Monthly Archives: October 2022

The Mouse Gun Revisited

The term ‘mouse gun’ has been around a long time; I remember hearing it as a child in the 1960s and I’m certain it wasn’t new then. These are a species of tiny pistols for ultimate concealment. Traditionally these are chambered for .25 ACP or .22 Long rifle or even .22 Short. Since the latter part of the 20th C. there have been some available in .32 ACP and even .380 ACP, but the overwhelming majority of .32s and .380s do not fall into this category.

The insulting term ‘mouse gun’ can be construed in two ways; either they are such small caliber they are only useful for shooting mice or they are small enough to be used by mice.

The quintessential Mouse Gun, the Baby Browning .25 ACP

What is a Mouse Gun?

To me and many other dinosaurs a mouse gun is a tiny pistol chambered in .25 ACP or .22 LR. As previously stated later examples might be in .32 ACP or even .380, but these are a bit of an aberration. For a .32 or .380 to qualify as a mouse gun to my way of thinking it has to be as small as the aforementioned .22s and .25s, and there aren’t many that qualify. No, your Ruger LCP or S&W Bodyguard in .380 does not pass; these guns are small but they aren’t tiny, and tiny is a qualifier in this case. You think they are, but put them next to a baby Browning or CZ Duo and you’ll realize you’re wrong.

NAA .22 Magnum- Definitely a mouse gun!

Since the introduction of metallic cartridges people have always liked tiny pistols, but we tend not to classify pistols from the black-powder cartridge era as mouse-guns; I suppose they lack sufficient relevance in modern terms and in some cases are not safe to fire with modern versions of their cartridges. Derringers are also largely excluded, though exceptionally tiny ones may get the nod.

So our working definition is an exceptionally small repeating pistol made after 1900 chambered in .22 or .25, but acknowledging some outliers in .32 or .380.

What’s it For?

In a word? Discretion. Ultimate deep-cover carry. The gun you carry when you can’t carry a gun. In the early 20th C. the target market was often women, but they were also widely used by men who valued concealment over effectiveness. The Colt 1908, one of the earliest of the semi-auto branch of the family, was actually called the ‘Vest Pocket,’ a pretty good indication of it’s intended use.

Spanish Protector .25 auto, rapid-fire at 5 yards. Superimpose that group on a human face and you have to allow it would be discouraging.

To set the stage we have to look at the time. In the early 20th C. urban crime was at levels we would find appalling today. Few would be surprised to find an average middle-class woman carrying a tiny pistol; it was not ‘un-ladylike’ to do so. There’s every evidence that such guns were employed effectively too, but this has to be taken in context. The purpose of a defensive pistol was less to kill or incapacitate an attacker than to make them run away. Criminals then and now are usually more interested in a victim than a gunfight. Mouse-guns have minimal deterrent effect, but when introduced suddenly by launching a hail of bullets they were quite discouraging.

Add in the fact that in the days before widespread use of antibiotics nearly any gunshot wound was potentially a serious risk for infection and criminals were disinclined to shrug them off. There’s also a not insignificant psychological response that makes one want to leave the place where trauma is being inflicted. For civilians introducing gunfire was generally sufficient to make an average criminal flee.

This DA hammerless revolver by A.Francotti is a tiny thing. How tiny? The cartridges are .25 ACP, which is what the gun is chambered for.

Mouse guns can kill, and have done so many times. But stopping a determine assailant with one is a dubious proposition. People can soak up quite a few of these tiny bullets and continue to function for quite long enough to do you a serious mischief. The fact that they might die later will be of no consolation. Unless you empty it into someone’s face at point-blank range you are very much depending on a ‘soft stop.’

These guns were also popular as a back-up pistol for police officers, a last-ditch ‘Hail Mary’ or ‘get off me!’ gun. Very easy to drop one in a uniform or jacket pocket and forget about it until or unless it was needed.

Mouse Guns For Everyone!

In addition to Colt, FN and other major companies many small manufacturers in Spain and Belgium produced hundreds of thousands of these tiny pistols, and they were quite affordable. Quality could be highly variable, but generally speaking they worked well enough and virtually anyone could stretch their budget to buy one if they felt the need. Millions of these tiny guns were produced and sold worldwide. They were particularly popular in Europe and the united States. Post World War Two regulations in Europe tightened up considerably and there was less of a market there.

In the US these guns became (erroneously) associated with criminals in the 1960s, and were vilified in the press. The Gun Control Act of 1968 set up a series of qualifications for imported guns that effectively banned European mouse guns from being brought into the country. Some work-arounds were found and some US manufacturers entered the fray, often with extremely inexpensive pistols with cast zinc-alloy frames like the Raven .25 Auto, which in the 1980s could be had for $40-$60 dollars. This circumvented the GCA 68’s intent of limiting access for the poor and minorities. Others imported guns in ‘kit’ form, then assembled them in US factories.

There remained a demand, and like life ‘demand will find a way.’ Companies like Seecamp, Freedom Arms and NAA entered the fray as well with high-quality offerings. While they have waned in popularity since the dawn of the 21st century there still remains a market for these pistols; successors to the inexpensive Raven .25 are still on the market and Seecamp and NAA are still, to the best of my knowledge, in production

Modern Mouse Guns

Part of the decline of the mouse gun is due to the variety of sub-compact 9mm and .380 pistols that have emerged in the last 20 years. These can be very small, especially the .380s, though the older mouse guns are genuinely, significantly smaller.

As small as the .25 autos of yore, the Seecamp LWS .32 and .380 are still in production, but many find them to be a bit of a handful.

In the 2020s mouse guns tend to fall into a few categories. The very cheap cast zinc alloy guns from Pheonix and others of their ilk, relatively expensive guns like the Seecamp and NAA Guardian series and the micro-revolvers from NAA that split the difference price-wise but are hugely more limited in use. Seecamp and I believe the Guardian have dropped their .25 ACP models, and the NAA revolvers are available in .22 Short, .22 Long Rifle and .22 Magnum.

Both Seecamp and NAA make their guns in both .32 ACP and .380 ACP, and they can be quite a handful; the .380s tend to be genuinely unpleasant to fire. The NAA revolvers have a number of deficits in terms of self-defense; they are so small people sometimes find them hard to manipulate, they are single-action and most of them need to be disassembled to load or unload them. They do now make one with a swing-out cylinder and an auto-ejecting top-break, but the latter are quite expensive.

Philosophy of Use in the Modern World

The mouse gun still arguably has as much place as it ever did, though micro 9mm and .380s offer a more viable alternative to may people. Still, they keep making them and people keep buying them, so some folks have a use for them. So what are the modern uses of these tiny guns?

*Back Up– People still use these as a last-ditch back-up to a more potent weapon. They are very easy and unobtrusive to carry, so why not?

*The Always There Gun– This is a gun that is not specifically a back-up, it’s just always available. It’s axiomatic that the best gun in a gun-fight is the one you have, and if you always have a mouse-gun in your pocket you always have a gun; you can’t forget it when you run out the door.

*EDC in Non-Permissive Environments– Many people work in environments where they are discouraged or even not allowed to carry a firearm. A firearm of questionable effectiveness is better than none at all, and depending on dress-codes, physique etc. a mouse gun might be even more discreet that a micro-.380. I am not going to tell you to carry a gun when your employer says you can’t, but I’m not going to tell you not to either. That’s an individual choice you will need to make for yourself. Other times that ultimate discretion may be valued over potency can include social gatherings, weddings etc. It’s very much an individual choice when and where it’s appropriate to carry and what you can manage discretely.

Ammunition for mouse-guns should be solids. A hollow-point isn’t going to expand in most cases, and if it does it may limit penetration enough to severely impair the already marginal effectiveness. Also with few exceptions ball will be more reliable than a hollow-point bullet. If you need a hard stop with one of these tiny guns penetration is at a premium; you need the bullet to reach the critical structures like the central nervous system or circulatory system.

Should You?

I don’t know; that’s a decision you need to make for yourself. Mouse guns are neat and fun, and with practice can be surprisingly accurate even in rapid-fire. They can be effective, but are dramatically less likely to be so in the face of a determined assault where the goal is to hurt or kill you rather than simply take your stuff.

OK, THAT’s a mouse-gun! Micro-derringer in .22 Short.

Personally? I got into them because they are neat-o, then discovered they were fun and challenging to shoot well. Later and much to my surprise I discovered there were actually situations in my life where, just very occasionally, they were the best tool for the job at hand.

If you do opt for a mouse-gun for any practical reason for the love of God train with it, learn its ins and outs and be safe in your handling and carrying it.

For a closer lock at the Seecamp LWS32 check out this video:

Stay safe and take care,

Michael Tinker Pearce, 27 October 2022

Yes, You Should Train.

Time to encourage my good readers to kick the crap out of me.

There’s an unpopular reality about training for civilian self defense. The majority of people that successfully defend themselves with a firearm have little training beyond the basic operation of their firearm and – one hopes- some level of firearms safety training. Maybe they made a single trip to the range and fired the pistol, maybe not. Yet somehow they manage to successfully defend themselves, and often against multiple opponents. Do I advocate this approach? Absolutely not! You very definitely should train and get quality professional instruction if at all possible. It’s like a gun’s magazine capacity; no one survives a gunfight and says, ‘Man, I wish I had less training!’

Currently there is a school of thought that if you haven’t trained to be the Second Coming of John Wick you are totally unprepared and a useless loser. “You haven’t done force-on-force training? Just kill yourself now.” Except the majority of people that successfully defend themselves with a firearm have little training beyond the basic operation of their firearm and – one hopes- some level of firearms safety training.

All training is not created equal either. I have seen many videos of force-on-force training that is extremely unrealistic and does not reflect reality in any way, shape or form. I have seen instructors tout their credentials as ‘ex-Special Forces.’ I’ve known quite a lot of folks in Special Forces, and while their training is better than the average infantryman’s it’s not next-level stuff either, and little of it applies to civilian self-defense. I’ve known people in Special Operations as well, and while their training often is next-level stuff again it is not necessarily applicable to civilian self-defense. This doesn’t mean they don’t offer excellent, appropriately directed training, but the mere fact of their military training does not qualify them to do so because that’s not what people in the military need.

Likewise people with extensive police training. They are likely to be closer, but the mission of the police is fundamentally different than the average person’s self-defense needs. They may offer excellent training for self-defense, but their previous law-enforcement experience doesn’t guarantee that.

There are a lot of good, solid programs out there. Determine what your needs are and ask around. Find a good instructor that teaches skills that are relevant to your needs and if at all manageable train with them. More good, relevant training is a good thing. Do it if you can, by all means.

There’s a hell of a lot of training that isn’t relevant to civilian self defense, and if you want and can take that too. It’s fun, and even if not directly relevant it can inform your skills in useful ways. Good training is good. More good training is better.

There are also things that are less expensive/more available than quality training is for some people. Action shooting matches are useful; learning to manipulate your gun at speed and under stress cannot be anything but a good thing. Action Shooting International has low-key, very accessible events where the whole point is to do so.

But if all you can manage are monthly trips to a shooting range and dry-fire practice then do that. Will you be as skilled as someone who has extensive, good quality training? Of course not. But you will be better trained than most people who successfully defend themselves with a firearm.

When it comes to self defense a gun is a useful tool. Being skilled with that gun is a great force multiplier. But don’t let some scrub sneer at you because he has more training. We all have different lives, circumstances and financial means. Doing what you can will always be better than moaning about what you can’t…

…or sneering at others because they have less training.

Michael Tinker Pearce, 16 October 2022