First off, I don’t have rights to share any related photos, send ’em if you ’em. This started as a simple post to share a short video of an old friend earning himself a lesson on cheap handguns. But I kept typing more and more until it was time to go to work.
Have you been in a pawn shop, or looking through your favorite firearm shops’ used gun section to find that many of these inexpensive pocket pistols look the same? There is a reason. Here is the short timeline of the cheap auto-pistols.
- 1960’s George Jennings designs the pocket .25Auto model MP-25
- 1970 George Jennings opens Raven Arms to sell his invention
- 1978 Jennings Firearms is founded by Bruce Jennings
- 1991 November. Fire destroys the Raven Arms factory
- 1992 Phoenix Arms, consisting of Bruce Jennings and family, continue making the Raven designs
- 1992 Jennings Firearms renamed to Bryco Arms by Bruce Jennings
- 199x Davis Industries founded by Bruce Jennings’ son-in-law Jim Davis
- 199x Lorcin Engineering started by Bruce Jennings old friend Jim Waldorf
- 2003 Bryco Arms files for bankruptcy
- 2004-August. Bryco Arms renamed to Jimenez Arms by new owner Paul Jimenez
- 2004 Lawsuits filed to close Jimenez
- 2005-January. Jimenez ordered to stop selling in California
- 2005-January. Jimenez is forced into bankruptcy
- 2006-August. Jimenez Arms resumes operation in Henderson, Nevada
- 2012 Jimenez is currently listed at an address in Las Vegas, Nevada
The media once referred to these companies as the “Ring of Fire”. I don’t have a clear image of the correct timeline, this is only a first draft, I’m sure I’ll get back to it.
One feature they all have in common is the “slide bite” and resulting missing skin on one’s shooting hand. In the case of the video below, this is caused by the placement of the disassembly button and not the slide itself. The button can be seen more clearly in the included pictures in the manual which is downloadable from the official site.
I don’t believe Cobra Enterprises are related to the above manufacturers but they do have some similar models. Working in the firearm industry in the same state of their manufacturing has resulted in some troubleshooting of their pistols. Which is why the statement found on their About Us page is a bit offensive, “…one of the top 10 handgun manufacturers in the US today…” I don’t have time to fabricate which top 10 lists they are on but it isn’t quality, sales, or reliability.
I recently dealt with a warranty issue with a Phoenix .22lr handgun. They do not respond to emails, phone calls, or answer the door of their listed Ontario, California address. Weeks of trying to get them to respond to an issue with a firearm that cracked (the first time it was fired) has gone no where. In my opinion I would assume Phoenix Arms has no warranty, regardless of one being implied or advertised.
On note on the bankruptcies of the companies. The legal troubles they found themselves in were mostly to blame for the view of small concealable “Saturday Night Specials”. The issue gained serious attention with an accidental shooting. From everything I’ve been able to find on the incident, the “defective Bryco pistol” fired a bullet when the trigger was pulled while there was a bullet in the chamber. We would call this “functioning as designed”. The truth is, a young boy was seriously injured by someone not adhering to the basic firearm safety rules.
Because of the low cost it is no surprise that three models, from the above companies, found themselves on the list of guns most likely used in a crime. Last time I checked, the details from the ATF list, this included firearms that were simply stolen or possessed by prohibited persons. However, this certainly does not favors to the view of these firearms.
- Bryco Arms
- Davis Industries
- Jennings Firearms
- Jimenez Arms
- Lorcin Engineering
- Phoenix Arms
- Raven Arms
I believe all of the firearms mentioned to be low-quality and poorly engineered and I would recommend them to no one.
UPDATE 2012 August 16: Since this post we have begun referring to the Jennings and Jimenez family of manufactured pistols as “Jimmy Hats”.