In the early days of cycling, bicycles were expensive so brigands were tempted to rob their riders if they strayed into unknown territory. A pistol was therefore a useful accessory. By the mid-1890s, bicycles had become so common on the roads that the bandit problem eased, and a live firing pistol was less of a necessity.
The other problem was dogs, which commonly attacked cyclists both in the countryside and in cities. A demand arose for small pistols which would fit easily in a cyclist’s pocket.
In 1894, Charles-Francois Galand designed a small pistol which used a 5.5mm cartridge. He was a Frenchman with a workshop in Liege, Belgium (a centre for arms manufacture). His son Rene registered the ‘Velo Dog’ trademark in Liege 1904. The name ‘velodog’ became a generic term for all pistols of this type, including cap guns, that were marketed for cyclists. The most common calibre for velodog pistols was 6mm. As well as those manufactured at Liege, many were made in Germany.
The velodog was particularly popular in France, which continued to have a bandit and dog problem into the early 1900s. Velodog cap guns are similar in effect to a starting gun, where the loud noise scares a dog away. The example here has a blanked-off barrel, uses caps, and is legal to own in Britain. It’s the style of velodog sold by Manufrance as the ‘Mignon.’ They were sold by the bucket-load in markets throughout France, and continued in general circulation until World War Two.
1890s-1920s Velodog Pistol: French Cyclists’ Dog Scarer
sold as a ‘Mignon’ in the Manufrance catalogue
This is a ‘Velo Dog’ style of pistol, sold in France by Manufrance – Manufacture Francaise d’Armes et Cycles – via its annual catalogues.
It’s in good, fully operational condition.