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Why so much disdain for the .25 acp?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by Guvnor, Dec 10, 2012.

  1. Guvnor

    Guvnor Well-Known Member

    I'm not trying to stir up trouble, just wanted to have a discussion about this. My wife and I were recently shopping around looking at small handguns at local gun shops. She is tiny with small hands, and has little to no firearms experience other than the times I have brought her shooting with me. We were essentially looking for a small, light, low recoil pistol that she could get confident with and keep by the bedside until she is comfortable moving up in caliber.

    Well at practically every shop we visited, when I asked to see a .25 acp from the case like a beretta, taurus, baby browning, etc. they were basically like "oh you don't want that" and proceeded to tell me what a horrible choice it would be and how useless the round is. I thought this was a bit condescending.

    Also on many gun discussion sites you will find very little love for the .25 acp. "If somebody shot me with one, id get mad" type comments. People usually say the .22lr is way better. I'm starting to think the little round gets ragged on unfairly. I think its unfair because when you look at the numbers, from identical guns with very short barrels, the .22lr and .25 acp are putting out almost the same numbers as far as energy (around 60-70 ft lbs.) I noticed alot of people mistakenly cite the .22lr energy from a rifle length barrel (usually around 130 ft. lbs.) when comparing to the .25 acp.

    There are lots of anecdotal stories of .25 acp bouncing off someone's forehead, or failing to penetrate a leather jacket, etc. But I have a feeling that this reputation comes from the crappy "Saturday night special" .25's that flooded the market after the '68 gun control act. Perhaps these guns had poorly manufactured bores with loose tolerances which resulted in lower muzzle velocities? Anyway, brassfetcher tested a quality .25 acp gun (beretta 21a) and it achieved advertised velocity and penetrated 15 inches of gelatin with ball ammo. http://www.brassfetcher.com/index_files/Page1715.htm

    Now please note that I am NOT trying to say that the .25 acp is an effective stopper, nor am I trying to pretend that its a good defense round.. But it aint no airsoft gun either like some would lead you to beleive. Lets remember why John Browning designed this round, to be a more reliable alternative to the .22lr in pocket sized pistols. I think it serves this purpose fairly well.

    My wife ended up choosing the Ruger LCR .22lr revolver, but I felt compelled to write this anyways. I appreciate the history of this little round and one of my dream guns I would love to have is an original Baby Browning. My great grandfather was a police officer who's off-duty carry gun was a Colt 1908 vest pocket .25 acp. He passed it on to my grandfather (another cop) who also carried it off duty until the 1970's. We still have it in the family.
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2012
  2. otasan56

    otasan56 Well-Known Member

    Tiny Hands?

    That is why Glock makes Model 26, 27, and 36. Your wife will probably fit all three of her non-trigger fingers on the grip of these light-weight handguns. Try them out, for they are in serious calibers. Glock 26= 9mm, G27= .40 S&W, G36 = .45 ACP. For your petite wife I'd recommend the G26, or even a G19. I certainly do not recommend the .25 ACP. They have very minimal hitting power.
  3. Bikewer

    Bikewer Well-Known Member

    The typically-tiny .25 pistols have the virtue of being small, but that's about it. Difficult to shoot with any accuracy, they are meant for "belly-to-belly" range.

    The round, however dressed up, is similar to .22 LR in that it can certainly be deadly but has very little in the way of shock effect.....
    As far as a defensive round it falls into "not recommended" category. Little help to the victim if the attacker dies hours later on the operating table.

    Stories are many; I recall the one about the Chicago woman who stormed into the local precinct station to demand the arrest of her husband. When the desk sergeant asked why, she said "he shot me!" and collapsed.
    She had been shot with seven rounds of .25 ACP, and had walked two blocks to the police station before expiring....
  4. Dentite

    Dentite Well-Known Member

    Seems like you answered your own question.

    If you are buying a firearm for your wife to keep by the bedside then wouldn't you want her to have something that is a good defense round?

    If it's going to be bedside, there's no point in it being small and concealable.

    Something that would be very easy for her to manage and offer more firepower would be a .22LR RIFLE with 10+ rounds in it. No recoil, much easier to hit your target, etc.

    After putting a few magazines through both I would be very surprised if your wife chose the .25.

    My wife is petite but it only took about two shooting sessions starting with .22LR for her work up to be able to handle more powerful riles, pistols, shotguns.

    If you are looking for a handgun for self defense at home I would look at a full size (K frame etc) .38 special with a 4" or larger barrel. Very light recoil IMO.

    Also a full sized 9mm pistol will tend to be light recoiling.

    Is .25 worthless? No, but as you yourself mentioned there are better options.

    I would guess if you took your wife to a range with a pocket sized .25 auto and a full size 9mm she'll get better accuracy and probably less percieved recoil from the 9mm.
  5. leadchucker

    leadchucker Well-Known Member

    I have been told more than once that if you shoot someone with a .25, all you'll do is make him mad.

    Why futz with the .25 when you can have a 380 in the same sized package? The Ruger LCP is every bit as compact as any .25 semi.
  6. Kiln

    Kiln Well-Known Member

    The .25acp is not very effective when it comes to defense but .22lr isn't any better. You are correct that the performance is very similar from short barrels with a couple of points going to the .25acp for more reliable priming and feeding.

    The .25acp gets an unfair reputation because of people who repeat stories they read online and back it with a statement like: "I had a buddy who was a coroner" or "I heard it from a cop" so that it absolutely has to be true.

    I had a quarter for every time I read a post online about somebody tossing a Raven into a lake to save the next guy from owning it I'd be able to stop working for a living. I find it hard to believe that 20 guys all decided to toss their Ravens into lakes. If they honestly did then they don't need to own a gun at all because that is one of the most irresponsible ways I can think of to dispose of a firearm and is just slightly better than tossing it into a playground full of second graders.

    There are stories of the .25acp glancing off of skulls but there are similar stories about tons of more powerful calibers that simply struck at the wrong angle and did exactly the same thing.

    Anybody who quotes the "if I got shot and I found out about it" line is just doing so for comedy reasons and for some reason are always unwilling to let you test if they'll notice a teensy weensy little shot to the leg from the anemic .25acp round.

    Headshots from the .25acp kill at close range. Ask this guy who shot and killed 7000 people with .25acp pistols: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vasili_Blokhin
  7. SaxonPig

    SaxonPig Well-Known Member

    So? I saw a skinny guy run 100 yards with 4 rounds of 45 ACP in his torso. My friend tells me of a guy who walked to an aid station in Vietnam after taking a 23mm shell through the belly. Others collapse and die after one hit from a 22 to the arm (true story).

    Fact is the 25 ACP is fairly weak. Often (not always) the guns are cheaply made imports. They are hard to shoot. They have awful sights. They are not accurate. They are what they are: highly concealable and meant to be used at arm's length. There are better choices. If a 25 was all I had then that's all I had.
  8. highlander 5

    highlander 5 Well-Known Member

    25 acp wouldn't be my choice for SD but in a pinch better than a sharp stick. My oppinion of the 25 auto is it's the world's most useless round. You cna get a 22RF in a similar package which would be cheaper to shoot on a regular basis. Though expensive Seacamp makes a 32 auto and I believe a 380 in a pistol that is close in size to most 25 autos.
    Not saying I would want to be shot by one but there are much better choices out there
  9. Guvnor

    Guvnor Well-Known Member

    To further explain the wifes's choice, she hates recoil and is still very gun shy. We were shopping for mouse guns and ended up getting the LCR because it doesn't intimidate her and she would be willing to practice with it. What good is a 9mm or .45 that she's afraid to shoot? When she is proficient with the .22 and fully comfortable around firearms she will be ready to move up. Would you recommend a 1600cc, 700 pound Harley Davidson for a first motorcyle too?
  10. 481

    481 Well-Known Member

    I think that the "disdain" that most have for the .25ACP comes from the fact that while the .251" 50gr FMJ @ 750fps might penetrate deep enough, it is awfully light and suffers deflection more easily (I believe that the late Jim Cirillo called it "flight integrity) than the larger service calibers. Even with decent penetration it does very little damage (permanent crush cavity) along the way as can be seen by the test done by brassfetcher that you referenced. JHPs in the caliber are also notorious for failing to expand and the fact that the manufacturers aren't pursuing its development as fervently as the larger calibers condemns it even moreso. For a rather modest weight/size penalty one can find a subcompact pistol chambered in a larger caliber (.32, .380, 9mm).

    Of course, there is always the possibility of making a "lucky shot" with the diminuitive little round, but as the saying goes, "I'd rather be 'good' than 'lucky'".

    At any rate, I am pleased to hear that your wife found something that she is comfortable with.
  11. Zeke/PA

    Zeke/PA Well-Known Member

    All fine and dandy BUT: I'll stick with my .357 or my 9 Mike!
  12. MedWheeler

    MedWheeler Well-Known Member

    This idea is ridiculous, and refuses to die. There is maybe one criminal attack committed in the US each year by someone who would soldier on against a well-executed .22LR or .25ACP defense, but would cease to be a threat against a 9mm defense. Yes, they might "get mad", and there are countless stories where someone knows a guy who knows a guy who shot a guy (or who was the guy actually shot) and the guy shot ran fifteen miles uphill, barefoot, in the snow, to get to the ER. But, they still stopped doing whatever it was they were doing that got them shot in the first place, and that's what counts. People also point to cases in which crazed-on-whatever people are shot eleventy-billion times by police and still take their time dropping. That's a different situation; the reason cops shoot these people so many times is because they are obligated to stick around to do so. We're not. Self-extraction, in addition to defensive-fire, is almost always gonna be on the table. Too many forget that.

    To say that a .25 is only capable of "making someone mad" is to deny its ability to actually kill, or cause grievous bodiliy injury to a person. If that were true, it would not be even legal to use your own firearm against someone accosting you with one. After all, "making you mad" isn't justification for the use of deadly force.

    While I'll never disparage anyone who chooses to carry such a weapon, I don't simply because I have stronger options available that I can comfortably handle. I agree that one should carry the most powerful, and most practical, weapon for defense they can manage. But it doesn't mean they will. After all, is each and every one of us driving the latest version of the safest vehicle available, and in the safest manner, at all times while out on the road? I know I'm not.

    The OP was about handling (recoil/kick) more than about actual bullet size and weight. There are no .25ACP handguns I can think of that feel "just like the LCP" when fired. There is even a substantial difference between the feel of a .32ACP pistol and a nearly-identical one in .380ACP.
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2012
  13. mljdeckard

    mljdeckard Well-Known Member

    We haven't done this in....hours.

    There are no guarantees. EVER. But there are degrees of likelihood. All handguns are inferior, but this is at the bottom of the list. At least .22s come in guns that make it more viable for shootability. With my conversion kit I can dump 15 rounds in a few seconds pretty accurately. I think a .25 is a nose gun.
  14. greyeyezz

    greyeyezz Well-Known Member

    First time shooting my bobcat at 20 feet. I hadn't even figured out the trigger nor sights in this first 27 rounds.

    .25 FMJ gets 15 inches of penetration in gel.

    I shot an old refrigerator in my barn at about 20 feet multiple times and every round went inside. If you put nine rounds of FMJ center mass I would bet that person to be too dead to be mad. When I hear of rounds bouncing off someone's head or stopping in a jacket I chalk it up as internet folklore.

    I am not advocating the use of .25ACP but for some folks whether being elderly, physically limited or in a position where deep concealment is a factor the .25 is not as useless as its made out to be.
  15. 788Ham

    788Ham Well-Known Member

    What about a .32 auto, or a 7.65 Browning auto? They'd at least have more power than the puny .25. ! A rock would be better than that thing. IMHO
  16. smalls

    smalls Well-Known Member

    This doesn't make any sense. If she's gun shy, and is recoil sensitive, then stay away from mouse guns. They aren't easier to shoot.

    If she has small hands, look for medium sized single stack guns. Small guns are designed to be very concealable, but give up a lot, such as sights and low recoil.

    Ever wonder why there aren't full sized .25's? The .25's are the "I'm wearing a dress and can't conceal my (whatever). It's not an ideal caliber, but at least I have a gun on me" type of guns.
  17. mgmorden

    mgmorden Well-Known Member

    That's it in a nutshell. Get her a larger gun in a relatively mild chambering and the recoil will be reduced but with far better defensive results than .25ACP.

    I really wouldn't mind owning a .25ACP for plinking and such, but I'd never dream of using one in any situation where the stakes were any higher than "Did I poke a hole on the paper or not?"
  18. otasan56

    otasan56 Well-Known Member

    The .25ACP

    was never a serious attempt at a self-defense round. Get a 9mm Auto, for starters, and move up to a .40S&W if you desire. Self-defense is a very serious discussion. Get serious with your gun choice.
  19. Guvnor

    Guvnor Well-Known Member

    some of you guys should re-read my entire original post. Never once did I advocate the .25 as a good choice for a defense round. Just was trying to dispel the silly notion that its completely worthless. Geez.
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2012
  20. MagicD

    MagicD Well-Known Member

    The caliber wars are always entertaining. Simple fact ...50 grains of metal with 15 inches of known ballistic gel penetration striking you between the breast pockets or above your Adams apple will send you to the medical examiner or ICU if your Very lucky. I've seen a mortal wound from a groin shot that punched a through and through hole in the femoral artery when one drunk decided to shoot a guy's ba**s off in bar disagreement.
    Not a real contender for cartridge hall of fame but
    .25 acp is not a joke.

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