North American Arms Mini Revolvers

A Fistful Of Convenient Thunder
; .

Brent’s diminutive North American Arms 22MS-TW gives him five rounds of .22 Magnum to solve
any of life’s really ugly problems in a package you can hide in the palm of your hand.

I like dynamite that arrives in small packages — my beloved spouse, for example. Another great example would be North American Arms (NAA) mini-revolvers.

If you’re not intimately familiar with NAA guns, they are tiny 5-shot single-action revolvers literally small enough to hide in the palm of your hand. The company does make a semi-auto pistol in .32 and .380, along with some longer-barrel specialized mini-revolvers, but their bread and butter are the petite versions in .22 Short, .22 Long and .22 Magnum.


The popular .22 LR and .22 Magnum models are just over 5” long, under 3” tall, weigh a shade over 7 ounces and sport a “massive” 1.63” barrel, making the gun one of the most diminutive “regular” firearms available. The .22 Short-only version is even more minuscule; at 4” in overall length, it’s smaller than your garden-variety hamster.

The design of these darling blasters dates back to the late 1970s when Dick Casull and Wayne Baker teamed up to form Freedom Arms. The basic design has stayed the same over the years until sold to North American Arms in the 1990s (NAA was originally founded as Rocky Mountain Arms in 1972). The employee-owned company continues today from its base in Provo, Utah.

NAA mini-revolvers are available in nearly 100 variations, plus custom features. The NAA Pug, shown here in a case-hardened finish,
has a full-length barrel shroud and XS Big Dot Sights.

NAA mini-revolvers are single-action and feature a spur trigger with no trigger guard, a pronounced hammer spur for sure cocking and a fixed front sight. The birds-head grip is available with a variety of panels ; I’m partial to the stippled rubber version. The five-shot cylinder completely removes from the frame, just like a cap-and-ball revolver for loading, and actually, the revolvers were obviously inspired by the cheap “Suicide Specials” from the late 1800s. The cylinder also has notches between each cylinder for lodging the hammer to serve as a safety mechanism.

Unlike their long-ago doppelgängers, the build quality of NAA guns is top-notch, and they offer lock-up and mechanical operation on par with any larger mainstream handgun. These are NOT toys or cheap “This is all I could afford”-pistols. The revolvers are made from stainless though you can get a few different finishes and there are also many more versions than I have space to enumerate. If you want a longer barrel, porting, tritium sights, Marble Arms Fixed Sights, a vent rib and many other options, NAA will accommodate you.

By comparison, the Springfield Armory Hellcat — itself a very modest-sized 9mm — seems enormous alongside the NAA-22MS.
Brent doesn’t recommend the NAA as a replacement for a nine, but it certainly makes a viable backup.


Riding the Range Time

Let’s be honest — these guns aren’t all that fun to shoot once you get past the novelty of size. They’re a bit slow and fumbly to load, the fixed sights on a sub 2” barrel are adequate at best, and the recoil in .22 Mag can be a bit snappy, but these aren’t guns intended for a day at the range or for plinking at 25 yards. They’re made to be carried — often — and used in extreme circumstances.

To me, therein lies their charm. They may look cute, but in actuality, they are a deadly serious tool.

Brent’s normal daily pocket load-out: a well-worn Streamlight Microstream USB flashlight, a Benchmade pocket knife
and a North American Arms .22 Magnum. It’s like having a rocket in your pocket!

In my case, a NAA-22MS-TW in .22 Mag rides in my pocket nearly as often as a knife and flashlight. I have a leather clip holster so I can carry it along my waistline if desired and a molded Kydex holster that can be worn in a variety of ways and places. I don’t do it, but I know folks who wear them around their neck as a pendant, use them as a belt buckle or carry them in some places I shouldn’t describe in a family magazine.

Fortunately, my needs don’t require going to such lengths to hide a gun — but you can with an NAA revolver.

One of the best concealment methods I ever saw was by an old captain of my former police agency. He didn’t smoke but carried one of these tiny shooters in a pack of cigarettes every day. He was concerned about being taken hostage but figured if somebody ever got the drop on him, he could ask for a “one last smoke” and unveil a devastating little surprise.

This sleight-of-hand concealability is why I love NAA revolvers. They’re certainly not my primary “go-to guns” by any stretch of the imagination, but as a backup or hideout piece, they are close to perfect.

There are now commercial self-defense loads for the .22 LR and .22 Magnum. While it doesn’t pack the punch of even a .380,
in a pinch it’s far better than a big rock! The guns also digest snake loads well, making them a great option for outdoors enthusiasts.

I’ll be the first to admit the caliber is barely adequate for social purposes, but in this case, I’m not focusing on ft-lbs. or velocity — this is about having choices when you find the chips seriously stacked against you. Granted, I would never volunteer to get shot by a .22 Magnum or even the teeny .22 Short, but hopefully, everyone can agree there are better “manstoppers” in the world. However, when then the choices are A) No Gun (because of loss, mechanical failure, out of ammo, or need to maintain a deep level of firearms concealment) or B) Having A Gun (even a teeny-tiny one), I’ll always take Option B.

My “main” guns are usually of the 9mm or .45 ACP flavor, and sometimes I’ll even add a second 9mm as a backup on the time-tested principle of “Two in one, one is none.” However, I’m not usually in these high-risk situations anymore and, in fact, try to avoid them like the plague. When you add in the fact I always have extra guns stashed in my bags, truck and garbage disposal (I think), I generally don’t feel a compelling need to carry two “main” guns at all times. I certainly don’t miss the attendant pain and inconvenience, something I know well from my cop shop days.


However, if I still want to carry a primary and a backup — which I highly recommend — it’s pretty easy to add the NAA to your kit. Is it the perfect solution if I’m tangling with a nest of terrorists or a passel of homicidal dope fiends? Nope, but I probably won’t face such entanglements anytime soon. Heck, for that matter, I probably won’t use my main gun in the foreseeable future, but if I must, and it breaks, with the NAA, I’ve got — now let’s sing the chorus in unison — an emergency backup. My Plan B inspires confidence because if I ever need it, it probably won’t be sitting in the gun safe at home because it’s a pain in the you-know-what to carry!

And this is why I love my NAA mini-revolvers: I can have my cake (the comfort and convenience of not carrying a second full-sized pistol) and eat it too (yet still having a secondary weapon in case of major “Oh Dammit!”).

The NAA mini revolvers aren’t toys or a cheap “Saturday Night Special,” but a high-quality firearm for self-defense purposes.
Want a custom serial number? NAA can do that too!

All firearms are a matter of compromises, and the North American Arms mini-revolvers are a great example of meeting in the middle — quality, convenience and utility you can depend upon in a package even a hamster could tote!

MSRP: Starting around $255

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