 ACP to the .22 Long Rife though the difference is so minuscule as to be pointless. The .25 ACP feeds more reliably, the heavier and slightly larger .25 bullet shows equivalent velocities, and the fully jacketed design should deform less and offer more penetration. In tests against the '92 Dodge pickup fender the .25 ACP was noticeably more reliable in penetrating it than was the .22 Long Rifle when fired from the short barreled pistols. Neither was 100% successful in penetrating the fender. Not sure just what this test on the fender proves.

If one is required to utilize the .25 ACP for self-defense the original 51 grain loading looks like the best bet in my view. Lately the standard full metal jacketed bullet is listed as 50 grains. The cartridge will never have the reputation as a stopper. In order for it to do it’s best work it needs to penetrate to a vital organ. The lighter weight, expanding bullets offered by some ammunition manufacturers in an effort to provide “enhanced performance” appear to me to be more likely to fail to adequately penetrate. Some of these are: 40 grain Glazer Safety Slug, 45 grain Winchester Super-X Expanding Point, 35 grain Hornady XTP hollow point, and 35 grain Speer Gold Dot hollow point. The whiz-bang fancy .25 slug that opens up effectively won’t do much good if it opens up in the lining of a winter jacket or perhaps a rib bone or skull, leaving an assailant who is even more agitated. I’ve had no experience with any “high performance” .25 ACP ammunition so am not qualified to say what it would do. What’s more, I don’t intend to purchase a bunch of different brands order to find out what they could do. Penetration would be the first priority when selecting ammunition to carry in these pistols.

If it's all one has in his possession, a .25 ACP pistol chould certainly be pressed into service for defense. It’d be better than nothing. A well-thrown punch generates more foot-pounds of energy but one must close with the adversary in order to land a blow. Since very small pistols are now available in more powerful cartridges there isn't really place for the .25 ACP in one’s self defense arsenal. It’s appeal in the 21st century lies in the collectors' fascination for the finely finished examples of the miniature handguns made in this chambering.

Now if I could only find a nice example of one of those scarce Walther PP’s chambered for .25 ACP…
 

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For fun we also tested the .22 ammunition in a Smith & Wesson Model 34 with 2-inch barrel and a Ruger Mark II with a 6-inch barrel.



Even the 2-inch revolver produced a bit more velocity than did the tiny Beretta .22 pistol. The Ruger with a 6-inch barrel really enhanced the performance of the test .22 ammunition.

Ruger Mark II
Remington high-velocity copper plated 40 grain solid (Golden Bullet)
MV 1097 fps, ME 107 ft./lbs.

Remington high-velocity lead 36 grain hollow point
MV 1137 fps, ME 103 ft./lbs.

Winchester high velocity lead 40 grain solid
MV 1109 fps, ME 109 ft.lbs.

Winchester high-velocity copper plated 36 grain hollow point
MV 1126, ME 101 ft./lbs.


Smith & Wesson Model 34
Remington high-velocity copper plated 40 grain solid (Golden Bullet)
MV 913 fps, ME 74 ft./lbs.

Remington high-velocity lead 36 grain hollow point
MV 945 fps, ME 71 ft./lbs.

Winchester high velocity lead 40 grain solid
MV 918 fps, ME 75 ft.lbs.

Winchester high-velocity copper plated 36 grain hollow point
MV 974, ME 76 ft./lbs.​
 

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Caution: ballistic non-test ahead.

I also fired all these handguns and loads into a 1992 Dodge pickup fender in order to observe penetration. I'm certain that this proves nothing except that these tiny pistols can damage the paint work on an automobile.


A few weeks ago I fired several rounds of the three .25 ACP loads at the fender. Here's some instances where one of each of the three loads tested failed to penetrate the fender but the angle may have been too extreme.



I tried again last Saturday, taking care to hit the fender head on. This time I fired two each of each of the three loads I had on hand and they all penetrated the fender. None penetrated the inner fender but left slight puckers in it. The ugly hole was from a "miss" when I placed couple of rounds too close together. Perhaps a flinch?



A hail of .22 bullet holes on the fender. The Ruger and the S&W Model 34 both penetrated the fender. The .22 failures to penetrate seen here all originated from the little Beretta pistol. I was surprised that the small increase in velocity observed in the Model 34 was sufficient to penetrate the fender.

On another occasion I've fired a single 158 grain +P equivalent .38 Special handload, a cast bullet .380 handload, and a Santa Barbara factory .380 load at the fender. The +P .38 Special load and the Santa Barbara .380 load easily pierced both the fender and the inner fender. The .380 lead handload pierced the fender and puckered the inner fender.

These kinds of tests are vital to illustrate the value of various cartridges when pressed into service to protect oneself against aggressive automotive sheet metal.

Next week: Testing the .25 ACP against a Fender Stratocaster.
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
bmcgilvray - wow, that's a great write-up. You should offer that article to Shooting Times or Handloader, because the writing is definitely of the right quality - informative, comprehensive, and amusing. Thanks! As always, I'm impressed with the quality of information, and the informed and thoughtful posts, that one can find on this board.
 

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I have a few 1908 Hammerless...I just buy them, stock the parts, and repair the ones that need repairing. I stick to matching SN's... They are a very basic semi which is why I chose them to learn on my first semi Colt. They are too small for my hands. The next largest up, for me, is a .380 Browning. I can handle it well and it fires nicely with a 5" barrel. The grips fit my hand. It is much better than the 380 Ruger LCP, I sold, which tended to bite upon firing since I am a lazy shooter.

I also have the Baby Browning in excellent condition that the 1908 was styled upon. It is even smaller. It fits it the palm of my small hand. Perhaps Browning was thinking it was good carry for a woman with very petite hands. Back during the turn of the century, there was the Wolfman, Dracula, Frankensten and the like, so women from the post Victorian era would have likely welcomed such a small carry. They could even hold it under their "nose gay" during walks about town.

I collect them, fix them, and resell. They are a "fun gun" and easy to work on.:cool:
 
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