The Ring Gun — A Tiny Protector

I really enjoy researching unusual guns. Today’s example is a very small (though not the smallest) gun you can wear–a ring gun.

The ring gun, from the mid-1800s, is a pretty rare item. These tiny revolvers were made to shoot cap and ball black powder or cartridges. This one [on the right] holds .15 or .17 caliber (around 4.5-5mm) pinfire cartridges. See the pin on the side of the cartridge?

They are really very small! That’s a U.S. quarter beside a ring, cleaning brush and two cartridges.


This 19th century French ring (to the right) uses a 5mm cartridge. In the box there are 2 cartridges, a cleaning brush and an adjustment screw driver.

The hammer is on one side of the ring (right side), the trigger on the other (left side). I doubt you could surreptitiously cock the weapon unless you kept your hand out of sight under the table.


Click on these links to see amateur video of them in action:

5-shot cap and ball, black powder

Le Petit Protector – 5mm 5 shot rim fire cartridge

Nearly all the rings I’ve found are beautifully engraved.

I know it isn’t practical as a weapon—though up close it could do damage—and it’s more suited to steampunk than westerns, but I like it.


Tracy Garrett
History, Texas, cowboys, horses—these are a few of Tracy’s favorite things. Check out her westerns at


  1. Interesting! And so tiny. Don’t know how much damage they could cause but fun to see.

  2. I would like to have one of these. They had one on the show Pawn Stars.

  3. That is a hoot! What a great gift for the lady who has everything…

  4. Fascinating, Tracy. I had no idea such little guns existed. Great touch for a story.

  5. Good morning, all.

    Connie J, up close they’d do some damage, but not from more than a couple feet away.

    Kim, me too! I think it would be fun to have one. As Sherri saaid (hi, Sherri!), something for the woman who has everything.

  6. I had never heard of such a thing. Very cool to see. Wonder if it left powder burns on a lady’s hands or if it gave much of a kick. Could be an interesting plot device, though I doubt readers would believe it was a real thing.

    Thanks for sharing, Tracy!

  7. Okay, SERIOUSLY cool. I love learning about all these weapons that seem too fantastical to be true. My “what if” radar is taking off…

  8. Terrific post and pictures, Tracy. I saw a ring like this on Pawn Stars, which if y’all aren’t watching the show, has tons of history in it. (Yeah. they’re goofy Gusses but Rick knows a ton of historical tidbits.)

  9. I have never heard of a ring gun before but looks like it could be handy!

  10. Wow, I didn’t realize there were guns so small!! If you said ring protector to me, I would think of diamond rings. LOL!!

  11. Karen, when I watched the video of the cap and ball model, there wasn’t much kick. There’s only a very small amount of powder in those cartridges, so they can’t offer much kick.

    Renee, mine has been pinging since I first saw this little beauty.

  12. Pawn Stars, huh, Tanya? I’ll have to hunt for that episode. Thanks.

  13. I love this post, Tracy. The ring gun would be a great addition to a western. Thanks for sharing.


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