The Velo-Dog (also known as a Revolver de Poche) was a pocket revolver originally created in France by René Galand, son of Charles-François Galand in the late 19th-century as a defense for cyclists against dog attacks. The name is a compound word composed of "velocipede" and "dog".
Surviving examples vary considerably in appearance, but have certain features in common. The hammer is shrouded to avoid its snagging on clothing, so the weapon is double action only. All have short barrels and originally fired the 5.75mm (.22 calibre) Velo-dog cartridge, although many Velo-Dogs produced after 1900 were chambered in .22 LR or .25 ACP rounds. Another feature of many late-model Velo-Dogs is the lack of a trigger guard and a trigger that folds into the body of the weapon when not in use. For the more humane, there were cartridges loaded with cayenne pepper or dust, or which had bullets made from wax, wood, or cork.
The original revolver uses the Galand company's proprietary 5.75 mm Velo-dog cartridge, a centrefire 5.5 mm (nominally 5.75) cartridge slightly less powerful than the 22 Long Rifle, using a jacketed bullet. The cartridge is, or was until very recently, still made by Fiocchi.
Despite the low energy of the round, a suicide case was recorded where a woman shot herself twice in the temple with a .25 (6.35 mm) Velo-dog revolver before succumbing.
Today, the Velo-Dog term is used for a broad assortment of Euro and American pocket revolvers in various calibers by diverse (and often anonymous) makers, probably because no one can think of what else to call them.
They all are pocket-sized. They all have one or more of three specific features — concealed hammer, folding spur-trigger, and manual safety. French manufacturer Galand introduced the first in the mid-1890s. Most came from Belgium, Spain, France, or Russia with additional production in Germany, Italy, USA, and Brazil, with nearly 90 different manufacturers identified. The most prolific production was from the turn of the 20th century to World War I, when a cottage industry sprung up and there was a proliferation of Velo-Dogs of various standards.
At the turn of the century, a large cottage firearm industry was predominantly in the Liege area of Belgium and Spain. Some shops made fine guns, but a lot of cheap junk was also being produced. These guns seldom had a manufacturer mark or unique numbers so identifying them is nearly impossible. Although when exported some manufacturers added identifying numbers.
The firearms museum in Liege has a very large collection of such guns.
There were over 30 different gun makers in the Eibar region of Spain alone before the Spanish Civil War and since only 4 of them survived there is no way to date the manufacture dates or distinguish different assembly and/or batch numbers.
A lot of early gun makers manufactured Velo-Dog firearms in batches or by racks; putting the number of the weapon in the Rack of manufacture. It is usually mistaken for a serial number. When the rack was full, another followed, and the weapons were numbered similarly.
This resulted in a lot of European, Russian, and American gunmakers repeatedly producing clones and copies in batches, one after another. Velodogs were cheap to produce and not very expensive to purchase. Thus making unique Velo-Dogs extremely rare and somewhat valuable.
In popular culture
- A Velo-dog makes a minor appearance as an assassin's concealable pistol in the novel The Death of Achilles, one of Boris Akunin's Erast Fandorin series.
- Akunin, Boris (2006). The Death of Achilles: A Novel. Translated by Andrew Bromfield. Random House. ISBN 0812968808.
- Barnes, Frank C. (1989). Warner, Ken (ed.). Cartridges of the World (6th ed.). Northbrook, Illinois: DBI Books, Inc. ISBN 0-87349-033-9.
- Barnes, Frank C. (2003). Skinner, Stan (ed.). Cartridges of the World (10th ed.). Krause Publications. ISBN 9780873496056.
- Eger, Chris (11 Oct 2012). "Velo Dog Revolver: Snubby snoopy sniper". www.guns.com. Retrieved 11 May 2015.
- Hayashi, T.; Gapert, R.; Tsokos, M.; Hartwig, S. (2012). "Suicide with two shots to the head using a rare 'Velo-Dog' pocket revolver". Forensic Science, Medicine, and Pathology. 9 (2): 265–269. doi:10.1007/s12024-012-9360-z. PMID 22753009. S2CID 42028515.
- Hogg, Ian; Weeks, John; Walter, John (2004). Pistols of the World. Krause Publications. ISBN 978-0-87349-460-1.
- Rummel, James R. "Doggin' the Velo". Archived from the original on September 17, 2008.
- "5,75x30 R/5.5 Velo-Dog/5.6 Velodog/5.6x29.5 Velodog/5.8 Velo Dog/6 mm Velodog/.225 Velodog/5.5 mm Nº 8/GR 646/SAA 0410/ECRA-ECDV 06 029 CBC 010".(Spanish)
- "Belgian .22 Short Mini Pocket Revolver (Velo-dog)". Forgotten Weapons (YouTube). 2014-04-06. Archived from the original on 2021-12-22.