Derringers - how do you shoot one?


January 6, 2003, 05:59 PM
I saw a couple of modern Derringers online. The construction is over-under with two barrels. There seems to be only one trigger and only one hammer. How do you select the barrel from which to shoot?

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January 6, 2003, 06:19 PM
If it's the American Derringer Corp, they autoswitch by internal mechanism which moves a surface on the hammer from rfiring pin to firing pin. I got one, but not a real fan, more of a collection piece than a user.

Al Thompson
January 7, 2003, 09:14 AM
SP - :D

I fired one in .38 Special - once. That was enough for me.

Mr Jody Hudson
January 7, 2003, 09:22 AM
I love my .38 two shot semi-auto Intratec plastic derringer. It is small, light, flat, and I can shoot it two or three times in a row, with full power loads... between healings!

I don't care for the hammer types as a rule but carried one in .410 with two shots for years as a snake gun; it was good out to about 15 feet or so... I HATE poisonous snakes! I know they are no big deal but I have no experience or understanding of them -- so when I was working out in the 'Glades areas of Florida I was REALLY out of my element and in thiers!!! Later I changed over to a .357 revolver with a couple of snake shot first then bullets.

In my opinion with all the wonderful, small, light, accurate and far higher capacity pocket pistols available now -- there is little need for derringers other than CUTE or for collectors and display in nice glass front boxes screwed to the wall. Perhaps with a sign "In case of emergency break glass". :rolleyes:

January 7, 2003, 09:37 AM
I have a Reck 2 barrell .22 handed down from my father. Accurate out to about 10 feet, after that.....I know not where....
Keep it bundled up in the gun safe.

January 7, 2003, 12:34 PM
Usually I shoot mine by sighting through the sights, using the "pumpkin on a post" sight picture, then I squeeze the trigger with my trigger finger until it goes off...

what are you asking? does anyone fire theirs with their toes?

Mike Irwin
January 7, 2003, 04:58 PM
I dislocated my thumb with a .44 deringer some years ago.

Never again, thank you.

January 7, 2003, 05:07 PM
Thumb-cocking the hammer for the second shot is easy, really!

I'm delighted to see you all being so honest, 'cause your reactions of ooooow! are the usual when I work with my Model 1 (.45lc/.410ga).

We love it - and it's been a popular goodie with many of my girlfriends... On any given range day, we go through 20-30 rounds between two of us.

Marvelous intimidation factor!




January 7, 2003, 06:22 PM
for all of three shots. It was a .357/38 over and under and I must say it was really pretty. I fired one round of .357 and two rounds of .38 special and promptly sold it. Most unpleasant gun I ever shot despite its beauty. Good shooting:)

January 7, 2003, 11:17 PM
The real appeal (and purpose for the original design) was a very, very small and light handgun that would chamber a round of significant diameter. Black powder .44, .36 and .32 calibers were no problem to shoot comfortably. The maximum in a modern caliber would probably be a .32, maybe a non +P .38. Anything more would be for extream emergency and extream close range. No point in practicing with them. The sights are useless - these are point and shoot weapons for less than 10' use. In my experience though, they are easy to handle, cock and fire (those of the original "Derringer" design). But not as safe to carry as modern arms since the hammer generally rests on one of the two loaded cylinders (like the old Colt SAA revolvers). Simple and reliable design.

They are "old technology" though - and really best suited as collector, display or curiosity pieces. For really small and light CCW duty - the modern .22, .25 and .32 autoloaders are much better choices.

January 8, 2003, 07:55 AM
I actually have two derringers, both made by Davis. I bought the .22 as a novelty ($70.00) and it shoots fairly well all things considered. I can hit a 6" pie plate out to about 7 yards with both barrels. The barrels are not even close to being regulated and the top barrel shoots a bit to the right. The bottom barrel is right on.

About a year ago, I bought the .38. This gun is no fun. No accuracy, painful to shoot, but it looks neat sitting in the case by the .22. I think American Derringer made one in .44 mag. I'm not even that crazy.


January 8, 2003, 10:22 AM
Clamp in a vise, tie string to trigger, swivel vise around to intended target.........:neener:

January 8, 2003, 10:27 AM
If you buy one, buy a Bond. Davis derringers are crap if you actually intend to shoot it. I know people over at the SASS Wire that use them for fishing weights because you really get what you pay for. American derringers are nicer and weigh about the same, but are more expensive than Davis. Bond guns are a little larger and about the same cost as Americans, but have modern safeties like rebounding hammers and stouter construction. Want to shoot a different caliber? Change barrels on it with just an allen wrench. Want a trigger guard? They make a model with that and you can remove it if you want to look cowboy. Have problems? Let them know, this is especially good if your trigger pull is untenable.

January 8, 2003, 10:57 AM
No real disagreement there - but I'll keep supporting American Derringer because it's woman-owned and operated.


No surprise there, huh?


January 8, 2003, 08:32 PM
I have two; a remington 3rd edition O/U nickle with gutta percha grips in excellent condition and nice and tight. I bought 6 boxes of Navy arms copper .41shorts about 1978 and have 3 left, they are hot! They go 550fps and nice kerpow. I like the original Remingtons but they have to be handled like a baby when opening. Dont think they wont kill you! They go thru a 2X4 ( the thin way) and thats gotta hurt. Second gun is a Maverick Derringer in .357 ; a big beefy but traditional piece made in Italy in early 70s by Uberti , Elmer Keith reccomended them! I use it for a second gun on my SASS comboy rig.I shoot .38 wadcutters and have filed the sights so it prints nicely at 10 yds!I used to have a derringer collection with all the weird ones, knuckle dusters and Palm pistols ect. Butterfield&Butterfield sold them in 89!:D

January 8, 2003, 08:45 PM
I own an American Derringer Corp Model 1 in 357 mag. I love mine. I don't shoot many 357 full loads, but rather 38's. More accurate than I expected. I find mine fun to shoot, but I'm a fairly big guy and maybe that has something to do with it.

Bought it as a fun gun, but I have carried it for defense, as a deep hideaway.

January 8, 2003, 09:46 PM
I had a Davis in .32 auto & a High Standards .22 mag. The davis sucked bad, It got real loose after 200 rds. I wished I hung on to the High standard though. I liked the DA & its nicely put together. I believe the DA High standards design is still sold by another company.

January 9, 2003, 01:16 PM
Other than the horrible trigger - which you really can't do much about the trick to shooting this gun is to use lighter bullet weights. I tried both 148 grain wadcutter loads and 158 rn std ammo. Way too much recoil(and I don't have any trouble with std 44 magnum loads in my 29) and pain. I finually found a couple of boxes of 38 short colt ammo at a local shop. remington as a matter of fact. these used 125 gr rn lead at an extremely low volicity. the result was a controlable and not overly painful load to shoot in this gun. As its intended use was and is only for the occosional side match at cowboy action matches this was a final solution. For its intended purpose it works but I would never spend the money for a american or bond as they have the same basic problems - harsh painful recoil. why spend what I couls use to buy other useful guns for a showpiece(mine is chromes with black grips quite shiny) for my cowboy belt. the davis is plenty enough for this and will hold up well enough to 2 - 4 rounds every six months or so it gets.

January 10, 2003, 11:19 PM
I shot a 357 derringer for about 2 rounds once . I must say those things really are pretty brutal due to their weight . I couldnt imagine shooting a 44 mag out of one of them :eek: i know a guy who has one and he said it feels like being hit with a baseball bat , to your hand .
July 30, 2008, 01:37 PM
I have read several comments concerning derringers in this forum ranging from they are not safe to carry because of the firing pin resting on a cartridge to them not being very effective.

I own a Bond Arms .45 Colt/ .410 shotshell derringer. It has a patented hammer system which "bounces back" and rests off of the next cartridge after being fired. It also has a cross bolt safety. This derringer is very safe to carry and is lethal for self defense. I have owned another brand of derringer and in my opinion, this derringer is a must have for concealed carry. Bond offers many different holster options. I have the driving holster which keeps the weapon out of your way on your belt when driving and sitting.

You need to check out this company!

Jim Trent
Madison, N.C.

July 30, 2008, 02:18 PM
Bond is the derringer of choice for SASS side matches, first rate quality. The national champions in the Derringer division have use Bonds for maybe the last 8 or 9 out of 10 years. I have an American in .38 Special. It has the same safety features that jtrent mentions on the Bond. However, for those to be reliable on the American (can't say about Bond), the very heavy hammer spring and trigger pull cannot be altered. I modified my American for cowboy competion by lightening the hammer spring. Now any pressure on the hammer will allow the crossbolt safety to retract as it does when you cock the hammer. This leaves the derringer in condition to fire a barrel if dropped on the hammer. I do not find the .38 with moderate loads unpleasant to fire. For CCW, I prefer about any other option, including my KelTec 3AT, Kahr P9, Ruger Speed Six, Springfield Chamption 1911. I might carry it if my other choice was my NA .22 LR pocket revolver.

July 30, 2008, 04:43 PM
It shoots .45 Colt/ .410 2 3/4 or 3 inchers. The SS has the extended grip for the pinky, makes a world of difference in shooting. Tried the standard grips on it and my point-shooting went to crap. It's more accurate than what people expect with the Colts. It easily hits MOT (minute of torso) at 7 to 10 yards. Just gotta practice. I usually have the bottom barrel ready to go first with a 3" buckshot load, followed by a .45 in the top. It's in this mode as anti-carjacking insurance. For dogwalking the lower barrel has a #9 shot and #4 in the upper. I live rural so I'm more apt to have a problem with a copperhead or rabid possum than a person. Kick isn't bad with the extended, thicker grip plus the heavier weight of the construction. I love mine!

July 30, 2008, 06:38 PM
I have two Davis Derringers. One is a .38 and the other a .32acp. I also have a Davis auto in .32acp.

The little auto has never missed a beat, but I haven't shot it all that much.

I really like the small derringer in 32. It pockets well and I can get it into action pretty fast. It is not what I would want in a gunfight, though.

The .38 is not bad to shoot, but the trigger is very hard to pull.

A friend that has one told me to pull down on the trigger as you are pulling back. It works, but in a stressed situation one may forget.

July 30, 2008, 08:52 PM
Ancient thread. Back from 2003, when derringers were first invented.

For the original question, those things automatically switch barrels between shots. I'd recommend keeping it so the bottom barrel fires first, since then you get less muzzle flip for the follow-up shot.

July 30, 2008, 09:11 PM
Derringers - how do you shoot one?

Place it on a berm at a safe distance to avoid ricochet, wear good eye protection, and preferably use cast bullets (again to avoid ricochet).

But it's really not necessary to shoot them, they can be recycled into pencil holders or scrapped for the precious, precious zinc.

(Hey, Congress thinks zinc is precious, they just ordered the Treasury to make cents out of steel [although the steel will actually cost more]).

And that's why you should never expect a government department to make cents. :cuss:

Guns and more
July 30, 2008, 10:25 PM
I'll keep supporting American Derringer because it's woman-owned
Well, there's a reason to buy.

July 31, 2008, 12:07 AM
I've owned a Model 1 in 45/.410 since the early 90s

The 45 is a handful even in black powder cartridges. The OOO Buck in .410 is a fairly comfortable load and puts three (.357 calibre) buck shot on target pretty accurately at 5-7 yards (around 4-5 inch pattern). Good defense round, but a two shot gun. Bird-shot are snake killers at 5 yards or less. I usually drop this one in my pocket on trips to the woods.

At best they are a two shot, short range proposition - but they do have their place.

M2 Carbine
July 31, 2008, 12:19 AM
I've got the Bond Arms Derringer in 45ACP.
A Derringer is somewhat awkward to handle and shoot accurately so I loaded a thousand lead SWC target loads for practice. And I'll throw in a few full loads and +P loads to stay in practice.

It's fun to shoot but I don't use it for concealed carry.

July 31, 2008, 09:21 AM
I have both a Davis D22 and Davis D32 (.22LR and .32acp respectively). Since the .32acp version is built on the .22LR frame, it's tiny. But since it's .32acp, it is still controllable.
I normally use a 2-hand hold and thumb the hammer with my left hand....that empties both barrels in under 2 seconds. Accuracy is minute of pie-plate at 15 yards. But it's really designed to be a sub-5-yard gun. It makes a fair backup gun if pressed for pocket space. Reloading is slow though.
As for selecting the barrel fired? The selector goes from barrel to barrel with each cocking. I load it to fire from the top barrel first. The Davis derringers have a hammer-block safety. Currently the Davis line is made by Cobra.

December 30, 2008, 11:19 PM
dug this thread up from a google search, after a recent derringer purchase of my own.

I recently purchased a Cobra Derringer in .32acp. I purchased it as a curiosity piece because i already have several .32acp weapons. I paid $140. here is my brief review.

Accuracy: It will hit a pop can out to 6 yards with regularity, but even a single yard beyond that, and the bullets magically disappear. Probably due to the unregulated 2" smooth bore barrels....

Weight:: While it is very small, it weighs just as much as my KelTec P-32... and the P32 holds eight rounds, compared to the derringers two.

Recoil:: you may think the recoil would be the same as other 32 pocket guns, with its weight being comparable. The reality is that while the total amount of recoil energy may be the same, the amount that you actually feel is much greater. its compact size and poor grip design conspire to concentrate that force on a much smaller area of your hand. While the recoil of the 32 derringer isn't BAD, its enough to make the gun shift even in a tight grip, and if you hold it wrong it will sting your hand slightly. I think the 32 or the 22 magnum would be the practical limit for this type of sub-compact derringer. Something like a Bond arms with its greater size, weight, and ample grip would be able to handle something more potent.

conclusions: I think that its an impractical shooting gun. But as a backup gun or a stash gun it would be fine.

January 4, 2009, 04:38 PM
I've just bid on a Bond Ranger on Gunbroker IT COMES WITH A REALLY nice holster they call the bad for USING IT WHILE DRIVING. I wanted something that has a low profile for when I am out metal detecting either in the woods or in some of the older section of town. Check out the bond web page.

January 4, 2009, 07:41 PM
Probably due to the unregulated 2" smooth bore barrels....


If yours has smooth bore barrels it's broke, send it back, as they are deffinately supposed to be rifled.

I have three, an "American derringer" .45acp, An "Excam .38spl., And a "Davis/Cobra" .22lr.

I tend to agree with Trisha, They are fun to shoot, And I shoot them a lot each time I get to the range.

Jim K
January 4, 2009, 07:51 PM
I consider derringers as a weapon worthless, with small modern auto pistols and small, powerful, revolvers available.

I also STRONGLY recommend that anyone with an antique gun, especially the Remington, NOT shoot it. The Remingtons were made of cast iron and the frame hinge tends to break. When it does, a $1500-1700 gun becomes a $300 gun - "destroyed in seconds" as they say on TV.

Plus, those Remingtons have a humongous mainspring, the very devil to cock.


January 4, 2009, 09:31 PM
My understanding is a derringer as a defensive weapon, is only useful for point-blank situations, like your arm around the bad guy's neck and derringer to his temple, (awaiting the police.)

I acquired one some years ago. The chambers were rough to the point it is a real pain to extract fired 32 ACP. I was unable to hit, well only three out of ten hits, a three foot target at 10 feet.

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