Bauer 25: The Baby Browning Clone

June 10, 2023  
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Categories: Guns
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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 .25 ACP as silly – it was developed by St. Browning himself, to serve a specific purpose. Anyway. This is about the Bauer 25. Read on. Mad Duo

Bauer 25: The Best Among Many?

A surprising trend among collectible handguns in recent months has been the 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 for an automatic pistol.

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 quite a few .25 ACP pistols lying around. This week’s entry is the Bauer 25. It is based on the Baby Browning and was made by Bauer Firearms through the 1970s and 80s.

The Bauer 25 is essentially a US made Baby Browning clone

History and Features

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.

Like the Baby Browning, the Bauer Automatic was chambered in .25 ACP and held six rounds in the magazine. However, it is made of stainless steel.  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.

Bauer 25 left side review

The safety on the Bauer is located on the left side of the pistol behind the trigger.

The most common grip found on the little gun 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 (manufacturers of the iconic Hi-Power). However, many internal parts interchange with the FN Baby Browning as well as grips, magazines and holsters.

The Bauer 25 with a dime for scale

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 Bauer Firearms 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 .25 ACP. Due to the expense of the round, these are more of a novelty piece these days, but collectors are driving the prices upward.

Bauer 25 magazine

The Bauer Baby Browning Clone – now you know. And knowing is half the battle. (The other half is bourbon.)

Buy it and back the bang

Where to Find a Bauer 25 For Sale

 

 

For more information on the original Baby Browning, check out the article at American Rifleman.

Tango Yankee Chip

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Mike Searson

Mike Searson

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.

10 Comments

  1. Captain O

    I just bought one of these in “mint” (unfired) condition. New PSA magazines should keep this little pistol running as long as I draw a breath.

    Reply
  2. TGP389

    I would not have duplicated my comment, except the system said my comment would not be posted because of a failed “Captcha”. There was no Captcha.

    Reply
  3. TGP389

    Long before Chiclet-sized 9 mms became the norm, I carried one of these for years in my back pocket, while serving as a police officer. I could empty it as fast as I could pull the trigger, and at 7 yards, put all of them in a 3-4″ circle. It NEVER jammed on me, but then, I didn’t shoot it recreationally.

    Eventually, I replaced it with a High Standard derringer in .22 magnum and supplemented that with a stainless Walther PPK .380 in an ankle holster.

    I still have all 3 pistols, as well as the departmental issued 645 S&W I carried as my last service pistol.

    Reply
  4. TGP389

    Long before Chiclet-sized 9 mms became available, I carried one in my back pocket for years as a police officer. I could empty it as fast as I could pull the trigger and have a 3-4″ group at 7 yards. It NEVER jammed for me, but I didn’t fire it recreationally. I eventually replaced it with a .22 magnum High Standard derringer, and supplemented that with a stainless Walther PPK in .380 in an ankle holster. I still have all 3 pistols.

    Reply
  5. STEVEN ANGLE

    I owned 2 and it was the ammo with a small “lip” on it that was the problem, not the gun. Lip between the bullet and the brass shell needed to be smooth.

    Reply
  6. Smalltown Roger

    I have one of these which I bought for the missus as an introduction to firearms. It turned out that she much preferred my pet pistol, a 32 ACP Savage made in 1917. I picked up the Bauer, and fired at the target from about 50 feet away. I was amazed to find that I had made a fist-sized grouping with it. It turns out that the sights suit me exactly, and the grip, well, was designed by Browning…Was it not?

    I had cleaned it meticulously + to pinpoint cleanliness before loading it and taking it out. No feeding problems whatsoever. Hollow points mixed with hard ball.

    Reply
  7. Sam H

    I own a couple of early 1970’s Bauer’s. The weakest point is the original magazines. Find Baby Browning mags only!. Galling can occur as well. These guns must be kept cleaned and greased with anti galling copper lubricant.Cant remember name. It’s very hard to fill out this reply. The reply section is completely blocked by Google sex offender alert and a giant keypad that I’ve never seen before.

    Reply
  8. Brice Yokem

    I have a Bauer .25 ACP. I have had nothing but problems with it. Jams, misfires – if fires fewer rounds than faulty ones. The local gun dealers here say it is a junk gun and a rare gunsmith might be able to get it straightened out. Any advice?

    Reply
    • Thomas

      I had an original FN baby browning and could not get off 3 rounds before a jam. Going by the comment above it could have to do with not being properly cleaned and oiled, but I suspect it was a defect in the firearm either caused by poor design or the wear/ tear due to the age of it.

      Reply
  9. Mike

    Thank you for giving me a new obsession, *furiously starts bidding on Gunbroker*.

    Reply

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