RIA: Praga 1921 One-Handed Pocket Pistol

This cute little pocket pistol was an early project of Vaclav Holek, who would become much better known for his work with the ZB-26 light machine gun and ZH-29 rifle. It is a very small .25ACP selfloader, intended to be operated with one hand only. The trigger locks into a folded position to allow smooth carry and draw, and drops down for use then the slide is slightly retracted. The contoured cutout atop the slide allows for the use of the index finger to operate the slide. Only about 8,000 of the Praga 1921 were made – not a complete flop, but not successful enough to remain in production for long.


    • Twin recoil springs upside, no safety latch, all flat costruction and no clue how to be taken down. However, it seems a narrow latch underside, behind the hinged trigger. It should be the piece for initial disassembly.

      • This site;http://www.vhu.cz/exhibit/praga-model-21/ exhibits several photos and sectional drawings beyond some info.

        Text says, slide is a stamped part and one of the twin springs at top is stiker spring. Take down seems accomplished by first pressing the back side of latch behind the hinged trigger up and drawing the trigger with engaged action bar forward and lastly taking off the slide with barrel forwards.

        • Hey, I am impressed you manage to understand it; good for you. If you are stuck at something anyway, let me know. 🙂

  1. “to be operated with one hand only”
    For other .25 automatic pistol which can be operated in such manner see SIG Chylewski – http://unblinkingeye.com/Guns/Lignose/BL002/CHY1/chy1.html

    “Only about 8,000 of the Praga 1921 were made – not a complete flop, but not successful enough to remain in production for long.”
    Does this automatic pistol has successor? – other automatic pistol of VEST POCKET AUTOMATIC PISTOL produced directly after it in Praga.

  2. Very coolly ingenious.
    I theorize there to be more fear of getting shot in the earlier 20th century, even by the lowly .25 ACP. Despite the recent carnage of WW1 and the rapid advances in more modern surgery because of it, it’s well to remember there was little or nothing available in the way of antibiotics to control infection. Developing a sudden series of 25 caliber holes, small as they may be, anywhere in one’s abdomen was pretty much a slow and painful death sentence…and pretty much everybody knew it. The ‘miracle’ Sulfa drugs were well in the future, and even they were suffering from gross greed-driven marketing disasters. Penicillin even farther ahead
    In any case, with the possible exception of Steve Crane, nobody likes to be shot, but having a 25 auto waved in your face likely carried more discouragement to the wavee than today.

    • I think people generally underestimate the lethality of gun shot wounds. If you are hit with several .25 FMJ bullets in the torso, there is a pretty high chance that at least one of them is lethal within minutes. With some bad luck, even a single .25 or .22 bullet can be lethal and not just through hits to the head or heart. Damage to major arteries or significant damage to the liver will kill a person in minutes unless you have a full surgical team standing by next to you. Hits to the spinal column will leave you disabled, and yes, even .25 ACP FMJ bullets have enough penetration to go through a normal person and hit the spine.

      Many people (I don’t mean you) do not seem to fully understand the difference between immediatelly disabling and lethality. Pretty much all pistol calibers from .22 Short upwards are highly lethal, but smaller calibers are less likely to immediatelly disable a person, it seems, outside of direct hits to the head or heart (yes, I know that even heart wounds are not 100% immediatelly disabling). Exactly why that is remains somewhat of a mystery, because the systemic effects of gunshot wounds are not very well understood.

      • “.25 FMJ bullets”
        According to manual for Korovin TK pistol, penetration is:
        At distance 25 m, all bullets pierce 2.5 pine planks, each 1″ thick with 3″ spaces between them.
        At distance 7 m, bullet pierced 4 pine planks, each 17mm thick with 7mm spaces between them.

  3. The Praga may be “cute”, but it’s overly complex with the spring-down folding trigger (see; Colt Paterson).

    Also, the contoured finger grip atop the slide could easily be missed if the user’s fingers are gloved, stiff with cold, wet, etc. Frankly, it’s a bit too well “streamlined”.

    The Lignose Einhand .25 was a much simpler and more practical application of the same principle;


    Other than its “forefinger hook”, it was basically a .25 Baby Browning, minus the grip safety. Which Browning himself omitted on later designs as an unneeded complication (i.e., P-35).

    As .25 pocket autos go, it doesn’t get much simpler than that.



    • I think a JO.LO.AR would be just as good as an Einhand pistol in that the slide is racked using more than just your trigger finger!

      • Generally, a .25 doesn’t have strong enough recoil springs to require more force than you can exert with one finger. IIRC, the Lignose was also made in .32 (7.65 Browning) and it didn’t require a lot of force to retract the slide, either.

        It’s a good thing the Praga was a .25 in this respect. Crooking your index finger upward to retract its slide puts your finger’s muscles at a mechanical disadvantage due to skeletal geometry.

        Try angling that finger up and away from the second finger and flexing it; you can feel the knuckle joints “grate” as they try to flex sideways, which they aren’t built for.

        The Praga setup would be difficult to operate with even a .25 and probably almost impossible in a .32, simply due to human finger anatomy.

        As for the Jo.Lo.Ar, that downward-rotating retracting bar has always bothered me. If its retainer wears a bit and it “flips” down when not wanted, it seems well-paced to give the shooter a sharp rap across the knuckles with every shot.

        I’d call it an automatic flinch-inducer.



  4. Old school deep concealment. Charge it with one or two hands and its made out of steel. Made in Czechoslovakia. I like it.

  5. It almost appears if the operating slide with the finger groove is a stamped part?

    A neat little piece. I’ll have to dig out some stuff here in the library about Czech arms and designers… I’m half wondering if this Vaclav Holek is the same guy who, before the communist coup in post-WWII Czechoslovakia developed the weird and wonderful SMG in which the operating slide turned a special feed mechanism to tip the cartridges from the magazine seated flush within the stock so they could do a sort of porpoise jump on a feed ramp into the chamber… Maybe that Holek was the same guy, or perhaps a relative…?

  6. This would make an excellent pocket gun for an inter-war film noir character. A femme fatale, maybe?

  7. I have a nice little 2 shot .38 cal Derringer I am very fond of. If I am in need of more than that I done got myself into a jam.

  8. I think this would be a great backup gun. The trigger is safely out of the way. It looks like it could be loaded from the top, so a magazine might not be nessesary. is it self loading?. it looks like it would be pocket safe. Now, a .25ACP is not exactley high caliber, but it is small enough that it could be cocked and ready to fire quickly with a hand out of sight(with some practice) and you have the drop if needed.

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  1. Luxe parasol

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