Even professionals who strap on a couple of full-size .45s every morning always leave room for a little hideout gun.

Some call it a surprise gun. These tiny life-savers are highly respected by well armed warriors because they have come to the rescue many times in the past when no other gun could have filled that role. Of these miniature cannons, the most desirable and sought-after has long been the elegant little Seecamp LWS32, the quintessential hideout gun for professionals since its introduction in 1985. The Seecamp is known for throwing surprise parties for crooks every chance it gets, often loud and quite entertaining, something the rest of us can celebrate.

Ludwig Wilhelm Seecamp, the LWS in LWS32, was a master German gunsmith who learned his craft in Germany’s famous technical academy system. After World War II, with the Russian Communists hot on his tail, Seecamp immigrated first to Canada and then to the United States. After an illustrious career with a major American firearms manufacturer, Ludwig (known as Louis) retired at the age of 70 to found his own company. Seecamp designed and patented the first practical system to convert the 1911 semiautomatic from single-action to double-action operation, and developed a telescoping double-spring “Captive Recoil Spring System” which is still the standard for compact, short-slide pistols manufactured by Colt, Glock, Kimber, Kahr, Para-Ordnance and others. Double-action short-slide .45 autos made by Seecamp were all the rage among gun-carrying professionals throughout the 1970s.

In 1981, Seecamp began manufacturing a stainless steel double-action-only .25 ACP pocket pistol based on the highly desirable but no longer produced Czech-made CZ models of 1936 and 1945. Four years later, Seecamp made history by figuring out for the first time how to accommodate the far more potent .32 ACP cartridge in the .25 ACP-size frame. The company has not been able to keep up with demand for the groundbreaking LWS32 since.

The little gun was so innovative, so well engineered and made (and so expensive, as a lot of detailed hand-work went into its manufacture) and so highly respected by gun-savvy professionals that it was largely responsible for derailing the irresponsible attack on small defense pistols launched by the anti-gun New York politician Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan. The fraudulent attempt by Democrat Moynihan and his comrades in the left-wing press to demonize small weapons with the tag of “Saturday Night Specials” could not stand in the face of the high quality Seecamp with its crucial life-saving capabilities.

The LWS32 has always been a limited-production firearm, hard to find and therefore premium-priced. Today there are several less expensive imitations manufactured by Beretta, Autauga and North American Arms. It is still the Seecamp, however, that sets the standard and is most highly prized for its elegant design and reliable operation. There has always been a long waiting list (years, not months) for new guns from the factory, and premium prices are gladly paid for both new and used Seecamps on the open market.

In 1991, two years after Louis’ death, Seecamp introduced an additional version of the gun chambered for the larger .380 cartridge. Both .32 and .380 models are currently being produced. There has never been any evidence I’m aware of that the .380 is any more effective as a defense round than the .32, but there is considerable evidence that increasing bore size and chamber pressure in the same size pistol is harder on the gun. The company recommends that the recoil springs in the .380 version, known as the LWS380, be changed after every 200 rounds. There is no such caution attached to the .32.

The best thing the introduction of the .380 did was to reduce the inflated prices for the .32 charged by dealers and individuals who had been hoarding them. Today you can buy a Seecamp .32 for about $500, which is a little more than factory suggested retail but about half of what you would have had to pay for the same gun a few years ago and several hundred dollars less than the going market price for the .380 version. Personally, I recommend the .32 over the .380, not just because you can get one for less money, but because the .32 is just as effective, will likely require less maintenance and is probably more reliable in operation.

The LWS32 is not designed for plinking, but it is nevertheless a lot of fun to shoot. Recoil is very light and the ergonomics of the little weapon make it extremely comfortable to hold and fire. There are no sights, so keep your targets very close, as the Seecamp’s targets would be in real life, and develop a feel for the pointability of the gun, which is very friendly indeed. The trigger guard is as large as a normal-size gun so you don’t feel like you’re threading a needle when you fire it. The grips are shaped for human hands and you won’t get nipped by the recoiling slide as often happens with other small autos. There is nothing wrong with taking your Seecamp out to admire and shoot often, but its real purpose in life is to remain hidden, constantly on alert in a secret place known only to its owner. Numerous holster makers have been attracted to the little gun and have designed products to take advantage of its small size while providing very fast accessibility in an emergency. These are mostly of the pocket or wallet varieties as well as the over-the-underwear type, all of which are extremely effective ways to carry a hideout gun.

The Seecamp is equipped with a magazine safety, of which I disapprove as I disapprove of all unnecessary safety devices. With the magazine removed, the trigger does not work and the slide only retracts partially, making the gun useless. To empty a fully loaded pistol, you have to remove the magazine, empty it manually, and then reinsert it so the slide will work before you can eject the round in the chamber. This is a rather tedious operation that a good gunsmith could easily render unnecessary. There is no hope at all for a Seecamp headed for import into the tottering state of California, however, as Left Coast politicians have decreed that the Californicated version must have a primitive cross-bolt manual safety drilled through the frame, which is of course an outrage to both beauty and utility.

If you don’t live in California, and if you don’t currently have a hideout gun that satisfies your every desire, look at the Seecamp LWS32. If the factory wait is too long to tolerate, the guns can always be found in publications such as Gun List and Shotgun News, and listed on Internet sites such as
It’s no secret anymore. The Seecamp is one of the finest little pistols ever made.