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Old May 20, 2004, 05:14 PM   #1
Hand_Rifle_Guy
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Best derringer caliber?

OK, a mostly fun question. Don't take this TOO seriously, but do give it some serious thought.

Look, this isn't a discussion about the relative merits of derringers as a class. I understand the pros/cons of derringers vs. other platforms such as revolvers and small autos like the Kel-tecs and Seecamps. The presumption here is that you've got a derringer, and you get to 'run whatchya brung', as it were.

So you're stuck with it. It beats the heck outta 'no gun at a gunfight', so you've just got to make the best of it.

Derringers by definition, as far as this post goes since I'm asking, will include all nominal derringer types. That is, all single-shot or two-shot pocket guns by any number of makers, including the aluminum-framed DA models by High Standard and ADC. Trigger and action type isn't restricted, so this can also include things like the Downsizer DA single-shot, and of course any and all variations on the classic Remington double being produced by ADC, Bond, or Davis et.al.

Spur triggers are a big part of this definition, but not a restricting element. They're a plus, but they're lack isn't really a minus.

Since I'm feeling magnanimous as this is my first new post at TFL in a year and a half, I'll open the definition a bit to include NAA mini-revolvers by virtue of their truly miniature size. They'll go where no other gun will go, sometimes, and they're tricky to shoot, just like most classicly defined derringers. They get a configuration bonus, too, something on the order of 'as it looks is as it does'.

Another stretch inclusive are the Sharps four-shooters of antiquity. These are tiny little non-revolver SA pocket pieces, generally in rimfire calibers. They can come along for the ride also.

What I DON"T want to hear about is flyweight J-frame S&W revolvers, AMT Back-ups, Kel-tecs of any size, or even those arm-and-a-leg expensive, manually operated .45 ACP Semmerlings. Can you wear it up your sleeve like a Hollywierd Gambler? No? Disqualified.

Me personally? I've got an ADC Model 1 in .45 ACP. It weighs all of 16 ounces, and has no extractor. It's a bear to shoot, but not un-doable. Definitely a handful, though.

I also own the stupidest gun on the planet. That'd be The Monster, an ADC Model 8, with oversize grips, 8" barrels, and a total weight of about 20 ounces with a .30-caliber bore. And chambered for the 7.62 x 39 rifle round. I told you it was stupid.



Would you like to watch the video clip of shooting the silly thing? The audio's a bit out of sync, but you can get the idea.

Enough showing off. From the point of view of owning this level of 'extreme performance' derringers, I'm of the opinion that the best caliber for the application is the usual thing of the most powerful round conveniently shootable. .45 ACP is kinda iffy. Even the 180's are a nasty experience. Mags are out, even the .357. I'm inclined to lean towards things like 158+ weights in .38 special, medium-weight .40's like 165's, lightweight .44 specials, and light-for-caliber .45 Colt loads. An ideal caliber might be something like a .41 special or the old defunct .41 Colt in it's original blackpowder load, or velocity-equivalent smokeless.

It's a matter of power-to-weight ratio. These guns make a case for a blackpowder load for the .45 ACP. I see something like a 200-grain SWC (Or even a full wadcutter. You don't shoot these things across a street.) bullet loafing along at some 700-750 fps. You don't rely on expansion, but you do want to deliver an allmighty "THUD" to the target, and punch a nice-size hole "to let in a lot of air and let out a lot of blood." One would want to do this without breaking one's hand, however. Full-power .45's in my Model 1 deliver a mighty palm-stinging slap, which I can testify discourages practice. However, I really like the intimidation factor that this gun presents with it's figure-8 of white stainless around a pair of finger-size bores. I imagine one says to a casual mugger: (Pulls M-1 double instead of wallet.) *Click-CLICK*--"You STILL want my wallet?"

That's MY take on it. I plunk you in the center of the bad part of town, (Like you'd be there. Humor me. ) and you get a derringer. Two, if you like, but derringers it is. What caliber are YOU gonna wish you had?
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Old May 20, 2004, 08:03 PM   #2
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45acp or 44 special. Not too vicious to shoot but both throw a big hunk of lead.
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Old May 20, 2004, 08:46 PM   #3
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.410/.45LC ain't bad...

Here's my SxS derringer.
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Old May 21, 2004, 08:55 AM   #4
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I've been toying with the idea of something in a .32 H&R Mag.

- 0 -
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Old May 21, 2004, 10:54 AM   #5
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That brings up a good question...Are shot loads allowed???

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Old May 21, 2004, 11:39 AM   #6
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Quote:
...Are shot loads allowed???
Yep.
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Old May 21, 2004, 03:20 PM   #7
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Hkmp5sd-

You shoot that thing? I thought I was nuts with the Monster. Now with .45's, I could see it. .410 chambers allow for a LOT of freebore, which reduces recoil. With .410 loads, uh, ouch. Out of my cheesy .410 bolt-gun, recoil was pretty stout, but that's with a decent-length barrel.

Curious I am about what, if any, kind of forcing cone that monstrosity has. I've got an un-assembled single-shot kit from the same company, and the alignment of the chamber to the 1" or so of rifled bore was mediocre at best. Dunno how much difference it makes, but I was unimpressed. I bought the kit with it's .45 application in mind anyhow, but I haven't made any moves towards assembling it as short-barreled shotguns are a no-no in this state.

As for shotloads in this discussion? Sure, if that floats yer boat. I personally would probably avoid such, unless it was one of those "3 000-buck pellets" loads that ADC has made up especially for them. .410 slug loads weigh in at 88 grains, which is less than a .380 bullet. 11/16 of an ounce of birdshot out of 1" of rifled bore makes me cringe in terms of effectivenes, or lack thereof. I suppose patterning such a device would be in order, as I have NO IDEA what they actually do, and velocity is another mystery.
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Old May 21, 2004, 04:31 PM   #8
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I shoot it, just not very often. There is no noticeable forcing cone. The barrel is 4" long and using 3" shells, there isn't much space left. The rifled portion of the barrel is just under 1" long. Recoil isn't all that bad if wearing shooting gloves. The grip is too rounded and short, IMO.

I bought it because of it being an oddity, not for any actual shooting applications. Plus the fact the person selling it was almost giving it away.

By having a rifled barrel and having never been attached to a shoulder stock, this isn't considered a SBS/SBR by the feds. Does California have different criteria that is preventing your assembly of the kit?
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Old May 21, 2004, 05:25 PM   #9
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Yup. Nothing chambering shotshells shall have a barrel shorter than 18". Snotty state. We all know how common such things that don't fall under federal regs are. We also have a generic ban on EVERYTHING that's Class III. Ownable by jumping through whatever Federal hoops there are isn't good enough. "Thou shallt not possess machine guns, silencers, or sawed-offs in THIS state."

This IS a stupid place. We must wrest it away from those lousy liberal-minded politicians, as this place has some of the nicest countryside in the entire nation. But that's a topic for a different thread.

Hmmm. A derringer in .50 GI might be a useful thiong, if it wasn't to nasty. Hmmm...
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Old May 24, 2004, 01:12 PM   #10
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Ahh - A subject near and dear to my heart!

I love derringers. I have owned many different ones from BTJ double action .38s to American Arms .357, to a Davis, to American Derringers, to Bond Arms.

My favorite bar-none is the Bond Arms derringer. I carry mine in .45 colt/.410 everyday. I added a set of Buffalo Brothers faux aged ivory grips and it is one pretty handgun!

Anyway, I have several rounds of RBCD Bond Super Ammo in .45 colt. It was made specifically for the Bond Derringer and kicks out a 120 grain bullet at over 2000 fps. This stuff obliterates water jugs, watermelons, etc.

Still, I love a really heavy bullet in the .45 colt - at least 250 grains. I have fired a few Garrett hunting rounds (Forget the weight I think they were 300 grainers) and could just feel the pain of what would happen to the poor bastard on the receiving end of one of them.

I have no problem with the recoil in one of these guns. I have shot over 100 rounds per range session with mine and love it! I can hit with mine out to 10 yards with confidence. I llike the .410 buckshot as well and am sure that it would put a thump on someone if necessary. My gun seems to patter tne 000 buck in a horizontal pattern about 4-6" across at 7 yards. Sure to cause some heartache on the receiving end!

So - to summarize, I choose to carry my derringer in .45 colt/.410. If they made on in .50AE, I'd carry that instead. I love the big bore small guns. I am always looking to buy more of them. Some day, I'd like to have a large collection of them in as many different calibers as I can find.

Mine rides in my back pocket everyday.
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Old May 24, 2004, 01:16 PM   #11
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Here's an old range report I did on my little gun a while back:

Bond Arms Texas Defender Derringer in .45 colt/.410 -

Range results after several hundred rounds of practice and learning the trigger...

RBCD ammo - 120 grain bullet at 2000 fps - Made specially for Bond Arms short barrel derringers. All shots dead center to POA horizontally and vertically 7-10 yards - both barrels print within 3 inches of each other consistantly.

.410 000 buck - Dead Centered to POA "pattern" about 4-5" across of three nice holes in the target at about 7-10 yards. Shot pattern is arranged diagonally across the 10 ring.


Would absolutely tear the living hell out of a human being's chest.

255 .45 colt, LRN - little bit less accurate than the RBCD ammo. this gun lacks the rifling to really atabilize a heavy bullet. The rounds would still hit the target everytime, but some rounds were keyholing a bit. Lighter bullets like Silvertips work better and don't keyhole - of course with a big ol' .45 round, keyholing can't be bad for whatever you'd use this pistol for defensively.

I have shot milk jugs full of water with the RBCD stuff and it obliterates them. I've also done the same with watermelons and got explosive results. .45 colt LRN and buckshot also put a seriously hurt on phonebooks and water jugs.

I do not have a chrony, but would suggest that the RBCD stuff is really smoking out of that short little barrel. The buckshot zooms along well enough as well. I 've shot the 255 grain stuff into dried out and tough-as nails fence posts and it zooms right through with no trouble at all. Blows big chunks of wood everywhere.

Recoil is invigorating but not uncontrollable! Gun does have some thump to it, but nothing you can't handle if you've shot .44 mags. Follwup shots are not a problem.


So - my not so technical review of a firearm that most consider obsolete and difficult to use. FWIW, I do a lot of shooting for practical purposes - Actually drawing the weapon and firing as quickly as I can. I can draw this weapon from my pocket, cock it on the way up to firing position, and get a round off as fast as any pocket pistol I've ever owned. I can also "point shoot" this weapon without a real sight picture and hit my target everytime. Unlike my ADC derringer, this gun is easy to cock with one hand. With a two hand hold, it's also easy to get the second round off very quickly. I carry it everday in an Uncle Mikes Pocket Holster and it carries very well.

It is dead reliable and, after I have taken the time to practice with it, has proven to be minute-of-bad guy's-chest accurate.

Limited in capacity and not so fast to reload, but a compromise I have decided to take based upon the relative increase in power over the standard mousegun calibers. I carry it as a backup or primary depending on dress and feel COMPLETELY competant and confident in it and my ability to use it if necessary.
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Old May 25, 2004, 08:25 AM   #12
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I've owned a few derringers, and since you generously included the NAA minis in the definition, I'll admit to carrying one. That is, as a backup, or when I can't figure out some way to conceal at least a S&W M642.

My own experience, and the rationale for my choice:

I need a firearm for situations where ANY truly effective sidearm is too large (including the mini 9s and J-frame snubbies). The only candidates are derringers/NAA minis and pocket autos (of the Seecamp/KelTec P32 genre).

I distrust pocket autos. If you trust yours, fine; I just don't! The combination of modest cartridge power levels (imparting modest energy to reciprocate the slide) and pocket lint (even in a pocket holster) give me reliability concerns. My opinion (or phobia??); YMMV.

Of the derringers, the only currently produced specimens that I've examined and "passed" quality-wise and safety-wise are made by Bond Arms, American Derringer and NAA. The Bond Arms model I examined felt as heavy as a steel framed snub .38, and was pretty thick, too. The term "built like a battleship" about covers it, and I'm sure that weight would contribute to controlling heavy calibers well (no, I haven't actually fired one).

I picked up an American Derringer alloy-framed .45 ACP model (I think it weighs 10 oz.). With a thin set of walnut stock panels, it is significantly flatter than any snubnosed revolver, and as light as the scandium-framed versions. It also throws .45s! Unfortunately, its recoil can only be described as "painful." I regularly shoot 300 and 320 grain .44s out of a short-barreled Ruger Vaquero - no problem! That little .45 derringer just plain hurts! Accuracy? I can hit a paper plate at 7 yards, IF i take the trouble to note which barrel wil fire first. The bottom barrel shoots several inches high; the upper barrel shoots several inches higher than the lower barrel. Not exactly confidence-inspiring. Two-shot capacity is also a concern.

Finally, the NAA offerings (and there are several). I've owned a .22 LR model with 1-1/8" barrel for years; it's precision workmanship is fascinating. Fired it a few times and discovered it is too tiny to manipulate effectively. After reviewing the ballistics of .22LR rounds from the short barrel, No problem; it's a showpice, not for carryin'. Of course, the .22 short model is even less suitable for defense (but maybe higher "cool" factor; hmmmm . . .).

Thanks to Jim March, I gave a Black Widow a tryout. I purchased a used specimen for a good price. Well-used, it is still tight, but delivered 1-2 failures to fire out of each box of .22WMR ammo. Still, very acceptable groups at out to 25 yards, and easily manipulated and controlled. Even lighter than the .45 double derringer, and as flat (the grips/cylinder are no thicker than the grips/hinge area of the .45).

OK, I also carry a folding knife (Spyderco Civilian) that will work pretty well at arm's length/bad breath range (I regularly practice deploying it; defensive moves with this blade are pretty basic; swipe at the object that is threatening you and the Civilian rips it up!). I want accuracy at greater range out of my handgun.

It's a no brainer, for me. The Black Widow disappears in my pocket, but allows me to deliver five .22 WMRs at approx. 1200 fps on-target at out to 25 yards. Hopefully, that'll buy me time to take cover (or reach my shotgun!) The perfect mouse gun for a dirty ol' rat like me!
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Old May 26, 2004, 11:41 PM   #13
Tommy gunn
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Perfect derringer chambering?

.41 rimfire
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Old May 27, 2004, 05:13 AM   #14
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Like Canis, I've got a soft spot for Derringers. Had it ever since I was a sprout and watched Yancy Derringer on the old B&W RCA and had one of those Shootin' Shell Buckle Derringers.

Anyhow, I bought a Davies in .22lr to scratch that itch. The thing is a real hoot to shoot. I stuff it in my jacket for springtime lawn mowing 'cause every once in a while a snake get's tangeled up in the blades. It's perfect for a close up shot with either a CB cap or a shotshell to put the snake out of misery.

If I had to use one for defense against bad guys though, I believe a .38 spl w/110 gr hollow points would be my first choice. 2nd choice would probably be , again, a .38spl, but loaded with a round ball atop a case full of FFFG black powder.
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Old May 27, 2004, 09:11 PM   #15
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I've been happy with my Am.Derringer DA38 in 9mm. DAO with no hammer to cock. Two squeezes and your done...so to speak...ahem.
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Old May 29, 2004, 12:31 PM   #16
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Well, my first consideration would be to have something that wouldn't keyhole at 3 to 15 feet. Two shots of 45ACP, 45 Colt or 44 Special would be what I would prefer if they didn't keyhole... and I'd probably lean towards the 45ACP.
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Old May 29, 2004, 05:42 PM   #17
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"I shoot it, just not very often. There is no noticeable forcing cone. The barrel is 4" long and using 3" shells, there isn't much space left. The rifled portion of the barrel is just under 1" long. Recoil isn't all that bad if wearing shooting gloves. The grip is too rounded and short, IMO."

Hkmp5sd,

I know a guy from another forum who has one of those, and he put rubber Ruger BlackHawk grips on his. Says it's a lot more comfortable to shoot that way.




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Old May 29, 2004, 06:12 PM   #18
Hkmp5sd
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Walter45Auto,

Might have to give that a try. Didn't know they would fit. Thanks!
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Old May 29, 2004, 07:13 PM   #19
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HRG, you know American Derringer offered something with a bit more snort.

Namely, the double-barreled Model 4 in .45-70. I shot one. Never again. And I'd gladly run a bunch of rounds of 7.62x39 through that version of yours after shooting the big Model 1.
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Old May 30, 2004, 03:54 PM   #20
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Might have to give that a try. Didn't know they would fit. Thanks!


He says they'r a little loose but he says tthey don;t rock back and forth like you would expect them to do.



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Old June 7, 2004, 07:00 PM   #21
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It's a tie. .32 ACP and .22 Mag. And yes I would carry it . But I like my P32 more.

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Old June 8, 2004, 03:44 PM   #22
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Prolly one in .44 S&W special. Maybe .45 LC.
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Old June 9, 2004, 07:39 PM   #23
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Derringer

Yeah, I carry a derringer now and then. I've got an American Derringer in .41Magnum. My hunting loads are really too much in it, so I use my .41Special loads from my OMBH flat top instead. A friend has one in .223 Remington and while controlable, the muzzle blast is terrible. I'm trying to talk the company into making me one in .41AE.
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Old September 17, 2007, 02:56 AM   #24
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Best Derringer Caliber

I love derringers! I have owned three High Standard 22 mag DA's, one American Derringer DA38 in 38 spl and one DA38 in .357 mag. I am aware that they also at one time offered the DA38 in 9mm, though I am not sure if they still do. I also own (mentioning pocket sized pistols only) 1 S&W 442 38 spl. +P, an older S&W 36 chief 38 spl., an AMT 45 backup, and a Kahr MK9 stainless 9mm.

Bond Arms builds great derringers, but at 20-22 ounces and at their physical size...
The Kahr MK9 weighs 22 oz and holds 7-8 rounds (but ammo has weight, too!)
The Kahr PM9 weighs 15 oz and holds 7-8, etc.
The S&W 442 j frame weighs 15 oz at about the same bulk as a Bond Derringer, but holds 5 rounds of +P.
American Derringer DA38 derringers are slim and not bulky, weighing around 15-17 oz. They are potent in all configurations, but are 2 shot pistols.
High Standard derringers are slimmer still, but about the same physical size as the American Derringer DA38's. Go only with the 22WMR (mag).
Ballistics
.45 ACP: big ass high energy bullet. But even my AMT Backup is bulky and too heavy for real pocket carry.
.357 mag: probably most potent small pistol round out there. Hurts your hand in a 2 inch pistol or derringer, but who cares when it matters..!?
9mm: next in line. Several derringers chamber this, but I've never shot one,
but,,I love my MK9 Kahr, but at 22 oz unloaded, not a comfortable pocket pistol. Mixed ratings on the 15 oz PM9; I've never tried one.
I carry my S&W 442 38+p everywhere. Marginally larger than my DA38 derringers...5 rounds(plus speedloader in my left pocket) it truly disappears in my pocket (pocket holsters make it print more...I've tried them all!) and there are no feed issues. When that is too large (shorts, etc) I carry my old High Standard 22 mag derringer. I rate the 22 mag above a .32 or .25 auto, though I wish I had more shots. (Never tried the NAA revolver derringer, though I am a little afraid of the single action and derringer trigger in high stress mode).

Last edited by 2cooltoolz; September 18, 2007 at 09:57 PM.
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Old September 17, 2007, 10:31 AM   #25
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Holy resurrected thread Batman.

But I REALLY want that 7.62x39 Derringer.
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