The Apache pocket pistol - God Bless the 2nd Amendment

The Apache pocket pistol has an almost mythical reputation amongst those of us who are interested in antique firearms. This is almost certainly due to the fact that the weapon looks really cool.

(Click on the pics for a slightly larger image.)

These guns seemed to be fairly popular during their production run, which was from about 1870 until 1900 or so. All of the surviving examples are valuable antiques, and the lowest price I have ever seen for an Apache is about $4000.00 USD.

The basic design would be pretty effective if it was of hefty enough size, but that simply wasn't the case. This thing is pretty small, measuring when all folded up a little more than 1.5 inches across (4 centimeters). You had better have little bitty fingers or else you won't be able to use the weapon as a knuckle duster.

That also means the bayonet was only about 1.5 inches long. You would have to be pretty desperate to go stabby since it probably would just piss off whoever got stuck. Better than nothing, I suppose.

There is some confusion as to why this weapon is called the Apache. Some people assert that it gained the name after a rough and tumble street gang in Paris which called itself the Apaches, and the weapon gained it's name when these tough and dangerous characters all started to carry them. I find that really hard to swallow since just about all the Apache pistols which have survived were gold plated at one time, with engravings of little flowers.

What kind of street gang wouldn't be terribly embarrassed to have these as their main weapon of terror? The same street gang whose only criminal acts are mugging little girls for their My Little Pony collections. Looks to me like the name was just a marketing ploy, picked in an attempt to add some badly needed manliness.

So why wasn't the first gun all shiny and gold? Because the plating wore off from being carried in someone's pocket for years. That means someone actually considered this to be a serious self defense weapon, and he hauled it around with him in case he needed to kick some butt.

The firearm component of the weapon uses what is called the pinfire method of ignition. This is where a little stub of metal (the pin) sticks out of the back of the cartridge. The hammer strikes the pin to set off the primer. This means that the hammer doesn't strike the back of the cartridge like on modern firearms, but instead comes down on top of the cylinder edge.

That is a picture of the Apache's cylinder. See that little metal rod sitting next to it? That is the axle that holds the cylinder in place. You had to remove the entire cylinder to reload, and the axle was used to poke out the spent cartridges.

This gun looks like a revolver that is missing it's barrel, but looks can be deceiving. It actually is a very short-barreled pepperbox. The bullet diameter is 7mm, which puts it at about .27 caliber. I haven't been able to find any ballistic data on this type of gun, but it probably wasn't too impressive. After all, pinfire cartridges couldn't be loaded to very high pressures so muzzle velocities must have been pretty paltry.

This particular weapon was designed and patented by a Belgian gunsmith named Dolne, who lived in the city of Liege. I suppose he was of Polish extraction since there is a city of the same name in Poland.

Most gun enthusiasts think this is a pretty neato weapon, but only if they don't realize how small and underpowered they really were. I can't help but wonder what this tiny little gun would have been like if it was scaled up and chambered for, say, the .38 Special cartridge. I bet it would have been pretty impressive as a do-anything weapon system then! Since it was restricted to a 7mm pinfire, though, I think it was probably bought and carried by city dwellers who only had to worry about the occasional mugging by a wheezing drug addict.



Anonymous said...

this is so much help, im writing a book and using the Apache in it. thanks for the data, but the one thing i would love to know is the average selling price.

Anonymous said...

I have a Apache Pistol Knife Knuckle Duster, if he interests, I can sell it to I. I pray to contact me for photo and information

Anonymous said...

"This particular weapon was designed and patented by a Belgian gunsmith named Dolne, who lived in the city of Liege. I suppose he was of Polish extraction since there is a city of the same name in Poland."

poland did not become a country till the 1918, end of WWI when the allied forces split up the german allies, they cut germany down to less then half of its previous size and split it by putting poland in the middle, kind of the reason hitler was able to gather power,
guess not needed for the history lesson but basically same town, but "modern day Poland"

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