A little about the .25 ACP

Probably the most common comment I’ve received in light of recent situations (aside from “glad you’re okay”) has been “ditch that .25 and get a “real gun”.  I’m not going to argue that the .25 is lacking in the terminal punch category, however I want to debunk a couple of common arguments I’ve heard about the .25 vs. other pocket sized guns.  Remember, I carry in a pocket because belt carry with a reasonably sized pistol just isn’t feasible for me right now.

  • A .22 would be better! – No, it wouldn’t.  The ballistics figures you see for hot .22s are usually from rifles or pistols with at least a 4 inch barrel.  When you shrink the gun down to the same size as my Jetfire, the ballistics are pretty much the same.  Plus, you have the issue with rimfire cartridges not being as reliable as the centerfire .25 ACP cartridge.
  • A .25 has no stopping power! – And yet, despite everyone that’s said that, no one has volunteered to stand downrange and catch Gold Dots out of my mousegun.  🙂

People seem to forget that carrying a defensive firearm is a personal decision, and that solutions that work for one person may not be the best solution for everyone.  That’s why if you’re happy with your Kel-Tec or Ruger pocket gun, I’m not going to tell you to switch to a gun that holds more ammo and has less recoil.  Out of my 2 inch gun, the Speer Gold Dot rounds I use are going about 900-950 fps, which as established beats the pants off a knife fight or a sharp stick.

And besides, James Bond carried a .25 caliber Beretta for many of his early books.  If it’s cool enough for Bond, it’s cool enough for me!


  1. Did the .25 work? Yes, then it was big enough. That is the bottom line.

    I think, however, that you should strongly consider a larger coffee cup, with a more caustic brew like Cajun chicory. (Though that stuff may be banned in some states like NJ, so know the local laws.)

    Glad you’re alright Caleb. Good call to have your gun on you, good situational awareness, and finally it was a good split-second call to let the guy run away. Well done.

  2. Just a note on the James Bond reference: Recall that M required Bond step up to a .32 ACP Walther PPK after the .25 nearly cost his life. Yes, he carried the Walther – but missed the Beretta.

  3. I’ve carried .22 magnums and .25 autos for almost 20 years, and have yet to feel that I’m underarmed… except when potentially outnumbered.

    Yes, the tactics are different with a small caliber. Get closer. Aim for the head, preferably from underneath. Make sure you can hit a very small spot under pressure, because you’ll need to.

    It’s never the gun, nor the bullet. It’s the spot you hit on your target. I was raised by a family that thought that if you couldn’t hit a quarter on a fencepost from 25 feet with every shot, you just weren’t trying.

  4. You know, the Ppk just never made sense to me. Perhaps it’s because I grew up in a more “modern” era of firearms; but for the size and weight of a ppk you can carry a 9mm or a .40 these days.

    As far as the accuracy goes, the little Jetfire is surprisingly accurate.

  5. James Bond was an assassin. You might as well carry metsubishi and poisoned needles.

    Someone will be along shortly to explain that the .25 only worked because of quick thinking with the coffee, and the next guy might be so huge and doped up and swaddled in an insulated Raiders parka that he doesn’t feel the coffee and the .25 won’t penetrate and where will all your glib confidence be THEN, HUH?

  6. Caleb,

    I’m with you on the .25ACP. I carry one for the same reason you do. It disappears when in business casual clothing in ways that anything even slightly larger does not.

    I can’t drastically change the way I dress.

    I can carry the .25ACP in just about everything so it is a gun I can carry every day.

    Pocket carry means there aren’t any tattle tale bulges or odd shapes or clips or loops for someone to ask about. And people do notice little details like that when you work with the same group day after day.

  7. It’s a compromise. Like you, I’d rather have a full size gun with a full size caliber with me, everywhere. Like you, I can’t always do that. I might not choose a Jetfire, but I choose something similar for those times I am restricted.

    I carry where I am allowed and I carry the ‘biggest’ best gun I can. Just like you. Sometimes the biggest best gun possible is a something like a .25. Good job.

  8. Again, glad you’re OK.

    Curious, just based on size comparisons, have you considered a .32 or .380 like the Kel Tec or Ruger LCP?

    Your choice is yours to make, I only wondered if there was something about the other small pocket rockets that made you prefer the .25.

    Mr Fixit

  9. Well Don, I guess I’d just have to shoot that guy in the face anyway.

    Mr. Fixit, it’s mostly that the triggers on the Kel-Tec and Ruger are abominations and I can’t shoot them worth a damn; I’d rather have 9 rounds of .25 that I’m reasonably certain I can put on target.

  10. Just out of curiosity, have you ever thought of a tuckable holster?

    Probably just as slow as a pocket holster, but you could probably carry a larger roscoe…

    ~10 rounds of 9 +P are probably more comforting than .25, though I’m all for “any chair in a bar fight…”

  11. MCSA56,

    I have a tuckable holster that I use with my Millennium Pro PT-145.

    In most cases I can get away with wearing in….but not all and especially not in most of the summer. Not and remain in appropriate business casual.

  12. I think you should carry whatever you’re comfortable with, and if that’s a Jetfire, so be it. But we still get to make fun of you for it 😉

  13. I’m not going to criticise your choice of a .25ACP. The gun you have is always better than the gun you don’t.

    That being said, I’m reminded of a story Jeff Cooper once told.

    He said, “As we used to teach in the spook business, carry a 25 if it makes you feel good, but do not ever load it. If you load it you may shoot it. If you shoot it you may hit somebody, and if you hit somebody – and he finds out about it – he may be very angry with you.”

  14. Isn’t it true that most times that the gun is drawn it isn’t fired? That the mere display of the weapon ends the confrontation. So in most cases the caliber of the weapon is irrelevant and, as has been said so many times, having something is better than having nothing. Anything easier to carry is worthwhile, especially if you live in hot country where concealment opportunities are more difficult.

  15. Just curious, as the internet shows me pics of Jetfires with both long and short trigger pulls (presumably “double-action” and single-action, respectively) — which type is yours?

  16. I’m not sure most people that you meet day to day are paying that much attention that you need a deep cover gun.

    What bad things will happen if someone sees a J-frame sized lump in your pocket?

    You already said that people at work know you carry.

    Also I know you don’t like the Kel-Tec trigger, but is it bad enough that you won’t hit a target at 5-yards? (What range do you think you can push the Jetfire out to?)

  17. As a longtime Jetfire toter, I have to say that I’d rather have a Beretta I can hit with than a Kel-Tec that best serves me as a noisemaker, even if the Kel-Tec’s mighty .380 out-powers the 950’s feeble 6.35 Browning…

  18. I can’t think of anything you could have done better. In Illinois you would have had to run him off with your bare hands after knocking him off guard with the coffee. I am glad you could be armed, and I wish that citizens in other states could have the option of protecting themselves effectively.

  19. For what you’re doing with it, the .25 is fine.

    You’re right about the .22 – I’d only carry it for SD if in a DA revolver, semi’s, especially small ones just aren’t reliable enough on ignition. Not a problem with the centerfires.

    I’d still recommend moving up to a .32 at least – but more importantly, have you started carrying a 2nd magazine?

  20. “Did the .25 work? Yes, then it was big enough. That is the bottom line.”

    First of all, the “bottom line” is Caleb saved himself because of his quick thinking and not because of his gear. Which goes to show that it is software, not hardware, that wins fights. Let us all give credit where credit is due.

    (btw, GOOD JOB Caleb!)

    The problem is a NON-FIRING REPLICA work have worked in Caleb’s case. The BG was not “stopped” per se but was scarred off. This is common with a “non-dedicated” criminal. There are times when anything is better than nothing. But relying on a psychological stop is not a good idea.

    Best of luck all…

  21. The P3AT is my biggest argument against .25’s–all the “easy to carry” arguments apply to both nearly equally.. Your argument that the triggers suck is the first credible argument I’ve seen for the .25 compared to the P3AT.

  22. I was going to make the point that Hank made above. I remember reading a few years back that guns stopped way more crimes by being displayed than by being fired, and those incidents were way under-reported. When it comes down to shooting though, I really would rather have a 45. My dad watched many people die for want of enough stopping power in Viet Nam. As a military advisor, he was free to carry what he wanted, and chose a Thompson because it knocked the bad guys down. Two sides, both valid, as usul.

  23. I’ll second both of Sevesteen’s points – I used to carry a Colt Junior in .25, and traded it for a Kel-Tec P3AT because the .380 is simply a better round. It’s 6+1 of .380 instead of 7+1 of .25, but the whole package is much lighter and about the same size, and delivers a more effective round.

    OTOH, if the trigger doesn’t work for you, you’re better off with one that does, and I’ve made that decision, too. I traded a S&W 442 revolver for a Taurus PT-145 because the trigger on the 442 was so bad I couldn’t hit anything. (Essential tremors are exacerbated by certain muscle movements – pulling a heavy trigger happens to be my, er, trigger.)

    Bottom line, if you can’t hit what you’re shooting at with what you’ve got, you should get something else. If a .25 is what works for you, then go for it.

    I would, however, suggest looking into the .380 in platforms other than the Kel-Tec. I understand the Ruger LCP is pretty much a Kel-Tec clone so probably won’t work, but there are others. The Sig P238 is a Colt Mustang clone, which was a single action with a 1911 style thumb safety, so shouldn’t have the trigger issue. There may be other options, too.

    Just my .02 worth, really. YMMV.

  24. Actually, I’ve thought about the Sig, but I’m not sure I’m willing to drop a cool $800 bucks on a pocket gun. Although for the time being, it seems I’ll be able to go back to carrying a 1911.

  25. Yeah, the price has been my sticking point, too. Plus, I’m not too hot about the idea that if I ever actually have to use it for it’s intended purpose, it’ll probably get taken as evidence and I may never get it back – in which case, I’m out an $800 gun, whereas I can get a new Kel-Tec for less than half that.

  26. Caleb,
    At what range does your Jetfire keyhole? I’ve had three new ones, and the worst would be tumbling rounds at 15 feet. The best was good out to about 25 yards, and the one I ended up keeping was good to about 15 yards.
    All had a loose pin that was in the rail area. Fixed the last one myself, since Beretta didn’t seem concerned about it. Quoted about 3+ months turnabout time to fix it. (they were busy with the Army pistol at the time) They didn’t even want to know what serial #’s were to get a handle on the problem. Problem becomes apparent within 50 rounds.

  27. As far as I know, it doesn’t. I’ve never shot it past 10 yards though, mostly because the Jetfire is not exactly what you’d call a bullseye gun.

  28. How ’bout the Walther pk380 or a PPS?

    Didn’t you say you would get a pk380 for your wife?

  29. I know you must be tired of hearing suggestions in the form of questions, but given your love for those little tip-barrel Beretta pocket pistols, why for the love of Pete a .25 Jetfire instead of a .32 Tomcat? .25 to .32 is a BIG step up in power; up from attacks typically continue to attacks typically cease after shooting someone with it.

    My Tomcat used to rimlock all the time, but the .25 ACP is also semi-rimmed so it’s presumably just as likely a random Jetfire will tend to rimlock as a random Tomcat. (I like my Kel-Tec P32, bought before there was a P3AT, much better. Despite the abominable trigger, I prefer it because it’s much easier to conceal and more reliable).

  30. Caleb,
    two mods I made to my Jetfire:
    #1 Reduced the height of the mag release button below the grips upper surface.
    Originally, I could drop the mag by holding the gun tightly with either hand.
    #2 Removed the raised finger pad from the tilt lever. Now it is flat the whole length.
    If you trip it inside a holster, as I did, good luck getting it out without using two hands and time. Basically, you have to crush the holster to get the barrel re-latched. The sharp breech end digs into the holster, and is held there by the spring action. Worse, it is most likely to do this as you start to draw.

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