The North American Mini Revolver may be somewhere outside of the realm of guns we usually think of as snubnose revolvers, but it is a short barreled, compact revolver, and it performs many of the same functions we associate with snubnoses: it is very concealable and easy to carry, and it is a dedicated self-defense pistol.
The revolver under examination here is the NAA .22 Long Rifle with the 1 1/8 barrel. The NAA Mini Revolvers are made in .17 WMR, .22 Short, .22 Long Rifle, and .22 Magnum, and all except the .22 short are offered in several barrel lengths. This pistol is 4″ long, stem to stern, and weighs 4.5 ounces. It is built with very high production values. Its almost like a piece of jewelry. While these little guns may look like toys, they are solidly built and enjoy a reputation for superb reliability and function.
The NAA Mini Revolver is a single action revolver. You have to thumb-cock the hammer to fire it. It actually reminds me a lot of the single action revolvers produced by Smith & Wesson in the 1850s. The difference is that the old Smith & Wessons had tip-up barrels whereas the NAA is a solid frame. The NAA is reloaded by removing the cylinder pin and the cylinder. There are no speedloaders for it. Its good for five rounds; then its a paperweight. The cylinder chambers are recessed so that the primer rims are not exposed to impact. It is carried with the hammer down in safety notches between the chambers in the cylinder. It should not be carried either at half-cock or with the hammer down on a loaded chamber.
Few handguns are the subject of more heated controversy than these tiny revolvers. Some disparage them as simply too small and too inaccurate to serve as legitimate self-defense weapons. Others swear by them as their all the time gun that can go anywhere all the time and remain undetectable where larger guns would be a problem. Much of this comes down to an individuals philosophy about personal defense weapons. It is estimated that in approximately 92% of firearms self-defense situations, no shots are fired; the appearance of the gun is enough to stop the action. If no shots are fired, a .22 is as good as a .45 and a whole lot lighter. If, on the other hand, your world-view includes a high probability of running gun battles with multiple armed assailants, the Mini Revolver would certainly not be the appropriate armament. But pray that never happens regardless of what you are carrying.
Heres how you have to think about them in my opinion: yes, theyre really too small for a gunfight. .38 Special or bigger is really what you want. However, something is better than nothing, and I have yet to run into someone who really wants to be shot with anything. A little gun like this can be concealed in ways that few others can. For example, you dont need a leg holster with one of these; you can just put it in the top of a tube sock and it will stay put. Many folks work in situations in which their mode of dress is prescribed by their employment, and it may not leave many options for concealing a handgun. For those people, this type of gun works well. Other folks who consider extremely deep concealment of paramount importance could find the mini revolver attractive.
Range Testing: The Mini Revolver actually shoots better than I expected it to. It is capable of decent accuracy at reasonable ranges. I shot it mostly at three and five yards. Seven yards seemed a bit far for practical applications of the gun, but you can get hits at that range with some practice. I had trouble seeing the sights over the web of my hand. The gun is just so small. The key to using one of these is to get a firm grip on the tiny birds head grip. Otherwise, the gun tends to flip up when fired. If there was recoil, I didnt notice it. I did observe some key-holing of rounds that struck the paper off of exact perpendicular. But this would actually cause more damage to an bad-guy. It takes a bit of getting used to the very small grip and frame, and the thumb-cocking, but these things did no present serious obstacles. But if you plan on carrying this gun….practice a lot. At least the ammo is cheap.
Tactics: If you told me I was going to a gunfight, this would not be the first or even the second gun I would grab. These are not combat firearms. Instead, they belong to that class of appear out of nowhere and change the dynamics of the situation guns. But, for the sake of discussion, let’s assume that one has decided that the Mini Revolver is the choice for a deep concealment handgun. The diminutive size and concealment possibilities have outweighed the problems of limited firepower, accuracy and terminal ballistics. The reliability of the revolver is chosen over the complexity and possible reliability problems of a small pocket auto. Accepting these assumptions as givens, how is the best way to use the tiny revolver?
If you didnt have to fire it at all, that would be great. If just by drawing, you accomplished the change of behavior you desired it could be a real plus, but you cant count on that. You have to be ready to fire if you draw the gun. If you fire, it will need to be at fairly close range, 3-5 yards, because you will need to hit soft, vital zones. It should be assumed that hits to fleshy areas or bone will not result in rapid incapacitation. Nevertheless, we may reasonably expect that someone peppered about the face, chest or groin with .22 LR might very well decide to retreat, or be stunned long enough for you to escape the immediate area.
Out of this gun, the best .22 LR runs at about 830 feet per second, which is comparable to the speed of .45 hardball and standard .38 Special. Thats nothing to sneeze at for such a tiny gun, but its no proton torpedo. Its a pretty small bullet and therefore does not develop a lot of energy. That is not to say they arent dangerous and potentially lethal. They are. They arent toys.
I have often heard these tiny revolvers referred to a niche guns, meaning that they fill a particular niche, that being a gun for those times when anything larger could be a liability, and the trade-off between power and size is justified by the circumstances. Thats a pretty good description. It is surprising to find out how many people have made that choice, and carry the Mini Revolver all the time.
If I were to carry this gun as my form of self-defense, it would only be because I was wearing something that wasn’t conducive to carrying my Kel-Tec P3AT, or Kel-Tec PF9.
- Caliber: .22 Long Rifle
- Capacity: 5
- Material: 17-4 pH stainless steel
- Barrel Length: 1 1/8″
- Overall Length: 4″
- Overall Height: 2 3/8″
- Width: 13/16″
- Weight: 4.5 oz. unloaded