2mm-chambered pinfire handguns are usually about 2 inches in length and have a bullet speed of nearly one thousand feet per second. They count a huge variety of models and mostly produced in limited numbers, as collectables. The most popular 2mm pinfire gun is the so-called Berloque pistol. So the particular attention deserves an overview ofits history.
These firing devices are one of the world’s smallest working pistols. The general public learned about them from German catalog in 1910, where miniature firearms called “Berloque” were represented. This was the alternative to “Pistolet Breloque,” which appearance in French catalog was a few years earlier. Tiny pistols were called so for being usually acquired as a fob watch pendant.It is believed, that the first Berloque single shot pistol, which used pinfire cartridges, was developed by Austrian watchmaker— Franz Pfannl. This name is well known for all collectors. He invented some decorative little arms models and put them into production himself. Because of his basic specialization, he used to make an accent on thecomplicated construction of his models more than on milling or casting, as other manufacturers did. Not only did he design all his pistols but also the machines used to produce them.
Franz Pfannl patented his creation in 1899. So Austria is considered to be The Motherland of Berloques. On the first picture, you can see the earliest of the berloque pistol designs, which corresponds to the diagram in Franz Pfannl’s patent of July 24, 1899. Note especially the ring trigger. As with many of the earliest guns, the barrel pivot is a screw rather than a rivet. The grip design is unusual and has not been encountered in any of the later gun produced by Pfannl. This is an extremely rare piece.
Since 1905, many Austrian manufacturers, such as Gerhard Göbharter Company, had been producing these firearms in their own varieties. Usually, such pistols could fire blanks, but some versions of advertisement also speak about lead balls and bullets. Now, these models are antique and have value mostly for collectors. After 1938, Gerhard Göbharter started manufacturing new models, which worked asa single shot flare pistol. Germany and Japan are also well-known as the countries that produced Berloque guns from 1930’s.
The early German firearms of this kind were usually made of solid nickel and silver and had thicker side plates than Austrian or Japanese guns, which were made of steel or brass, and nickel plated. The other difference – German handguns don’t have combination breech blocks, instead there is a tab bent over from the side plate is used. They also don’t have detachable grips usually, in their construction grip patterns are stamped into the thick sides. All of them have barrel latch pins and side springs. These facts show that German manufacturers did their best to rich higher level quality.
Japanese varieties were not similar to well-crafted Austrian guns. They were usually made from three layers of brass. Their barrels were held in place by friction, sometimes produced by a dimple on the barrel mount. In earlier models, it was assisted by a small spring, which also served as a breech block. The barrels of these first Japanese versions were drilled through. Later they were redesigned, late models have plugged barrels vented to the side. This type of barrels makes it impossible to fire live cartridges, only blanks can be used.
Today, the only model that is still being manufactured is Berloque pistol flare kit. It is produced by Gerhard Göbharter’s descendants in Austria. Berloque flare kit is used to entertain at parties or birthdays producing impressive fireworks. The pistol is made of brass and represented in two variations: golden-plated or nickel-plated. It has grips stamped with hunting themes. The kit consists of 2mm pinfire blanks (for launching the flare), nine signal rockets and one 9 mm removable nozzle where the flare should be inserted.
No live ammo has ever been officially produced for these modern Berloques, as they are used as asignal or flare guns. Still, they can shoot live ammo. Having a through-barrel, this gun can fire both the round-top and the flat-top live cartridges. But it’s not advised: barrel wears out fast enough, and the gun becomes worthless.
The price of this pistol is quite democratic and starts from about 70$. The flare kit and antique Berloque variants can be found in some online stores.
2 mm pinfire revolvers
But let’s talk about more solid multi-charge handguns. They were produced in late 1800th and early 1900th in France, Belgium and Germany and wore the name that we have already heard: Berloque (by the way, one of them you can see in the ad from German catalogue above, beside Pfannl’s pistols). Their price at that time was about 30 Reichsmark, that was a small fortune. Today they are the rarest of antique 2mm pinfire guns and, probably, the most beautiful and intricate. They have a six-shot double action mechanism. Usually, they are made of steel and covered with decorative finishes: nickel, silver, gold. Their metal parts are decorated with beautiful hand engravings. For grips, pearl or ivory are used.
It is known that Franz Pfannl also produced a double action miniature revolver, but we don’t have many specimens today. Probably, it had never been given to mass-production due to the high manufacture cost. Nevertheless, this niche didn’t stay empty. A German arms manufacturer, Herbert Schmid, started producing these revolvers in Berlin, using parts supplied by Pfannl. Interesting fact: he is Pfannl’s countryman, as well as many other German and Austrian armourers that made miniatures. So we see how Pfannl’s talent influenced people around, which helped his ideas to find their embodiment even without his direct participation.
It seems that Schmid stopped manufacturing these pistols at 1940th. The other watchmaker and armourer — Mr. Tschech — hasn’t missed his chance.
The Xythos pinfire revolver
As you may guess, almost all popular 2 mm pinfire guns were invented in Austria. The Xythos automatic revolver was developed by Andres & Dworsky watchmakers’ company, at the end of 1950’s. Mr. Tschech, the creator, was inspired by the legendary Colt Python. The first pre-production model in amount of around 90-120 examples was made in 1959. Guns had brown grips, silver-platedmetal details, and a gold-plated trigger. Later, edited and then accepted version was far beyond the original. Tschech needed to hire a special crew to assemble guns for mass productionwhenthe market was ready to receive them.
As the gun was manufactured by a watchmaker, its parts were stamped precisely from thin brass, then layered, riveted and plated in gold, silver or nickel. It also has aninteresting design: the barrel with the front half of the seven-chamberedcylinder should be hinged down for loading. Only six of the seven chambers can be loaded: the last one had a permanent pin in it to align it with the back half of the cylinder – which is rotated by hand.
This is the only known true 2 mm pinfire 6 shot revolver from 60’s and up to these days. In 1970 Andres & Dworsky got a patent for the Xythos. Thereafter, they’ve changed a 9 ridge swept up hammer to a 9 ridge straight up hammer, so it became closer to the original design of a full-size revolver.The last modification of this gun appeared in 1999. It had finer detailing of the barrel and around the front of the frame. The set was similar to Berlogue. Complete with a revolver there were pinfire blanks, rockets, and an extra cylinder.
Now, this gun is a part of history: the company stopped manufacturing recently. So the Xythos pinfire revolver is the desired object on a shelf of every collector.
And what about modern 2 mm pinfire guns?
Today many craftsmen throughout the world make miniatures not as serial products, but as unitary collectables. This theme is popular, especially in the USA. One of the most known and interesting masters that come from this country is Larry Smith. For many years he made some of the finest miniatures available. Not only did he copy prototypes’ mechanisms precisely, but also invented his own models. One of his works you can see on the picture below. The master has made a limited number of such guns in different varieties.
Most people have heard about Derringer pistols. But what do they most likely imagine when hearing the word “Derringer”? Probably, Wild West… Actually, Derringer is a misspelled name of the famous pocket pistols maker from the 19th century — Henry Deringer. It became a generic term for any compact,easily concealed pistol. Due to its extra-small size, it was often used by women, for being easily hidden in purses or stockings. Derringer pistol with thecaliber of 0.44” (11.2 mm) is also known as the firearm which killed the president Abraham Lincoln.
Bob Urso is another well-known American craftsman and miniature firearms collector. Some of his pistols are made for sale, and some are designed just for his own collector’s pleasure. It is one of them. This 2 mm pinfire one shot pistol is called “Tiny Derringer” or “Irish Derringer.” The master says, its prototypes are all brass Irish Knuckle Duster Derringers. The small variant is made of steel; it is nickel-plated and has a round purple-hearted wooden grip.
Some people say that Irish Derringer is the smallest 2 mm pinfire gun in the world. For this caliber, it can be true. But, generally speaking, today the market of miniature firearms has much finer pistols of this type.
Our own tiny Derringer
People always tried to achieve impossible. The human’s nature is an eternal race with himself. The fastest, the strongest, the hardest… the smallest.
No matter why people need mini firearm – for a present, for collection or as a tribute to childhood. It does not seem surprising that miniature guns don’t lose their popularity as time goes by.
And without too much modesty we would like to show you our own matter of pride: the Miniature Derringer, which is made of 14K gold and even has special exclusive material in its grips: mammoth bone. Its caliber is only 1 mm, and still, it fires and even pierces metal sheets! Watch the video below to make sure we are right.
If you want to acquire this gun, please, feel free to contact us in any convenient way. More information about the model and its price you can find here.