The Minneapolis Protector palm pistol is a marvel of efficiency with seven chambers arranged around an internal rotating disk with the cartridges all pointed outwards. This action type is commonly known as a turret revolver. It is small enough to disappear into the user's hand with only the stubby barrel protruding between the fingers.
As a close range weapon the palm pistol's seven rounds "double action" would have far outclassed the two rounds of a Derringer for dissuading the unlawful. The biggest flaw in the design is that the cartridges have to be very short. The US cartridges are .32 Centrefire Extra Short (.32 Protector) and .32 Rimfire Extra Short, and all cartridges for the variants look like .22 Rimfire BB caps. Muzzle velocity was pitiful.
Commonly known as the "Chicago Palm Pistol" or the "Chicago Protector", this type of palm pistol is a seven shot, rotary action revolver designed to fit the palm of the hand and be operated by a hinged lever mounted to the rear of the circular frame. The first palm pistols, known as Systeme Turbiaux Le Protector, were introduced 6mm Protector (10 shot) or 8mm Gaulois (7 shot) by Jacques Edmond Turbiaux of Paris in 1882. The design was patented in various countries, including in the US in 1883.
The Minneapolis palm pistol was made under license from the Turbiaux patents by the Minneapolis Firearms Company, about 1890. They were actually made by J Duckworth of Springfield Massachusetts. These guns were marked "The Protector", "Minn. Fire Arms Co." Note: The centrefire versions seem to be quite rare as they do not appear in most historical literature.
The second US version, improved (US improvements patent obtained in 1893) by Peter Finnegan, salesman, who bought the rights in 1892, and had his version made by the Ames Sword Company of Chicopee Mass. This version can be easily detected by the "trigger" above the barrel (right), which is actually a grip safety, and the legend, "Chicago Firearms Co. Chicago Ill" on one side, and "The Protector Pat Mch 6 83 Aug 29 93" on the other. This gun was made in the caliber .32 Rim Fire Extra Short.
Finnegan contracted the Ames Sword Company to produce the guns and promise to deliver them in time for the opening of the Chicago Columbian Exposition of 1892. Ames defaulted and did not deliver the guns until after the exposition closed. Finnegan refused delivery and sued Ames for breach of contract, winning his case.
Production of this version was brief, because of the lawsuits. Ames was left with the guns to sell on their own, finally disposing of the last ones in the 1910s.
The .32 Rimfire Extra Short and .32 Centrefire Extra Short are blackpowder cartridges that are considered obsolete today. These guns are classed as "Antique" in Canada and "Curios & Relics" in the USA and may be bought and traded without a licence or registration requirement in both countries. An interesting Canadian legal fact about the centrefire model is that it is an "antique firearm" , which totally overrides the fact that it is also a "prohibited firearm." Amusingly this gun is a "prohibited firearm" to which the Firearms Act does not apply in any way and the CC sections listed in CC s. 84(3) do not apply to it either!
The Chicago Firearms Co. went on to sell a very similar model called the "Chicago Protector" of which approximately 12,800 copies were made during the early 1890's. As a result, the Minneapolis palm pistol is a much less abundant gun in collector circles and centrefire Minneapolis seem to be rarest of all.
Palm guns of this type typically go from $1500 - $2000 US on auction sites. The extremely rare original factory box is many hundred times rarer than the gun and may double the price of one of these guns.
Pistols of the World, 3rd Edition, Ian Hogg and John Weeks.
Dick Littlefield (Ask the Expert -)
For more information visit: The National Firearms Association (NFA) - Canada's Most Effective Firearms Owners Association.