The NAA Ranger II

Updating Old-Time Innovation
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NAA’s Ranger — deep cover backup in .22 WMR. The weight is a minuscule 6.9 oz.

As I write this, in my pocket resides a tiny, solid-frame, 5-shot, spur-trigger revolver from North American Arms. It’s their updated version of an antique design and I know several police officers who consider it the ultimate backup carry piece.

Backstory

Back in 2011, North American decided to revitalize the classic top-break revolver. The original T-type barrel latch was redesigned to make it stronger and more secure but its operation was much the same — lift up to open. The ejector was also like the old ones, rising to push the cases out, then snapping back in as opening was completed.

For NAA the introduction of the first Ranger was sort of a question — would gun people like to have something like this? To find out, they made about 500 units. For the next few years they evaluated sales and user comments.

Then in late 2017 they announced the Ranger II which incorporated several important differences, the main one being the latch for the barrel/cylinder unit. There were no problems with the lift-up latch, but like the antique versions, it was sometimes a little awkward to operate — so NAA designers went back in time, to around 1874.

Handgun-specific loads — like Speer’s .22 WMR — are the most efficient from the Ranger II’s 1.63" barrel.

The Schofield Touch

Around this time U.S. Army Col. George Schofield also found the lift-up latch to be a problem, especially on horseback. So he designed one which pivoted on the frame and could be thumbed straight rearward to release. Smith & Wesson liked it and so did the Army.

From 1875 to 1877 it was a feature on the .45 S&W Number 3. Although strength was not an issue, the Schofield latch is stronger, engaging a solid projection on the barrel/cylinder unit. On NAA’s Ranger II, it’s also more secure, as the hammer bears on the latch in the fired position. To open, you must set the hammer on the first step to clear the latch.

The first notch, however, is not a safe fully loaded carrying position. For worry-free carry, you ease the hammer all the way down and put its nose into one of the notches in the rear edge of the cylinder between the chambers. With the hammer so secured, no impact could cause it to fire.

Another important change in the Ranger II is the ejector system. At the end of the opening arc, it does not snap back but continues to keep those long .22 WMR cases elevated for easy removal. This was a smart move — with the barrel/cylinder assembly tipped slightly rearward, the ejector just retreats for loading.

When partially opened, the ejector does not emerge.

Sighting and Shooting

For a small revolver of this type, the sights are very simple. The front is a brass post with a rounded top, and the rear is a square notch in the top of the barrel latch. An accurate reading with a pull gauge is difficult with a spur-type trigger. My experienced finger says it’s about 5 lbs. with a clean let-off.

Test-firing this elegant little beauty was, in one way, surprising. Standing, with a two-hand hold, it did 4-5" groups at 7 and 15 yards, all in the middle of the target. The .22 WMR ammo was from Speer, a load made for handguns. If you use the rifle stuff, you’ll get a huge muzzle flash and some velocity loss.

Like all the micro revolvers from NAA, the weight and dimensions of the Ranger II qualify it for deep-pocket backup carry. Empty, it weighs only 6.9 oz. Length is 5.16", height is 2.81" and width is 1.06". Barrel length is 1.63". Since it’s a tiny revolver with no triggerguard, some of those figures don’t really indicate how small it really is.

An extra cylinder is available in .22 Long Rifle but it must be ordered with the Ranger II as it has to be fitted to each gun. If you want the extra cylinder, the suggested retail price is $574. Alone — in .22 WMR — the MSRP is $479. If you shop around you can often find lower prices. Either way, for this level of precision manufacturing, it’s a bargain.

https://www.northamericanarms.com

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