Yesterday over at Guns.com, David LaPell posted a great article entitled “From the Remington 95 to the Heizer DoubleTap: The Case for the Derringers”. Its a very well written article, and it gives a nice look at the history of the Derringer as well as some compelling reasons why one might choose a Derringer.
Why would you carry one? One word: summer.
While ideally one would like to have a gun on them at all times and it’s not always the easiest thing to do as the temperature rises and we lose layers of clothing. Ask yourself, how does one go about trying to concealed carry around a Glock on a really hot summer day? Few things can be more uncomfortable than trying to wear a sidearm in an inside the waistband holster when it’s hot and sticky out.
Amen to that! My primary carry gun is the Glock 26, but being from the deep south I years ago came to the realization that carrying “a real gun” during the dog days of summer for any extended period of time is no comfortable task. I also had started to realize that there were times when certain clothing dictated that I pretty much had to go unarmed.
Nope, thats not a Derringer. Thats because while derringers are iconic… while they are cool…. while they can indeed save your life… there are much better options available, and sometimes for better prices.
Aside from the ridiculously anemic .22lr NAA Minis, there really are not any derringers out there that can beat the carry weight of today’s modern polymer pocket pistols. Heck, the Kel-Tec P32 only comes in at 2.1 ounces heavier than the NAA Mini. It has just a little larger footprint, but unless you are literally trying to hide the pistol under your hat it isn’t really gonna matter. It also packs a bigger punch than the .221r/.22mag NAAs. When you start talking about the current crop of pocket pistols that are available in .380 you can get even more stopping power in the same platform, but add only about an once or two more in weight. Even the lightest version of the new Heizer DoubleTap tips the scales at almost twice as much weight as the P32.
The shootability of Derringers as compared to modern pocket pistols is also a deal breaker in my mind. While today’s pocket pistols can be be had with many great choices in laser aiming devices and/or honest to goodness actual sights, the sights on most traditional derringers are tough to work with. Trying to consistently hit anything past a couple feet with a NAA Mini is a daunting task… and one that I would hate to have to perform in a life threatening situation. Larger Derringers can be had in “real defensive calibers“, but even shooting a Derringer in .38 special will make you not want to do it for very long. I can only imagine how rough its going to be to shoot that new .45 ACP DoubleTap.
I will also point out that aside from the NAAs and the Bond Arms Derringers (not a pocket pistol), most Derringers are problematic and are not something that I would recommend as a gun that you can bet your life on. They’re just not quality pistols.
So while the original idea behind what made the Derringer such an icon is still alive and well… if you allow yourself to think that a Derringer is anything more than a novelty you are are really doing yourself a disservice. If you are in need of a backup gun or a deep cover gun there are certainly much better guns out there to choose from. When you throw in some of today’s modern whiz-bang defensive ammo thats out there they also make for nice primary carry guns for us armed civilians.
BTW – .32 ACP is the new .380