High-capacity handguns, though now considered by many to be representative of a bizarre obsession with excessive firepower and murderous intentions, were once simply an enterprising aspiration. An engineering hallmark. And, though many of these old designs attempting to achieve higher capacities would be seen today as bizarre, none approach the sheer peculiarity of the Pistola Con Caricato—the 18-shot, .25 caliber, triple-barreled revolver.
Pocket pistols—very often compact, small-caliber revolvers—were commonplace among all walks of life around the turn of the 20th century. So it only seems natural that a firearms manufacturer would get ambitious and try to make a high-capacity, small-caliber “pocket pistol” that would offer superior firepower to their competitors. The makers of the Con Caricato may have taken that notion a little too far: Their small-caliber revolver, to accommodate the dazzling number of rounds, was quite large. As a result, this revolver didn’t make it into mainstream production. In fact, there’s virtually no historical record of this gun, or any proof that it wasn’t just a one-off.
The Con Caricato had four firing settings and a safety controlled via selector switch on the left of the revolver’s frame. Each setting controlled one of the three barrels, the fourth setting reserved for those instances where a user would say “to hell with it” and fire all three barrels simultaneously. Enormous, two-piece moonclips facilitated faster reloads, assuming the user preferred keeping their revolver set to triple-fire.
The .25 ACP is a traditional favorite for pocket guns, and particularly for inexpensive “Saturday-night Specials,” since its pressures are low enough to pose little risk to even the weakest metal. It’s considered the lowest-powered standard cartridge still in manufacture, with the exception of the .22 short. Of course, firing three of them at a time helps to offset their anemic nature.
Plenty of people hate on the .25 ACP, claiming its anemic power makes it worthless as a self-defense cartridge. To that, I simply say, I’ve never met anyone who’s volunteered to stroll downrange and catch one, let alone 18 of them.
Opening photo composite courtesy of gizmag.com and guns.com