The Ultimate Firearms Destination for the Gun Lifestyle

Lorcin’s Infamous L-25

This article originally appeared in CONCEALMENT ISSUE 11

The Pistol Normally Known as “Exhibit A”

Junk guns. Mouse guns. Pocket pistols. Saturday night specials. Suicide specials. A most unflattering litany of nicknames for a particular size, shape, and class of pistol: cheaply made .25 ACP automatics with 2- to 3-inch barrels. A handful of companies based out of California were the primary manufacturers of such pistols — an intertwined conglomerate of small businesses once dubbed the “Ring of Fire” by a UC Davis health professor, due to their disproportionate use in holdups, muggings, and street violence in the mid ’90s.

One of these companies was Lorcin Engineering, which had a rather meteoric rise, and fall, even by firearms industry standards. The company was founded in 1989. In 1993, they were the leading handgun manufacturer in the United States, producing nearly 350,000 pistols that year. In 1996, they filed for bankruptcy — under the weight of 18 separate lawsuits for product liability, personal injury, or wrongful death. They emerged from bankruptcy in January of 1997, only to file again in August of 1998, with an additional 22 lawsuits pending at that time.

We were flat-out amazed to locate an L-25 in such incredibly clean condition. That’s where the amazement stopped, though.

We were flat-out amazed to locate an L-25 in such incredibly clean condition. That’s where the amazement stopped, though.

Even though it’s been a decade since Lorcin closed up shop, their immense production volume means that plenty of these pistols are still floating around. We bet most of them are in the same pawnshops they started out in 10-plus years ago. The rest are likely languishing in large metropolitan evidence rooms all over the country. We happened to find ours in a family owned, upper-middle-class gun shop. This is a store the author frequents on a regular basis and isn’t prone to bargain basement inventory. The owners say it came in as part of a large lot of consignment guns from an individual who had been collecting his whole life and was looking to off-load some of his selection. At a whopping $90 flat, it was the perfect candidate for this infant column.

lorcin magazine

The Awesome
Given this gun’s well-documented track record for poor quality, this particular one was in absolutely pristine condition. The finish was silky smooth, the bore was clean, and it came with all the original packaging: a box, instruction pamphlet, and two shiny magazines. The box was in “gently used” condition. The instruction pamphlet didn’t even have a coffee ring on it. This Lorcin looks as good as any Lorcin ever will. Our initial impression was a little like getting the last loaded potato skin off an appetizer sampler.

Hornady currently produces a 35-grain XTP load for .25 ACP, which fed with about 75-percent reliability. Not good, but better than expected.

Hornady’s XTP bullet is too good for this gun. But if you can get it to function, it’ll be your best chance in a fight.

Hornady’s XTP bullet is too good for this gun. But if you can get it to function, it’ll be your best chance in a fight.

The OK
Our test gun didn’t perform nearly as bad as we expected. From the 5-yard line, we were getting five-shot groups in the 2-inch range. At a two-digit sale price, we were anticipating groups twice that size. Having said that, the gun consistently shot right. We passed it off to three other shooters and everyone got the same result: 2-inch groups, 2 inches right of point-of-aim. That’s at 5 yards. Extrapolate for distance as appropriate. This gun was clearly designed for use at dinner table distances. The sights are little more than a half pipe on the top of the slide. Good luck seeing them if a cloud happens to pass overhead while you’re aiming.

The Awful
The gun is constructed almost entirely of Zamak — a lightweight alloy consisting primarily of zinc, with small proportions of aluminum or other metals just so that you can’t chop it up with a butter knife. With the Lorcin’s reputation for poor function, you’re in almost as much danger behind it as you are in front of it.

Mechanical deficiencies aside, the .25 ACP is wildly underpowered. We give a smile and a hat-tip to Hornady for their efforts. But a 35-grain slug out of the Lorcin’s 2-inch barrel generates a disappointing 63 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. This is the ballistic equivalent of “well … at least he’s funny.” If we had to defend ourselves against a close-quarters threat, and we could choose between a .25 auto and a sharp stick, our first question would be “how long is the stick?”

Conclusion
It shoots, and it groups, for less than the bar tab at our last team dinner. Potential buyers should expect most specimens to be in miserable condition, if they function at all. Even if you happen to find yourself a winner, remember that these guns aren’t built to last. Moisture, abrasion, and routine use will erode them at warp speed. But maybe a gun in the hand is worth two on the shelf.

You’re probably better off turning the gun sideways than trying to line up these sights with any sense of urgency.

You’re probably better off turning the gun sideways than trying to line up these sights with any sense of urgency.

Lorcin L-25

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Caliber: .25 ACP
Barrel Length: 2.3 inches
Weight (unloaded): 14.4 ounces
Magazine capacity: 7
Price: $90
Purchased from:
AZ Gun Emporium (Tucson, AZ)

Subscribe to the Free
Newsletter