North American Arms makes these absolutely adorable mini-revolvers. In fact, I’m pretty sure they call them derringers. In all fairness, they are roughly derringer size but are five-shot mini-revolvers. I’ve always wanted one. Not for any real need, but because I’ve always thought they were neat and impressed by their quality. I finally put my foot down and purchased an NAA Mini Revolver.
As I shot it, I began to think about the weapon from a defensive standpoint. Is there such a thing as a gun that’s too small? I wouldn’t carry an actual derringer because they offer at most two shots, but what about something that’s as small as a derringer but offers five shots? I’ve carried J-frames that offer only five rounds, so the capacity isn’t the issue, but is the gun just too small to use effectively?
While I never intended to use my NAA Mini Revolver for defensive shooting when I went to the range with a defensive training mindset to find out.
Breakdown of the NAA Mini Revolver
There are tons of NAA Mini Revolvers these days. In fact, there are some with 4-inch barrels that aren’t quite mini anymore. These guns have become curiosities more than anything else. They got top breaks and swing-out cylinders these days. I have the most standard model out there. It’s the simple .22 Long rifle version. It’s literally just called the NAA .22 Long Rifle.
Shooters have to remove the cylinder to unload and load this model. It’s a single-action-only gun with a barrel length that measures only 1 1/8 inches. It’s 4 inches long overall, weighs 4.6 ounces, and is 2.38 inches tall. It’s an incredibly small revolver that implements a manual hammer and does away with a trigger guard. The grips are a bird’s head design you’d find on a derringer.
At the end of the barrel is a simple front sight I like to think is optimistic. The gun lacks a transfer bar and instead allows the hammer to rest on a safety notch. This prevents the hammer from touching the rim of the round until the weapon is cocked. This makes it safe to carry without the worry of a bump ignition.
To the Range
I brought with me a man-sized target, as well as a smaller B8 style target and a handful of various .22LR loads. I brought a handful of Federal Punch, a self-defense .22LR load designed for ultra-short barrels. I started at seven yards and tried to see what accuracy the weapon was capable of.
I hate the term belly gun. I feel it’s often applied to guns unfairly by people who don’t know how to shoot. However, in my hands, the NAA Mini Revolver is a belly gun. I say my hands because my hands are large. I wear 2XL-sized gloves, and they are often a little tight. I actually couldn’t see the sight when gripping the gun.
I couldn’t seem to get a good grip and see the sight at the same time, so accurate shooting wasn’t easy to achieve. Bigger grips would help, but they also defeat the purpose of a gun this small. With intentional slow fire and anemic .22LR loads, I could hit the B8 target.
I couldn’t always hit the black or consistently group the gun, but I could hit it. With a man-sized target, I could essentially point-shoot at this range and put something in the torso of the threat. I could it reasonably fast, but with a single action-only design and ultra-small controls, I wasn’t blazing away with the NAA Mini Revolver.
Even in guns this small and light, the recoil isn’t significant. It’s not painful by any means. However, the hotter Federal Punch loads and similar high-velocity .22LR offered enough buck to make the gun shift in your hands. The ultra-small grip doesn’t provide much purchase on the gun, and even a small amount of recoil can cause a shift.
This makes shooting defensive ammo quickly and accurately impossible. Quick with the NAA is relative to its design. This NAA Mini Revolver isn’t a gun you should plan to reload with. To reload, you have to remove the pin that holds the cylinder. Then remove the cylinder and use the pin to punch out the individual rounds.
Finally, drop the new rounds in, reinsert the cylinder, and reinsert the pin. It can take a couple of minutes to achieve this. It’s not going to be done in a gunfight.
The NAA Mini Revolver is too small for me. I can’t shoot it well or fast. It is quite reliable and gave me no issues with any ammunition I put through it. I would rather have the NAA Mini Revolver than not if it was my only choice. I would never intentionally choose this weapon as my main carry gun. It’s just too small and too hard to shoot well. I don’t mind the .22LR as a defensive cartridge in microsized guns.
I can see this being a last-ditch choice if I needed to carry in a Speedo, but outside of a very niche use case, it’s not for me. I do enjoy it, though. I love how well-made it is, and there is clear attention to detail and quality with the gun. I think I’ll carry my 9mm PF940SC. It’s a unique novelty that shows just how small a repeating firearm can be.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record-setting 11 months at sea. Travis has trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines, and the Afghan National Army.
He serves as an NRA-certified pistol instructor and pursues a variety of firearms-based hobbies.
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8 thoughts on “How Small is Too Small – The NAA Mini Revolver”
I have carried a NAA 5 shot .22 MAG. for 20 years in my front pocket but will leave it when I have a medical exam that will require me to drop my pants or unload my pockets or if I have jury duty or a visit to a court room. I go to a small church which has not been invaded by hudlems since 1989. The .22 mag. has the same foot pound velocity as a .38 special at the muzzle, so….if I have hollow points which expand on impact, I have at least a Chinaman’s chance of survival.
I bought the NAA Black Widow .22 Magnum, which must be a little bigger than the one in the article. I have fairly large hands and the black widow fits my hand actually pretty well which was surprising for its size. When I got it, I mainly got it cause it looked really interesting and was so unlike other guns I’d owned. Didn’t really intend to carry it with any regularity, but after having to dispatch a rabid raccoon with it and seeing the damage it did, I was confident it could perform for self defense. It makes for a great little backup gun, but I use it very often as primary if I’m just wearing gym shorts and tshirt. Also carries very well wearing a suit/dress clothes, or even as a boot gun.
I actually found the sights quite functional and found it fairly easy to shoot accurately at 3-5yds. The single action only does take some practice to get quicker with, but I am very comfortable with carrying it as the situation requires something more discreet.
I’ve owned numerous NAA’s through the years. I have a magnum at the moment with the 1 5/8” bbl and had a leather boot/iwb holster made. I carry it as a belly gun, usually relying on something bigger around my waist or a shoulder holster as my main weapon. The belly gun is there more as a last ditch effort and would probably be my save my a$$ gun. I just recently learned the 22 wmr is equal to the 38 and much easier to conceal. I had a kydex holster that hung around the neck, but I don’t like having a pistol pointed at my chin.
NAA PUG is a 22 magnum version that I have also carried with another piece as backup or alone in instances of traveling light.
As the other commenter noted, it transmits substantial energy ( commensurate with a 380). At 7yards, I can consistently group inside the head portion of a full size torso target or better. I can also exceed what the range calls rapid fire at the same time.
I have XL hands but I am practiced with it and the lil’ revolver does not move around in my grip.
Of course the Taylor index is laughable with the round’s low mass and diminutive cross section and it is unlikely to expand at all in the target.
It has been said that the lowly 22 (not magnum) has been responsible for more than its share of quiet, efficient, and clean dispatches of “undesirables” over time; ‘it’s only business, nothing personal.’
I have never heard a detractor of the round volunteer to take one to show how “ineffective” it is for self defense, either!
There is a “trick” to getting a good grip on the little birds head grip, stick your thumb from your support hand into palm, so the bottom of the stubby grip rests on the top of your thumb.
I can 10″ paper plate at 10 yards all day, at 5 yards a 12 once Bud Lite beer is a piece of cake, with the tiny 22 LR. A good friend of mine uses the 22 Mag with CCI shot shells to dispatch water moccasins, at 5 to 7 feet, they little dogs with understated bite.
I carry a .22 magnum derringer for years when I am not able to carry my glock 43. For me it is better than nothing. It is a close quarters weapon for sure. But when in shorts sandals and a t- shirt it is still a viable defense weapon. The rest of the time my series of glocks, kimbers are my best choices. Train with what you bring. That includes you the person as a weapon.
The Holster Grip on the .22 LR Mini Revolver gives me good purchase on this tiny revolver and conceals nicely in my jeans pocket like a folding knife with a clip. I find I am quite accurate at 7 feet with this little gun. Cons: It does take an extra second to unfold this grip and it doesn’t look as good as the bird’s head grip styles (in my opinion).
How do you get one