Handguns > Historical

The Bond Arms Derringers

Bond releases its smallest big-bore derringers yet, and gives the Defender a patriotic twist.


In the late 19th Century, American gunsmith Henry Deringer invented and became famous for some of the most commercially successful pocket guns of all time. His products did so well that his name, eventually misspelled as “derringer,” became synonymous with any pocket-size single- or double-barrel pistol. Perhaps the most famous double-barrel cartridge loading pistol to receive the derringer moniker is the Remington Model 95.

Remington's compact two-shot over-under pistol was available from 1866 to 1935. It's the same little gun that's so often seen jumping out of boots and vest pockets when cowboys and card sharks just can't get along at saloon card tables in the classic Old West movies. Bond Arms of Granbury, Texas, has taken this venerable 19th century pistol and redesigned it for 21st century concealed carry, resulting in one of the most compact and powerful pocket pistols available.

Pistol Features
First and foremost, Bond pistols are strong. Unlike some modern derringers, with frames made of an unidentifiable lightweight alloy, Bond frames and barrels are built like Army tanks from nothing but sturdy stainless steel. The sight system consists of a fixed-blade front sight, and a notched rear sight. The trigger is single-action only, meaning that the hammer has to be manually cocked for each shot. The grip is a rounded bird’s head shape providing a two-finger grip when fitted with standard grip panels. The pistol frames are available with or without a removable trigger guard. The swing-up barrels for these pistols are fitted with a shell ejector for rimmed cartridges or a notched chamber opening for rimless semi-auto cartridges.

An important part of the Bond re-design is the incorporation of modern safety features. The original Remington 95 had no safeties, except for a half-cock position for the hammer. The Bond firing mechanism features a rebounding hammer design. Each time the gun is fired, the hammer rebounds and locks in a half-cock position away from the frame. This means the hammer never rests against the firing pins. A push-button, cross-bolt safety, commonly found on rifle and shotgun triggers, can block the hammer from striking the firing pins even if the pistol is fully cocked and the trigger is pressed. The third safety to note is, simply stated, a hook on the trigger that locks the barrel release lever into the closed position as the pistol is fired. This prevents the barrel release lever, if accidentally bumped by the shooter’s thumb as the pistol recoils, from popping the barrels open as the pistol fires. This is a patented safety feature not available on other Remington 95-based handguns.

Bond Arms pistols were modular before modular guns became all the rage. All Bond barrels, pistol frames and grip panels are interchangeable. This allows any frame to switch caliber, barrel length or grip size. The turn of a screw will change the grip panels from the standard two-finger grip to a three-finger extended grip or even a hand-filling jumbo grip. With the use of an Allen wrench, the barrel hinge pin can be quickly removed to install barrels in assorted lengths and calibers. Among the most popular barrels are the .45 Colt/.410 Defender and Snake Slayer models that allow the use of 2 1/2 or 3-inch .410 shot shells. However, a variety of calibers are available—from rimfire rounds like the .22 Long Rifle and .22 Mag., to popular semi-auto loads like the 9 mm and .40 S&W and potent pistol cartridges like the 10 mm, .357 Mag. and .45 Colt.

At the Range
For this shooting session, three new guns from the Bond Arms 2012 catalogue were tested. The first two are the new Mini models. Both pistols use the cowboy-style frame with no trigger guard and the brand new 2 1/2-inch Mini barrels. The Mini features a .45 Colt only barrel and an engraved rosewood grip. The Bond Girl Mini is fitted with a .38 Spl./.357 Mag. barrel and a Bond Girl pink synthetic pearl grip. The third pistol in the test set is the new USA Defender featuring a 3-inch .45 Colt/.410 barrel, a removable trigger guard and an engraved extended rosewood grip. All three guns showed an excellent level of fit and finish, and they all fired a variety of ammunition without any malfunctions.

Two things are important to note before moving on. First, derringers never have been, nor will they ever be, long-range defensive handguns. Like many other sub-sub compact pistols, these derringers are designed to be easily concealed at the sacrifice of some shootability. Bond Arms compensates for the reduced range, and also the two-shot capacity, of its pistols by chambering them for powerful defensive calibers.

Secondly, the over-under derringer design requires some adjustments in sighting technique. The sights are fixed, but the two barrels shoot to different points of aim. For example, if the shot fired from the first barrel hits the center of the target when the sight blade is level with the rear notch, then the second barrel is likely to shoot 2 or 3 inches low using the same sight picture.

As a result, the shooter is left with two sighting options. One is to practice adjusting the sight picture by raising the front sight up a bit for the low barrel shot in order to bring it up to the same strike point as the first barrel. The other choice is to practice for acceptable combat accuracy with a fixed sight picture, making sure both shots are within an acceptable strike zone on the target.

I tried both sighting methods and found either one will produce acceptable combat accuracy at 7 yards. Adjusting the sight picture of the stubby 2.5-inch Mini barrels produced 2- to 3.5-inch groups when 10 rounds were fired at the same spot on the target. Using a fixed sight picture produced 2-inch wide groups with a 5- to 6-inch vertical spread when 10 shots were fired at 7 yards. Again, not target competition accuracy, but dependable for combat-accurate center-of-mass shots.

Along with testing for accuracy, considering the pistols' size and chamberings, it seemed sensible to pay attention to the level of felt recoil produced by various loads. The Bond Girl Mini, chambered to shoot .38 Spl. or .357 Mag., produced a very manageable level of recoil when firing the new HPR .38 Spl. 158-grain jacketed hollow points. Federal's .38 Spl. 125-grain +P Hydra-Shoks were also comfortable to work with. Winchester's .357 Mag. 110-grain jacketed hollow points were fun to shoot. The noise and flash from the snubby barrel caught other shooters’ attention, but the stout recoil was still manageable. Out of curiosity, I tried some heavier loads as well. For example, one of the best all-purpose loads for handguns and rifles is the Hornady 140-grain FTX LeveRevolution. Four rounds of this potent load left my shooting hand begging for mercy, as did other loads at or above the 125-grain mark.

For the .45 Colt-Only Mini, I tried out a variety of the modern self-defense hollow points currently available. The rounds that produced the best balance of effective bullet design and manageable recoil were the DoubleTap 160-grain Barnes Tac-X hollow point, the Hornady 185-grain Critical Defense FTX and the Winchester 225-grain PDX1 jacketed hollow points. All three loads produced 7-yard, five-shot groups with an average size of 3 inches, but the DoubleTap was the most pleasant to shoot because it produced the lowest level of felt recoil.

When it came time to work with the USA Defender, I reached for a variety of 2 1/2-inch .410 shot shells. The longer grip with the trigger guard worked together to help tame the recoil of this pistol. It's interesting to note that the recoil produced by a 2 1/2-inch .410 shell loaded with shot pellets of one kind or another is usually less intense than the recoil of.45 Colt loads from the same barrel. It's still stout, but not as intense.

With a shot shell loaded in the USA Defender's 3-inch barrel, only about 1/2 of an inch of barrel is left past the shell's crimp. As a result, shot pellets spread very quickly when fired from this derringer. Test shells were fired into 12x18-inch targets set at 10 feet. Federal Premium's .410 Handgun shell, loaded with No. 4 Birdshot, covered the entire target, with only 41 percent of the shot striking the target itself. Remington's HD 4-Pellet 000 Buckshot produced 5-inch groups at this distance. When loaded with the Winchester PDX1 .410 shells, the USA Defender produced a best-of-both-worlds result. The three defense disks (essentially pre-flattened buckshot pellets) formed 2-inch groups on the bullseye, with the 12 BB-sized pellets spreading out to cover the rest of the target.

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18 Responses to The Bond Arms Derringers

Garrett Chrane wrote:
December 06, 2014

How do I be sure I,m buying the new u.s.a. Defender with removable trigger guard

Hans Krugger wrote:
March 22, 2014

I just bought a USA Defender. I have to carry in my work and have traditionally packed a Cold 1991A1 (1911). However I changed to a Bond USA Defender as its easier to carry and it uses shot shells. Its going to be a better bet for me to shoot a bad guy in the face with a shot shell than nail him with a 45. I replaced the BAD cross-draw holster with a shoulder holster (Nedlon Enterprises - E-bay). The holster carries 6 extra shells on the right side - great for a quick re-load. So far, I am really pleased with the gun. Its a SOLID piece of work and its size is concealable, but still large enough you can grip it properly. As a bonus, shot shells are easier to get than centerfires these days.

alan wrote:
April 18, 2013

id like to buy just the 45/410 barrel in the 4"+ length. help!

Jeff wrote:
March 09, 2013

Just picked up the .44 mag, I'll tell ya the .44 specials are MILD compared to the mag, what a whallup, it is like a freaking hand cannon! Very well made BTW

Bud Wood wrote:
November 24, 2012

I use a BlackHawk Inside-the-Pocket Size 3 holster for my USA Defender when I want to conceal. It cost $10.95 at my local gun shop and fits nicely in my front pocket. If I want to open carry, the BAD holster is awesome. Incidentally, the USA Defender came with a right-handed BAD holster, but I am left-handed. I sent an email asking to exchange the holster for a left-handed one. Got a reply back in an hour authorizing the exchange and got the holster within a week. AWESOME Service and MUCH Appreciated.

tda1000 wrote:
June 08, 2012

Bond Arms Derringer in each boot, the worlds best deep carry / backup guns! Just got two 45 LC 2.5' barrels for use with Lehigh Defense multiple projectile rounds...wow! Imagine only the discs from the PDX round without all those pesky random buckshot, 5 discs to be exact and all in the super compact 2.5' barrel, now that's some compact and effective close range firepower!

Thomas P Gleason wrote:
June 05, 2012

I would like to buy a Snake Slayer iv,but ican't find one.I would like 22 mag, or 38spl.

steve m wrote:
April 29, 2012

can someone explain to me why I can't purchase a Bond Arms derringer in Massachusetts? I don't get it. Can I purchase one used by any chance? Thanks

The Bond Arms Girl wrote:
February 27, 2012

Hello wanted to introduce myself My name is Amy Graves, I am " A Bond Arms Girl " I am now apart of the Bond Arms Team - Fan first :) But was looking up some things on Bond Arms and found a link that you guys posted. Check my stuff out when you have time and I am sure you will see me poppin up all over the place HUGE GUN LOVER Completely Girl Powered and Most importantly THE BOND ARMS GIRL :) facebook.com/imabondarmsgirl

JustBob wrote:
February 03, 2012

I have owned my Snakeslayer 4 now for two years and I have it with me always. It is my backup gun. The 4" barrel allows for slightly longer range, but not much longer. Shooting the mixed payload 410 gives me very balanced shot grouping with the the first of the three pellets impacting close to the point of aim and the others to one side and the rest of the buckshot covering the target. The snakeslayer has the removeable trigger guard and I believe that helps with recoil control immensely. I have tried it without the guard and don't feel nearly secure enough, so it went back on. I have two other barrels and as the review states, they are quickly changed. The Snakeslayer will always be my backup gun. Love it.

Z-man wrote:
January 29, 2012

I have owned a Bond Arms Derringer for about 9 years now, and will never be without one. I Purchased the Cowboy defender for me its an easier trigger pull without the gaurd. I suggest the 3 finger extended grip. I purchased the .45acp 3" barrel along with the 45LC/.410 3" barrel plus the BMT holster. I just recently purchased the 45LC/.410 3.5" barrel for a little more barrel when shooting the 2 1/2" .410 shell and the capability to shoot the 3" .410 shells. I also found the need for and purchased the BAD driving holster both are great holsters depending on your application. Like most of us I purchased the 45LC/.410 for the shot gun application but it's nice to be able to chamber a 45LC in certain situations. I never go on a hunting or remote fishing trip without it. Then I load it accordingly. Play with your loads see what you like best, some loads are way more effective then others in different situations. Like snake loads I use 4 or 6 shot. Attacking fur bearing critters 000 buck! And lets don't forget the defense load. I agree with G-man the .45 acp is a fantastic barrel, I will hit dead center at 30 feet and 2" groups consistantly with a 3" barrel. Pretty accurate barrel with practice due to the rifling. The barrel is rifled 3/4 of the way. The LC is only rifed about a 1/4 of an inch. As we all know 45LC is an expensive round, the .45acp is much easier on the pocket book. Be safe and enjoy your Derringers.

thedanc wrote:
January 19, 2012

Speaking of youtube and a followup to my previous post, I did just see exhibition shooter Bob Munden hit a balloon with a Bond derringer from 65yds away. That was with the tiny grip AND 250gr 45LC. His grip is quite worn from practice. I don't think that I'll ever be able to do that, but it is cool to know that it is possible.

John Myers wrote:
January 14, 2012

I bought a Bond Arms Cowboy ... 3 inch barrel with no trigger guard, a while back ... and I love it. Bond Arms offers a variety of custom fit holsters ... and whether it be a holster or a barrel ... their "return it for any reason" policy shows their confidence in the quality of their products. I requested a pocket holster, made in reverse ... smooth side in- rough side out ... so the holster would remain in my pocket and the gun would slide out easily. The immediate response was "No problem" ... and it works like a dream!. If I didn't think the gun was perfect for it's designated purpose(s) ... I recently saw a video on You-Tube of people shooting sporting clays with a Bond Arms derringer ... and they were hitting their targets repeatedly! This is one fine product made from folks who have the utmost confidence in their firearm ... for very good reasons!

Ed Wenrich wrote:
January 13, 2012

Great little gun with lot's of options!! Sinful, Ifya don't trust yourself with a Dremel, a gunsmith will reshape that spur quickly and inexpensively.

thedanc wrote:
January 13, 2012

I've got the Cowboy Defender with the C2K 3.5" 45/410 barrel and then I also bought the 22LR, 38sp/357M, and 4.25" SnakeSlayer barrels. Fit/Finish is certainly top notch, but I'll have to try the ammo suggested here to tighten my shot groups. Yes, this is no sniper gun, but I simply cannot hit a chest sized target at 20 feet with the 45LC (240gr was all that I found and the recoil was insane). The grip is tiny and there is no recoil spring or other amenities that larger semi-autos have. On the other hand, the 38sp is VERY pleasant and controllable. The 22LR barrel is HEAVY because it has the same external dimensions as the 45/410, but with tiny bore for the .22. With the .22LR the sights are actually useful because there is really no recoil at all. This is certainly NOT the best choice for taking to a gunfight, but then again I always avoid gunfights. I like mine because it is completely concealable in my front pocket and is therefore 1)Way better than a pointed stick and 2)Way better than the gun I left at home because it was too big and heavy to carry.

gerhard van rooyen wrote:
January 12, 2012

Very nice

Gman wrote:
January 12, 2012

Hey Jones, try a DeSantis Nemesis or Super Fly for a S&W J frame. My Tx Defender fits perfect in them. Then try carrying the gun in your front pocket. It works well for me. Thats how I carry mine, if not, in the Bonds driving holster. I have the right handed side and carry it with the hand grip up in the small of my back. Real good conceallment for the winter time and easy to take the holster on and off without undoing your belt. I love mine. I have several extra barrels I purchased. 357mag., .44 spl., and .45ACP and 9mm. I usually keep it bolted with the .45ACP. One of the best carry weapon on the market. Gordon Bond is a great guy to get to know and work with over there. Good people there in Grandbury, Texas.

Sinful Jones wrote:
January 12, 2012

The only problem I have with my Texas Defender is that the hammer spur cuts through my back pockets on my jeans. I wonder if they could design a Colt Commander type hammer that would be a drop in retro fit so that it would take off the sharp edges???