Pfanni "Erica" flat pocket pistol in 4,5mm *rare*


October 2, 2009, 06:21 AM
Anyone ever come across THIS?

i have never even heard of the caliber??!
Looks like you could put this into a manila envelope
or ypuir back pocket with no problem.

Any input?
Cheers, Mp7

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October 2, 2009, 09:44 AM
Thankfully no, it hurts my eyes to just look at a picture of it:barf:

It reminds me of something out of a cartoon or very bad sci-fi movie.

October 2, 2009, 09:46 AM
Do you own this piece?

Jim Watson
October 2, 2009, 10:31 AM
I have only seen a few pictures and know nothing of its background.
Kollibri and Erica guns illustrated at:

I would assume it is the same 4.25mm caliber and cartridge as the Lilliput, which is a dinky little pistol of conventional configuration.

October 2, 2009, 10:53 AM
Look's like it's six inches long and at least that tall -- too big to be a pocket pistol. And I have to agree it's the ugliest thing I've ever seen. You could make it part of an ugly gun collection.

October 2, 2009, 03:02 PM
It's facinating! I'd love to have one in my collection. Remember, some folks actually think glocks are good looking, so there is no accounting for taste.

The beauty of this is that it is so unusual.

October 2, 2009, 03:11 PM
I found reference to a Pfanni blank pistol in that caliber. So far nothing about the date.

October 2, 2009, 05:27 PM
I've heard of the caliber. 4.25 Liliput (sometimes Erica). 17 cal., center fire

12gr bullet at 800fps for 17fpe.

Considering the lowly 25acp develops 73fpe, this is a weak cartridge.

Good luck finding a cartridge for it. My copy of Firearms Disassembly from the NRA printed in 1951 says that they were $4 apeice. I bet you couldn't buy one for under $40 now.

Owen Meany
October 17, 2009, 04:52 PM
This little pistol is extremely rare and very valuable.

Mp7, whatever you do, don't let anyone "take this off your hands" for cheap money; considering its rarity and excellent condition, this one would bring at least $2000 to $3000 if you were to put it on Gunbroker (I realize you're in Germany).

By the way, the correct spelling is "Erika". This Erika is a "long" model and, while any Erika is exceedingly rare, even rarer than these long models are the "short" models, which are basically just a long model with the barrel and grip chopped off.

For what it's worth, in my opinion the Erika pistols are strangely beautiful and elegant.

Jim K
October 17, 2009, 09:47 PM
According to White & Munhall, the 4.25mm cartridge originated with the Erika pistol, but when Menz started making the more conventional-looking Lilliput in that caliber, it sold well enough that the cartridge became known as the 4.25 Lilliput or 4.25 Menz and the Erika was pretty much forgotten. For some reason I don't know, the pre-1914 era seems to have been a time of competition in Austria and Germany to see who could produce the smallest center-fire auto pistol and cartridge. The 2.7mm Kolibri won, and is the smallest CF cartridge in the world. (The most common small round is the 4mm übungsmunition, but it was a subcaliber round for indoor target shooting.)

The only information I can find on the origin of the Erika is that it was made in Austria by the "firm of Pfanni...sometime before 1914." (Boothroyd)

Note that like many of the pistols of that time, the magazine is not contained in the grip but in a well behind the trigger guard. In firing, it appears that the middle finger goes into the cutout below and behind the trigger guard, and the ring and little fingers on the grip. The grip looks long, but it is only about 1 1/2" from the bottom of the magazine to the bottom of the grip.


Owen Meany
October 18, 2009, 10:37 AM
Yes, that's true about the Erika being smaller than it first appears in photographs. In reality, the height and length even of the long model hardly exceed the dimensions of the Colt 1908 .25 vest pocket or most other vest pocket pistols. The Erika's slender, protruding barrel and grip create the illusion of a pistol more spindly and ungainly than is actually the case.

And, when we get around to thickness, or thinness, I should say, it really takes the cake; the Erika has to be the absolute thinnest semi-autotmatic pistol (relative to its height and length) ever made. I just can't think of any other pistol that is as flat and thin as this one.

Jim, you mentioned that the Erika's curious feature of a non-grip-contained magazine was common for pistols of that era. But the only ones that come to mind are some of the early designs like the Bergmanns and Mauser Broomhandles. As far as pocket pistols go, I know of no others that have a magazine located outside the grip - indeed, it wouldn't seem a very logical design choice, since the objective in defensive guns is usually to make them as compact as possible. Are you aware of any other relatively compact early semi-autos that utilized this feature?

For all its unconventional appearance and magazine location, the Erika's internals are anything but groundbreaking; it's pretty much a direct copy of the Clement pistols (the 1909 specifically), with a post-driven hammer, separate breechblock with a stud on top that engages the action rod, etc. The resemblance is extraordinary on a large number of points and certainly cannot be coincidental.

RSVP2RIP mentioned that he bet that 4.25mm ammo probably cost about $40 a round now. He's right on the money, as the only 4.25mm round I was able to locate cost me $35 a couple years ago.

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