Le Petit Protector Ring Pistol: A Modern Antique

Le Petit Protector is a ring pistol, made in both 5 shot/5mm and 6 shot/4mm pinfire variations, as well as a smaller version holding 7 rounds of 2mm pinfire, called the “Femme Fatale”. They are mechanically quite simple, with a manually cocked hammer, manually indexed cylinder, and can be reloaded only by removing the cylinder completely. They are made in the aesthetic of 19th century French or Belgian guns, but were actually produced relatively recently.

Some clues to this true manufacture include the English spelling of “Protector” (instead of the French “Protecteur”), the wide variations in fitted case design, the lack of reference to them in books like Winant’s “Firearms Curiosa”, and the fact that they are always found in perfect or nearly perfect condition. If they truly were 150 years old, a substantial proportion of the surviving examples would have significant wear. Just being made recently doesn’t make them less interesting mechanically, though – someone put in a lot of time and effort to make such small, well-fitted, and smoothly operating guns.


  1. That is very cool! Be kinda nice to have, a million and one uses!

    Wonder if it comes with some buckshot, be useful knocking off flies and what not.

  2. i’d love to see something like this show up in a movie like The Kingsman – the golden circle.. or other classic spy movie.

  3. Let’s see, for some reason the tiny Belgian and French revolvers sold to protect bicyclists from wild canines were called “Velo-Dog” not “Velo-Chien.” Granted that these are faux-old that might explain the Anglo-French title. My other thought is that there must be some sort of steampunk SF novel out there in which some weapon like this was featured. (In “The Difference Engine,” Gibson and Sterling invented not only a gas-operated automatic revolver but a spring-driven semi-auto [and accidentally full-auto] rifle.) Though a jeweler ought to be consulted as to origin — the workmanship is quite beautiful.

    • “Velo-Dog” was supposedly short for “velocipede anti-dog”. Which is a hideous Anglo-French mish mash basically meabning “bicycle anti-dog”.

      The thing is, the 5mm Velo-Dog cartridge certainly was made, and was used for small “pepperbox” type revolvers intended for just that purpose. In fact, some fitted into the end of the handlebars on the bicycles. NB; these oddities are mentioned and illustrated in Winant’s book.

      Winant also commented that even in the then-present (late 1950s), there would be a considerable reaction if a bicyclist were to use a revolver on a dog attacking him.

      Here in Ohio at the time, outside a municipality, the most likely reaction would have been the dog’s owner being charged by the Sheriff for not keeping the mutt on a leash.



    • “were called “Velo-Dog” not “Velo-Chien.””
      When was Velo-Dog term used first time?
      When was Bulldog term (to describe revolver) used first time?
      If that second is earlier then is it possible that inventor of Velo-Dog name assumed that potential buyers have positive sentiment to Bulldog name and tried to make name sounding more-or-less similar?

      • “British Bull-Dog” was a copyrighted trademark of Webley & Scott Ltd. for their solid-frame .32, .38, and .450 pocket revolvers beginning around 1875.

        “Bulldog” (one word, not hyphenated) soon became a generic term for a large-bore (.38 to .45 caliber) double-action pocket revolver with a short (under 3″/7.6cm) barrel, much as “Derringer” with an extra “R” became a generic term for a large-bore one or two-shot deep-concealment pistol.



  4. Considering that Gibson and Stirling published their steam-punk novel “Difference Engine” in 1990, that helps narrow the window of possible production dates. Lots of steam-punk fans have assembled a wide variety of faux-weapons that they like to display at Science-Fiction conventions.

    Is this another case of a a sci-fi author inventing a weapon/tool/gadget that real engineers/gunsmiths only learn how to build decades later?
    (e.g. Star Trek’s communicators)

    • “Is this another case of a a sci-fi author inventing a weapon/tool/gadget that real engineers/gunsmiths only learn how to build decades later?”
      I would search for such in 19th century French patents, if I would know français and know where to start searching.

  5. My SWAG is that these gadgets have the same genesis as the legendary “Nazi belt-buckle pistol”. Winant illustrates two of those, from the Gordon Persons collection, a two-shot 7.65mm Browning and a four-shot 6.35mm. And in 1945, U.S. troops were briefed on the possible use of such “escape weapons” by senior Nazis, notably the SS.

    Still, a lot more of these “buckle guns” have shown up since the Sixties (after Winant’s book came out, please note!)than can ever be verified as “authentic”. The Persons guns are verified because Persons, then-Governor of Georgia, acquired them himself as an Army intelligence officer assigned to SHAEF. All the others that have surfaced after about 1962 are questionable.

    I’ve heard of and seen these “ring guns” before, but never before about 1970.

    And at that time, miniature novelty blank guns in both pinfire and rimfire were all the rage in Western Europe. My guess is these were part of that “fashion trend”.



    • “(…)legendary “Nazi belt-buckle pistol”.(…)”
      I assume that you mean SS-Waffenakademie Koppelschloßpistole.
      According to http://копанина.рф/publ/8-1-0-377
      In 1944 bicycle works Assmann (in Leibnitz), each example has own number, caliber and Louis Marquis, W. Elderfield on it. Few tens were made, before factory was destroyed in bombardment.

      • There were apparently four-shots in both calibers. The .22RF would seem a bit odd for a “military” arm, especially in the Nazi hierarchy. Remember, they often issued Walther PPKs in 6.35mm to senior officers, when it would have been just as easy to give them PPKs in 7.65mm.



        • “(…)they often issued Walther PPKs in 6.35mm to senior officers(…)”
          Wait, were said weapons issued or bought by senior officers? If second then it would be officers’ choice of model of automatic pistol.

    • eon,

      “The Persons guns are verified because Persons, then-Governor of Georgia, acquired them himself as an Army intelligence officer assigned to SHAEF.”

      What is your source for this information? The only accounts that I’ve read are that he was told about these post-war and after a diligent search found his examples post-war.

  6. Granted shooting a dog that is going to bite you with your Velo-Dog sounds pretty extreme, but we must remember in the early 20th century there was no penicillin or decent antibiotics. There was the very real risk that a dog bite could result in blood poisoning and death.

  7. In France between 1939 and 2013, Vélo-dogs, buldogs revolvers, all this kind of stuff, if designed after 1873, were subject to prefectoral authorization and also the cartidges if smokeless!!!

  8. Good write-up on the modern “antiques. I have owned one 5 shot and seen several from a single shot to a 5 shot. Excellent article by Eric Vaule in Man At Arms several years ago claiming they were all made by an enterprising ‘smith in (I think) Chicago in the 50’s. He used European jewelry boxes and gave them exotic (though mis-spelled) names. While not genuine antiques, they still bring excellent prices at auction, probab,y because of their uniqueness.
    Howdah guy

  9. I’ve been doing research on these myself. I to believe these were made in the twentieth century. A lot came out of England in the 1970’s. Many of the ring guns come in antique boxes with jewellers names on them. While some of the jewelers were in business in the late 19th century most of the boxes are post 1915 and into the late 1920’s, I’ve verified the exact year on quite a few. These are being sold as genuine antiques for sums between $5000 and $10000. Its unlikely these “french” ring guns survived for 40 plus years with accessories out of the box in such fine condition and then find themselves in these early 20th century necklace and pocket watch boxes. They are very nice curios and great to collect but to many places are misrepresenting them with zero provenance to back them up. I could be wrong, I just haven’t found the research to substantiate them as genuine 19th century, French or Belgium pinfire ring guns

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