March 05, 2021
Years ago, I was working in a gunshop when
a fellow laid a shiny belly gun on the counter and asked the manager what he’d give for it. The manager wasn’t in a good mood and clearly didn’t want the pistol. “Sorry,” he said, “I can’t resell that for much. Not interested.”
“I’ll take $25 for it,” came the response. Poor as a church mouse, I pricked up my ears.
The manager just shook his head. As he walked away, I buttonholed him. “Mind if I buy it?” Store policy was that if the shop didn’t want a used firearm brought in for sale or trade, any employee was welcome to negotiate for it.
With the go-ahead from the boss, I offered $20 and became the dubious possessor of a small, inexpensive-looking .25 ACP pistol with the make and model designation Raven Arms Model MP-25.
Raven Arms was founded in California as a response to the dearth of inexpensive, concealable handguns following the Gun Control Act of 1968, which prohibited certain importations. Its specialty was just one model: a very compact, simple semiautomatic pistol chambered in .25 ACP. It was first dubbed the P-25, then later the MP-25 after certain small improvements were made. Three iterations of the latter were eventually offered, one black, one chromed, and one brushed nickel. Walnut grips and artificial mother-of-pearl grips were available.
The frames and slides were cast of a zinc alloy, which helped keep the cost very low. Of simple blowback design, the pistol has a magazine capacity of six rounds.
About two million of the first model were manufactured, and according to one online source, about three million of the slightly improved MP-25, like the one featured in this report, were made before the company’s factory burned down and the owner retired in 1991.
Like many early European pistols, the magazine catch is in the bottom of the grip. The safety is located on the left bottom edge of the slide, in the traditional spot, but unlike most pistols, it slides forward to the “Fire” position, rearward to “Safe.” Early versions—of which mine is one—have a sliding-bar safety that prevents the slide from traveling rearward enough to cock the striker or pick up a fresh cartridge when in the “Safe” position. Later iterations incorporated an improved safety that pushes up and locks the slide from any travel at all when engaged.
Interestingly, the firing pin serves double-duty as the ejector. As the slide nears the limit of its rearward travel, the firing pin protrudes from the hole and contacts the spent case, sending it zinging up and out of the top of the action.
The sights on the Raven Arms MP-25 are basic but crisp. Cast into the top of the slide, they are not adjustable. The trigger is nothing to write home about, either, releasing at about 8 pounds, 6 ounces, according to my Lyman digital trigger gauge.
A memorable history is one thing that should not be expected of a Raven Arms pistol. As for proper provenance, few have any. Furthermore, few can actually be dated precisely because most records were lost when the factory burned in ’91.
When I first acquired the MP-25, I purchased a simple neoprene IWB-type holster and began packing it in my pocket or behind my hip or in the appendix position, depending on what clothing I was wearing that particular day. Not surprisingly, it packed comfortably.
Before carrying it, though, I studied on the .25 ACP cartridge and its applicability for personal protection. I went into it knowing full well that the round is very much a “better than nothing” cartridge.
At one point, I voiced that opinion to a SWAT officer friend who moonlighted behind the gun counter to supplement his income. To my surprise, he responded, “I’ve seen more completely dead bodies shot with the .25 ACP than any other cartridge.”
After studying ballistic tables detailing bullet weight (not much) and velocity (equally unimpressive), I concluded that a hollowpoint bullet may not even have enough impact speed to expand, and even if it did, that expansion would just inhibit already marginal penetration. I concluded I may as well stick with FMJ ammo. The fact that the FMJ price was about half helped that decision.
Well over two decades later, specifically for this report, I repaired to the range with the little MP-25 and fired a series of groups at 10 paces. Just as it did long ago, the pistol reliably digested the two factory loads I tried in it. Some of the ammo was old and had green corrosion on several of the cases. I fired them without wiping them down and encountered no problems.
The fixed sights put the little 50-grain bullets on point of aim at 10 yards. Recoil, of course, was almost non-existent. As I worked my way through a simple accuracy test, the MP-25 reminded me that the slide does not lock back when the magazine is empty.
Later I searched online auction sites for similar pistols for sale, and most listed had considerable wear—much more than my pistol—and bidding ranged from about $40 to $60.
Although it possesses little collectability, no claim to wartime fame, and no notable manufacturing quality, the Raven Arms MP-25 is a simple, robust, and generally reliable pocket gun. MP-25
MANUFACTURER: Raven Arms
TYPE: Blowback autoloader
CALIBER: .25 ACP
MAGAZINE CAPACITY: 6 rounds
BARREL: 2.36 in.
OVERALL LENGTH: 4.75 in.
WIDTH: 0.8 in.
HEIGHT: 3.4 in.
WEIGHT, EMPTY: 15 oz.
SIGHTS: Blade front, square notch rear
TRIGGER: 8.38-lb. pull (as tested)
SAFETY: Two position