Sunday, October 10, 2010

Jimenez JA-32

I recently picked up a Jimenez Arms JA-32 at a local gun show. For those of you who hate on "saturday night special" type of inexpensive firearms, read no further. For the rest of you, here is a little post about the gun.

For a little background information: Jennings firearms was started in 1978 in California by Bruce Jennings. The guns Bruce Jennings produced were similar in design and function to the Ravens made by George Jennings. The Jennings name was changed to Bryco arms sometime in the 1980s and went bankrupt in 2003. Bryco went bankrupt because of a lawsuit where a child was paralized due to an accidental discharge. Why blame the parents who had a loaded gun in the house when you could blame the gun company? Paul Jimenez, the shop foreman of Bryco, purchased the company for $510,000, beating an anti-gun group's bid of $505,000. The anti-gun group's mission was to melt down all the remaining stock and close the company. All the guns Jimenez produces are old models of Jennings/bryco origin, just renamed.
The rare Bryco was a 32acp that shared the same frame as the 380. These were made in the 80s, but are hard to find today. jimenez introduced Bryco's rare 32acp in 2009, naming it the JA32. After seeing multiple failures of the 380 version, I thought I'd try a 32 instead. The 32acp cartridge does not deliver as much punishing recoil as the 380, so in theory the gun should last longer. I've fired a Bryco 380 and i was surprised at how much recoil it had. That's probably why the cast aluminum alloy frames and slides sometimes break. If this does eventually happen with the JA32, I'll be surprised. Lifetime warranty anyway, so I'm really not worried about breaking this thing.

I got the gun for free, in trade for some work. When found, they're usually about $150. That includes two magazines and a trigger lock. Looks enticing, eh? well the problem that these guns have is the materials. Some gun snobs will dismiss anything made of cast aluminum as junk. Whether its a Davis, Lorcin, Bryco, or Raven, they're all junk in some people's eyes. This gun isn't junk to me. Sure it doesn't have great fit and finish, but the thing works. I know a guy that put over 14,000 rounds through his Jimenez JA22 before the slide began to show signs of cracking. Each and every time he took it shooting he kept track of how many rounds he shout, which type, and the number of misfeeds or misfires. Another guy i know has a Jennings that claims to have 10,000 rounds through it. Because of stories like those, I don't dismiss any inexpensive pocket pistol as junk.

OK, onto my JA32. The build quality is fair. I've seen worse from Cobra Enterprises of Utah. They're the ones that ressurected old Lorcin, Republic Arms, and Davis designs. Honestly, this gun feels like a step up from the Cobra FS or CA models. I perfer the design of the Jimenez anyway. The Jimenez is less top heavy, better looking, and better feeling in my opinion. This gun isn't perfect though, it has some casting flaws on the slide. The finish isn't great, but its OK. they missed a spot near the magazine release.

The firearm came with two 6 round magazines. The mags are single stack and are crimped together. That's right folks, you can't take them apart to clean them. That kind of pisses me off, but its good to know that new ones are only about $13 or $14 each. The metal baseplate on each mag doubles as a finger rest which is a nice touch.

The magazine is released via a "european style" magazine release or "heel release". Its not the most tactical way to go, but I'm not tactical anyway. I bought this gun to have fun with, to shoot and enjoy. Whenever people bring up an inexpensive brand of firearm on any forum, users tend to jump all over the original poster saying they should save up for a better gun. You know what folks? i have better guns. I have real guns. I have thousand dollar guns. Its not an issue of me being a young shooter and misguided, its an issue of me wanting to try something different and have a little fun.

These guns don't always work 100% right out of the box. I don't come to expect much from a gun that costs the end consumer $150 brand new, retail priced. On this gun I havn't had to do anything to it, but on other Jimenez products I've had to smooth out certain areas to make the slide glide freely against the frame. Also, magazine feed lips occasionally require slight tweaking to get the cartridge up to the right height.

The design of the gun is simple and effective. Honestly, I consider this one of the best firearm designs in history? Why might you ask? because it uses relatively few parts, its simple, cheap to make, cheap to buy, and easy to fix if needed. My favorite feature of the Jimenez has to be the ability to field strip it without any tools. I've seen 22s that require a mallet, paperclip, or allen wrench just to field strip. No thanks folks, I want something that's better engineered so I can take it apart on the firing line without needing to fumble with tools. Another interesting freature about this gun that sets it apart from some other cheap guns is the ability to replace the barrel if needed. It is pressed into the frame and held in place by two locating pins. Raven and Phoenix guns have barrels basically melted into the frame. That means once the barrel is worn out, the gun is done.

The box gave me a chuckle. Instead of getting new boxes made that say 32acp on them, they used old .380 boxes and put stickers over where it used to say .380. Its cheaper to get a few sheets of stickers made than it is to go get a bunch of boxes made.

So far I have shot S&B 7.65mm ammunition through this gun. Don't be worried folks, 7.65mm is the way Europeans identify .32acp. This ammo was cheap ($12 per 50rds) and came packaged in 25rd boxes. The primers as well as the projectiles are sealed with a red paint and the projectile appears to be cupronickel. Cupronickel was used extensively by the Turkish people as well as a few other countries because the material is not only a great gliding metal for gun barrels, it also won't corrode in a saltwater environment.
Overall, I am really pleased with my free gun. I won't reccomend that everyone go out and buy one though. This gun would be perfect for the gun collector who wants something a little different that isn't going to break the bank. The owner should be able and willing to tinker with the gun a little bit to smooth out the rough edges and get the thing to work well. Also, a firm grip is a must with these things.


  1. So there's three names for them: Jennings, Bryco, and Jiminez. Quite an interesting history!

  2. oh, it gets better. there was also "jennings by calwestco" so some dealers will advertise a gun as a calwestco, not a jennings. it gets complicated, but i believe the company changed names to calwestco to avoid a lawsuit or taxes or something. that was sometime in the 1980s.

  3. Thanks for your nice review of the JA-32.
    Marshall at

  4. The Nerd is right. I owned one of the first JA-32s out and it has been trouble free and a pleasure to shoot. I have shot everything through it from FMJs, HPs, premium self defense ammo, and lead. It has not had any issues and shoots very well.

    It is typical of sub-compacts, in that the fixed sights are cast into the frame and are non-adjustable. Of course, that lends itself to pocket carry which the size lends itself very well. In fact, in dress pants the muzzle will slip into the coin pocket inside the pocket like it was made for it and help stabilize it in carry.

    The two drawbacks are the magazines as the nerd mentioned and the lack of a slide lock which most sub-compacts, especially 32 ACPs, are without. A little thought and practice, will have you capable of clearing Type III malfunctions as if it did have the lock.

    Overall an great pistol at an unbeatable price.

  5. Interesting take on the JA-32 I own one also and it feeds hollow points as well as full-metal jacket rounds.

  6. I have one of these and the pistol seems to be fine just having a problem with the magazine feeding the rounds

  7. If you had to work for it, then the pistol was not actually free. Other than that, good review.

  8. If you had to work for it, then the pistol was not actually free. Other than that, good review.

  9. If you had to work for it, then the pistol was not actually free. Other than that, good review.

  10. Good review. This 32 is accurate and reliable. It does what it is meant to do.

  11. I love the classic SNP guns. I used to have a Jennings 22. It was a perfect concealer. I sold it when I started drinking really heavily. And now I regret it. The actual Jennings models are now rare to find.