Belgian Mini-Revolver (Video)

Since our last video was the biggest gun we’ve ever filmed, I figured we would go the opposite direction this week, and feature the smallest gun we’ve ever filmed. It’s an example of a cheap pocket pistol from a century ago – a 6-shot Belgian revolver chambered for .22 Short (sometimes referred to as a Velodog).  Scads of these type of guns were made, often with no markings beyond the legally-required proofs, making them difficult to research today. This particular one is just such an example – beyond its Belgian origin, we know very little about it.

26 Comments

  1. If you were shooting the Camp Perry 1000 yard match with an accurized M1 Garand or 1903 Springfield…..that would be a great group.

  2. I think you may find a rolled up newspaper more effective as a means of defence than that pistol.

    I am impressed you got any rounds on target at all. It looks like you need doll hands to get any sort of a useful grip on that thing.

    • This looks more like a “get your mitts off me” gun. Receiving a small caliber round through the liver or your larynx due to the muzzle being in contact with your person would probably do you in…

      • Nah, this is more like “gotta make the good times last” kinda revolver. Blast the opponent, and if they are still living, you probably have a edge in the fight.

        Oh, good job Ian!

  3. When the cylinder is taken out I can see “CAL.22.L” so I suppose that is .22 Long (not Long Rifle!) firearm. The .22 Long Rifle is the .22 Long but with heavier (and longer) bullet – the .22 Long has 29 grain bullet (as has .22 Short).
    More: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.22_Long
    See Velo-dog for example of European small revolver.
    If you search smaller revolver I can say: Swiss Mini-gun it fires .092″ bullets but unlike this Belgian gun it is not cheap or even smaller 2mm pin-fire gun.
    If you want semi-auto pistol over revolver (and have $$$) see Kolibri pistol firing .11″ bullets, so far I know it is smallest working self-loading pistol.

    • Addition: also in cap & ball era miniature pistol were produced – note the Remington Rider pistol:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remington_Rider_Single_Shot_Pistol
      It is literally cap & ball – no powder. BTW: What are you thinking about reviving this idea but with primers and bird-shot (i.e.one ball of bird-shot as a bullet)? The BB ball over #209 can be interesting alternative to air-gun, when smaller primers & balls can be used in miniature revolvers to solve problem with untypical and/or expensive ammunition.

  4. on the Video at 5:33
    The letters are ELG, that’s NOT a final Belgium define proof mark !
    That logo means attest gun was build and acceptance to bench of test in Liege, Belgium
    and that logo is oval so must around the 1890s

    the mini Revolver could be made by french Charles Galand, who work in Liege in that time
    with the company “Charles-Francois Galand” founded 1869 produce weapons until 1942 it was defunct.
    in 1893 he offer the Tue Tue (Kill Kill) mini revolver.
    http://www.auctionflex.com/showlot.ap?co=1&weiid=5268049&lang=En

    I hope this could help you

    • Michel,

      I have a little mini pistol that we are researching but we know nothing about it! It is a lot like the Belgian gun in the blog. By chance if we sent you some pictures of the gun and the markings on it could you help us figure out what it is.

  5. I have open A.B.Zhuk gun encyclopedia of guns and I find drawing of very similar (drawing no. 24-173 in Russian version) described only with two words: “PUPPY” Belgium, but it is enough. Typing “Belgian PUPPY revolver” in Google Images confirms info from Zhuk’s encyclopedia.
    http://www.littlegun.be/arme%20belge/artisans%20identifies%20h/a%20h%20d%20h%20gb.htm
    states that “Puppy” was produced in 22, 5,5mm [Velodog] caliber and 6,35mm ACP (.25 Auto) calibers and have very many variations.

  6. What caught my eye was that apparently somebody has actually shot that thing enough to wear out the rifling. It means that at least one of the previous owners thought that he or she might actually have to use it for self defense and took the time to practice a lot with it. I doubt anybody would like to plink or target shoot with such a small pistol just for fun, unless it was at some point used by a child (which of course is possible).

  7. Just my two cents worth on teeny-tiny pistols and why they didn’t seem as silly then as they might appear to be now. First off it’s not as if small but powerful handguns weren’t available. Think of the .44 cal. Bulldogs and 45 cal. Sheriffs Model and so on. In 1889, 125 years ago, you could get a small, easily concealable pistol which (for five or six rounds) would deliver terminal ballistics that would be at least respectable today. So why didn’t everybody carry them? To start with, its just plain easier to carry the little guns, and the .32 in your hand is better than the .45 in the drawer back home, right? That argument still sells guns today, but I think there were two other factors at work back then that we have forgotten today. First, no earplugs, no earmuffs, no nothin’! Take a .25 or .32 or, yes, a .22 short into your bedroom, put up some phonebooks as a backstop, shut the door and touch off a round. The sound will not be the gentle Pop-Pop you’d hear on todays range. When Mr. 1889 took his little pistol to the shooting gallery and test fired it he’d leave with his ears ringing and convinced he held some real power in his hand. (I just reread that last bit. I am not, not, not, advocating shooting any firearm inside your home. No, no, no, not me! Just sort of imagine it, okay?) Moving on, another thing missing in 1889 was medical care and I’m not just talking about vehicle ambulances and CAT scans, I mean things like sterile gauze! Infection could, and very often would, make what today we’d consider a painful but not life threatening wound into a death sentence, and a really nasty death at that. (See further, President Garfield, the death of.) Even the smallest firearm inflicting a minor puncture wound might well kill you, and everybody knew it. So the little guns were much more effective at deterring threats then than they would be today.

  8. The lack of the stamp “PV” (poudre vive) indicates that this revolver was made for black powder cartridges only. More than 100 years old seems credible.

  9. Since this is a Belgian pistol, what is the French name for the .22 short cartridge? Could the “L” stand for “léger” (light), referring to the powder charge?

    • .22 short = .22 court and .22 long = .22 longue. Both the English and French names for the latter are used interchangeably in colloquial texts. Also, .22 long rifle is just that nowadays and it’s even the official C.I.P. name of the cartridge.

  10. We need to remember, as well, that these tiny pistols (like the Velo-Dog) were used against four-legged predators as well as the two-legged variety. At a time when “dogcatchers” weren’t a big part of an increasingly urban and industrialized society, feral dogs could pose a problem for a bicyclist, walker, or even someone on horseback or in a carriage, and the need to discourage an attack with a sharp sting could be seen as adequate in stopping a threat, without the need to “put down” the attacker. (A friend who is an avid bicyclist carries a little NAA .22 Mini Revolver for the same purpose. His biggest concern is weight.) Infection, as was mentioned by a previous poster, would likely take care of the rest. Discretion was also a reason behind the popularity of these tiny revolvers as well. No self-respecting gentleman (or lady) of the era would be seen with a .45 on their hip while heading to the opera house. As apparently useless as these little gems seem today, they are symbolic of a time that was, in some ways, both more and less civilized than our present. I find them fascinating.

  11. Many people underestimate how lethal a .22 is. I used to until I moved to the wine country and had friends ask me to help clean out deer in their vineyards (With a depredation permit).
    I use a ruger 10-22 and so far have killed 7 deer at ranges from 10-35 yards. Three dropped at the shot, three made it between 10 and 20 feet before dropping dead and one went 50 yards before dropping.
    I try for heart shots, and that last deer jumped as I fired. Total rounds fired,11. The runner took 3 through the lungs, the one that made it 20 feet only had the heart nicked with the first shot, it took 2. The others were one shot each.
    Yes, from a rifle and yes .22 LR…federal bulk back hollowpoints. It’s shot placement that matters, that and penetration to a vital organ.

    • I agree. Even .22 short is without a doubt potentially lethal at short ranges. It would require perfect bullet placement, but I bet nobody in a normal state of mind would want to be shot with it regardless. Even if it doesn’t hit anything vital, it will hurt a lot. Not every assailant is high on stimulants or otherwise has the mindset to ignore painful wounds. In fact such people are a minority, although they naturally get a lot more press coverage than the ordinary ones. It’s a classic case of survivorship bias.

      There are more effective options available these days, but pistols like the one in question would have been a lot better than nothing.

  12. The design (and the fact that it’s Belgian) leads me to surmise that Mssrs Nagant had something to do with the design of this pistol…something that used to be called a ‘muff gun’ from the days when ladies warmed their hands inside muffs and would conceal a small pistol inside it…certainly NOT the same connotation we would have today in THAT regard…

    CB in FL

  13. Ian I enjoyed your test of this little pistol. I think that if you had used a new unfired cardboard backer for your target all of your “misses” would have shown up as torso hits. There is a grip change for you to try. Place the thumb of your non shooting hand vertically along the backstrap of the pistol then wrap your shooting hand around the thumb and grip of the pistol then use the palm of your non shooting hand as a surpport to the shooting hand. Your thumb effectively increases the size of the grip of the small pistol. I was showed this grip as a way to control a small auto like a baby Browning 25 or Astra Cub or Remington over and under Derringer or other very small pistol. Try it you might like it. Bob

  14. Nice! I’ve got one even stranger – same type of pistol – but center fire 22 short! I have all of 3 crusty rounds for it!
    Took a long time to research that it came from Liege in Belgium – based on the oval ELG proof mark with a crown on top.
    It loads differently – the top 1/2 of the pistol hinges off and frees the cylinder up for loading all six shots at once.
    The trigger mechanism is similar, but slightly different and more simple.
    Thanks for posting!

Leave a Reply to Ian McCollum Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.


*