When you see a tiny pistol that easily fits on the tip of your finger – you usually remember the fairy tales about the battles of tin soldiers. But if you think that a miniature model of firearms is a kind of toy, you are mistaken. Collecting such things is a hobby for many adults and very serious people: high-ranking officials and representatives of the business elite. And this activity is gaining popularity.
What is especially in demand? Things that no one else has! It means an exclusive mini-weapons designs, handmade items. Their value depends on the complexity and the size of the mechanism. The smaller the scale – the more valuable the product is. Of course, provided that it retains its ability to fire like its original. Decreasing size masters often simplify the mechanism and significantly change it – the laws of physics make it impossible to reproduce all the nuances and small details. And, nevertheless, we don’t talk about fakes, but about miniature guns that shoot. Collectors of all countries «hunt» them regardless of the price and geographical distances.
Miniature models of revolvers
According to the Guinness book of records, the smallest of them is currently the «SwissMiniGun» – the copy of the «Colt Python», very close to the original, which is manufactured in Switzerland. One note: it is the smallest revolver from those that are mass-produced and shoot live ammunition. If we talk about other types of miniature firearms (for example, single-shot pistols), made by private masters, we will find samples with much smaller dimensions, which also retain their functionality. However, the creators of the «SwissMiniGun» embody the idea of a six-shot mechanism with the size of twenty-three per cent of the original. And besides, they were not too lazy to get an official confirmation from the experts of the Guinness World Records book. Here, however, we should note another fact, casting doubt on their decision: there is a smaller revolver branded «Xythos», made in Austria. But it is designed for skyrockets and is considered to be a sporting gun.
The revolver «Xythos» has a caliber of 2 mm, its length is 40 mm and height – 28 mm, without ammunition it weighs 14 grams. However, it significantly increases the size if you put a special attachment on the barrel that allows you to expand the capabilities of the weapon. This miniature firearm shoots not only skyrockets but also pin cartridges. It looks quite impressive.
Nevertheless, it is believed that the smallest six-shot revolver is the «SwissMiniGun». View this model more closely.
Its size – 55x35x10 mm, and weight – 19.8 grams. The cylinder tilts to the left side, a trigger mechanism operates on the principle of double action. In contrast of the prototype, this gun has an additional trigger located on the bracket. This is necessary because nobody can put a finger inside the bracket, but the manufacturers didn’t want to remove it (apparently, in order to keep the similarity with the original).
Ammunition, which is used in the revolver, is also manufactured by «SwissMiniGuns» in the city of La Chaux-de-Fonds, especially for its products. These rimfire cartridges have a 2.34 mm caliber. Their sleeves are made of PTFE and contain lead bullets. Bullet energy is less than 1 J, which makes the gun suitable only for shooting at simple wooden targets at close distance. The cost of one cartridge is about 10 dollars.
The gun comes in two versions: steel in a leather holster or gold, encrusted with diamonds and decorated with engraving (manufacturers also can use ivory in handles decoration). Such exclusive expensive exemplars are made according to the wishes of the customer, with personal sketches. They are sold in elegant wooden boxes. The kit also contains a chain with a ring (that enables you to wear the pistol as a trinket), two sets with 24 cartridges – blank and live, and tools for cleaning.
As for the technology of production – the company keeps that a secret. However, it’s not hard to guess that this is not a highly automated process, because the production of one item takes about three months. The author of the idea and the owner of the company «SwissMiniGuns», watchmaker, Paul Erard, says that every year they sell about 100 usual steel revolvers and 25 golden ones, mainly in the countries of the Middle and Far East. Perhaps the business would have been more active if manufacturers had lowered the price a little: now, even an ordinary steel version costs $6700, and the price of the gold revolver, decorated individually, is not disclosed (it depends on the nuances) but anyway – it usually starts from $ 60,000. At the same time the queue of buyers is so long that customers have to wait six months for delivery. In addition to long terms of manufacturing, it should be noted that these miniature firearms are not sold in some countries, including Britain and America: their legislation contains restrictions on the import of weapons, as a result – legal import is impossible. So the inhabitants of these countries, who dream about filling their collections with the smallest pistol in the world, should think about other options available in the market.
Miniature guns that shoot: ancient and modern models
The favourite James Bond’s weapon, «Beretta» (1934), was created by an American master Bob Urso. The internal structure is significantly simplified and amended, so that the gun can use two-millimeter pin cartridges.
Revolver «Colt Open Top» by the same master. It has a five-shot cylinder, which is rotated by hand and fixed with a special spring. It uses the same 2 mm Lafoshe cartridges (the main kind of ammunition which is produced for mini-firearms). The frame and metal parts in this model are made of nickel-plated brass, while pearl or wood can be used in the handle.
German «Luger» on the scale of 1: 4. It is made by a Czech master Stan Stenekom in 2000. Fun fact: the master’s main profession is a musician, not a mechanic or a jeweler. As you can see, artistic people can be fond of miniature guns that shoot. The price of this specimen is also about six thousand dollars.
Pistol «Berloque», which is often called «a shooting Keychain». Its length is 4 cm, the barrel is absent, the nozzle replaces it. In the nozzle are a capsule and a cartridge, and the gun’s body contains only a trigger mechanism. The model works on the principle of mortars and shoots 9 mm rackets (notice, that its own height is 20 mm). It can’t shoot live cartridges. But the rockets fired from this gun can go up to a height of 25 meters, and their light is visible from the distance of several thousand meters at night. So, it can be used not only for domestic fireworks but also for signaling. The manufacturer gives a twenty-year warranty on the product.
We should also mention the antique models, which were issued at the beginning of the last century in Germany and Austria. According to the principle of work, they could be a single shot type, magazine type and revolver type. Their caliber was the same as in «SwissMiniGun». But the design significantly distinguishes them among today’s «brothers»: the beauty and quality in old days meant much more. The cost of these ancient samples, of course, is corresponding. It is hard to give the exact price, it all depends on how rare the selected exemplar is and how interesting it is from a historical point of view.
By the way, the previous model «Berloque» was started from one of them: in 1905, the creator of its first prototype was the Austrian, Gerhard Gebharter.
«Kolibri» pistol, Austria, 1914. Firearms of magazine type, its automatic operates on the principle of free shutter. It was created for the central ignition cartridges with a caliber 2,7 mm. The total quantity of such guns is about 1000.
«Kolibri» revolver, Austria, 1940. This is a later Franz Pfannl’s creation – it is the same inventor who made the previous gun. The distinctive features of this model – self-cocking principle of action and the cylinder with fixation. In the market, these products were positioned not just as souvenirs, but also as arms for self-defense.
«Lafoshe» revolver (1855), the scale of 1/6, Tula State Arms Museum (Russia). The work by unknown master. Its length is 35 mm, weight – 8.97 grams. The gun has caliber 1,5 mm and shoots blanks. The length of its cartridge is less than 4 mm.
The smallest gun in the world
Among the single-shot models that are commercially available, the smallest one is this «Derringer» pistol with one millimeter caliber. Its dimensions are stunning: the length is 25 mm (twice less than «SwissMiniGun»), weight – 2.3 grams (9 times less). This gun shoots live ammunition with central ignition and steel bullets. The shot has enough power to pierce a metal can. This weapon is produced only in an expensive version: gold or silver. In the decoration rare materials can be used, such as mammoth bone. Precious metals are used in all the parts of the gun, except two Swiss watch springs. However, the cost of this model, compared with the «SwissMiniGun», surprises: it’s only $1200. Delivery time is also much shorter, and it can be sold to any country. At the moment, it is in all senses the world’s smallest miniature gun that shoots. You can learn more about it here.