This may come as a surprise to some of you playing hide-the-sausage in the barracks over the weekend, but dual-wielding a pair of .25 caliber pistols does not equal a .50 caliber…not even if you use that Common Core crap to tally the sums. Just remember this, before you completely dismiss the .25ACP as silly – it was developed by St. Browning himself, to serve a specific purpose. Read on. Mad Duo
WTW: The Bauer Baby Browning Clone
Mike the Mook
A surprising trend among collectable handguns in recent months has been increasing price of .25ACP pistols. This was a round developed by John Moses Browning to mimic the ballistics of a .22lr round fired from a 2″ barrel in a more reliable centerfire configuration. Essentially, Browning developed the round based on a small pistol primer.
The round is notoriously underpowered, but ammo manufacturers have loaded commercial hollow-point bullets with slightly higher velocities for self-defense purposes. In rounds like this we usually hope for greater penetration over expansion. Most hollow points in this caliber never expand enough, plus their light weight leads more to fragmenting as opposed to creating a wider wound channel.
Still, we have a few .25 ACP pistols laying around. This week’s entry is the Bauer 25, based on the world famous Baby Browning.
The founder of Bauer Firearms, Robert Bauer, had previously worked for DeSantis Holsters. He parted ways with DeSantis and relocated to Fraser, Michigan, in 1972 where he established his plant to build an updated version of the Baby Browning. Later guns are referred to as “Fraser 25”, and were not a rip-off design. More on that later.
Made of stainless steel , the Bauers were chambered in .25 ACP and held six rounds in the magazine. One of the first semi-auto pistols to be completely manufactured from stainless steel, they were made between 1972 and 1984. They proved to be decent sellers, as the 416 stainless construction protected them from the ravages of moisture and rust, a needed characteristic in a pocket pistol.
The most common grip found on the Bauer (or Fraser) is a synthetic white pearl. Other options included walnut, black pearl (again plastic) and pink pearl.
A large number of accessories were available for these pistols from Bauer including aftermarket grips, holsters, hollowed-out book safes and display cases.
These pistols were no Saturday Night Specials, as most .25ACPs are normally classified. The Bauer Automatic was made via the investment casting process and all small parts were fitted by hand. The pistols feature a two-position thumb safety. The “up” position locks the slide while the down position enables it to fire.
Its fire position doubles as the takedown position, as the user rotates the barrel clockwise 45 degrees to remove the entire slide. On the original Browning 25, takedown is reversed. Bauer built it this way to avoid copyright or patent infringement claims by Fabrique National. However, many internal parts interchange with the FN Baby Browning as well as grips, magazines and holsters.
Many collectors falsely believe that the company was sued by FN in 1984. However, this was not the case.
In actuality, Bauer died that year and left the company to Pauline McIntosh. His three sons (Robert , John and Frank Bauer) sued her to contest the will. McIntosh, in turn, changed the company name to Fraser Firearms in order to continue handgun production during the lawsuit; pistols made in this time period (1984-1986) are marked Fraser-25.
Ultimately, McIntosh prevailed in the lawsuit, but by the time the case was settled in 1986, the company was bankrupt and the assets were sold off. Some folks repeat the misinformation that there was a fire, but it was more like a “fire sale” in order to pay legal expenses.
Construction of the Bauer and Fraser pistols is impressive for a pocket pistol in .25ACP. Due to the expense of .25ACP, these are more of a novelty piece these days, but collectors are driving the prices upward.
The Bauer Baby Browning Clone – now you know. And knowing is half the battle. (The other half is bourbon.)
Mike the Mook
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About the Author: Mike “the Mook” Searson is a veteran writer who began his career in firearms at the Camp Pendleton School for Destructive Boys at age 17. He has worked in the firearms industry his entire life, writing about guns and knives for numerous publications and consulting with the film industry on weapons while at the same time working as gunsmith and ballistician. Though seemingly a surly curmudgeon shy a few chromosomes at first meeting, Searson is actually far less of a dick and at least a little smarter than most of the Mad Duo’s minions. He is rightfully considered to be not just good company, but actually fit for polite company as well (though he has never forgotten his roots as a rifleman trained to kill people and break things, and if you look closely you’ll see his knuckles are still quite scabbed over from dragging the ground). You can learn more about him on his website or follow him on Twitter, @MikeSearson.