Tiny Revolvers


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North American Arms Makes Tiny Revolvers for Easy Concealability

North American Arms (NAA) manufactures a variety of tiny revolvers for those wanting an extremely small gun that is easy to conceal.  Based on the venerable 22 ammunition, NAA offers revolvers chambered for 22 Short, 22 Long Rifle, and 22 Magnum.  They used to offer pistols chambered for the .17 HMR, but this option has been discontinued.  Most would agree that a tiny revolver loaded with .22 is not sufficient for self defense.  This may be true in most cases, but most people would probably also agree that it is better to have a tiny revolver rather than nothing at all.  In other words, if you are unable to carry a larger firearm, then it would be better to have one of these tiny 22 revolvers in your pocket rather than nothing at all!   

Tiny NAA Revolver

The picture above shows a NAA-22MC 22 Magnum revolver with 1-5/8" barrel that came with an optional 22 LR cylinder.  The wood grips were removed and an optional PUG rubber grip was added for a more secure grip.  After shooting this tiny revolver with both 22 Magnum and 22 LR rounds, it was the author's conclusion that it was better to keep it loaded with 22LR ammunition.  The reason for this, was because the 22 Magnum produces so much muzzle blast and noise, that the tiny bit of extra power did not seem worth all the extra recoil and noise.  Normally, a 22 Magnum round offers a significant increase in power over the standard 22LR round, and this is very true when considering longer barrel lengths.  However, in very short barrel lengths such as found on these tiny revolvers, the difference in power is not so significant.  The additional powder charge of the 22 Mag is largely wasted as muzzle flash as the powder continues to burn after the bullet exits the barrel.  For example, on the revolver shown above with the 1-5/8" long barrel, a CCI Maxi Mag 40gr 22 Magnum bullet has an average velocity of 848 fps.  When shooting a Velocitor 40gr 22LR round through the same gun, the average velocity of the bullet is 767 fps.  On average, that is a difference of 81 fps which is a decrease of only around 9% in terms of velocity.  Sure, that does translate into some additional energy for the 22 Magnum round, but it is not as significant as you might initially think.  Shooting a 22 Magnum through such a short barrel results in significant muzzle blast and deafening (literally) noise.  For some, this might be viewed as beneficial in scaring away an attacker, but then again it will make it harder to control and shoot one of these tiny revolvers and you'll likely end up with permanent hearing damage if you ever fire one of these in closed quarters with a hot 22 Magnum round.  In any case, it's just a matter of opinion and personal choice.  If you choose the 22 Magnum revolver with the conversion kit, then you'll get an extra cylinder for 22LR and you'll have the option of shooting either round.  Going this route probably makes a lot of sense in terms of keeping your options open.

I tested some different ammo in my North American Arms mini revolver with 1-5/8" barrel.  The ammunition tested included: Hornady Critical Defense 45gr 22 Magnum, CCI Speer Gold Dot 40gr 22 Magnum, Federal Bulk Pack 36gr 22 LR, CCI Velocitor 40 gr 22 LR.   The Hornady Critical Defense 22 Mag had the most kick to it and the most recoil.  The CCI Speer Gold Dot 22 Magnum had a noticeably milder recoil and was easier to shoot more accurately on quicker follow up shots.  As you might expect, the milder Federal 22 LR ammo gave the lightest recoil.  The CCI Velocitor 22 LR also had a light recoil as well compared to the Magnum rounds, and it seemed to offer the overall best balance of power and accuracy.  Both the Hornady and CCI 22 Magnum rounds are especially designed for short barrel guns like the tiny revolvers made by NAA, but both of them keyholed when shot into cardboard backed targets at 10 yards.  In case you are unfamiliar with keyholing, it just means that the bullet is tumbling end over end and hits the target on its side and leaves a "keyhole" like slot.  As you might expect, a tumbling bullet is not going to be as accurate a bullet that is flying properly.  There was no keyholing noticed on either of the 22 LR rounds tested.  A dirty and fouled barrel might contribute to keyholing on these tiny revolvers, so the barrel was thoroughly cleaned and the gun retested.  Again, both the Hornady and CCI 22 Magnum rounds consistently keyholed on 2-3 out of the 5 rounds shot per cylinder.  Another important fact to share is that NONE of the bullets tested had any appreciable expansion.  Even the 22 Magnum rounds designed for expansion out of short barrels had no useful expansion.  As a result, the author of this article plans to keep the cylinder loaded with CCI Velocitor, because they seem to be more accurate with no tumbling, they are easier to shoot more quickly on follow up shots (less recoil), and they still offer decent power since thye are one of the most powerful 22 LR rounds available.  The Aquila Interceptor ammo is another high powered 22 LR that is comparable to the CCI Velocitor, but the author prefers the cleaner burning CCI Velocitors and feels that they are a more dependable choice given CCI's outstanding track record.  That's just personal preference and the choice is up to you.

Ammunition Comparision

As you can see from the picture, none of these bullets have any real expansion.  Just to review what was stated in the video, these bullets were shot into heavy duty water jugs that were covered in 6 layers of cotton cloth which would probably be equivalent to 3-4 layers of denim.  Shooting distance was only about 10 feet.  The stronger and thicker plastic jugs as well as the layers of fabric may have plugged up the tips of these hollowpoints and prevented them from expanding properly.  In reality, it's the author's opinion that it's also the fact that none of these bullets are flying at a high enough velocity coming out of the short 1-5/8" barrel.  If you really wanted the extra punch of the 22 Magnum, then the CCI Speer Gold Dot 22 Mag Short Barrel ammo would be recommended based on this testing, because it was easier to control than the Hornady Critical Defense.  At very close ranges, the tumbling and keyholing problem might not be a big issue.  Just keep in mind that the difference in ballistics between a hot 22 LR like the Velocitor and a 22 Magnum round out of these tiny revolvers is NOT as significant as the difference coming out of a longer barrel.  In a rifle or significantly longer handgun barrel, the 22 Magnum is MUCH more powerful than the 22 LR.

IMPORTANT UPDATE:  The author's recommendation has changed due to a change in circumstances.  After sending the gun back to NAA for some work, they installed a new barrel and the tumbling bullet problem has been fixed.  Now 22 Magnum shoots much more accurately through this gun.  As a result, this tiny revolver is now kept loaded with the CCI Speer Gold Dot 22 Magnum short barrel ammo.  This load is optimized for short barrels and it does not have the muzzle flash and recoil of a normal 22 Magnum load.  In addition, the powder charge is fine tuned for short barrels, so it can generate velocities of up to 1000 fps out of a short 2" barrel.  This equates in around 200 fps more velocity than a Velocitor 22LR bullet and this is a significant increase in ballistic energy.  More specifically, this additional velocity gives the Gold Dot bullets around 50% MORE energy.  This is now the author's favorite choice of ammo for this tiny revolver.  By the way, North American Arms has outstanding customer service and a great lifetime warranty!

Federal P765

ANOTHER RECOMMENDATION:  I tested some other ammunition and I changed my choice of favorite ammunition for the North American Arms Mini-Mag revolver.  I now prefer the Federal P765 30 grain 22 Magnum with the Speer TNP hollowpoint bullet.  This TNT bullet has a deep hollowpoint and it is sometimes referred to as a Gold Dot bullet.  The way that it expands out of such a short 1-5/8" barrel is impressive.  The bullet shown above was fired into some water jugs with 2 layers of denim in front of the first jug.  The expansion was almost perfect as you can see in the picture above.  To give you a better look, here's a close up of that bullet.  I was really surprised at how well this bullet expanded. 

Expanded TNT Bullet 

Federal 22 Mag 30gr TNT Hollowpoint Bullet

It is impressive how this bullet performs out of a tiny revolver with such a short barrel.  This performs even better than the Speer Gold Dot short barrel 22 Magnum load with the 40 grain gold dot bullet.  This is probably because the lighter 30 grain bullet can achieve higher velocities than the heavier 40 grain bullet.  In addition, the hollow point cavity in the 30 grain TNT bullet is much larger and this probably also helps it to open up and expand easier than the smaller cavity in the 40 grain Gold Dot bullet.  By the way, I also experimented with some of the 30 grain V-Max bullets with the pointed polymer tip.  They did not expand at all.  Instead, the polymer tip disintegrated, but the bullet did not expand.  By far, the Federal P765 performed the best of all the loads I have tried in this tiny pocket pistol.  Speaking of tiny, if you want to have an even smaller pistol than the Mini-Mag shown above, North American Arms makes an even smaller revolver as shown below.   

Tiny North American Arms 22 Short Revolver

North American Arms 22 Short Revolver

North American Arms manufactures the world's smallest and lightest 5 shot revolver.  The NAA-22S fires the 22 Short round, and these extremely tiny revolvers are only 3-5/8" in overall length!  Unloaded, they weigh only 4 oz!  These truly are tiny revolvers!  However, with the limited power of the 22 Short, it might be better to consider moving up to at least the 22 LR models that only add a small increase in size and weight.  Then your ammo choices will be much greater and the additional power of the 22LR will be beneficial.  Of course, even with these tiny revolvers you will still need to have the proper concealed carry permit in order to carry legally.  If you haven't seen one of these NAA revolvers up close, then you might be interested to know that they are extremely well made.  The workmanship and quality of these tiny revolvers are outstanding.  Some have likened the build quality on these NAA revolvers to a fine Swiss watch.  As was mentioned before, it would be better to choose a more powerful gun for self defense purposes.  But, if you need an extremely compact handgun that can be easily concealed in a pocket, purse, or elsewhere, then you might look into one of the tiny North American Arms revolvers.  If you think that these tiny guns are inaccurate, then watch this video to see what is possible out of one of these these NAA revolvers with a tiny 1-1/8 inch barrel at 25 meters!  Obviously shooting like this takes lots of practice.