Shooting the North American Arms Revolver
The NAA Mini Revolver in the palm of my hand with 5 potent .22 Magnum rounds. Photo credit: Terril Hebert
Every once in a while a gun enthusiasts comes across a weapon that is just plain cute. That is something I have always thought of North American Arm’s mini revolvers. I never considered them to be a novelty but a true hideaway defensivett weapon. So I dropped $200 for their base model in 22 Magnum.
North American Arms have been making dandy little pocket revolvers for quite some time and they never cease to amaze me. Their guns run the gamut from miniscule 22 Short revolvers to target sighted longer barreled guns in 22 LR and 22 Magnum. Some come with holster grips, plain wood grips, oversized grips, lasers, conversion cylinders, and quirky little bayonets. Besides the basic solid frame model, break top revolvers and swing out hand ejector models are also made too.
My NAA Mini revolver is chambered in 22 Magnum. It features a 1 1/8 inch barrel with a 5 inch overall length with a weight of just 4.2 ounces. This easily beats other small defensive guns like airweight double action revolvers and small polymer auto pistols that weigh 11 ounces at their lightest. This makes for a small, lightweight gun that you are prone to actually taking with you. Despite its size, its a solid gun with nice rosewood grips and a stainless steel construction throughout.
The NAA Mini gets away with so little weight and bulk by its single action mechanism that does not need a trigger guard for safety and it chambers small .22 caliber rounds instead of a bigger cartridge. NAA also eliminates weight on their base model revolver by doing without an ejection system.
Impressions and Shooting
In my mind the NAA Mini revolver is a bit of a mixed bag. Because the gun lacks a true extraction system loading and unloading is a bit of a chore.
Loading the NAA Mini
1) Pull the hammer back slightly until it clicks. This is the half cock and it allows for the cylinder to turn freely.
2) Press on the spring loaded button on the cylinder rod below the barrel and pull the rod out.
3) Remove the cylinder from the gun and insert your rounds.
4) Replace your cylinder into the frame and reinsert the cylinder pin.
5) Cock the hammer and gently lower it. Then raise the hammer slightly and index the cylinder to one of the safety notches in between the loaded chambers so you can safely carry the gun fully loaded.
When you are ready to deploy the pistol for shooting you must cock the hammer to the rear before pressing the exposed spur style trigger. Once you have fired all your rounds you will have to half cock the gun, pull the cylinder pin out again and poke the empty shells out the cylinder using the pin before reloading. I do not recommend dry firing this firearm as you can break the hammer spring by doing so repeatedly.
As for trigger time the NAA Mini revolver performs surprisingly well. But even in terms of shooting there are limitations. The standard grip can be grasped by your index finger and the top of your middle finger but no more. This makes it awkward to wield and it exaggerates the gun’s recoil when you fire it. You can solve this by using a larger grip but this adds bulk and partially defeats the purpose of having such a tiny gun in the first place. Once you get used to the grip you can deploy the gun rather quickly. The single action design makes the gun slower to fire rapid shots but it keeps the gun small. The hammer is easy to cock and stay on target, especially two handed. The trigger breaks at a crisp 2.5 pounds. The sights are small and fixed but they are easy to pick up well and useful. They consists of a milled groove on the frame and a front blade sight that will not pose a problem when drawing.
Despite the 22 Magnum chambering the revolver jumps up in the hand when you fire but that has more to do with the lack of a grip than the round you are firing. The basic NAA Mini revolvers are available in 22 Short, 22 LR, and 22 Magnum. Despite that the 22 Short was designed for pocket pistol defense long ago, it really isn’t useful for the task. The 22 LR has a long track record as a defensive round despite not being designed for it. The more powerful 22 Magnum is best left in rifles and does not enjoy its power in short barreled handguns but it has a slight edge over the 22 LR in power, bullet construction, and reliability.
The NAA Mini has a reputation among enthusiasts as a belly gun to stop an assailant when he or she is right on you. But actually taking it to the range shows the NAA can work at a distance too. I was able to print groups of about four inches at both seven and ten yards using CCI 40 grain FMJ ammunition. That is very impressive to say the least but I was unable to make contact on the target at twenty five yards.
The NAA Mini Revolver was never designed as a range gun but a gun that is small and lightweight. This means you are more likely to carry it and therefore have it when trouble comes. For the price of $200 it is more reliable than a lot of pocket automatics on the market and even lighter. There are many myths about the underpowered and inaccurate nature of the Mini but they are all overstated in my experience by people who have never shot one. The NAA Mini will do the job if you do your job.