What Kind Of Damage Can A .25 Caliber Pistol Do? – Can It Kill?

can a 25 caliber pistol kill

The .25 Caliber has been around for some time, but it has had a mixed reception among the gun-owning public. Some people in the gun community are of the opinion that this caliber firearm is not worth carrying because of its lack of effectiveness. What kind of damage can you expect a .25 Caliber pistol to do, and can it do it reliably?

A .25 caliber round can certainly kill, but the shot would need to be placed perfectly to do enough damage to cause mortality. The .25 Caliber is often touted to be unsuitable as an adequate self-defense round because of its lack of stopping power; thus, most people prefer to carry larger calibers.

The .25 Caliber pistol has seemed to have garnered a reputation for being a caliber to stay away from at all costs but is this an accurate criticism of this caliber handgun. Of course, any handgun would be better than not having one at all, but can you rely on it to come through for you when the chips are down?

Is A .25 Caliber A Good Gun?

The .25 Caliber was developed in 1905 by the famed John Browning. His intention was to produce a cartridge with similar characteristics to the .22LR cartridge but rather fired from a small pistol with a 2-inch barrel.

The product was the .25 ACP, which initially gained much public popularity. The pistol had a small form factor which gave it the nickname of a pocket gun. They were lightweight, easily carried in a purse or a pocket, and the centerfire cartridge was more reliable than the rimfire .22LR cartridge.

The popularity of the .25 Caliber waned from the 1980s onwards, generally due to the development of small form factor pistols in larger calibers.

To establish whether a .25 caliber is a good gun or not, we need to take a investigate the pros and cons of the design of these pistols and the effectiveness of the Caliber.

What Kind Of Damage Can A .25 Caliber Pistol Do? - Can It Kill? 1

Pros Of The .25 Caliber Pistol

The .25 ACP caliber was popular when it was first launched and enjoyed decades of popularity, which means that there were some factors that made this pistol and Caliber favorable to the public.

The aspects of this gun that stand out as positives to this Caliber and design are as follows.

  • Small form factor. The pistol is small, lightweight, and easily concealed in a pocket or a purse. The Caliber is small, so even though the pistol was physically small, it could carry 8 rounds in the short magazine and 1 in the chamber, totaling 9 rounds.
  • Very little recoil. The recoil of this little pistol was so low that it was easy to operate. Even firing it with one hand is very comfortable, and the limited recoil does not move the gun off target much after each firing. This allows the shooter to get back on target very quickly for the next shot. The low recoil also made it popular for women to carry since they found the pistol easy to fire. 
  • Easy to carry. The Baby Browning .25 Cal even became known as the Ladies Browning due to its popularity for being carried in a purse. The .25 Cal was even popular among men because it fits easily in a vest pocket in the days when most working men wore suits with a vest to the workplace.
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Cons Of The .25 Caliber Pistol 

The .25 Cal did, however, come with some drawbacks, and the advancement in the development of modern handguns began the inevitable demise of the popularity of this caliber pistol.

The main disadvantages to the .25 Caliber are as follows.

  • Expensive ammunition. Even though the .25 Cal is only marginally bigger than its .22 rimfire counterparts, it was much more expensive in comparison. This was a major downside for many people and deterred many people from carrying this type of pocket gun. The financial burden of owning and shooting one was just not worth it when cheaper options were available.
  • Lack of stopping power. This is probably the main point that everyone quotes as being the main reason for not carrying a .25 caliber. The ballistics of the cartridge does not provide enough energy for the bullet to be an effective man-stopper. Even though a .25 can kill, the shot will need to be well placed in order to achieve this goal. If the person sustains a hit and no vital organs are hit, they will not go down and will continue coming at you.
  • Difficult to hold. For men whose hands are generally larger than that of women, the small grip of the pistol was often difficult to get a good grip on to feel comfortable in the hand. The small size of the slide also makes it difficult to rack the slide if you have large fingers. 
  • Lack of accuracy. Because the .25 Caliber pistols are a small form factor pistol, the barrels are short, usually only around the 2-inch mark. A shot barrel does not lend itself to accuracy, especially over distances over 10-feet. This is a problem for this gun because the lack of stopping power of the cartridge means that you need to be accurate to stop an attacker effectively.
  • No sights of small sights. Many of the pistols made in the .25 Caliber had no sights at all, which is an indicator that they were intended for close-range use. This that did come out with sights on the pistols generally had small sights that were difficult to use even in controlled, range shooting conditions. This contributed to the lack of accuracy of these guns, particularly in the hands of inexperienced shooters.

Another disadvantage to the .25 Caliber pistols is that they are no longer manufactured. In the heyday of their popularity, most pistol manufacturers produced at least one model in their range that was chambered for the .25 Caliber.

However, since the popularity of the Caliber has dwindled, these manufacturers no longer produce guns for this cartridge. This means that parts and spares for the older .25 Cal pistols are becoming scarce. Because there are still a large number of these guns in circulation, there is still a demand for the ammunition; thus, there are still cartridges being made for this Caliber.

Is The .25 Caliber Good For Self Defense?

This is probably the biggest debate among the gun-owning community, with some being dead against anyone considering carrying this Caliber for self-defense.

The .25 Caliber is not a good weapon to carry for self-defense. The lack of stopping power produced by the cartridge means that it is unlikely to stop a determined attacker unless an instant fatal shot is delivered before the attacker gets too close, and the likelihood of this is slim.

Even though the .25 Caliber is capable of killing, if the shot is not immediately fatal, the bullet does not have the energy to stop an attack, even with multiple shots.

Modern handgun designs have developed small form factor handguns in calibers that are much more effective in stopping an attacker than the .25 Cal. This is one of the main causes for this caliber being discontinued by many gun manufacturers.


A .25 Caliber pistol can kill a person, but the lack of stopping power of this Caliber has contributed to it gaining a reputation of being ineffectual for self-defense. While it would be better to have one of these pistols than nothing at all, it would be better to opt for a more modern small form factor pistol in a higher caliber.

The fact that manufacturers are no longer making these pistols also makes it impractical to invest in one of these pistols since parts will become scarce. There are many modern compact 9mm pistols that are being produced by manufacturers making one of these pistols a better choice for a small, self-defense pistol.