The Kolibri Pistol is the world’s smallest production firearm. It’s name means hummingbird in German, which is fitting because the hummingbird is one of the world’s smallest birds. It was chambered in the now incredibly rare 2.7mm centerfire cartridge, which allowed for such a small frame. The Kolibri Pistol was designed to be a ‘self-defense’ weapon. Its 3 grain projectile traveling at a staggering 650 FPS delivered a whopping 3 foot pounds of energy. For comparison the .22 LR is a 40 grain projectile (depending on the ammo) 1085 FPS and 105 foot pounds of energy.

The Kolibri was not an effective self-defense weapon against any real threat. At close range against a shirtless target, it might break the skin. However, there’s a good chance it would just bounce off someone wearing a heavy coat. If someone was hit in the eye it could cause some damage, but that would take a special kind of marksman. It would be effective at deterring stray dogs, which was a common issue in those days. However, most of the people who purchased it likely bought it as a cool novelty item since there were cheaper and more effective self-defense weapons available at the time. Let’s take a closer look at this unique little firearm.

Kolibri Pistol in Red Case
Kolibri in Case

Kolibri Pistol Design

The designer of the Kolibri Pistol was an Autrian-Hungrarian watchmaker by the name of Franz Pfannl. His watchmaking skills were obviously what led him to design this world’s smallest production firearm. Watchmakers had to be able to do very intricate precise metal working which would have been far more difficult than building a small firearm. Franz Pfannl designed the pistol in 1910 and it was produced until the outbreak of WWI in 1914. At which point production switched to goods essential for the war effort. Meanwhile, the Kolibri was definitely not essential for the war effort. There are zero cases of it being used in WWI since a soldier’s uniform would have been ample protection against the small, inaccurate, and low velocity rounds. A soldier in the trenches would be better off with a moderately sized stick to throw at their enemy as it would have better range, accuracy, and stopping power. 

The Kolibri Pistol design was identical to any other centerfire semi-automatic gas blowback pistol, except for its size. Likewise, it used the recoil of the previous round to load a new round into the chamber. Besides its size, it’s just like any other semiautomatic autoloading pistol, which is actually somewhat impressive. The original design was chambered in 2.7mm but there were later designs that included 3mm and 4.25mm cartridges. Production of these weapons continued until 1938 with the outbreak of the second World War stopping their production. 

Kolibri Pistol with Penny
Tiny Pistol

The barrel of the Kolibri wasn’t rifled which further reduced the weapons accuracy. The magazine was meant to hold 6 rounds but realistically held 5 with one in the chamber. On the plus side, the recoil was essentially non-existent. The weapon was far from ergonomic or comfortable to handle. It was so small that it could really only be held and fired with two fingers. Furthermore, the weapon didn’t have a trigger guard and was awkward to carry.

Kolibri Pistol for Sale

Many of the 1000 pistols produced were either destroyed, lost, or taken as souvenirs during the Second World War. There are a few known to be in museums and none of them currently on the market at the time of this post. Occasionally, one will come on the market by private owners. If it were to be sold on the market today, it would range from about approximately $3,500-$8,000, depending on its condition. However, as time goes on, these will only become more rare and more expensive, as historical weapons do. The ammunition isn’t widely available either. From my research, there were 12 rounds sold for around $100 a few years ago. It originally came in a beautiful folding metal box that included a cleaning rod, small ammunition box, and a magazine. The box was around the size of a pack of cigarettes and is a great collector’s item. 

Conclusion

The Kolibri Pistol is a nice piece of history and cool novelty gun. It most recently made an appearance on the video game Battlefield 1 and has the weakest damage out of any weapon in the game, which is an accurate depiction of the firearm. Beyond scaring a dog or shooting your eye out, it was nothing more than a neat tiny firearm that a watchmaker made over 100 years ago. If you’re into collecting historical firearms and you come across one, it might be a cute thing to add to your collection. If you’re ever at a gunshow and find some 2.7mm ammo laying around it would probably be a good investment to buy some. Beyond that, this adorable firearm remains where it should, essentially lost in history.

Sam M

Sam is an avid firearms enthusiast who loves sharing his knowledge and experience with fellow gunivores.

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