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Browning’s classic ‘Baby’ design is back again courtesy of PSA
by J. B. Wood
Thanks to Lenn Kristal and Precision Small Arms, the FN/Browning “Baby” is back. In its original versions, this neat little .25 Autopistol had quite a history.
Designed by Dieudonne Saive at the Fabrique Nationale plant in Belgium, it was made by FN from 1931 to 1979. Then, for a short time (until 1983), it was made for FN by the MAB firm in France.
After the Manufacture d’Armes de Bayonne ended its operations, the FN people called on a Canadian company, Precision Small Parts, to produce the “Baby” for them.
This was mostly done in the US, at a PSP subsidiary in Charlottesville, VA, from 1985 to 1995. They had US export difficulties, and subsequently sold part of the production to Michael Kassnar (KBI) of Harrisburg, PA.
Previously, in 1968, a ridiculous US law banned the importation of all neat and small handguns. In that era from 1972 to 1984, the Bauer Company of Fraser, MI, produced a stainless-steel version of the “Baby” that was slightly altered internally to avoid a patent dust-up with the FN people. When the Bauer firm went out-of-business, the factory that had made it for them offered it for a while as the “Fraser.”
All of this brings us to 2007, and the founding of Precision Small Arms (PSA) in Aspen, Colorado. They had a lot of the original parts and tooling from the earlier PSP company, and applied some state-of-the-art methodsCNC machining and dimensional control technology. They did it perfectly, and the “Baby” was re-born.
I was the first writer to examine and shoot one, in August, 2010. My sample is the deluxe “Featherweight” version. It has a frame of T-652 forged aluminum billet, with all of the other mechanical components in high-grade steel. A gold-finished trigger adds to the elegant appearance. All of this is quite attractive, and production care is obvious. Even so, the pistol has to compete with its container.
Made by Technoframes of Italy, the brush-finish aluminum case is numbered to match the pistol. A magnetic latch and a key-lock secure the lid. At each bottom corner, there are soft-polymer pads. Inside, the pistol is centered in a top-tray, nicely recessed. The tray also has protective feet, and a bumper-strip surrounds it. No rattling. It lifts out easily.
In the lower level there are form-cut recesses for two magazines, the key to the case, a bore brush, and twelve cartridges. Looking at this container brings to mind names like Rolex and Rolls Royce. And, yes, this particular version of the pistol does edge into the luxury class. The suggested retail price goes a little past $900. For the pistol and the case, you pay for high quality.
Most readers will know the mechanical features of the original “Baby,” but just in case: The PSA .25, which is essentially identical, is striker-fired and single action. An indicator emerges at the rear of the slide when the striker is in cocked position. The operating button of the manual safety is at the front of the left grip, within easy thumb-reach. The safety blocks the sear.
When the magazine is removed, there is an automatic internal safety that also blocks the sear. Alas, just as in Dieudonne Saive’s original design, removal of this little abomination requires the making of a different magazine catch spring. On an FN version that I used to carry, I did this. You are advised to leave it alone.
For those who want the numbers, the PSA .25 is 4.11 inches in length, 2.88 inches in height. Width is 0.875 of an inch, and that’s through the grips, so it’s actually slimmer. Barrel length is 2.13 inches. Weight is 7.25 ounces with the aluminum frame, and 9.70 ounces in steel. Magazine capacity is six rounds.
With the small size, tiny sights,, and room for only one finger on the frame, any serious target work would be useless. I used a two-hand hold at seven yards, and the PSA .25 kept all rounds in the 8-inch black of a Champion target. One five-shot group measured just over four inches. The ammo was Czech, Sellier & Bellot, the regular full-jacket load. No malfunctions.
In addition to the deluxe version that I tested, there are regular hot-blued all-steel pistols. At this point, I don’t have the suggested retail figure for those, but I’m sure it will be significantly less. For more information, contact: Precision Small Arms, Inc., PO Box 931, Dept. GWK, Aspen, CO 81612; phone: 970-390-5520; online: precisionsmallarms.com.
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