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.
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’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.
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.
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.
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.
Moving back to seven yards things got a bit trickier. Still not tragically bad, and no doubt practice will improve this.
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!*
Michael Tinker Pearce, 19 June 2020
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*Pretty much all of the time, actually!
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.
Aelgian firms made varieties of Velo Dog revolvers, mostly with folding triggers.