A Tale of Two Mouse-Guns, Pt. 2

Before the turn of the 20th Century the gun-makers of Liege, Belgium produced a lot of small revolvers for individual self defense- and by ‘a lot’ I mean like millions. Most of these were .22 rim-fires, often .22 Short. Most of them used a miniature version of the typical Bulldog revolver mechanism. One maker, August Francotte, offered 150 different revolvers in 1890, and he was not alone by any means. We’ll get back to Mr. Francotte shortly.

Typical mini-revolver patterned after the Webley Bulldog, chambered in .22 Short. Belgian gunmakers referred to these as ‘Puppies.’

In the 1890’s a French gunmaker, R.Galland began making a small revolver referred to by the trade name ‘Velo Dog.’ These fired a center-fire .22 caliber cartridge called 5.5mm Velo Dog. This was rather less powerful than .22 Long Rifle, but the very long casing allowed for cartridges loaded with pepper, lead dust, or wooden or rubber bullets. These were viewed as ‘more humane’ for use in the gun’s specific purpose- for cyclists to defend themselves from dogs. Lead bullets were also available of course, and these tiny revolvers were often employed for self defense.

Belgian gun-makers, of course, with their signature lack of respect for foreign patents, immediately began making revolvers to fire Galand’s cartridge and marketing them as Velo Dog revolvers. These were basically their standard ‘Puppy’ revolvers with elongated frames and cylinders to accommodate the new cartridge. Often these were shrouded-hammer versions so they would not snag on a cyclist’s clothing.

Galand Velo Dog Revolver. No, the trigger guard isn’t big, the revolver is small.

Galand’s revolver was of a fundamentally different design than these stretched ‘puppies.’ It was an open-top revolver, and had to be disassembled for loading and unloading. In the early 20th C. these were also offered in .22 Rimfire and .25 ACP.

.22 LR on the left, 5.5mm Velo Dog on the right. Fiocchi actually continued to produce Velo Dog ammunition until comparatively recently, calling it by its other name, 5.75mm Velo dog, which is actually the outside diameter of the cartridge at the mouth.

Returning to Auguste Francotte, between 1912-1914 his firm offered a copy of the actual Galand design, chambered in .25 ACP. Production was halted by the German occupation in 1814, and never resumed. This brings us to the second of the mouse-guns in our tale, one of these rare revolvers. Linda got it for me off of Gunbroker as a second birthday present.

Calling this gun a ‘knock-off’ may be doing it an injustice, as the Francotte is revolver is rather higher quality than the original Galands.
The gun is in spectacularly good condition for all that it’s over a century old. The only blemishes to its finish are on the rear of the grip-frame, where the original Mother of Pearl grips chipped away. There is some slight loss of the nickel and rust has developed there.

The gun is a ‘hammerless’ design, so the trigger is double-action only. The trigger is narrow and rather heavy, but exceptionally smooth with no stacking. Even Linda, a confirmed DA-trigger snob, pronounced it ‘good.’ The fit and finish is excellent, and it is overall quite an attractive little gun.

To unload the gun you rotate the lever on the right side of the frame forward 180 degrees. This allows you to remove the barrel and cylinder from the fixed arbor, which can then be used to poke the empty shells out of the chambers.

Ready to load- obviously there will be no quick reloads with this gun!

The gun holds five shots, and you’d better hope that’s enough, because you won’t be reloading in a hurry.

Despite it’s tiny size I don’t find it difficult to fire or manipulate the gun. This doesn’t mean it’s easy to shoot accurately; the sights are rudimentary and do not show up well. Since this designed to be used at very close range this isn’t realistically a problem. The barrel is only 1-1/4″ long, so the short sight radius doesn’t help… but it can be done within reasonable limits. I started firing at three yards as I had no idea where is would hit. As it turns out rather high, but the gun exceeds expectations.

This target was fired at a sedate 1-shot per second at three yards. If one allows for the high point of impact this would definitely “‘git ‘er done.’

Moving back to seven yards things got a bit trickier. Still not tragically bad, and no doubt practice will improve this.

Still shooting high. About a four-inch group (with one flyer) at seven yards.

The Ammunition I was using was Magtech 50gr. FMJRN. I am not best pleased with this ammo; I had several rounds that failed to ignite on the first strike. The primers showed a firm, deep strike on the first hit that should have set them off. One simply wouldn’t go off no matter how many times I dropped the hammer on it. Grrrr… I’ll try some different ammo for it, of course, which ought to show what’s what.

So what sort of performance does the .25 Auto offer from this diminutive gun? The Magtech ammo managed an average of 631 fps. and 44 ft./lbs of energy, with an extreme spread of 20 fps.

I am genuinely delighted with this little gun, as I am with the Seecamp LWS .32. My wife sure knows how to treat me right on my birthday!*

The Francotte and Seecamp; two very different mouse-guns from each end of the 20th c.

Michael Tinker Pearce, 19 June 2020

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*Pretty much all of the time, actually!

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2 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Mouse-Guns, Pt. 2

  1. Roger

    Interesting, I have a revolver marked Velodog on the side of the frame in script directly below the cylinde. It is quite similar to the photographs in your article.
    The difference is primarily the folding trigger and no trigger guard. It’s quality of construction appears to be less than the ones you display.

    Reply

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