Little Handguns

How Did It Happen To Me?

For most of my shooting life and writing career I’ve focused on “big” handguns. I’m talking about big-bore pistols and revolvers of the type one would wear on a belt in the outdoors. Yet for some reason not even understood by myself, many of the handguns I’ve purchased in the last few years are small. The most recent is the Browning 1911-22 (“A Baby 1911,” Jan/Feb 2012). Recently, I’ve also added a pair of Colt Models 1903 and 1908, chambered for .32 Auto and .380 Auto respectively. And I’ve got a S&W Model 360, weighing but 12 ounces, but ridiculously chambered for .357 Magnum; a more practical S&W Model 442 .38 Special and even a Hungarian made PA63 9mm Makarov.

Although little handguns get less press than other types, they’ve been consistently popular among gun buyers. Consider the following: In a 42-year production run, Colt made over 570,000 of their Model 1903 “hammerless” .32s. That company made only 357,859 of the vastly more famous Colt Single Action Army during a 68-year production run. In a time when the United States’ population was a small fraction of today’s, Samuel Colt produced over a third of a million of their combined .31-caliber Baby Dragoon/Model 1849 “Pocket Revolvers.” That happened in the 25 years between 1848 and 1873. During that time only 215,000 of the vastly better-known Colt Navy, .36 aka Model 1851, were built. Little handguns may be new to my affections but certainly not to the rest of the world.
Story By Mike “Duke” Venturino

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May/June 2012

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