Why do derringers suck so bad?


August 27, 2005, 07:50 AM
A derringer looks like a decent weapon to me- like a two-shot single action .38 snubnose. But while I hit pretty good with a snubbie, the only derringer I ever shot sucked and I have heard nothing but bad about them. How about that cobra "longbore"? It has a little more barrel length- anyone shoot one? I am really surprised cobra makes such a crummy product (according to all posts)- with just a little work, surely they could make the thing half-way decent?

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1 old 0311
August 27, 2005, 08:02 AM
Hi Carry,

They sell MILLIONS of those a year. I got to be the only guy who admits to carying one at times. .32 ACP. Small, light, loaded with Glasers.


Ohen Cepel
August 27, 2005, 08:21 AM
I'm not familar with the cobra that you mentioned.

I know there are some high quality ones made (American Derringer I think) that are very good.

Biggest downside is that it's pretty old technology. Rather big/heavy for only 2 rounds, hard to get a 2nd shot quickly due to the grip and it being single action.

I like them and have always wanted one but other things kept bumping it down the list. I think the .410 version would be a good snake gun.

Old Fuff
August 27, 2005, 09:00 AM
Part of the problem is the over/under barrel configuration. The sights may (or may not) line up with one barrel, but not both. This isn't true with snub-nosed revolvers. Also, many of them weigh as much or more then a small revolver or pocket pistol, which I see as a better choice.

August 27, 2005, 09:00 AM
They don't suck. If you put one up in a guy's eye socket who is beating you to death and pull the trigger, he will stop hitting you immediately. Buy one in .45 acp or .45 Colt and carry it in your pocket.

August 27, 2005, 09:29 AM
I just think for the money there are a lot better choices.

Now if you just want one, that's as good a reason to have one as any.

August 27, 2005, 09:31 AM
You could get a Downsizer, the single shot DA 45 palm pistol, smaller than a derringer.

August 29, 2005, 04:17 PM
A couple of years ago I bought a Cobra Enterprises 38 special derringer, what a POS you couldn't hit a barn wall if you were standing inside it, the trigger pull was about 20 lbs and after 5 shots the lower barrel stopped firing. I called the company and they said they would fix it if I would send it back and pay shipping both ways, I passed. It wouldn't even make a good rock. I'd rather have a 22oz Estwing. rugerman

August 29, 2005, 05:32 PM
Nowadays there are a lot of smaller, lighter, higher capacity, similar power-level and easier to shoot quickly and accurately options out there.

Similar to the SAA's and other "obsolete" guns, most people don't carry them not because they are somehow "bad" but just that there are so many options that are "better".

August 29, 2005, 06:03 PM
Like an earlier poster, I view the derringer as a last resort contact weapon not to be relied upon for any effective sighted fire or distance.

August 29, 2005, 06:30 PM
Try American Derringer Company (http://www.amderringer.com) instead. Asking why Cobra derringers suck is like asking why Jennings Baby Browning copies suck.

August 30, 2005, 04:08 AM
Derringers, esp high quality ones don't suck but the inherent design is not condusive for target shooting. I personally don't like them but in their niche, a big caliber in a small package to use at point blank range for serious work I think they have merit. Considering how big some of the serious derringers are though I'd rather have a chiefs special. I really want a 410 derringer for the novelty factor but they are illegal in my area.

August 30, 2005, 07:19 AM
Well, I have a lightweight (aluminum-framed) American Derringer model, in .45ACP. Some things to consider:

1) It offers the most painful recoil of any handgun I've yet fired.
2) It only offers 2 rounds.
3) Item #2 isn't that important, since I miss more than I hit at any range past 10 yards.
4) It does throw a big, heavy slug.
5) It is actually significantly shorter than a J-framed snub, but only slightly lighter (10 oz., IIRC), and thinner.

I never carry it, but I could see it as a third gun, a last-ditch, point-blank, get offa me ankle or "belly" gun.

Now, this particular configuration does have one use; loaded with Speer .45ACP shotshells, and dropped in a hip pocket, it makes a dandy piece for vermin and venomous snakes if you or your neighbors are concerned about the range/ricochet potential of .22 bullets. Nice & handy when working the garden, etc. Works like magic at extremely close range, with extremely limited "danger" range.

August 30, 2005, 09:47 AM
I have an American Derringer DA-38 in .38 spl. I can just barely hit a pie plate at 10 yds. One barrell hits top of plate and the other hits near the bottom. It will hurt your hand after 5-6 shots. The quality seems ok.

I don't think it is better than my S&W Body-Guard, but it is better than a stick or a rock or a knife.

Vern Humphrey
August 30, 2005, 11:02 AM
They don't suck. If you put one up in a guy's eye socket who is beating you to death and pull the trigger, he will stop hitting you immediately.

The problem is, you might encounter a guy who has something like a S&W M19 or a M1911. And he can hit you in the eye at ranges where you can't even get a body hit. And he gets more than two tries.

A snubbie revolver is a better choice.

August 30, 2005, 02:20 PM
Everything from start to finish is bad on a derringer. It is tough to bring into ready action due to its small size and sometimes single action construction. The sights are tiny. The barrel is short. And you only get 2 chances. Hmm...I'd rather carry something else.

August 30, 2005, 03:48 PM
Are they that much smaller/lighter than a SW titanium snubby? I think not.

M2 Carbine
August 30, 2005, 04:39 PM
I've got a Bond Arms Derringer in 45ACP.
It's a little shorter than a 2 inch 38 so it will fit my shallow pockets and a Model 36 won't.

I loaded over a 1,000 light rounds for it to get a lot of practice.

It takes getting used to but is fairly accurate. I shoot it back to about 10 yards. COM hits are easy.

Aguila IQ HP does 1245 FPS from that short barrel, so even though it's only 2 shots, they should be 2 pretty effective shots.

August 30, 2005, 07:38 PM
My wife's Bond Arms derringer is devastating up to 7 yards when loaded with two 410 shells each containing 3 balls of 000 Buck. The recoil is negligible because of the weight of the piece. It's simple to operate and bloody deadly.

August 30, 2005, 07:53 PM
3 of 000, that would be the S&B load, right? Winchester makes a .410 load with 5 pellets of 000, which may be a better choice.

August 30, 2005, 08:44 PM
with a derringer was a Davis in 38 Sp. POS is being very, very kind.

For the same size and probably less weight, get a Kel-Tec in .380. I've got one in .32 and it's excellent. I know some guys have posted problems, but mine has been exceptional.

Better trigger, better reliability, lots more capacity, and less weight. YMMV

August 31, 2005, 12:44 AM
Back in '68, I saw an ad in Herter's catalog, "357 mag Derringer...also shoots 38 police specials, only $19.95." Needless to say, I ordered one. It has "Herters" stamped on the top and also "Made in Germany". The 1st time I fired it, it blew the chrome plating off the front of the barrels. I still can't hit anything with it, but it's fun to shoot.

August 31, 2005, 02:07 AM
They don't suck. If you put one up in a guy's eye socket who is beating you to death and pull the trigger, he will stop hitting you immediately. Buy one in .45 acp or .45 Colt and carry it in your pocket.

They do suck. A 22 in a guys eye socket will kill him so your example is rather silly. The derringer is large compared to small pocket revolvers and autos is far harder to shoot multiple rounds with and is not accurate too boot. You would have to stick it in they guys eye socket as you put it to hit him at all.

August 31, 2005, 08:33 AM
They don't suck. If you put one up in a guy's eye socket who is beating you to death and pull the trigger, he will stop hitting you immediately. Buy one in .45 acp or .45 Colt and carry it in your pocket.

Also, you'd be amazed at how hard it is to put it up to a guy's eye socket when he is pounding on you. Ever train with red guns or airsoft?

M2 Carbine
August 31, 2005, 01:23 PM
It's simple to operate and bloody deadly.
The 410 derringer might not be as deadly as you think.

The 410 shell is loaded with slow burning powder that functions poorly in a short or the almost non existant barrel of a 410 derringer.

I had a choice of getting the 410/45LC or 45ACP Bond Derringer.
I have a TC pistol with a 7 inch 410 barrel so I thought I'd see what the 410 Buckshot would do.

I shot 3/4 inch plywood and 2x6 pine wood boards .
The deepest penetration was 1 inch in the 2x6 boards. Most buckshot was about 3/4 inch deep. The buckshot wouldn't make it through the 3/4 inch plywood.

This is pretty poor. I can't think of any pistol round that won't go through a 2 inch board except a 22LR from the little North American revolver.

What's worse is my testing was done in a 7 inch barrel, not a derringer barrel.

I bought the 45ACP.

August 31, 2005, 01:53 PM
you know, I had a Davis Derrigner in .32, and it was fun to shoot, and it always got alot of attention at the range. I ended up giving it to my friend as a b-day gift, and he still shoots it. Now, was it accurate? NO!!!!!!!!!!!! I could get hits within maybe 5-10 feet, but that was about it. Speaking solely on the Davis, it was a gun I used for breaking out on the range and making a little noise - in other words, it was cool. I do happen to think that Derringers represent a viable alternative when no other gun will do, depending on quality and caliber, but to be perfectly honest with you, I would prefer to have a knife to that particular Davis gun, because I honestly think that at its effective range, I would be able to do more damage with a knife. Thats not an indictement against the .32, either. I think we all can agree that the .32 is a poor choice for a defensive round, but it does have its place, and it is definitly better than a sharp stick. I am specifically referring to the gun: I. E. someone physically attacking me and me having to cock, fire in such a way as to not shoot myself (which I would think would be pretty easy in a close engagement where blows are being exchanged, especially given the exposed trigger), and then having to repeat.

August 31, 2005, 02:48 PM
IMO, derringers are only useful when the other party doesn't want to get shot, such as getting mugged by a knife-wielding assailant. If the other party has a gun, the derringer gets outclassed pretty quickly.

I still would like to get my hands on one. Even 2 shots of .45LC or .410 bore with 000 shot beats nothing. But, I would probably go for something like a mini Beretta in .32 first.

September 1, 2005, 10:47 AM
I once had a case where a woman shot her brother in law 4 times with a .22 Davis Derringer. He drove away from the scene, but at the hospital the doctors gave him a 10% chance of survival. He pulled through after 2 weeks in a hospital and another month or so in a nursing home.

Probably says more about the .22 than the gun- won't stop a person but it will kill him. A Beretta 21 would have been a lot more practical as a .22 thrower for not much more size. OTOH, she knew almost nothing about guns and still almost killed the guy.

Bottom line, a derringer satisfies Rule #1 (HAVE A GUN) but for the size/weight there are better choices.

Vern Humphrey
September 1, 2005, 01:18 PM
I once had a case where a woman shot her brother in law 4 times with a .22 Davis Derringer.

She reloaded?

He must have been either somewhat disabled by the first two, or inordinantly stupid!

Old John
September 1, 2005, 04:18 PM
Hi Y'all,

I have a Bond Arms Texas Defender in .45Colt/.410ga.
DSW has a Bond Arms Texas Defender in .45acp.

We each can hit COM at 7yrds./21 ft. consistently.
They weigh about 20oz. or so.
They have a completely different lock-up than Davis
or American Derringer. Bond is much easier & quicker to load.
Lighter trigger too.

The .45Colt is not bad to practice with, loaded with Cowboy
Loads, 200gr. at 700fps.
The .45acp is not bad with lighter loads too.
We have a Davis Derringer in .38 Spec. also.
I've had .22 Derringers & a .357 Mag.

I like Derringers. They are fun.
Yup, there are probably better choices, in littler guns & calibers.
I carry a .45acp C.Commander when I'm out & about.
But Derringers are easy to drop in a jacket pocket to
run down & pick up a Newspaper at Casey's.

They are just about like anything else. Some Folks like them
and Swear by them. Some Folks Hate them.
They say,"That's what makes a horse race".
Heyy, if you don't like them,- buy something else.
I won't make you buy mine. I'm happy with it.
Best to get something you like, I do.
Have Fun.

September 2, 2005, 08:00 PM
3 of 000, that would be the S&B load, right? Winchester makes a .410 load with 5 pellets of 000, which may be a better choice.


The 5 pellet load is a 3 inch shell, her derringer won't handle that. Same goes for my Marlin 410 levergun.

September 2, 2005, 08:37 PM
"He must have been either somewhat disabled by the first two, or inordinantly stupid!"

It's been a long time, but they were in an isolated area and, IIRC, she was between him and the car. Apparently she was having a flashback to past sexual abuse when she did it.

September 3, 2005, 01:48 AM
Derringers(actually Deringers) were originally made in .41 rimfire, about 600fps, and intended to kill someone 5-6 feet away(across a poker table). IMHO, a Deringer,in any caliber, is a last ditch,better than nothing, contact range gun. I have worked in gun shops off and on for the past 18 years and the biggest complaint I have heard about the cheap Deringer type guns is that they won't go bang about half the time.

September 3, 2005, 05:54 AM
A doible derringer beats no gun at all.

For the most part they are too big for what you get.

There are many guns that are the same size ot smaller that are much mre efficient.

But then I almost always have an old .22 High Standard DA derringer in one of my pockets even when I'm carrying one of my .44s. :evil:

September 5, 2005, 02:37 PM
I just think the little ones are cute. I wish someone made a quality version in the size of the little Davis/Cobra guys.

It's like my NAA 22s - a real powerhouse! But so cute.

However, I do know cases where they helped out. A geezer with a 22 mag drove off a shotgun wielding crook. A buddy nailed a threatening rattled with a Hi-standard and snake shot.

It's still a gun!

M2 Carbine
September 5, 2005, 07:00 PM
Just shot my 45 ACP Bond Arms Derringer.

Would everyone agree 10 yards isn't exactly "stick it in his ear" range?

I haven't shot the derringer in a couple months, but when I do my part it will easily keep the shots in the elliptical circle.

Mostly what I like to do is point shoot from 5-7 yards at a 12x16 inch piece of steel. The gun never misses, but I do once in a while. :D

8x11 inch paper
10 rounds, no misses.


September 5, 2005, 07:47 PM
I have a High Standard 22Mag that I have carried off & on billfold style for 20 years plus. It is one of the most concealable firearms I own and can easily hit a target at self defendance range (point shoot) . I realize it is not a 45ACP, however it may change a person's mind and change the playing field after 2 hollow points and the powder burn it expells at point blank range. It is not my first choice, but to have to shoot someone, I will not be given any choice. It has always been a comfort knowning it was there in the event it was needed. They have limitations , but as weapons of last resort they fill a need . Fairly accurate had a one shot kill on a rattler before they were protected.

my $.05 worth (inflation you know)

M2 Carbine
September 5, 2005, 09:47 PM
In the mid 60's I bought a Hi Standard 22LR derringer for my wife to carry, especially to work. I carried a 1911A1 in the car.
All illegal then, but my Wife came first.

When we moved to TX we each had 1903 32 Colts in the cars.

I sold Her Hi Standard without telling Her. She liked that gun and never stopped giving me heck for selling Her gun. :)

March 29, 2009, 05:00 AM
I usually find enough crap on these firearms threads to fertilize the entire world. This one is no different. How many here have ever been shot by a derringer?....NONE!!!! How many have ever shot anyone with a derringer?....NONE!!! Let me say this. Any firearm is better than none in a situation where you are being beaten or assaulted. If all you have is a derringer....that will do nicely. If all you can afford is a derringer....It's fine. These yahoos with unlimited funds ,unlimited advice,and no experience or scars will talk all night. If you have a derringer,you shoot the bad guy and live...It is the best weapon on the face of the Earth. I have been poor in the past and I know what it is like to have only one marginal firearm to protect myself and or family...It is much better than no firearm.

March 29, 2009, 07:57 AM
They don't suck...I carry one everyday....mine is the souped up version....:)


March 29, 2009, 09:25 AM
Now playing at THR:

"Ranting Return Of A Zooooombie Thread From 2005"

Sorry, couldn't resist. :p;)

Vern Humphrey
March 29, 2009, 02:55 PM
Any firearm is better than none in a situation where you are being beaten or assaulted. If all you have is a derringer....that will do nicely.
In my experience, most disasters happen because people plan for them to happen. If you choose to carry a derringer, you are planning to have nothing but a derringer when the chips are down.

Now, I admit I've never shot anyone with a derringer. I have used a .357 in a couple of life-or-death situations (in Viet Nam.) I had that .357 because I planned to have a powerful handgun, and chose a Colt M357 instead of something of marginal power.

March 29, 2009, 03:24 PM
Derringers were originally designed to be a woman's purse gun. After concealed carry was outlawed for so long, development on these guns effectively stalled for several decades. As a result, they're stuck in the past,and have long been surpassed by compact revolvers and autos.

James T Thomas
March 29, 2009, 03:29 PM
The post from "Goose;" #22 made me chuckle.
I remember my younger days and the fascination any thing that went bang held for me. And the fun I had seeing how things were.

In place of Herters, "Moose," I bought Stoeger.
Now, my crome never blew off -what a hoot, but if I could scrounge up a few bucks I would by "cheap" just to try it out and experiment.

Thanks also to the posts from M2Carbine. It was good to read actual and factual experience versus so much conjecture.

March 29, 2009, 06:13 PM
It's a Bond Arms SnakeSlayer with that little pinky extension on the slightly larger grips. It shoots .45 colt and 3 inch .410s. It fits a niche for me, do the search. What I'll say now is that its accuracy sucks with normal derringer grips. I'm sorry I bought them. Does make it more pocketable, but isn't worth losing the accuracy. That pinky extension makes the difference. And stated in many posts here and on many forums, PRACTICE! Gotta learn the firearms you own. With the .45 Colts I do pretty good out to 10 yards. I ignore the sights, throw my arm up, and point. This thing isn't built for long range and I don't use it for it.

March 29, 2009, 06:28 PM
I want one - mostly because I don't have one and they look challenging to shoot well.

I don't expect to defend myself with this little gun, nor do I expect any kind of precision. I just want to have some fun!

Deaf Smith
March 29, 2009, 07:20 PM
Why a Derringer???

The derringers have:

a) Very small grips and thus hard to get a hold on, like FAST

b) Very slow to cock (yea there are a few DA versions but they have small trigger guards.)

c) Zero sights for all practical matters. And pointability is the pits.

d) Extremely hard to shoot past pissing distance.

e) Extremely limited rounds (1 thru 4)

f) Extremely slow reloads.

g) If in a large round they kick like heck (and if in small cartridge then what the heck are you doing with it?)

And as a result I'd rather have a good strong 6 inch bladed knife to a derringer! But I'd take a snub over either.

As Jeff Cooper said, "It's a good weapon for your opponent to have"

March 30, 2009, 10:21 AM
I am really surprised cobra makes such a crummy product
The Cobra derringer line is a reissue of the Davis derringer line. Cobra bought the tooling and rights to the entire Davis line and currently produces the D-series and BigBore-series Davis derringers, as well as the Davis P-32 and P-380 (as the CA32 and CA380) semi-autos. Oh yes, the Cobra FS32 and FS380 are reissues of the old Lorcin L32 and L380.
I own a few old Davis derringers. The most useful for me is the .32acp version. Since it is based on the Davis D-22 derringer frame, it is quite small. It hides well as a backup and I can thumb off both barrels in under 2 seconds. It does fine at 7 yards on torso size targets.

Are there other options out there? Sure there are.

BTW: Jennings never actually made a copy of the Browning Baby. Bruce Jennings' J-22, J-25, M38, etc designs were essentially based upon his father's (George Jennings) Raven design...which was a very basic non-locking blow-back similar to the BB and countless others.
One of the better clones of the Baby in that era (1970's) is the Bauer...a stainless steel clone of the BB. Current BB clone is the PSA.

March 30, 2009, 10:33 PM
I had one and it was a great little gun for 2 shots I sold it.

March 30, 2009, 11:31 PM
I think there would be a market for a QUALITY derringer that matched the frame size and heft of an original Remington, perhaps chambered in .38 special or 9 mm (or a nifty modern .41 RF :D). The current American Arms and Bond Arms product are way too big, bulky and heavy. In addition, this "New Model" derringer could have an inertial type firing pin, allowing it to be carried hammer down for safety, and permitting easy loading and unloading (no half cock/cross bolt). Don't slam the derringer platform until you has handled an original Remington.

JB Books
March 31, 2009, 04:41 AM
I have one that is heavy enough to smack someone in the eye with....

It's neat, but a pain to shoot. I have stashed in a jewlery box.

March 31, 2009, 05:58 AM
What you have very nearly described is the new Ruger LCR. It gives you 5 shots, though. That thing is insanely light. I handled and shot one on Saturday; Ruger had a table at a firearms expo at the local range. All their displayed firearms (pretty much their entire product line) were available to shoot, including the new LCR. Ultimately, compact revolvers and autos have all but rendered the Derringer concept obsolete. Modern alloys allow less material to be used on the cylinder, resulting in reduced size and weight. Derringers were conceived in a time when unlicensed concealed carry was legal or at least common, and guns were big, bulky things. They made it small, but at the expense of usability and effectiveness. And they were still heavy compared to modern compacts.

March 31, 2009, 10:55 AM
To the OP:

They suck because for the same size, one can get an 8 shot Semi-auto (like the KT P3AT which has a 7+1 capacity), or a 5-6 shot revolver instead of 1-2shots.

March 31, 2009, 12:02 PM
I've got a Bond Derringer Texas Defender, and barrels in .45 bolt, .45/410 and 357 mag. The Bond as it comes from the factory has a pretty stiff trigger which makes shooting one accurately difficult.

I just got mine back from Bob Munden who does action jobs on these for $130. Now the action is smooth as silk, and a light, crisp trigger, just wonderful.

Here is a pic:


Now if I could just shoot like Munden....

March 31, 2009, 12:07 PM
they are good in theory, but with a hammer than must be cocked with both hands (extremely cumbersome in such a small gun) and a trigger that is more than horrible, they are hard to handle appropriately. that being said, they are definitely better than nothing, and I doubt anyone would like to hear the sound of a gunshot coming from their next victim, whether they are actually hit or not.

Jim K
March 31, 2009, 12:34 PM
The only one that was moderately good was the old DA High Standard, but they were only made in .22 LR and .22 Magnum. And the barrels never shot to the same place.

Awkward to use, hard to cock, hard to hold onto, and a horrible trigger pull about sums up most, including the vaunted Remington. Worse, many of the moden guns are unreliable, one or both barrels failing to fire every time.


March 31, 2009, 01:08 PM
nonseven do you have a video link to the long range shots Munden made with one of his Bond derringers?

If I remember some were out to 100 yards on a balloon!

March 31, 2009, 01:44 PM
If I were going to make a derringer today, it would be like this old time Remington-Rider magazine pistol.
I have seen some of these at antique gun shows and they are no bigger than most .32 cal modern made derringers, maybe a little longer in the barrel, but hold more than a standard 2 shot derringer. I kind of wish they would make some modern version of this little pistol, center fire of course. LM

March 31, 2009, 01:51 PM
I owned a Cobra derringer in .38 special. As others have posted mine failed to fire one of the two barrels (can't remember which one). This was brand new out of the box. I sold it to a friend who said he wanted to see if he could fix it. I never brought the pistol up again, but then again neither did he. I'm sure if he had fixed it he would have mentioned it.

March 31, 2009, 02:16 PM

I think the one that he shoots two balloons with two shots is the most amazing.

BTW, the Bond can easily be cocked with one hand and has a nice light crisp trigger after Munden worked on it.

oklahoma caveman
March 31, 2009, 02:42 PM
hey for all you guys who are saying the derringer is worthless..... just watch a few episodes of HGWT. ole paladin surely relied heavily on his over the seasons. :neener:

March 31, 2009, 02:50 PM
Yeah, those are the ones. 65 yard shot is not bad. Those who say "all" derringers are inaccurate should take a look. This probably be good enough accuracy for a carry gun.

March 31, 2009, 03:22 PM
American Derringer corp. makes very high quality derringers. I have one in .357. I can hit a paper plate twice at 10 yards. But, it is kinda heavy and not quick to bring to action, you have to cock the very strong hammer(i can't do it w/one hand) and you have only 2 shots. I think their double action derringers would be a much better option, and although not a derringer, their new Semmerling reproduction.

March 31, 2009, 05:25 PM
Shoulda' had him put a clipdraw on the side. I had my gunsmith tap and drill mine for a clipdraw instead of using that double sided tape. Works really well and doesn't look bad!

harmon rabb
March 31, 2009, 09:09 PM
seriously, why? if you want tiny, why not get a LCP and be done with it? at least you'll have more than 2 shots.

April 1, 2009, 12:25 AM
I had a Davis Derringer in .22LR for many years. I carried it CCW sometimes. My father-in-law fell in love with the thing so I gave it to him as a present. I am not in the habit of giving away guns, but the old gent lets me shoot on his land! I have a Kel-Tec P-32 in .32ACP now, a much more serious piece of ordinance.

April 1, 2009, 07:40 AM
The Semmerling goes for about $3000. Fascinating little pistol, but it would break a lot of people's budgets. Has anyone here shot one?

April 1, 2009, 08:14 AM
I have a Bond Snakeslayer IV (.45/.410) IMO it is a very costly ($500) and heavy(24 oz) two shot weapon. What do I use it for? Something different to shoot at the range.

April 1, 2009, 10:09 AM
Quote; batjka The Semmerling goes for about $3000. Fascinating little pistol, but it would break a lot of people's budgets. Has anyone here shot one?
I found this one on gunbroker, don't know how they can call it a derringer!

April 1, 2009, 02:29 PM
After shooting the Bond Texas Defender in 45 colt, after the action job by Munden, it's much easier to shoot accurately with the light trigger. Highly recommended. At about 5 yards, I can touch bullet holes if I do my part.

Just shot the .45 colt magsafe loads (96 grain pre-fragmented bullet at nearly 1700 fps, +P loaded) in the Bond. A little kick but not too bad because the bullet is so light. Would seem to make a formidable self defense round. Somehow, I don't feel underarmed with this gun.

I think the deal with the derringer is carry a big round that can't be used in similar size guns. I don't see the sense in a .22lr or even a .38 special derringer for defense since you can find a gun that's smaller and lighter with many more shots. But there's nothing else as small or light that will shoot full charge 45 colt loads.

April 1, 2009, 02:41 PM
I got a black powder Derringers in .45 Cal. Never shot it yet hopefully this summer. Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth with one.

Model 1872 Derringer History
One of the most colorful figures in American folklore is the Mississippi Riverboat gambler. If legend is right, the gambler was the most sophisticated and subtly brutal man in the West. He was a professional who played to win, and the stakes were always high. Diamonds, slaves, plantations and immense sums of money were lost to him. He was a perfectionist. He dressed in style. And, almost invariably, he carried a Derringer.

In his choice of weapons, at least, the gambler was a typical frontiersman. By the middle of the 1850's, a pair of Derringers was standard equipment for all those who chose to protect themselves with concealed weapons. Their small size made them perfect "second" guns, and they were often carried in addition to the larger revolver. The expansion westward in the mid nineteenth century was perhaps the most violent period in American history. Law and order was something a man had to carry with him, and the demand for precision small arms grew as the country grew.

Henry Derringer, a Philadelphia gunsmith famous for the quality of his rifles and dueling pistols, created the first efficient pocket weapon, the small percussion cap pistol of superior design which he marked "Derringer Phila." The percussion cap pistol, which had to be loaded from the muzzle, came into use in 1807.

With the advent of breech loading in 1856 and the switch to metallic cartridges, efficiency was increased, and the Derringer boom was on. Many other gunmakers began producing copies of the popular Derringer pistol; one even reproduced Derringer's trademark on his own products.

Daniel Moore patented the first breechloading Derringer in 1861. It was a short, single barrel pistol chambered for .41 caliber rim-fire ammunition, which was originally sold by the National Arms Company. In 1870, a new Derringer, which had a side-swinging barrel complete with an ejector, was patented by Model employee F. Alexander Thuer. Model introduced this Derringer in 1872 using .41 caliber rim-fire cartridges, and retaining the "bird's head" grip design of the old percussion type Derringers. Production of the Model Derringer continued until 1912, when the small automatic pistol replaced the Derringer in popularity.

In late 1959, Model reintroduced its 1872 Derringer as the Model No. 4. It was chambered for the .22 caliber short cartridge, which is both inexpensive and widely available today, unlike the original .41 caliber ammunition. It was primarily offered to interest the collector of Model arms, an d was a close replica of the original Thuer Model No. 3 of 1872. The manufacture of Model No. 4 by Model continued until 1962.

JB Books
April 4, 2009, 01:06 AM
Ms. Kitty used one with great effect.

April 4, 2009, 04:24 PM
My wife has lost two Colt 25s so I picked up a NAA 22 mag five shot derringer. She said it was too loud and quit carrying it so I just dropped it into my side pocket on my Carharts. It has become my backup and I have no qualms about it being a get off me gun. If the bullet doesn't drop him the blast will burn off all his hair and probably set his clothes on fire. I know 22s get laughed at but don't be on the receiving end of one. They do crazy things inside a body, wc

April 4, 2009, 06:04 PM
the gun shop in my region that always has a good selection of 2 shot derringers in stock now has nothing larger than .22lr;

what sucks about derringers is their lack of availability due to the 'Obama' stimulation plan of the gun industry!!!

April 5, 2009, 08:49 AM
Federal has a new product - a .410 shotshell load designed for handguns like the Taurus Judge. This should prove interesting for the Bond Derringers as well. It come in 000 buck (4 pellets) and #4. Claimed velocity = 1200 fps. They also claim 15" penetration in ballistic gelatin. With 4 pellets instead of 3, and faster burning powder for short barrels, it may make .410 a viable self defense load.

April 8, 2009, 01:33 PM
A derringer beats five aces.

April 8, 2009, 01:47 PM
i used to own a darringer , and i actually liked it . i never took it to the range to shoot at targets with it - i shot it in the woods a few times when camping so i knew that it would shoot and hurt who ever i shot with it if it ever came to that , and it fit nicely in my pocket ? lost it on a bet to a buddy years ago tho . i dont have anything bad to say about the gun at all.

April 8, 2009, 05:11 PM
I love zombie threads. Sometimes they're timed just right.

I bought an American Derringer yesterday - a sort of political purchase as I appreciated Elizabeth Saunders attitude during the dark times. Anyhow, it came with a pink jewelry box and no instructions.

Not that it was all that hard to figure out but I remain curious about:

It appears the hammer doesn't rebound. I've got a mental picture of the thing discharging when closing like a mortar. Does one have to remember to ease the hammer back or was I just not pushing hard enough on what appeared to be a fully projected firing pin?

Is there a barrel selector or does it somehow "know" to alternate from top to bottom and back?

Is it really possible to operate (accidentally) like a mortar?

I could likely figure it out if I actually shot it but y'all know what the ammo situation is like so I'm going to take the easy way out and ask the assembled derringer gurus.

April 9, 2009, 10:54 AM
Hawk, YES it could discharge if you slam the barrels closed on a protruding firing pin!

ALWAYS place the hammer in the "safety notch" position and engage the spring-loaded crossbolt safety before loading.

April 9, 2009, 11:26 AM
I'm actually surprised that my surmise about the thing firing on closing was accurate.

It looked easy enough to do I'm surprised it hasn't actually happened, or that I haven't heard about it happening.

Good info though - I'll exercise care. Is this common to all derringers?

April 9, 2009, 11:32 AM
Yes; if a firing pin is protruding (e.g., the hammer is fully down), and you load the chambers and "snap" it closed, any single-action derringer could discharge.

July 17, 2009, 10:23 PM
I carry an original Colt #3 (Thuer) derringer, in .41 rimfire, loaded with a newer CBC/Navy Arms cartridge (plus I carry 9 spares). Granted, the .41 RF is no powerhouse, but contrary to popular myth, it is NOT so wimpy that it will bounce off a telephone pole at 15 feet. In fact, it will bury a slug fairly deeply in solid wood at that distance, and is quite capable of inflicting lethal wounds at point-blank range. It is strictly a "face gun" (i.e., you stick it in your target's face and pull the trigger), to be carried when a larger gun would be too indiscrete for carry (I can slip the derringer into a pants pocket and you can't even tell what it is, or hide it in the palm of my hand).

July 17, 2009, 10:45 PM
Yeah...I used to carry an old Remington Over-and-Under in.41 Rimfire.

It's a healthy-enough round...intended when in Derringers, for very close range or contact-wound situations.

In the later scenes of the film 'Mccabe and Mrs Miller', Mcabe shoots a BG right through the forehead with a likely .41 Rimfire, singleshot, from about five feet...

'Clip 6"..."In the Snow"


July 18, 2009, 06:56 PM
Why do derringers suck? Hmmm...

Wretched trigger pull. Even at powder burn range one can throw a round completely off target.

Wretched sights. Even allowing they are close range devices, they are so short one can hardly point them with any degree of certainty.

Typically bad safety features. Prone to fire at inopportune times.

Choice of managable recoil or suitable power. Can't really have both.

Size is not that much smaller than a .380 auto or .38 Special snubby.

That does it for me. Others may disagree.

July 18, 2009, 07:10 PM
Holy cow, this thread has been resurrected twice now!

Though admittedly the second time it had only been dead for a little over three months.

July 18, 2009, 08:12 PM
Henry spelled his last name Deringer, the term "derringer" is used to differentiate between the original and the numerous follow on types.

July 18, 2009, 11:15 PM
Like someone sort of stated before, this thread is still around? On the upside, it is good to know that someone uses "search".:D

July 19, 2009, 06:12 AM
Not that they suck, there are just many options out there that are generally better for the average person such as the Colt Detective Special.

July 19, 2009, 06:55 AM
I feel derringers are a nitch gun.
As a collector I have a few:
A Buffalo M1, Am Derringer DAD, Am Derringer Lady Derringer, NAA in .22 short, NAA 22LR, HJS Frontier 4, Braverman Stinger pen gun,a Downsizer LJS, Bond Arms Snake slayer 45C-410/.22/ .45ACP Barrels and a 209 Ignition Pistol.
Love them all.

also..A Semmerling LM-4, Cobre and a FIE D86C

July 23, 2009, 06:19 AM
like a two-shot single action .38 snubnose.

For nearly the same weight as some of the five-shot, double-action .38 snubbies, and not much less size, and much more unusual manual of arms, and without the ease of use of a revolver.

July 27, 2009, 06:31 PM
I have a Cobray Leinad Mod. D cal 45/410 , with 2 1/2 in shell capacity in 410, the 8.5 at 1200 fps holds a pattern of 6 inches at 15 feet (good for snakes). I carry the winchester super X hs 000buck 3 pellet. I guess a thick coat on a big man might stop them in winter. In my mind 15 feet is max. I will admit to removing the grips and nailing this baby to a fence post at first test fire (6 inch spikes with big washers lol) and rarely fire it one handed. It is my back up, camping/canoeing, good sturdy single shot a little large but handy. I've never fired a 45 in it I'm not that good a shot.

August 1, 2009, 06:04 PM
Just got a used in great shape Hi-Standards 22Mag Derringer yesterday for the collection!!!

August 1, 2009, 08:06 PM
(They do suck. A 22 in a guys eye socket will kill him so your example is rather silly. The derringer is large compared to small pocket revolvers and autos is far harder to shoot multiple rounds with and is not accurate too boot. You would have to stick it in they guys eye socket as you put it to hit him at all.
Pat )

I used to work the door at a Bar. One guy shot another with his 22 right in the forehead. It bounced off and the guy with the headache pulled out his 9 and eliminated his problem. Another incident I am privvy to involved a 22 cal bullet stuck in a guys rib. it didn't exactly take him out of the fight. A range master showed me how to use a derringer. You basicly punch the guy with it and pull the trigger on contact. Other than that they are basicly useless.

August 1, 2009, 08:27 PM
I still want one that works. I've dug up two while panning for gold in Southern Oregon - one from Louse Creek near Merlin, the other from Cow Creek at a site that's now a state park. They interested me enough that, when my 91-year-old neighbor gave me a steamer trunk that had a box and a half of .41rf, I borrowed an old Remington derringer from a friend's father and fired the half-box instead of selling them. I really liked it and I wish that someone made something similar today. The fairly large, soft, slow slug looked like it would do the job, if you did your part.

August 2, 2009, 12:30 AM
I have had one of the American Derringer's chambered in 45LC/410 for close to 19 years now. It has its place for what I primarily use it for. Loaded with .410 field shot it makes a great snake charmer out to about 5-7 yards. The .410 seems to be more comfortable to shoot in this gun than the 45LC. On times when I have carried it, other than on trips to the woods, I have loaded it with .000 buck. I have gotten good results with the .000 Buck at 7 yards on the range.

It a fun gun to shoot - I have loaded some 45LC cartridges with black powder and that is like the 4th of July every time you shoot it.

It would not be my first choice as a defensive weapon. No arguing, at the price they sell for today, there would be better options for the same money. But, my American Derringer has a unique place in my collection and most likely will continue to go on both field and fishing trips with me.

August 2, 2009, 12:47 AM
I think mine sucks mainly because it is a smooth bore, not to mention there is no real sight.

Low Budget Shooter
August 3, 2009, 01:51 PM
Dear THR,

Here's a bit of experience that might be helpful: On my first trip to the range with my derringer, I had a very tough time cocking, aiming, hitting, etc. But it didn't take much practice to get lots better with it than I was at first. So if you decide to try one, be sure to use it several times for your best feel of what it is like.


August 3, 2009, 02:03 PM
I have an American Derringer 45LC/410, and it's no target gun, but as stated above, in the right circumstance, it'd be pretty handy. I think the 410 is pretty awesome for snakes or other small poisonous problems you might encounter in the woods.

Carl N. Brown
August 11, 2009, 04:59 PM
I had a .38 derringer years ago. The barrels were not well regulated. At 60 yards, the centers of "groups" of the top and lower barrel were about eight to ten feet apart. With two .38 shotshell loads for closer shooting, it did ease my fear of snakes in the grass.

August 15, 2009, 01:15 AM
I have had at least one HS derringer around for years. I currently own two, one brand new in the box in the safe. The other rides in the shirt pocket of my uniform, accessible with either hand. With the grips taken off (the best modification you can make to one of these guns IMHO) It is the flattest, fastest and most reliable last ditch gun I have ever owned.

A contact shot would likely poke a pretty nasty hole and inflate your adversary to 30 PSI based on the horrific muzzle blast of the .22 Magnum out of that short barrel....Nothing to cock or manipulate, shoot out of a pocket if you need to and smooth and snag free on the draw. Its not really fun to shoot, somewhere around 14 rounds, I get a bruise on the palm of my hand and, I'm done playing with it.

Primary gun? No. Secondary gun? Maybe. Last ditch gun? Yeah, its not bad.

November 4, 2009, 05:16 PM
I was looking for info on how much my Hurters .357 derringer is worth and I found this thread. I read about how the chrome blew off the front of the barrel on one. Interesting too is the post about how it could go off when closed if not on safe. I never fired mine yet. I don't expect it to be very accurate. But I think it would be very effective if it went off in someones eye socket. Anybody have an idea of how much it's worth?

February 7, 2012, 01:18 AM
I realize this thread is dead, but it really bothered me. Let me explain what the purpose of a derringer is; the derringer was designed to be a pistol that is as small as possible while still being lethal, This means the barrel is short to minimize length, the sights are small so they will not snag on your pocket, the capacity is low to minimize width, and the caliber is large so that the limited number of rounds are actually useful (if you bought a small caliber derringer, you bought a toy). It was meant to be a lethal self-defense weapon that you can carry ALWAYS because is it so small. Also, if others don't know you're carrying it, that is a HUGE advantage. Another good point, it may only fire two rounds, but if two rounds doesn't do the job at the range a derringer is meant to be used, guess what, you're dead anyway. Now lets look at what a derringer isn't; it is not a revolver, if you want something that fires six rounds accurately at thirty yards, BUY A REVOLVER. It is also not an automatic pocket pistol, If you want to fire four or five weak rounds that may not even stop a man, BUY AN AUTOMATIC POCKET PISTOL. Know what your tools are meant for people, you wouldn't say your pocket knife sucks because it wont clear a path like a machete does, would you?

February 7, 2012, 01:26 AM
Well, Welcome to THR Anyhow Blueox86. Resurrection seems to be a tradition among new members.

February 7, 2012, 03:16 AM
I occasionally carry a Bond Arms .38
It is what it is, a contact distance weapon that beats the heck out of a sharp stick.

February 7, 2012, 08:58 AM
I carry my FIE 38 Special derringer every day.
Two shots of 38 Special I can carry all day long comfortably in my pocket.
I carry a Magsafe in the first chamber followed by a Federal Hydra-shok.
(the bottom firing pin hits light, still'll set off the round but I like being reassured by having a Federal primer in front of it.)

February 7, 2012, 11:05 AM
Heizer Double Tap? Has anyone any experience with them?

Vern Humphrey
February 7, 2012, 11:30 AM
the derringer was designed to be a pistol that is as small as possible while still being lethal,
The problem is, it doesn't accomplish that very well.

You can get pistols not much bigger that fire more shots and can be reloaded more rapidly.

February 7, 2012, 02:10 PM
The problem is, it doesn't accomplish that very well.

You can get pistols not much bigger that fire more shots and can be reloaded more rapidly.
Mind supporting your claim that derringers are not very lethal.
A Buffalo Bore wadcutter went through 11 inches of my wetpack, I'd hate to have something like that shoved into my gut and fired.

Vern Humphrey
February 7, 2012, 02:13 PM
Mind supporting your claim that derringers are not very lethal.
A Buffalo Bore wadcutter went through 11 inches of my wetpack, I'd hate to have something like that shoved into my gut and fired.
You wouldn't want having a Benjamim Pump air rifle shoved into your gut and fired -- but that doesn't make a Benjamim Pump an idea defense weapon.

As I said, you can get pistols not much bigger than a derringer that fire more shots and can be reloaded more rapidly.

February 7, 2012, 02:30 PM
I own a Am. Derringer Co. Model 1 in .45/.410. What I have learned:
No one makes rubber grips for it, which is a real pity given the recol. It is the ONLY pistol I have ever shot that has actually injured my hand in recoil.
With gloves on, I cannot dependably activate the trigger. In fact, between the odd, small grip, odd no-guard trigger, and must-cock-hammer-between-shots-SA, it is the most difficult pistol to use that I own.
Unless you remember to put the hammer at half-cock (via the "safety" plunger) while you reload, you have a chance of the gun slam-firing when you close the breech--not great for an emergency reload.I'm sure I can come up with more, but you get the idea. Doesn't matter if you hand me a Beretta 950 or a S&W 340 or a Colt Mustang or whatever: I'd rather use that than that derringer. Maybe I'd feel differently about a DA .38 or a Bond Arms.

February 7, 2012, 02:47 PM
The only derringer I own is in .22 mag and I inherited that one. I have no doubt that it would kill someone very dead if stuck in their belly and fired but I don't know that I would ever carry it as my main weapon. It would probably ride well with a decent holster since it is so small for an ankle gun but I guess I dont see the point since there are so many other guns that are only slightly larger. When they were in use 150 years ago they were probably the most concealable weapon available.

February 7, 2012, 05:40 PM
I know someone who used to carry a NAA Black Widow and sometimes a Makarov. This person recently picked up and now carries a Bond Arms .45LC/.410. It is between the BW and Mak in size; larger than I would have thought. The owner prefers versatility and higher powered rounds over ammo count and is happy with the Bond Arms.

Maybe not my choice for carry but I sure as heck wouldn't want to stand in front of it... some people are naturally good shots.


February 7, 2012, 10:06 PM
People think they suck because they try to make it do something it wasn't designed for. They are not for shooting bullseyes at 25 yards; they are for shooting things close enough to punch with your fist.

I've had a Cobra .38 spec Derringer, and now a Davis .22 Magnum, and am in the market for a Bond Snakeslayer.

February 8, 2012, 02:11 AM
I have one of those 2 barrel SA .38 derringers. I tried to shoot a stump-tail moccasin at almost point blank range and missed him with both shots. Luckily, he didn't like the noise and left.:eek:

September 30, 2013, 07:11 PM
Not all derringers are bad. Cobra derringers perform rather poorly. But I have an old High Standard 2 shot that is quite nice and makes a neat pocket gun sometimes.

Moderator Edits Italicized

October 1, 2013, 02:22 PM
As long as you can get the muzzle in contact with either an eye or an ear, they work pretty good. Had one in .22WMR as a deep BUG when I was a LEO. Absolutely a contact weapon.

October 1, 2013, 03:11 PM
This thread should have died many times. Please start a new thread - with a THR language appropriate title - if you wish to discuss the merits of derringers.

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