MINNEAPOLIS -- In a new twist on the idea of concealed weapons, a local gun maker and gun shop are debuting a new type of firearm: one that could almost fit in your wallet.
It is a two-shot weapon made from a piece of metal the height and width of a standard credit card, and about a half-inch thick. Each barrel fires seven standard steel BBs. It will retail for $100.
''This I can see being the ultimate self-defense weapon," said Mark Koscielski, owner of Koscielski's Guns and Ammo, the only gun shop in Minneapolis.
Koscielski and Patrick Teel, who makes the guns in suburban Blaine at his company AFT Inc., offered a preview last week.
The credit card-sized shotgun is a muzzleloader, meaning it does not use shotgun shells. The user has to measure out some gunpowder, pour it in each barrel, drop seven BBs in each barrel, and tamp in a small wad of paper. A knob on one end serves as a safety, and two buttons set into a hole in the body are the electrical triggers. Each barrel fires with a loud pop.
Another gun salesman was skeptical of the weapon's self-defense value. Mike O'Brien, of Joe's Sporting Goods in St. Paul, was not familiar with the new devices, but said muzzleloading is a ''slow and tedious" process.
''Us guys here would consider something like that useless," said O'Brien. ''A .177-caliber BB is ballistically a joke, OK? I'm sure it could cause injury and damage, but as a self-defense weapon, no."
A spokesman for the Brady Center To Prevent Gun Violence was also dismissive.
''It's a silly, silly idea," spokesman Peter Hamm said. ''I don't know that I would want to have one of these in my pocket for my own personal safety, never mind the safety of those around me."
Guns that small have been around in various styles for a long time, and some have become curiosities and collector's items, but have failed as weapons, said O'Brien.
''It might do damage to eyes, that sort of thing. But serious damage to a 200-pound drug-crazed evildoer, no -- it'd just make them mad," he said.
Teel said the main value of the new gun is that it gives the owner a chance to get away from an attacker.
''This is no more deadly than a .22," Teel said. ''But the difference is you have multiple wounds, which means you'll try to get away quicker, and it will cause more pain. . . . There will be more blood, which the cops will be able to see."