RIA: Little All Right

Aren’t these 19th century little pocket pistols cute? This is another palm-type hideout gun, named the “Little All Right” and patented in 1876. It’s actually a pretty basic revolver mechanism, just put into an unusual style of body with a strange trigger. It holds 5 rounds of .22 Short, and fires double action. Only a few hundred (perhaps a thousand) were made, which is understandable once you handle one. While the gun is small, the reach to the trigger is actually quite long, and the trigger itself is rather heavy. That combination would actually make it a bit difficult to shoot. It also forces you to wrap your hand around the cylinder gap, which couldn’t be too pleasant when shooting.


  1. I some time ago become aware of unorthodox pocket automatic pistol – Taurus Curve Automatic Pistol, which if I am not mistaken holsterless automatic pistol or pistol which itself is holster. I’m wondering what are you think about such solution?

    • It can be holstered without undue difficulty. The Curve does have a factory installed spring steel clip on the side, wich is normally a feature one purchases separately and has installed. This allows it to be clipped inside a pocket without a holster. Just an option and nothing particularly new. Personally I am not a fan of the idea due to leaving the firearm exposed to debris in the pocket, people have been doing it for years.

  2. “little pocket pistols”
    It is interesting that as there was “arms race” to build smaller and smaller vest pocket automatic pistol in early 20th century, does make as small as possible race also apply to vest pocket revolvers of 19th century?

    “It also forces you to wrap your hand around the cylinder gap, which couldn’t be too pleasant when shooting.”
    Simplest way would be to add shield around cylinder.

    • is: “(…)vest pocket revolvers(…)”
      should be: “(…)vest pocket metallic-cartridge revolvers(…)”

    • Good points, but adding a shield would also present another problem: complexity and extra weight, to say nothing about loading the cylinder… Or am I wrong?

      • “say nothing about loading the cylinder”
        Ok, who were competitors to this design? Allowed faster reload?

        “extra weight”

        Depend on solution, but don’t exaggerate.

        • Well, not easier loading, but the Palm Protector style definitely offered a larger capacity than this style, and the enclosed turret revolver mechanism has a shield between the cylinder gap and user’s hand by design.

      • Actually, you are quite correct.


        The Decker was a German-made .25 ACP DA pocket revolver manufactured from 1910 to 1914. As you can see here, it had a trigger very much like the Little All Right, except it was in the conventional position. To make it look more like the then-new .25 automatics, the right side of the cylinder window in the frame was covered by a “fairing” with a fake ejection port in it. The maker claimed it made the gun easier to draw without getting hung up inside your pocket.

        Some of them also had a butt-trap holding extra cartridges, less like an automatic than the WW2 American “Liberator” FP45 single-shot pistol.

        While it could be loaded through the loading gate at the left rear of the frame, unloading generally required the removal of the cylinder from the frame in Iver Johnson fashion.

        The “shield” on the right side was noted for collecting pocket crud through its open “ejector port” and keeping it from falling out again, thus tending to jam up the whole production.

        As you might imagine, this little gadget was never a big seller. Basically for the reasons you stated.



        • Automatic pistol-shaped revolver were interesting reaction to bringing automatic pistol to market. A.B.Zhuk has even grouped automaticpistolshaped revolvers in category (drawings 24-182 to 24-208 in his encyclopedia)

    • now available in .357 Max
      it would be one way to curtail Bubba’s butchering old guns – cut his fingers off with cylinder gap blast.

      • Maybe 357max is a bit too small for Bubba. He the type that buys the largest caliber pistol he can get and can’t hit anything with it. He fully believes big bullets and a gaping muzzle will scare anything in front of the muzzle to death. I’d say chamber it in 500S&W and call it “Little Not So All Right.”

        • After a lifetime and career dealing with things that go “bang”, I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that, other than big game or nostalgia for the 19th Century, there’s not much point in any handgun caliber over .357in/9mm/ three-eighths of an inch.

          If you need a .44 or .45 or .500 to deal with the issue at hand, you’ve broken Keith’s Third Law; you brought a pistol to a rifle fight.

          The .44 Magnum is a splendid cartridge in a light, lever-action carbine. In a revolver, it’s a bit too much of a good thing for 99% of shooters. There’s a reason that “medium velocity” .44 Magnum factory ammunition consistently outsells the full-powered stuff. Not least of which being that it doesn’t beat the revolver and the user to death with recoil. Most people who buy “.44 Maggies” would probably be happier with a .357, or even a .45 Long Colt.

          (NB: Yes, I have owned and used .44 Magnum revolvers and carbines both. The latter are far more practical than the former. I’ve used and owned .357s and .45 LCs, too; either one was more versatile than the .44. Easier on the pistol and my hand, too.)

          The same is true of the .41 Magnum., .454, .500, etc. They really only attain their full velocity and thus power potential in barrels over 12″ in length, and when loaded with progressive-burning powders.

          They are less “handgun” cartridges than super-powered descendants of 19th Century single-shot and tube-magazine repeater rifle rounds. Which they can easily match or exceed the ballistics of.

          For actual hunting, they have their place. Notably during deer season in Indiana, although the various “Hoosier .358 Short” full-power rifle cartridges (modern bottlenecked rimless types) are supplanting them there.

          But for everyday carry and use in self-defense or whatever, generally anything more than a .357in round is not going to do much more than go on through the target and expend its energy on the landscape behind same. Giving no real advantage and carrying the risk of serous legal complications.

          A weak case can be made for the .45 ACP on the basis of limited penetration, especially with expanding bullets. But if you are OK with about 350 FPE of muzzle energy, the 9 x 19mm gets the same job done with the same kind of bullets, kicking less, costing less, and holding more rounds in the same volume of magazine. (I say this as a longtime .45 ACP user myself.)

          If you want or need a handgun that can deal with anything up to black bear, by all means consider a high-velocity round that is near the half-inch mark.

          For lesser targets, stick to 3/8″ bullets going about 1150-1300 feet per second. They’ll get the job done with a lot less muss and fuss.



          • Eon I completely agree. It’s nice to go home after a day at the range and not deal with joint pain from a large caliber pistol.

          • Daweo;

            The 200-grain “police” load of the .41 was for a time (1965-73) the standard load for San Francisco PD in the S&W M58 M&P fixed-sight 4″ .41 mag. The combination was intended to provide equivalent “stopping power” (an undefinable term favored by gun writers) to the .357 Magnum without the use of expanding bullets, which the press was dead-set against per the Geneva Convention. (In fact, they were confusing GC with the Hague Accords, and neither one ever applied to non-military use anyway.)

            “Dirty Harry” Callahan did in fact have a real-life parallel, in that detectives were authorized to carry the adjustable-sight S&W M57 .41 with either 4″ or 6″ barrel. You may be interested to know that in the iconic “do you feel lucky?” scene in the 1971 movie, Clint Eastwood was holding a 6″ M57 .41, not a 6 1/2″ M29 .44.

            As long as officers and detectives stuck to the 200 grain (which delivered 360 FPE at the muzzle), things went moderately well. Recoil was relatively light in a 41-ounce revolver, and the semi-flat-nosed lead bullet was about as effective as a .45 ACP 230-grain FMJ. Hardly surprising, as the .41 “police” was basically a ballistic twin of the .45 GI hardball, or for that matter the old .38-40 WCF in a Colt Peacemaker.

            Then officers noted that the 200-grain wasn’t exactly terrific at penetrating auto glass. This was and is a very real problem in police work going back to the “Motor Bandits” of pre-WW1 France.

            (See The Bonnot Gang by Richard Parry; BTW, it’s a fascinating book if you’re at all interested in the history of the anarchist movement in Europe at the time;



            Faced with the fact that as far as the 200-grain was concerned, a VW Beetle might as well be an SdKfz 232/1, officers switched to the 210-grain JSP load. Which was intended as a hunting load equivalent to the 240-grain JSP in the .44 Magnum.

            With 850 FPE at the muzzle, it definitely was. It was also definitely hard on the revolvers and the officers. Range scores went down, but more importantly so did results on the street. Accuracy was degraded to the point that officers were losing gunfights. This is not optimal.

            Eventually, SFPD retired the M58 and went to various .357 Magnum revolvers before joining the changeover to automatics, in their case the Glock 17 9mm. By then, expanding bullets had become “acceptable” to the press because it could be argued that they reduced overpenetration. (Which they do, as I have demonstrated to skeptics on several occasions with blocks of ballistic gelatin.)

            But on the whole, if everybody had just settled on the .357 or 9 x 19mm to begin with, I think all concerned would have had a lot less aggravation.



          • The whole business with .45/.44 revolver cartridges is rather funny. The .45 Colt, .44 Russian and the .455 Webley cartridges were known for their reasonably reliable performance as “man stoppers” in military and law enforcement. The .44 Special was then created as a modernized version of the .44 Russian to replicate their performance for self-defense guns. However, it was not powerful enough for Elmer Keith and his buddies, and in the 1950s they finally convinced Remington to come up with the .44 Magnum. The rest is history; the .44 Special was almost forgotten for decades and only recently it has seen a small renaissance as many people have realized that for defensive purposes the weight and power of .44 Magnum is unnecessary and may in fact be detrimental.

          • EW;

            What I find interesting about the .44 Special is that the 246-grain factory RNL from most manufacturers leaves the muzzle at about 750 F/S for 300 FPE- not noticeably better than a .38 Special 158 grain RNL at 900 for about the same KE.

            Recent factory loads with 200-grain JHPs crank velocity up to 900 F/S and energy to about 350 FPE. Which puts it in the same ballpark as, surprise, 9 x 19mm or .45 ACP standard-velocity loads.

            As I said, nostalgia is the main reason to favor these. Although if I’m going that route, never mind .44 Special, I’ll get a Peacemaker clone and repro Winchester lever-action in .44-40 WCF.

            A 200-grain SP at 1200 for 640 out of the rifle barrel, and about 1000 for 450 out of the revolver barrel trumps all of the above, even the vaunted .45 LC (255 at 850 for 405).

            You could argue that in the Old West, the .44-40 Winchester Center Fire was the real “.44 Magnum”.



          • There are hotter loads than 200 grain @ 900 fps available for the .44 Special these days: http://www.ballistics101.com/44_special.php

            I’m kind of sceptical about the .44-40 attaining 1000 fps with a 200 grain bullet with the original black powder loading and shorter than a 6″ barrel. Black powder really likes long barrels and revolver barrels in general were longer back in the late 18th century on average. Even modern smokeless pistol powder loadings still show a marked improvement in muzzle velocity when going from 3-4″ barrels to 6″ barrels, like for example the BBTI results for .44 Special show: http://www.ballisticsbytheinch.com/44special.html

            Still, I still agree with the assertion that .44/.45 pistols make little sense for self defense in the age of reliable expanding bullets. However, if you positively must have a .44 revolver for that purpose, .44 Special is the most sensible choice.

          • Daweo thanks for making me smile today. I got Bruce McCalls book “Zany Afternoons” on a family vacation when i was 10. I really enjoyed that book as a child. Brings back memories.

  3. That is very cool!
    It’s the first one of that particular style that I’ve seen, and it has set an old idea away again.

    The Decker revolver from the first years of the 20th century is another twist on the same idea.
    I’ll look the Decker patents out and link them.

    Incidentally H&K had a patent for a fully shrouded revolver cylinder, the patent drawings show a big game rifle with a revolver cylinder!
    IIRC, it’s lapsed 🙂

  4. It seems, the inventors had thought some precautions to minimize the effects of cylinder gap blast when firing; the large head space permits swelling the the base of weak rim fire round as forcing the cylinder forward by the aid of camming push of cylinder rotation hand as minimizing the gap and excess flash would be directed to the forth through the shield openings at both sides which should be open via the position of holding fingers.

    • A palm size Nagant gas seal. I like that idea.

      It’s a little small for ADEn revolver cannon style floating cylinder gap sealing tubes.

      • Add an integral suppressor, and you’d have a very efficient assassination weapon. Load it with frangible (plastic or even tempered glass) hollow-cored bullets with a cargo of some nasty poison (boomslang venom comes to mind), and even the low muzzle energy of the round wouldn’t really be an issue. All it would have to do would be penetrate clothing and still have enough remaining KE to penetrate the skin and unload its “payload” inside the body.

        It also wouldn’t leave empty cartridge cases or identifiable bullets behind to be picked up by inquisitive people like, well, me.

        I’d say I hope the Three Letter Agencies here and abroad don’t read this, but they’ve probably had something like it in their “toyshops” for decades.



        • And I suppose if I fix the poison to be something like digitalis, the victim suddenly dies of a heart attack a few minutes after getting shot…

    • Related patent 172213, does not have any of these precautions however. It seems, experiments before the serial manufature, directed the inventors to get the remedies like, twin front exhaust channels and large recoil shield/cylinder back gap enabling controllable headspace swell to force
      the chamber forward for minimum gap between cylinder and barrel throat. With LDC’s statement about the strictures of that era, these palm revolvers seem almost usable.

  5. Quite so — except that it would have been even less pleasant for the fellow at the receiving end at close range.

  6. I’m with Strongarm here — those gaps in the front shield can’t be just viewing ports, since each of them is accompanied by that triangular channel or indentation in the frame that just happens to lead to the front cylinder gap. My guess is that the cylinder gap blast would be directed forward and outward on both sides of the frame.

    I think we forget in this modern era the strictures on gentleman who strolled outdoors in the 1880s — they would no more go without a hat or gloves (even in the warmest weather) than they would go out without trousers. A lady would wear gloves as well. This weapon might not have been such a burning danger to shoot as all that.

  7. Novice question: Why wouldn’t you just draw and hold the butt with one hand, and pull the trigger with the other, rather than trying to do such one-handed (similar to the TV western of drawing with one hand, and ‘fanning’ the hammer with the other)?

    • Mainly an excellent chance of getting your second finger on the “off” hand in front of the muzzle.

      One often-overlooked problem with very small pistols with “unconventional” profiles is the ease with which you can fire them into your own digits inadvertently.

      About the only “micro gun” of unconventional layout that addressed this problem was the French Turbiaux “palm squeezer” and its American descendant, the “Chicago Protector” palm pistol;


      The barrel protruding between the second and third fingers made it just about impossible to “poke” yourself in a pinkie.



      • Notice that 19th century handguns were designed to be fired with one hand – this is why they are called handguns rather than handsguns, usage of one hand also survived in shooting sport (see OLYMPIC PISTOL STANCE)

      • I apologize for using the term “fanning” in my question (sometimes the mind is not as fast as it used to be). When I asked the question, what I ‘pictured’ in my mind was using the pinky finger as the trigger finger; or holding it upside down w/ one hand, and using the trigger finger on the other. I would add to your comment about “unconventional profiles” that even a conventional profile small pistol can endanger one’s fingers; as I need to be extra careful shooting my Jennings J22, whereas none of my fingers are ever in front of the muzzle of my Webley. Sincerely, Iwoots.

  8. The name Peavey is well-known here in Maine. Joseph Peavey was a blacksmith born in 1799, who invented an improved cant hook (used for rolling logs) after watching a river drive of saw-logs on the Penobscot River near Stillwell. Peavey went to his shop and made improvements to the design, which to this day bears his name, but is also called a cant dog. I have used one.
    Peavey invented the cant dog in 1858, and went on to manufacture them. He died in 1873, but the firm was continued by two grandsons, James H. Peavey and C.A. Peavey. The grandsons moved to Bangor and changed the company’s name to the Bangor Edge Tool Company. I wonder if C.A. could be the Andrew who co-developed this gun?

  9. I hit the jackpot. Finally found my copy of Dwight B. Demeritt, Jr’s “Maine Made Guns and Their Makers”, published by “Friends of the Maine State Museum in 1997. Andrew J. Peavey has 5 separate references, and there are numerous pictures as well…
    Peavey produced nearly 600 (serial numbers of existing specimens range from 30 to 575)folding knife pistols in his little shop in Montville, with patent dates in 1865 and 1866. The 1876 patent for the Little All Right is also pictured, signed by the inventors. Edward Palmer Boardman secured a patent in Great Britain the next year, but there are no existing British versions. He died in 1880.
    There is also a picture of a Little All Right with its original packing box. Andrew had a twin brother, Thomas Jefferson Peavey, who is pictured with Andrew in photographs on Page 250, along with a very nice example of the Boardman and Peavey pistol.
    So, Andrew J. Peavey was not C.A. Peavey, but since every one of the Peaveys I have found listed from the second half of the 19th century was a blacksmith or machinist, I strongly suspect all were fairly closely related. Peavey’s shop in Montville still existed in the 1930’s, and numerous unfinished castings, wooden patterns, and parts were rescued by a local historian. These are also pictured in the book.

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