Friday, August 24, 2007

Mousegun Mania!

There's something in the air with mouseguns. Everybody's talkin' 'bout 'em. So I thought I'd post a handy little primer on the mousegun.

Mousegun. n. A small, concealable handgun typically chambered in a smallish caliber (i.e. less than .4X). Here are some examples of the genre.

Starting with the largest and working down to smallest, we have:

Russian Makarov in .380 ACP (also available in the slightly more powerful 9X18 Makarov chambering). 8+1 rounds of ammunition capability. Weight is approximately 24 ounces, as this is an all-steel firearm. Solid, heavy, and (not) surprisingly accurate, the Makarov is almost too large and heavy to be a true mousegun.

Smith & Wesson J-frame snubbie. This particular model is the 360PD, a scandium-framed monster chambered for the very powerful .357 Magnum caliber. This gun weighs 12 ounces empty, holds 5 rounds, and is not for the faint of wrist. It can fire the less-powerful but still quite adequate .38 special round with significant less "ouchie" factor.

Kel-Tec P3AT in .380 ACP. Weighing in at a scant 8.3 ounces empty (!!!), this polymer-framed mini-mouse carries 6+1 rounds of .380 ACP ammunition as configured by the factory. Magazine extensions exist to bring the round count up to 7+1.

4. Jennings J22 in .22LR. This is the Hyundai of mouseguns, a cheap pistol best left as a curiosity rather than a legitimate defensive firearm. It carries 6+1 rounds of .22LR ammo in a 13-16 ounce package (don't have access to a scale, and that's the weight range I found listed).

Colt Junior in .25 ACP. 7+1 rounds of the diminutive .25 ACP caliber. This was Colt's response to the Gun Control Act of 1968 that banned importation of inexpensive small handguns. It's an update of the 1908 Vest Pocket .25, with an external hammer rather than a striker and a mag release on the grip rather than under it.

FIE Derringer in .38 special. 2 round capacity. No idea what the weight is, but I'd guess around 10-12 ounces empty. Single-action, with firing pin rotating between barrels. I don't recommend Derringers as pocket guns or even as backup guns. With guns like the P3AT (and now P11 and Walther's new PPS) available, it just doesn't make any sense to limit yourself to 2 round capacity.

American Derringers and Bond Arms make a series of ├╝ber derringers chambered in .45 LC, .410 gauge, 10mm, and up to .44 Magnum (I hear there's even a .45-70...). The .38 special is punishing enough; why on earth one would choose to break one's own wrist is a mystery to me, the self-proclaimed recoil junkie...

Here's the smallest of the group, a North American Arms mini-22 revolver. Weight is a feathery 4.5 ounces empty. Five rounds of .22LR. This is the very outer limit of "the gun you have with you is better than the gun you leave at home" - not only is the gun limited to five rounds of .22 LR, but it's fired single-action (manually cocking the hammer for each shot). Additionally, to reload, the entire cylinder needs to be removed from the gun.

There is a version chambered in .22 Magnum, but this gun is hard enough to handle in .22LR that firing the .22 Magnum just seems like an exercise in pain.

So there's my Mousegun primer. If your favorite mousegun isn't on the list, don't take it personally - this is all I got. I would have liked to have gotten a Seecamp or North American Arms Guardian and a Colt 1903 in .32 ACP, and of course a Walther PPK to round out the offerings, but this was a "run what you brung" kinda deal...


knitalot3 said...

Um... I hate to be the One to Tell You... but I think you have a fascination with fire arms.

Yeah, I'm kidding, I knew that.

Anonymous said...

I'm curious about the S&W because I shoot a Dan Wesson .357 Magnum so I'm already comfortable with that much oomph. But what I'm looking for in a mousegun is something I can shove in my front pocket when running into the Quickie-Mart for a pack of lifesavers and a Coke.

Is the S&W thin enough to sit quietly in a pocket or is it wide enough to bulge out?

Anonymous said...

Love the use of the C note for perspective.

Had it been me I would have had to lay out 4 quarters.

West, By God said...

Yeah, I'm not sure the Makarov really qualifies. It's about like my Bersa .380, and I don't consider it a "mousegun". Sure, it isn't a .45... but the .380 is considered a legitimate service round in many countries.

I guess you can define a mousegun by either size or cartridge. To me, a mousegun is both small and uses a "wimpy" cartridge. So a derringer that shoots a .44mag is not a mouse gun. Of course, a .22 rifle is also not a mouse gun. But a .22 derringer certainly is.

Jay G said...


I think that, in my case, fascination is too weak of a word. :)

I come by it honestly - my dad and grandfather were both police officers and hunters, and actually shared a FFL license for a time...


The S&W is definitely "pocketable" - although I wouldn't/don't carry it in jeans. It's more of a cargo pants type pocketable, if you catch my meaning.

Problem, for me, is that with the Kel-Tec I just don't ever take the S&W any more...


Heh. I was going to use a dollar bill, then I remembered that I had a Franklin in the "gun jar" (yes, I have one, doesn't everyone?).


I debated whether the Mak was a legitimate "mousegun" or not, and decided to include it basically because it's a fairly well-known firearm, and also because it's my post. :)

I think that "mousegun" is a pretty malleable term - it's certainly not limited to caliber, as my S&W Model 17 is chambered in .22LR, but there's no way on G-d's Green Earth anyone would consider a K-frame revolver with a 8 3/8" barrel to be a mousegun.

And yes, I think that a .44 Magnum Derringer qualifies...

Now, shooting one is a completely different story... ;)

Anonymous said...

I shot a buddy's .380 Kel-Tec and, being that I have large hands, I couldn't really keep a decent grip on it. Every shot practically wrenched the damned thing from my hand. Which makes me wonder if follow up shots would be impossible with it.

I carry a Glock 29 because it's the smallest gun that "fits" my hand and, personally, I like the hole the 10mm leaves in things. But the 29 is a bulky weapon and, being in Florida, completely unconcealable if you're just wearing a t-shirt and shorts.

So, my problem is always going to be that small guns won't fit in my hand very well. I'm quite ok with cargo shorts, so the S&W might be a little better for me. I'll have to go check it out at the gun store.

Jay G said...


If the price tag on the 360 is too steep, the 637 only weighs 3 ounces more and can handle .38 special +P. And costs about half.

I'd recommend getting the 340 or 642 (hammerless) version for pocket carry, though. Less to snag.

Jay said...

Great pics. I'm jealous.

Anonymous said...


Good leadenschprayers all, although I do have some issues w/the Russian hammer (sorry, I meant Makarov) fitting into this catagory. The .357 "revolver from hell" does NOT fit here at ALL! Anything less than .38 special I would think fits into this genera.

The tiniest mouse gun here was what got us first to talkin', & I'm here to tell y'all, that even IT satisifies the 1st rule of a gunfight (have a gun).
I load mine w/.22 ratshot for the 1st two wounds, & CCI Stingers for the other two (keep the hammer down on an empty chamber). The Homey made a cheap 'n dirty pocket holster to hide the outline, & any fool who busts into my truck with the idea of a truck jacking is gonnna be unhappy for the rest of the day. (BTW, there's no forensic ballistic evidence from ratshot).

But ANYway, good post. Happy boomstick Friday.

Jay G said...


Hallelujah holy shit you are around! I was starting to get worried - well, either that or I have an old e-mail address for ya... Send me an e-mail, wouldja?

As for the Mak, like I said I thought it was borderline mousegun-ish... But hey, it's my list, right? ;)

I think the generic j-frame fulfills the spirit of the mousegun, if a little on the bulky/powerful side.

The NAA certainly has the element of surprise going for it, that's for sure. It's so small you could hide it pretty much anywhere...

SpeakerTweaker said...

There's at least two guns on there that I have every intention of owning:

Kel-tec P3AT, because my instructor carries more than one daily, and he showed me that you can hide more of those things on your person than most folks could ever comprehend,

NAA Mini-.22, because it'd make a great last-ditch gun (one my instructor also carries daily). I'd probably go for the .22 Mag, though, just because. It's a shame they don't make one version that will fire both .22 Mag and .22LR, though. That would get snatched up en masse.

(J-Frame Smith), which I could have had if my brother had told me he was selling his Model 65 BEFORE he actually sold it. Oh, well. He lives in another state, so it'd have been more trouble than it was worth. Still, I'd really like a good .357 wheelgun to leave in the car.


dr mac said...

That Jennings is very pretty- what a upgrade in appearance a set of wooden grips makes. I carry a Walther PPK in .380 for my pocket carry but I'm jealous of my wife's choice-a S&W 340CT, talk about a pocket cannon, whew !

Jay G said...


Go for the Kel-Tec - in Free America you should be able to get one for around $250 (I saw one in a gun shop in NH for $259.99. I paid... considerably more for mine...)

As for the NAA, they do make a .22 Magnum with a .22LR cylinder. That's how I would go if I could buy a new NAA revolver.

And those are ridiculously cheap, too - I think the MSRP is under $200.

Dr. Mac,

The Jennings was a gut-reaction purchase I made a while back - it was during one of those insipid "gun buyback" programs, and I bought it ostensibly to keep it from being scrapped.

Interestingly enough, with CCI Stingers or Mini-mags it's pretty reliable, and even somewhat accurate (all six shots in the black at 25')!

The grips were on it when I bought it. I am tempted to get it chromed, just to pimp it out a little... :)

Sigivald said...

I've never heard the mousegun defined in terms quite like that (to echo doubtletrouble); usually instead of "smaller than .40"", it's "very low power".

I'm not sure even a .380 is low-power enough to be a proper mousegun.

.25 ACP or .22LR? Definitely.

.32 ACP? Probably.

A .357, no matter how small it is? Never.

I do, definitional quibbles aside, lust after the NAA Mini, though. And I *heart* my Taurus PT-25, useless as it is.

Anonymous said...

Jay, do you shoot the Jennings sideways like all the kids in Dorchester do?

Sorry, couldn't resist a poke at the Jennings!

My friend has that exact same S and W... I put 3 cylinders through it and put it down. It just wasn't fun to shoot after that. I also agree that more then one follow up shot would be difficult. He regularly carries it and you'd never know it. Definitely would be one of my top picks for a carry gun. Hammer action is super smooth.

Jay G said...


Hey, my blog, my definitions. :)

I'll agree that the Mak and even the 360 are marginally mouseguns. The 360 is representative of the entire "snubbie" genre, which, really, is the prototype of the mousegun (okay, okay, I know the small pocket autos pre-date the j-frame by many decades. Humor me).

But they do provide proper perspective. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it. :)


I'm afraid to shoot the Jennings sideways - the extractor might fall out... :)

I saved that poor little gun from an ignominious smelting at the hands of Mumbles, so it occupies a special kind of "neener neener" niche in my armory - guns I didn't need, yet cost < $100 and were thusly prevented from being sold to a "buyback" scheme.

Besides, we all need a gun or two that's so poorly made that it makes us appreciate our quality arms, right? :)

If you got through three cylinders of full-house .357 Magnum, you're doing better than a lot of folks who have shot my 360, BTW. I have had at least three people shoot exactly TWO SHOTS from it and hand it back.

But for bear country, there's little better. It's not the "oomph" of the .44 Magnum, for sure, but at 12 ounces, it's not gonna slow down a hike at all...

Anonymous said...

What do you think the FIE Derringer .38spl is worth??
I just aquired on and was just wondering what you thought.

Jay G said...


Under $100, unless it's in NIB condition. Then it's maybe $125...

Seriously, I paid like $60 for mine. I saw one on Northeastshooters forum, in MA, sell for $50. Poor guy started out at $100 and worked his way down...

Anonymous said...

Is it reliable though? I got it to just keep in my table beside the couch.
Should I hang on to it or lose it?

Jay G said...

If by "reliable" you mean "does it go *BANG* every time you pull the trigger, then yes, it is.

If by "reliable" you mean "can I hit the side of a barn from the inside with it", then the jury's still out.

I'd drop the scratch on a good used S&W j-frame if it's something I was going to trust my life to.

OTOH, it's the perfect gun to keep loaded in the safe as a "just in case" gun...

Almostrusski said...

What about the Beretta Bobcat in .25? Can a JHP round penetrate a leather jacket at 10 yards?