Thursday, July 21, 2011

Gratuitous Gun Pr0n #54: Bayard 1908 .380ACP


Long before George Kellgren was hawking little pistols, and decades before Larry Seecamp was even born, the Belgian firm of Anciens Etablissements Pieper was selling the diminutive little Bayard 1908: A hammer-fired straight-blowback pistol available in .25ACP, .32ACP, or .380ACP.

The one in the picture is a .380 (although the .25 and .32 were the same size and, in fact, were identical except for the barrel, magazine and the dimensions of the breechface.) It's about the same in height and length as the P3AT, although a little wider and obviously heavier, since the only way to manufacture a firearm back then was to take a block of forged steel and machine away everything that didn't look like a gun.

In general layout, the pistol resembles a chopped-down FN Browning 1900, with the recoil assembly positioned over the barrel, although the internal mechanics differ, not least in that the gun is hammer- rather than striker-fired.

It's an interesting artifact from an earlier age when a gentleman could purchase a pistol through the mails, slip it into his vest pocket, and travel the world with not much needed in the way of a passport or papers, other than the kind that spend.

31 comments:

Bubblehead Les. said...

At first glance, I thought someone had stolen my Spanish Baby Browning "Libia" clone, but when I checked my Man Bag, there it was, next to all the "Papers" that one needs to carry when one lives within 100 miles of the U.S. Border. We're not quite at the Internal Passport Stage yet, but...

Carteach0 said...

Nice piece of history you have there..

pdb said...

I've always liked those little all steel pocket guns, I'll probably end up with a Baby Browning or Colt Vest Pocket when finding one coincides with the right amount of pocket money.

A few months ago I caught some 1950s romantic comedy flick on AMC and was about to flip past when the lead asked his sidekick if he had his pistol on him. The supporting actor put his hand in his smoking jacket and replied "Of course, and it's loaded!", as if it was the dumbest question in the world. It was just a throwaway line in a dumb movie, and I know we've made a lot of progress culturally and legally, but I wonder how much further do we have to go until we hear a similar line in a modern Rom-Com without 10 minutes of backstory on how the guy is a retired cop or ex-green beret or whatever.

pdb said...

Speaking of which, what's the general consensus on the NAA Guardian? I know their .22 LR mini revolver suck, but if one wanted a modern all steel pocket pistol it looks pretty decent.

Tam said...

I've never heard a lot of complaints about the ones I sold, but they're in that class of guns that rarely get shot enough to generate complaints. Build quality seemed okay.

Blackwing1 said...

A one-hundred-year-old pistol is neat enough, but can you actually shoot this? Is it safe with modern .380 ACP ammo?

And here's the dumb question of the day: On a firearm that old with some red-rust setting in, how do you stay ahead of the problem without removing what's left of the original finish?

When I was cleaning up my buddy's fuzzy-with-rust Marlin 39 (a 1926 serial number) that had been in multiple basement floods without any cleaning or oiling, the best I could do was 000 steel wool soaked in oil. I only broke one screw while detail-stripping it (I broke it with my friggin' thumbnail in the slot), but even just soaking the parts in solvent and oil didn't do much. It had been put into its case dirty, and the bore was black; that took me three days of soaking in solvent and multiple brass-brushings to see the rifling again.

With all of your vintage arms, I'm sure you've got a trick or two up your sleeve with regard to cleaning and preserving without harming the original finish (or "patina", if there's no finish left).

Maybe you'd be willing to share some in a post over on The Arms Room?

Michael W. said...

Thanks for the continuing "Blast from the past"

Very nice weapon. It does harken back to a different time and mindset.

I had one in 25 a.c.p. sometime back, it shot well and functioned without any hiccups. Like a damned fool I let it go in a trade for something more "high speed"

You live, you learn.

aczarnowski said...

pdb, the Guardian G380 was my carry gun between 2005 and 2009. Heavy gun is heavy. And it carries the weight mostly in the grip which makes it want to twist in your pocket. But as the Russian said "Heavy is good, heavy is reliable and if it doesn't work, you can always hit him with it." I've since picked up an LCP and like it for that front pocket role much better. I can't imagine carrying that much stainless in a vest pocket. I can't imagine the LCP living nearly as long as the G380 either.

It's a fine design and mine never gave me problems with carry ammo. After I replaced a broken original firing bin - apparently a problem with the early run guns - it would FtF heavy primer practice ammo like S&B. Disconcerting, but it always lit the Corbon I carry so I didn't sweat it too much.

With the flood of plastic pocket 380s, I've seen Guardians languishing in gun cases. There are worse things to spend $250 on than a used G380 in the opinion of this guy on the internet.

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

How does the Bayard .380 shoot? Recoil ok?

Tam said...

Haven't got it to the range yet.

Most reports state that, while the .32 version is merely unpleasant, the .380 is actually painful. We'll see.

staghounds said...

Yes you will.

"Painful" is relative, and most of those old timey reports come from a day when the .45 and .357 in an N frame were considered barely manageable by big he men.

But although the low barrel helps with control some, you'll know it went off.

Montie said...

Tam,

Very cool. I would assume that the .380 would be the least produced caliber, is that indeed the case?

As to PDB's qestion regarding the NAA autos, I bought one of the first ones available around here (albeit in .32 ACP)and have never had a problem with it, although it probably has less thatn 500 rounds through it. I do find it a trifle heavy being all steel, and have pretty much gone over to a Kel Tec for carry when such a piece is called for.

Anonymous said...

"We're not quite at the Internal Passport Stage yet, but..."

You haven't tried flying within the US recently, have you? You ain't getting on the plane without Government ID.

John Stephens said...

Yes, but for now ID is Shall Issue (to borrow a phrase). Internal passports aren't about ID. They're your permission to travel in the first place, which can be denied.

global village idiot said...

Staghound, while your point is well taken, I'll take the testimony of someone shooting a blowback pistol at his word.

I'm one of those non-he-man types who can't shoot .45ACP or .357 well. So I shoot 9mm and .38spl and do it very well. Tried .380 in a Walther PPK once and truly hated it. This gun looks far smaller, and in the same caliber.

I'm no fan of blowbacks but I do understand why they are the way they are. They're not meant for fun, or shooting thousands of rounds through. They're for damage-control at "bad breath" range. You just hope they hurt the other guy more than they hurt you.

gvi

wv: ovicalm (n) - the sedated, euphoric state achieved after eating an omelette breakfast at Waffle House

theirritablearchitect said...

"It's an interesting artifact from an earlier age when a gentleman could purchase a pistol through the mails, slip it into his vest pocket, and travel the world with not much needed in the way of a passport or papers, other than the kind that spend."

Now that's just a bunch of crazy talk, lady.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Vest Pockets, slap a pony on that thing and...

AT

wv: renestis...take renestis tonight and wake up refreshed!*

*(side effects may include suicide, murder, child-rape, self-imolation, terrorist activity and slight grumpiness)

Mike said...

Wow. That looks a lot like my mom's S&W Model 61 in .22 LR, right down to the barrel under the recoil assembly.

Tam said...

AT,

"Speaking of Vest Pockets..."

Actually, Mike's comment below yours was right. Mechanically, it's a lot closer to the S&W Escort than the Colt Vest Pocket. (The biggest visual cue being the recoil assembly above the barrel rather than beneath it.)

Anonymous said...

Such a geek. Mechanics? P'shaw.
In art, all is form and aesthetic.
And it wanted to be a Colt so bad...

AT

Tam said...

Yeah, I guess to the casual observer, they do look a little alike.

Other than where the barrel is, or how far forward the grip is on the frame, or the ejection port being in the frame rather than the slide... I mean, other than that, (and the completely different location and arrangement of the cocking serrations,) they look practically identical. ;)

Both of them, for instance, lack the shoulder thing that goes up. :D

Tam said...

(Incidentally, the next photo on the CompactFlash card, for the eventual Arms Room post, is the Bayard between a Colt 1903 and a Colt 1908 Vest Pocket .25 for scale.)

Anonymous said...

Well you're the exspurt, but they do both have that hole thingy that goes bang...

So, how much of that radical departure is 'cuz it's furrin, and how much is due to the lawyerly pursuits of the 19 aughts?

AT

Tam said...

"So, how much of that radical departure is 'cuz it's furrin"

Speaking as a drip under pressure, I would point out that the Colt 1908 Vest Pocket is foreign, too, being merely the domestic copy of the FN 1905... :)

http://www.fn-browning.com/fn.htm

Firehand said...

Blackwing, one thing I've found that works very well on surface rust in Blue Wonder cleaner; put some on 0000 wool and rub lightly. Takes it off very well, and doesn't bother the finish around the rust.

Works pretty well on bores, too. Soak a brush, run it back & forth 5 or 6 times, repeat, and let it sit a while. Wipe with patches, repeat as needed. Not so good on copper fouling, but on other stuff works quite well.

Anonymous said...

"...being merely the domestic copy of the FN 1905...:)"

...itself being "merely" the capably executed design of a rather thoroughly domestic product*...:b

Which was of course the rather thoroughly and determinedly if weakly missed/dissed point. No pressure.

AT

*(pbuh)

Tam said...

"weakly missed/dissed"

I'm sitting here looking at both, AT. Like I said, to someone completely unfamiliar with firearms, I guess they look alike, in the same way that a Checker Cab and an '82 Crown Vic do.

"No pressure."

Nope, no pressure at all. The picture with the one next to the other will go up on the Arms Room. You can then defend your claim against the class. No pressure. :)

Anonymous said...

"No pressure."

Just the drip drip drip of literalist Tamarese torture...I shoulda tossed in one of those disclaimers of yours I guess.

'82 Crown Vic? No, all Checkers wanted to be '57 Chevys.

And all early pistols wanted to be Colt's.

Both missed the mark by a bit.

AT

Anonymous said...

Believe it or not this was reintroduced in the 70s as the S&W Escort.

http://unblinkingeye.com/Guns/SWE/swe.html

Critter said...

ooh! ooh! i have one! i'm also looking for a new front sight as the one i own sheared it off under recoil one day at the range. :( recoil was unpleasant but managable and the groups weren't bad. def a bad breath range gun.

Anonymous said...

Mine only has a slight amount of red showing in the rivs on the slide, can't seem to get it out. Its takes the Rem 380 auto just fine. Kicks a little more than my 410 derringer, but all in all, I would say that it does what it was intended for! 100 years old or not. It works!