Theodore Roosevelt, 1903

"Let us speak courteously, deal fairly, and keep ourselves armed and ready." - Theodore Roosevelt, 1903

Sunday, September 4, 2016

The Protector Palm Pistol of 1882


While looking into what guns were used in the Old West for the purpose of Concealed Carry, I realized that some might not know about the Protector Palm Pistol.

What is the Protector Palm Pistol? It is a pistol that has a barrel length of 1.75 inches, has an overall length is 4.5 inches, and unloaded only weighs 10.5 ounces. It was originally a small .32 rimfire revolver designed to be concealed in the palm of the hand for protection use. 

While there were all sorts of interesting designs for Concealed Carry weapons at the time, it was unique in that the revolver was clasped in a fist with the barrel protruding between two fingers and the entire handgun was squeezed in order to fire a round.

The action type is sometimes referred to as a "turret" revolver, and instead of a traditional trigger, the cartridges are fired by the shooter squeezing his fist while the gun is held in the hand. The usual way of holding the Palm Pistol is with the barrel protruding from between the shooter’s fingers, and the action is operated by squeezing the hinged lever on the rear of the gun’s circular frame. 


Some may think that the Protector Palm Pistol was an American invention because it was produced by a couple of American firearms companies, but the fact is that it was first patented and built in France in 1882 by Jacques Turbiaux. It was sold as the "Turbiaux Le Protector" which translates to the "Turbiaux Disc Pistol". 

The designer Jacques E. Turbiaux described his pistol as, "A revolver which may be held in the hand with no part exposed except the barrel".

After it became known with some success in Europe, as was the habit of the times where gunmakers simply used the technology that someone else came up with, it was built in the United States in 1883 by the Minneapolis Firearms Co.. They called the very small and very concealable handgun, "The Protector."

The Minneapolis Firearms Co. Protector Squeezer Type Palm Pistol, as it's officially known, is a .32-caliber centerfire handgun with a seven-shot capacity. It has internal chambers that are arranged around a rotating disk that has to be removed for loading. The cartridges point outward from the disk, and the disk is accessed by removing the hard rubber sideplate.
The Minneapolis Palm Pistol was sold under license by the Minneapolis Firearms Co. from 1891 to 1892, but research indicates these guns were actually made by James Duckworth of Springfield, Massachusetts. Most of the guns were nickel-plated to prevent corrosion from being carried in close contact with the owner. These guns were shipped with hard rubber inserts for additional protection. Some varieties were blued while others actually came with pearl inlays.

Later Peter H. Finnegan of Austin, Illinois bought the patent in 1892 and founded the Chicago Firearms Co. to make and market the pistols. In anticipation of the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893, he contracted the Ames Sword Company of Chicopee, Massachusetts to manufacture 15,000 pistols.

Ames made 1,500 of the pistols by the deadline of the exhibition. Finnegan sued for damages and engaged in a lawsuit with Ames. The company counter-sued and settled with Finnegan even though Ames had produced 12,800 of the small pistols. By 1910, that inventory was sold off and the design was abandoned.


It should be noted that the Minneapolis Palm Pistol is not to be confused with the Chicago Palm Pistol because the Minneapolis pistol is slightly smaller in size and was chambered for a centerfire .32-caliber cartridge, . The Chicago pistol is chambered for a .32-caliber rimfire cartridge.

Remington manufactured the .32 Rimfire Extra Short, which was also known as the .32 Protector, and the 32 Centerfire Extra Short, until 1920. Both .32 cartridges should not be confused with the .32 ACP that came about in 1899 specifically for the Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless pistol.

It is said that the biggest flaw in the Protector Palm Pistol's design was that the cartridges was very short and the .32 Centerfire Extra Short, which was also known as the .32 Protector, and the .32 Rimfire Extra Short were blackpowder cartridges, and subsequently rather anemic for a protection weapon. The .32 ACP used smokeless powder.

Supposedly those cartridges only had a muzzle velocity of anywhere between 600 and 650 fps with a 54-grain lead roundnose bullet. The muzzle energy was said to be a sorry 51 foot-pounds. When you compare those stats to that of the Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless pistol's .32 ACP with its 60-grain FMJ bullet that is traveling at about 1,100 fps and has a muzzle energy of 161 foot-pounds, you can see just how anemic the Protector Palm Pistol really was. 

And frankly, I really believe that that's why after only 12,800 of the seven-shot rotary magazine double-action pistols were produced, it was scrapped.

And yes, that's just the way I see it.

Tom Correa


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