In the late 19th and early 20th century, science and technology developed and actively improved. This technological advance also included firearms. The invention of smokeless gunpowder reduced the size of ammunition without reducing their capacity. It made weapons more compact. Attempts to find the market demand for small arms led to the creation of really interesting and progressive systems. Weapons became more practical, convenient and easy to use. Sometimes, however, in pursuing fashion to have a compact weapon, armourers designed really funny shooting devices. One of these controversial miniature models is the «Kolibri».
«Kolibri» – the smallest shooting pistol in history
The debate about who is actually a designer of this pistol still continues. It is known that the gun was developed on the base of the «Erika» pistol, which was made by Austrian gunsmith, Franz Pfannl. Therefore, according to one version, he is also the developer of the «Kolibri» gun, and the other Austrian citizen, Georg Grabner, was only his commercial partner.
Opponents say that Franz Pfannl started the development of the «Kolibri» prototype, and he even got a patent №42314, but then he sold the license to George Grabner, who created the «Kolibri» in the form we know now. On the pistol handles, you can often see the initials of Franz Pfannl «FP». According to supporters of the first version, it proves that he has designed the gun. Supporters of Grabner’s authorship argue that the initials were engraved with the two partners’ consent and it was one of the conditions when George Grabner was buying a license from Franz Pfannl.
The miniature pistol «Kolibri», was created for the caliber 2.7 mm round which was designed in 1910 and called Kolibri. Sometimes it can be found in special literature with such designations: 2.7 mm Kolibri Auto Pistol; 2.7 × 9 mm Kolibri; 2 mm Kolibri; 2.7 Kolibri Selbstlade Pistole; 2.7mm Colibri; 2.7 × 9 Kolibri Auto 1913; XCR 03,009 CGC010; SAA 0015. This round was the smallest one with a central ignition capsule and had a bullet shell.
The gun was invented in 1913, and in 1914, it was released to the market, and both companions were engaged in its sales.
Advertising articles in old German magazines extol the weapon’s qualities, emphasizing its reduced (as much as possible) size and weight, ease of handling, easily concealed carrying for the purpose of self-defense and good workmanship. The outbreak of World War II stopped the pistol’s production, and only after its completion in the 20s, did it appear in the market again.
During this period, a second «Kolibri» model was released. It was fitted for a 3-mm round.
This round was similar to the 2.7 mm one with only one difference: its sleeve was shorter and thicker and it had a shell-less lead bullet. Perhaps using a lead bullet (which was more flexible than the bullet with shell), designers tried to achieve better obturation and to increase the power of the firearm, because miniature barrels had no rifling. A 3-mm Kolibri round sometimes can be found in directories under the following names: 3.1 × 8.25; 3 × 8 mm Kolibri Auto 1914; 3 mm Kolibri Selbstlade pistole; XCR 03 008 010 CGC, SAA 0025.
The automatic pistol «Kolibri» (Kolibri) works due to free shutter recoil. The gun consists of a shutter, a barrel unit, parts of a trigger mechanism, a detachable box magazine, a framework and its details. Many of the gun’s parts are technological, including the frame that is manufactured by stamping.
The shutter moves along the inner grooves of the frame and is mounted there with a transverse screw. On the right side of the shutter is the ejector. The receiver is installed in the barrel jamb (which is welded to the frame) and fixed there with a transverse pin. A recoil spring is located in the barrel unit over the trunk channel; its guide rod is connected to the shutter.
The design of the gun is completed with the rear of the frame and two side plates that connect the frame, the barrel jamb and the barrel unit, and evenly distribute dynamic loads that occur during firing. The right side plate has a window for the sleeve ejection. The barrel channel is smooth, as the technologies of that time did not allow making rifling in the barrel of such a small diameter.
There are plastic cheek-pieces fixed with the screws on the side surfaces of the handle. Cheek-pieces have a knurled surface and they are marked with the abbreviation «FP» in the top part and the inscription «KOLIBRI» at the bottom (usually only on the right cheek). Some guns have the inscription «KREMSa \ D» instead of the inscription «KOLIBRI».
A box-type magazine is detachable and its capacity is 6 rounds. At the bottom of the magazine, there is a rod with a disc tip for convenient extraction. This gun has a simple striker type trigger mechanism.
When you set the hammer cocked, its tip protrudes from the rear of the shutter, and performs a signal pin function. The flag type fuse is located on the right side of the frame and when the fuse is on, it blocks the trigger mechanism.
The sight consists of a slotted pillar located in the upper part of the shutter body. There are no muzzle-sights on most of these guns. Currently, you can find some exemplars having rounded muzzle-sights on their receivers (there was also the image of a gun with a muzzle-sight in the magazine advertising).
All parts of the gun are assembled by screws. For this reason, dismantling is not a problem, but at the same time it is quite laborious occupation because of small screws, miniature parts and miserable gaps between interacting parts of the weapons. If you tighten the mounting screws a little harder than it should, the pistol’s automatic may start to falter.
Dismantling includes the following operations: detach a magazine (it should be noted that its latch is convenient); remove the screw that fixes the shutter in the frame; remove the screw which passes through the return spring in the barrel unit; extract the shutter, moving it back along the frame grooves, remove the recoil spring and the guide rod; remove the screw and detach the side plates and the cheeks of the handle. Then, extract the rear part from the frame (after unscrewing the fixing screws); extract parts of the trigger mechanism; detach a barrel unit. During assembly (the same actions in the reverse order), you should provide careful adjustment of the shutter and the frame.
There are markings on some arms details (on receivers, on shutters, on triggers) in the form of stamps that indicate the year of manufacture and serial number.
The «Kolibri» pistol is most common in standard variant having a total length of 68 mm, height 46 mm, width 10 mm, length of barrel 32 mm, weight 70 grams without cartridges (data are presented according to the instructions for the gun). There are guns with different barrel lengths and weapon lengths, respectively.
It had a variety of gun accessories such as a holster-purse and beautiful boxes for storing. Ordinary pistol variants had steel or nickel-plated parts and black plastic handle cheeks. Some guns had smooth pearl handles.
Expensive varieties of pistols had not only pearl handles, but also were engraved and had a gilded finish on their metal parts.
The «Kolibri» pistol was not widely used, and in the mid-thirties of the 20th century, its release was discontinued. About 1000 copies were produced totally. The reasons that influenced the demand were stiff competition in the civilian weapons market and disadvantages of this model. The main disadvantages include low shot power, due to weak ammunition and the lack of rifling on the barrel. The gun allows a bullet caliber of 2.7 mm to speed up to 200 m/s, which is barely enough to dip the bullet in dry pine at a depth of 40 mm. The presence of small screws and parts did not contribute to the ease of using this gun. Its owners complained about the inconvenience connected with aiming and charging the magazine.
In the 20th century, this miniature pistol attracted the attention of people who like unconventional firearms. In our time, the gun is extremely popular among collectors, as it is the smallest of the mass-produced automatic pistols.
New challenge from miniature pistols producers!
The story which you read above does not mean that there are no other similar arms of an even smaller size that can be charged and fire real bullets. Referring to the works of private masters, you can find many examples. There are Tula gunsmiths’ arms with the caliber of 1 mm, German mini-guns, and some models from US manufacturers. Of course, they are not released in bulk: such things are intended only for connoisseurs and collectors, and their shot power is usually not enough even to damage the palm of the hand, shooting at close range. Combining small size and functionality is a very difficult technical problem. As a rule, something must necessarily be sacrificed. But not always.
The miniature pistol presented on our website combines unprecedented size and excellent shot power. Its length – 25 mm, height – 15 mm; weight – 2.3 gram. Barrel length –14 mm, caliber – 1 mm. The central ignition cartridges, which are used to charge it, weigh only 0.04 grams. They include a special explosive mixture and bullets made of hardened steel, which save their shape after hitting any surface. The shot of this miniature arms is powerful enough to pierce through a tin plate (for example, the side of a can).
This model is created by mechanics and jewelers. It is a replica of the “Derringer” gun on the scale of 1:6. Besides the fact that it is the smallest acting pistol in the world, it is also a precious piece of jewelry (so it can adorn not only a collection of miniature weapons, but also its owner directly). This thing can be worn as a pendant and looks very stylish and unusual. The pistol is made of two types of gold: white and red. Red gold is used in its body, white gold – in the barrel and internal mechanism. This separation is a result of not only aesthetic goals, but also because white gold is harder as it has palladium in its structure, so it can bear more load.
The decoration of the handle is also made of unusual precious material: mammoth bone. So, this pistol has a little antiquity in it. At this moment, only a few copies of this model have been released. And if you want to complete your collection with this exhibit – you can become one of the first collectors who have it! To learn more about the gun, you can contact us in any convenient way. And if you are ready to place an order, you can do so here.