A Tale of the Titans: Italian and American
The diminutive Titan pistols were inexpensive, ultra reliable little single action pocket pistols manufactured by a small Italian gun maker named Fabrica d'Armi Tanfoglio Giuseppe (not to be confused with Fratelli Tanfoglio) and named the TA27. The unfortunate passage of the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA) banned them from importation, but American ingenuity found ways to work around the GCA for many years. As a result, there are a plethora of used Titan pistols out there bearing different manufacturer names. They are all essentially the same design with subtle variations. While the vast majority of these guns were chambered in .25ACP, they were also available in .22 Short for a brief time.
Titans fit well in most hands, are easily concealed, and the beavertail prevents slide bite so common to pocket pistols. Another plus is the Titan can be carried on half cock with one in the pipe; the only way the gun will fire is if you pull the trigger all the way back to the full cock position.
Early Titans were 100% steel and made in Italy. The changeover from steel to an alloy frame appears to have occurred between 1966 and 1967; I own an EIG Titan with the Italian date code XXII (1966) that has a steel frame and a second EIG Titan with the Italian date code of XXIII (1967) that has a non-ferrous alloy frame.
As a direct result of the ’68 GCA, beginning sometime in the early 1970s the frames of these pistols were manufactured in Miami and Hialeah Florida using Zamak castings. The remainder of the pistol was made up from steel Italian parts supplied by Tanfoglio. This was done in order to get around the restrictions imposed by the GCA. These “Florida Titans” (for lack of a better descriptor) have a variety of names and finishes on them.
[EIG Titan. The right side of the frame contains proofmarks and the Italian date code XX; the left side has the EIG logo, and Tanfoglio’s own proofmark is on the beavertail. The right side of the slide is stamped “Made in Italy” and the left side of the slide is stamped “<Titan> Cal. .25”]
Let’s take a look at who imported / manufactured Titans in the US.
EIG The earliest Titans were imported by Saul Eig of EIG Cutlery, which was an import firm based in Miami Florida. Eig originally specialized in the importing and reselling of knives in the mid-1950s. Since EIG was in the import business during an era when firearms were subject to minimal regulation, they branched out into importing firearms. However, after passage of the GCA (Gun Control Act of 1968), importing and reselling of firearms became far more difficult, and in 1971 EIG Cutlery got out of firearm importation and transferred the business to a new company named Firearms Import and Export Corp. (commonly known as F.I.E. or simply FIE) also based in Miami, Florida and ultimately became EAA or European American Armory.
[An early FIE Titan. The right side of the frame is stamped F.I.E. Corp. – Miami FLA. while the left side is unmarked. The right side of the slide is unmarked; the left side is stamped “Titan Cal 25 Pat Pen”]
FIE (Firearms Import & Export) was located in Hialeah, Florida and assembled or contracted the manufacture of the E27 and Titan Tiger until 1989. FIE Titan frames were cast of Zamak in the US, while the remaining components (slide, etc.) were imported from Tanfoglio in Italy, effectively working around the ’68 GCA import ban while producing basically the very same firearm. I’ve read that early FIE receiver/frames have been found stamped “Italy” as opposed to “Miami FL” but I haven’t seen this myself.
[FIE Titan Tigress, with gold lame pistol rug.]
In an effort to appeal to women, FIE marketed a .22 revolver, a.38 SPL derringer, a 25ACP Titan, and .380 Titan II. All of the guns were fitted with gold accents and featured hand painted roses on custom off-white grips. The official name of the Titan was the “Titan Tigress”; the slide, trigger, hammer, and heel release were gold tone.
The last Titan model that FIE produced was the E-28, which incorporated a somewhat beefier Zamak frame into which the barrel was pressed, and had a 100% Zamak slide. The slide is notorious for cracking and failing at the muzzle when the pistol is fired.
In November 1990 FIE filed for bankruptcy and all models were discontinued.
[Excam GT27B. The “B” stands for black.]
Excam was an importer and distributor located in Hialeah, FL, who also assembled and distributed the Titan .25 in the same manner as FIE; the frames produced by or for Excam, with the rest of the gun being imported as parts from Italy. The Excam GT27 pistol was available in .22 Short and .25 ACP.
While FIE’s Titans retained the original Tanfoglio design, Excam produced a number of variations. There were three distinct frames, the first being the traditional Tanfoglio type, the second having a more streamlined trigger guard, and the third having both the streamlined trigger guard and a push-button magazine release. Excam also had two types of barrel designs, one with the traditional Tanfoglio blade front sight and the other with an elongated sight that ran the length of the barrel.
[Excam GT27 with the streamlined trigger guard:
The first variation GT27, where the pistol frame has been streamlined at the trigger guard giving it a gentler curve to it.]
[Excam GT26 with a side magazine release:
Excam GT26 with a side magazine release instead of the typical heel release.]
[Excam GT26 with the side release and elongated front sight instead of the typical blade sight.]
Excam Titans were marketed as the “GT27” and the “Excam GT27”. The last Titan model that Excam produced was the GT28, which is the same as the FIE E28 mentioned above. The slide on the Excam GT28 proved to be no better than its FIE counterpart; it too can break relatively easily when the pistol was fired. Excam went out of business late 1990.
It can get very confusing looking at Titan variations, as parts readily interchange (with the exception of barrels and slides on the E28, GT28, HS25, and SA25 – more on that later). As an example, I have an Excam GT27 frame onto which I’ve installed E28 internals and an FIE slide and barrel.
[Titan Manufacturing Corp. The frame does not bear Italian proof marks so my guess is the pistol was manufactured post GCA and constructed with imported parts.]
Titan (Titan Manufacturing Corp) According to the stamping on the frame, Titan Manufacturing Corp was based in Miami, Florida. The frame does not bear Italian proof marks so my guess is the pistol was manufactured post GCA and constructed with imported parts. Oddly, the Titan Manufacturing serial numbers that I’ve found fit into the FIE numbering sequence, and there has been some speculation that Titan Manufacturing was actually FIE. However I’ve seen no documentation that lends credence to this and at present I have no further information on this company.
[QFI S.A 25 was available in black or chrome finish.]
QFI (Quality Firearms Inc. Miami, FL) The QFI Model S.A. 25 is another variant of the Titan E28 and Excam GT28. All of these model pistols are constructed of 100% Zamak. Unlike the FIE and Excam Titans which have a separate steel barrel pinned into the frame, the barrels on E28, GT28, and SA25 are sleeved barrels which are pressed into a barrel shroud that is incorporated into the pistol frame. The only steel parts –other than the barrel- are a few internals, the safety lever, hammer, and magazine.
[Heritage Model H25]
Heritage Manufacturing (Miami, FL) Model H25 also fits somewhere in the Titan lineage, photos of it show a pistol constructed the same as the QFI Model S.A. 25: the majority of the pistol is constructed of Zamak with a sleeved barrel pressed into the barrel shroud in the pistol frame very few steel parts (a few internal parts, the hammer, and magazine). Although Heritage Manufacturing remains in business, the company no longer manufactures the H25 pistol.
An important word of caution regarding the QFI S.A. 25, the Titan E28, the Excam GT28, and the Heritage H25: The Zamak slides of these particular pistols are vastly inferior and are prone to break during firing. When they break, the main portion of the slide WILL come back into the face of the shooter. To the right are pictures of an actual slide failure on my FIE Titan E28. The pistol remains in my collection wearing a replacement slide and the trigger is zip-tied with an “Unsafe to Fire” warning tag.
Finishes: Titans came in a variety of finishes. The majority of them came supplied with a blued finish, but there were some steel versions that were nickeled and some Zamak versions were chrome plated. Rarely seen are some that were supplied with a gold finish.
Grips: As far as I can tell, Titans were sold with six different grips: Smooth black plastic, checkered black or white plastic, smooth wood, and checkered wood, and the custom off white “Rose grips”.
Magazines: The magazines hold 6 or 7 rounds depending on the model.
Titan Factory Disassembly (Takedown) Instructions:
- Remove the magazine.
- Inspect the chamber to assure the gun is empty.
- Swing the thumb safety lever forward to where the “S” is.
- Cock the hammer all the way backward.
- Pull the slide back as far as possible. Lift the rear of the slide upward and while holding it in this position, allow the recoil spring to slowly pull the slide forward over the barrel. Remove recoil spring.
Titan Factory Re-assembly Instructions:
- With the magazine removed, place the thumb safety lever forward to the forward safe position and cock the hammer all the way backward.
- Inset the recoil spring assembly in position under the barrel with the small end under the muzzle and the large end toward the trigger.
- Slip the slide over the muzzle with the recoil spring assembly small end in the round slide hole and pull and hold the slide to the rear as far as possible. Push the rear end of the slide down and allow it to go forward into the assembled position.
I’m sure there are other variations of Titan pistols out there that I’ve missed; so please do not consider this article as the final word on variations.
Used Titan pistols can be found for sale for relatively cheap money, and .25ACP ammo prices aside, the offer a lot of fun for the money.