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.25 Colt Vest Pocket vs. Kel-tec P32

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Compact defensive firearms, often called mouseguns for their diminitive size and minimal power, have been around since 1840s. Originally meant for women, they were mostly single-shot percussion pistols termed muff guns (kept concealed inside handmuffs). Larger and slightly more powerful pistols produced in the following decade became known as derringers, after the most successful brand. Smith & Wesson had further advanced the type by introducing a .22 rimfire revolver in the late 1850s. Next big advance came in the early 20th century, with .25 "Baby" Brownings and Colt Vest Pocket models.

All of these handguns suffered from one or more problems: weak cartridge, poor reliability, dismal accuracy. The most powerful caliber has traditionally been 7.65mm(.32) and guns like Mauser HSC, though small, were fairly heavy. The least powerful caliber has been .22 Short, which had entirely inadequate stopping power. Worse yet, many small handguns of the early 20th century were mechanically primitive and weak, compromising safety.

Small revolvers had an additional problem to contend with: they used ammunition meant for longer barrels and produced considerable muzzle blast. The light weight of all mouseguns also meant that recoil was usually jarring and not condusive to keeping in practice.

classic .32 pistols In addition to technical problems, regulations forced on Americans in 1968 had prohibited importation of small pistols. Domestic production has gradually filled the void and we can only hope that legislation does not curtail it anytime soon. California's politicians are trying to do just that right now using restrictive Canadian regulations as a model.

Recently, improvements in materials and manufacturing techniques enabled numerous improvements in tiny weapons. Perhaps the most remarkable model to appear on the market is Kel-tec P32. In my opinion, it represents the greatest advance in mouseguns since the Colt .25 of 1906.

To begin with, it is truly diminitive...

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