The .25 ACP

By Chuck Hawks

.25 Auto
Illustration courtesy of Hornady Mfg. Co.

This popular auto pistol cartridge is the least effective money can buy for personal defense. (And, it is not accurate enough for any other purpose.) With the Winchester 45 grain expanding point bullet it is about a 25% one shot stopper according to Marshall and Sanow. The .22 LR with CCI Stingers is about a 34% stopper, plus which it is more accurate and much cheaper to buy.

So why buy a .25 pistol? The one advantage of the .25 Automatic Colt Pistol cartridge is that it is shorter and fatter than the .22 LR, and therefore feeds more reliably in autoloading pistols. Several manufacturers have solved the feeding problem with .22 pistols, however, so that argument only holds water if a particular model of pocket pistol doesn't function as well with .22's and does with .25's. The obvious answer would seem to be buying a different brand of pistol.

Yet, the .25 ACP remains a popular cartridge. Despite its low power, questionable accuracy and (relative to the .22 LR) the high price of factory loaded ammunition.

Needless to say, its tiny case is a nightmare to reload, and practically no one ever bothers. However, according to the 26th edition of the Hodgdon Data Manual 1.2 grains of HP38 powder can drive a 50 grain jacketed bullet at a MV of 761 fps, and 1.4 grains of HP38 can give a MV of 848 fps with the same bullet. These velocities were chronographed in a 2 3/8 inch barrel.

Winchester ballistics claim their 45 grain Expanding Point bullet leaves the muzzle of a 2" pistol barrel at 815 fps with 66 ft. lbs. of energy. At 50 yards the midrange rise would be 1.8" although it is a little hard to imagine anyone sighting a .25 ACP pistol for 50 yards.

If a .25 pocket pistol is all you have for protection, there is no doubt that it is better than nothing. .25 pistols have saved lives in the past and will continue to do so in the future. But, if you are contemplating purchasing a pocket pistol for protection, there are better calibers available for the purpose.

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Copyright 2001, 2006 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.