The Used Market: The Pocket .25

The back looks like a Colt and the front looks like a Walther.

The back looks like a Colt and the front looks like a Walther.

This is part of our new Used Gun Series which is a spin off from Shooting History.  In this series we will review some guns that are older, but not really historic or highly collected.  Most of these will be what could be described as “poor man’s collectibles’, guns that are cheap in price but not necessarily cheaply made. They’re the type of gun you might find languishing on the shelf at your local FFL, or by digging deep into GunsAmerica.

The example for this article is a neat little Italian mouse gun. These diminutive pistols can be found in good, shooting condition for under 200 bucks.  You can find some listed here at GunsAmerica.

Colt? Walther? Galesi

Industria Armi Galesi was an Italian arms maker that started in 1910.  They are mostly known for making inexpensive, yet well made, pistols.  Most of their pistols were small and chambered for .22, .25 and .32. Many of these pistols were imported into the US and are still around today.  The Model 503 used in this article was found in a local gun shop for about $200.

When I first came across this little gun, I immediately thought of a Colt Vest Pocket without the grip safety. That is how the back half of the pistol looks.  After closer inspection I noticed it had a fixed barrel. That is not something the old Colts have.  But a Walther PPK does. I have come to the conclusion that this little Galesi could be the product from a marriage between a PPK and a Vest Pocket. Those are some pretty good genes from both sides of the family.

Here are a few specs on this little fella:

  • 6.35/.25 ACP
  • 6 Round Magazine
  • Thumb Safety
  • 2 1/4 Inch Barrel
  • 4 1/2 Inch Length
  • 3 1/4 Inch Tall
  • 1 Inch Wide
  • Striker Fired
  • Fixed Barrel
It is smaller than my hand.

It is smaller than my hand.

The Mouse Gun and The Lowly .25

Yes, .25 ACP is a piss ant round. It especially is when you look at the size of modern pistols that are chambered for .380 and 9mm.  This little Galesi is not all that much smaller than the new Glock 43, and the 43 packs a hell of a lot more fire power into its diminutive size.

However, the .25 isn’t a spit ball shooter either.  A 50 grain pill out of a 2 1/4″ barrel will be moving around 850 fts or so. That is around 80 Ft. Lb. of energy at the muzzle.  That isn’t much, but it will sure get someone attention and make them rethink their life choices.

The business end. It is a little hole but I still wouldn't want to have one that size poked in me.

The business end. It is a little hole but I still wouldn’t want to have one that size poked in me.

Field stripped. Note the fixed barrel.

Field stripped. Note the fixed barrel.

We can all agree that for sheer power a small .380 or, better yet, 9mm pistol is going to be above and beyond a lowly .25. But have you spent much time behind the trigger on a majority of the little polymer 9mm?

I have and let me tell you they hurt.  They sting, slap and pinch and are far from a fun range gun in all aspects.  I am a grown man and I cringe when I have to shoot tiny 9mm pistols. I do not consider myself to be recoil sensitive either. I had my wife shoot a Kel-Tec P-3AT once.  That is exactly how many times she shot it, once, and she said NOPE.  I was hoping she would like it, as it would be a nice carry gun for her.  But it is hard for shooters with small, recoil sensitive (or arthritic) hands to shoot and control the larger caliber mouse guns. That is where the .25 can be a viable option.

Excluding the grips, the Galesi is an all metal pistol.  It makes it heavier and that is not always a bad thing when it comes to little mouse guns.

Back to the recoil issue, the heavier the pistol the less felt recoil. Couple the weight with a .25 and you have a very easy shooting pistol that most any shooter can use comfortably.  That is unless you have huge hands. Any little pistol and huge hands are going to have a bad time and battle with slide bite.

1968 Gun Control Act

The Gun Control Act of 1968 killed Galesi. When the Act went into effect, these pistols could no longer be imported into the US.  Since we were their biggest market, it didn’t take long for them to go out of business.

The idea, at least what was sold to the public, was the Act would stop the importation of cheap and poorly made foreign arms.  It is true there were some very poor quality arms being imported into the US prior to 1968, but the Galesi do not fall into this category.  These are well made pistols.

Made in Italy, but not anymore.

Made in Italy, but not anymore.

It works!

It works!

Function

The action on the Galesi Model 503 is a simple blow back. It is striker fired with the same basic trigger group design of the Colt Vest Pocket. The magazine release is also reminiscent of the old Colts, being the European style on the bottom of the grip.  I am usually not a big fan of this style magazine release but it really is the best to handle the task on pistols this size.  If it had a magazine release button in the usual spot, it would be in contact with your hand or fingers on the small grip surface.

We put over 150 round through the review gun.  Three different shooters had a go with it at the range.  There were no failures.  The Galesi ate FMJ and some hollow points without issue.

Taking my time the little Galesi is capable of a pretty tight group from 15 feet.

Taking my time the little Galesi is capable of a pretty tight group from 15 feet.

Shooting

When it comes to testing the accuracy of little mouse guns I like to keep it pretty simple.  The sights on the Galesi are tiny. If you have handled a Colt Vest Pocket then you have a good idea what the sights are like on this pistol. This is not, nor meant to be a range gun or nail driver.  But it is more than capable of doing what it is designed for–hitting a human sized target at 15 feet or closer.  I like to drill with small pistols like this, drawing them from concealment and backing away from the target while point shooting for the chest.

Relevance?

Is the little Galesi relevant today?  Yes, if you are looking for a .25 steel framed pistol they are.  Especially for the price and quality. There are very few new production all steel mouse guns being made today and the ones that are tend to be rather pricey.

The Galesi would not be my first choice for a carry gun. But that has nothing to do with the quality or the function of the gun.  I would want at least a .380 for EDC. If you are recoil sensitive and need a small, easy shooting pistol the Galesi would be worth a serious look, especially when factoring in the price.

If you grip it to high you will get slide bite.

If you grip it too high you will get slide bite.

It came in a box.

It came in a box. A faux lizard skin box. That’s pure Italy for you, there.

Magazine release on the bottom.

Magazine release on the bottom.

Tiny sights.

Tiny sights.

Tiny rear sight.

Tiny rear sight. Note the exquisite file work on the rear notch.

Pistola Mouse.

Pistola Mouse.

 

 

{ 26 comments… add one }
  • John October 5, 2015, 4:29 pm

    I have a Davis derringer in 25, pleasant to shoot. What I have picked up over the last several years is a number of 32s. Berreta Puma very accurate, Colt 1903 ok accurate, a 4″ and 6″ SW in 32 SW long, several Ruger single sixs in 32 h&r and .327. All are fun to shoot easy to reload. I am coming to the small caliber party late but its still one heck of a party. Thanks for a good article.

  • George August 28, 2015, 9:36 pm

    Keep a small German made .25 in the door pocket of my car. It’s only purpose is to gut shoot anyone foolish enough to go road rage on me and start pounding on my glass or door. It’s absolutely perfect for the 6″ shot to the belly button.

  • Mikial August 27, 2015, 10:36 pm

    I had a little Raven .25 many years ago. It cost $75 and worked like a champ. My son still has it. .25s were a phenomenon of the 70s and early 80s. Would I carry one now? I doubt it. The smallest I ever carry when I simply cannot carry anything else is a Kel Tec .32 with Cor Bons because I can fit it in a cell phone case. Usually I carry an XD .45 full sized.

    But those little guns were and are something from a by-gone era and they have a place in our lives.

  • pete August 27, 2015, 4:48 pm

    Thanks. Cool looking little gun. And remember, those of you poo pooing this article and/or the gun – variety is the spice of life!

  • Wtf August 27, 2015, 2:02 pm

    This place is really in the crapper. Pocket .25? The 1970’s called and they want their junky pocket pistols back.

    There is absolutely nothing that a .25 does that a .380 cannot do better and for less expensive and more readily available ammo.

    Look at the Ruger LCP or similar small .380
    and tell me why you want to carry a heavier pistol in a caliber that falls short of even .22lr ballistics??

  • Jordan August 26, 2015, 10:08 am

    Sounds like a great gun here. Definitely easy to conceal and seems pretty quality. Thanks for sharing!

  • Craig Ramsey August 24, 2015, 6:55 pm

    They still make the Seecamp in 32 and 380 in Southwick Mass. The 25 was discontinued around 85.
    New Seecamps have been selling over MSRP for 3-4 years. I got a 2 yr old 32 at a gun show for under $400.

  • Rally August 24, 2015, 4:22 pm

    I just sold mine for $465. on Gun Auctions. it was 99% engraved & Nickel plated, Original box, Rice paper instruction sheet and Manufacture Factory Tag 1960. And YES it was one of the best pocket pistols I ever owned. Needed the money for my Rem. 870 project.

  • Bob August 24, 2015, 3:58 pm

    I have a mouse gun that looks a lot like the Galesi It was a import by Hawes Firearms Company ans says it came from Germany.Any idea who built it?

  • Dave August 24, 2015, 12:11 pm

    Although the .25 acp is a crappy, low-power round, I kept a Browning Baby in my back pocket as a last resort backup while in Vietnam ’68-’69. Smaller than the Galesi (and better quality) it gave me 6 rounds if all else was lost.

  • Jake August 24, 2015, 10:33 am

    Reminds me of the Sterling. In the early 80’s there were the very small stainless Sterling 301 and 302 Models. One was .22LR and one was .25 acp. Striker fire, fixed barrel, blowback, etc. Almost identical to this pistol. Worked pretty darn well. Some gun magazine did an article on shooting man size targets at 100 yards with pocket rockets and could get hits on target with it in .22.

  • chief August 24, 2015, 10:01 am

    I have one just like in the article except with black grips .Yes the .25 acp is weak but if its a back up of a back up I feel safe carrying it Israeli style .

  • Dennis Budaj August 24, 2015, 9:47 am

    I just read you article about the Galesi. My question is, “Do you have a link where I can go to where can find instructions about installing the sear and firing cams in the I believe is a Model 506 in .22 cal.? This was my fathers and doesn’t fire, and I would like to get back to full functional. Thanks.

  • Richard August 24, 2015, 9:42 am

    I have 2 Browning 25 1 blue and 1 chrome/pearl – carried a nortin double action 25 for a couple years. When used it did not do the job. I prefer a American 22 derringer for small carry. Ruger 380 is ok if you have a trigger job done. Summer Guns. Then the Bond 410/45

  • charlie44 August 24, 2015, 9:18 am

    I have had an ORTGIES – .25 ACP (Semi Auto Semi-Auto Handgun GERMANY with (1) 6 Round Mag [GIFT FROM MY GRAND AUNT FLOSS for 12th B’DAY, WAS MY GRAND UNCLE SAM’S PISTOL 1922] Serial # 18790 with an original manual in German. I was 11 (1950) when I conned my aunt into giving my the little vest pocket pistol, I told her it was so old they stopped making ammunition for it. I don’t think it was fired much before she gave it to me. I does have the “grip safety” which is not easy to get used to. I’ve had the ORTGIES .25 ACP for 65 years, it looks brand new. My current carry gun is a tiny Ruger LCP (.380) with JHP’s, after all I am only 5’5″ and 76 years old, big enough for me.

  • Jim August 24, 2015, 8:10 am

    I “accidentally” purchased a FN Browning Vest Pocket .25, Third Variant, on an auction website…I thought someone else would outbid me, and forgot about my bid until I received an email saying I’d won. I still got it for under $200. At first, I thought I could just turn around and sell for a few bucks over what I paid for it. Once I had it in my hands, I fell in love with it. According to my research, it was manufactured around 1912-13. I took some standard FMJ .25 rounds to the range, and the little FN ate them like it did coming out of the factory. There are many firearms that might be as functional in the modern world, but are timeless in form and function. I’ll hang on to mine, and carry my Glock, Beretta or other larger models.

  • Erik August 24, 2015, 7:25 am

    A .25 will certainly sting! I love the Beretta and my wife and I have several, two 25 caliber and one .32. Fun to shoot and the one I have is in mint condition. In fact it is the 418 and it was James Bond 007’s weapon of choice in the beginning. It is incredibly small and very well made, never jams and really fun to shoot. The issue I have is keeping it from my wife who wants it in her collection.

    Production: 1919-1958
    Type: Pistol
    Caliber(s): .25 ACP
    Weight: lbs ( kg)
    Length: 5.75 in (14.6 cm)
    Barrel length(s): 3.5 in (8.9 cm)
    Capacity: 8-round magazine
    Fire Modes: Semi-Auto

    E

  • Matt L August 24, 2015, 7:21 am

    A few of these little pistols passed through my ownership a couple of years ago. There was a .22lr and two .25acp versions. The .22lr was identical to the pistol featured in your article and was a lot of fun. Not 100% reliable but surely fun. There were some variations to the .25 pistols that made them different. One had a cast grip frame and the controls were slightly different. The other was all steel but had a shorter barrel. They all used the same striker fire system and stripped down the same. Again, not 100% reliable but a lot of fun to shoot!

  • Ron Freese August 24, 2015, 6:30 am

    It reminds me on my Polish P-64 that I took to our range yesterday and shot. Only the P-64 is larger in size and shoot a 9mm Makarov round.

    • tom August 24, 2015, 9:15 am

      I have a Polish Radom P-64 in 9mm Makarov and it stings like hell to shoot, but is rwemarkably accurate. Great carry gun!

  • Steve K August 24, 2015, 6:06 am

    I have a Bernardelli VB .25ACP vest pocket pistol that is even smaller than the Galesi. I got it in 1975 for $104.

    • Joe August 24, 2015, 9:19 am

      I have a larger model Bernardelli .380 that I bought in 73. It shoots well but the lever for the firing pin retard safety broke off when it fell off the bench during cleaning. Good thing it was in fire mode so it still shoots. I tried several times to get a replacement part but never had any success.

  • Joe August 24, 2015, 4:59 am

    I bought one of those in 1973, it was my first pistol. I still have it in the safe…somewhere…POS that it was and is.

  • Will Drider August 23, 2015, 4:55 pm

    Great article. I would drop $200 on that little gem, aiways room for quality and fun firearms.

    • Mr Jamrs August 23, 2015, 9:35 pm

      There you go, and I find these Gem’s as practical now as they were before the small arms business became so Professional. Back when these arms provided a protective sensible lethal edge, protection afforded to Girl friends and Male’s who did not want the overpowering 1911/38 revolver profiling hard carry look. A deterrent for a mentally simpler time, before Coke and Meth Heads on every corner and park bench, when you Smartly Knew to stayed out of Back Alleys and got home before the Bar s last call. You now can write about how these simple, low power arms did more to endanger people cause they don’t penetrate a leather coat. I’ve seen them safely take out a Angry charging Porker, and More.

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