Handguns > Revolver

North American Arms Mini Revolvers

NAA's line of miniature wheelguns provides a variety of truly tiny concealed-carry options.

3/24/2011

Most handguns are an exercise in compromise. The size, caliber and features are carefully measured out against the needs of the shooter. As a result, a wide variety of pistols are available for hunting, target shooting and self-defense. Some handguns, however, are an exercise in the extremes. These days the word "extreme" triggers thoughts of heavily framed hand cannons like the Desert Eagle .50 AE and Smith & Wesson .500. But there is another extreme in the spectrum, where the goal is to strip away excess size and weight to produce the smallest reliable handgun possible. It's here you'll find the North American Arms series of Mini Revolvers.

Now, before anyone starts reading me the riot act about .22 caliber handguns not providing the same level of stopping power as medium and big bore handguns, I am going to agree. Larger calibers offer more stopping power. But the primary goal of the Mini revolver design is not power, but presence. In other words, when an unexpected threat arrives, a mini revolver in the pocket trumps two .45s at home. Thousands of these diminutive revolvers are regularly employed by folks who choose to go armed, but, for whatever reason, need a handgun that is smaller than most.

I had my first opportunity to handle and shoot a North American Arms Mini years ago at a gun shop near my home. When I asked my friend at the counter to show me the Mini, I was first intrigued by its size, and then its quality. Even though it was small and affordably priced, it was sturdy and well crafted. I was very interested to see how the little gun would handle. Since this particular revolver was used, the shop manager said I was welcome to take the Mini for a quick spin on their indoor shooting range.

Like all quick spins with a quality machine, the range session was far too short. I had to give the Mini back that day, but when I had the money, I went back and bought one for myself. My early experiences with shooting Mini revolvers, and in shooting a variety of models since, have all proven to be pleasantly consistent. The quality of these revolvers is evident in their appearance and function. North American Arms' frames are light, but solidly built. The stainless-steel construction is ideal for concealed carry. The hammers feel smooth and steady as they are pulled back, and they lock firmly in place when fully cocked. The only problem I have encountered with the Minis is a rare failure to fire, but these failures were caused by the use of predictably unpredictable inexpensive bulk .22 Long Rifle ammunition.

With all of these positive qualities in mind, I need to mention that Mini Revolvers do take some getting used to. Moving from one model of handgun to another requires adjustments in grip, sight alignment and trigger control. Whether these changes are subtle or pronounced depends on the differences between the guns being fired. In my shooting experience, no other handgun is quite like a Mini, so it's helpful to have a better understanding of what to expect.

Full-size pistol grips provide space to rest the middle, ring and pinkie fingers of the shooting hand, or a three-finger grip. Compact grips tend to shave off the length that would support the pinkie, making them two-finger grips. The .22 Short and .22 Long Rifle Mini Revolvers have what I would call a one-finger grip, providing just enough room for the middle finger to wrap around completely. The .22 Mag. frames provide a longer, thicker grip profile, but they are more of a one-and-a-half-finger grip than a true two-finger grip.

Because the recoil of Mini Revolvers is mild, even with hopped-up .22 Mag. loads, it's easy to hold on to the abbreviated grip frames. Curling the ring and pinkie fingers under the middle finger creates a platform for the butt of the grip to rest on, which in turn improves control. If you find you need a little more to hold on to than your grip panels provide, North American Arms provides a variety of grip shapes and sizes you can try.

The next adjustment to make is for sight alignment. Full-size and compact pistols sit higher in the shooting hand than the Minis do. Using the top of my shooting hand as a baseline, I measured the height of the sight plane for some of my other handguns. J-Frame revolvers, for example, set the sight plane at about 1.5 inches above my hand. Standard semi-autos and double-action revolvers tend to set the sight plane at 2 inches. When I measured for the Minis, I found the sight plane was almost perfectly level with the top of my hand. This means shooters need to hold their arms up a little higher than they're used to when shooting a Mini, which can feel a little out of place until you get used to it. Personally, even though I can see the front sight is on target, the extra bit of bend in my shooting hand wrist feels like I am pointing the muzzle down toward the ground.

Finally, there is some adjusting to the trigger. The single-action trigger of the Minis is crisp, light, and produces a total travel distance of 1/8th of an inch. Curious to know what the trigger pull is for these revolvers, I tested several models with the Lyman Digital Trigger Gauge from Brownells. The group of triggers I tested averaged out at just 4 pounds 6 ounces. So what is the change in shooting technique? The trigger is a small stud instead of the slender curve common to most handguns. It takes some practice to get a feel for the placement of the pad of the trigger finger on the stud to get the best results.

Learning to shoot North American Arms' Mini Revolvers is well worth the modest amount of practice it takes to get the hang of them. This is especially true if you need an exceptionally small defensive pistol. Beyond filling an important defensive role, these revolvers are fun to shoot. I can count on the Minis to catch the eye of other shooters at the range who invariably stop to learn more about them. The .22 Mag. models can be fitted with a second cylinder chambered in .22 Long Rifle, which makes practice and plinking inexpensive indeed.

These extreme handguns offer what has become a rare commodity these days: quality at a reasonable price. North American Arms provides a wide variety of grips and holsters to complement and customize their Minis. It also provides carry options that are unique to its firearms. The staff is polite and professional, and all firearms come with a no-hassle lifetime warranty. When it comes to finding the right gun for concealed carry, size matters, and the North American Arms Mini Revolvers are smaller than most.

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26 Responses to North American Arms Mini Revolvers

Don Patrick wrote:
May 26, 2014

I absolutely love North American Arms I own a Black Widow 22lr and the Guardian 380 they are my absolute favorites

carlton price wrote:
February 10, 2014

I currently own 6 NAA revolvers. They are well built guns and dependable and I trust them for home defense and personal up close protection tion.

Stephen Elliott smith wrote:
December 18, 2013

I, love NAA they have great service all guns are good, they will repair any problem at no cost good job people.

Barton wrote:
June 10, 2013

Hey I have had mine for several years now and Love this Handgun! I have the 22lr with the older style holster grip! I take it to the range shooting 50ft! I carry as my backup or primary! GREAT GUN!!

Van wrote:
May 23, 2013

They work!

Glenn wrote:
May 14, 2013

Used to have a regular mini and moved up to the Pug last year! I love it...easy to carry, ac urate for defense range and the 22. Mag packs an interesting punch. Last week I bought an Earl and took it to our police range over the weekend. That 4' barrel provides very good accuracy.

gary jamison wrote:
January 20, 2013

i have had the reg. small 22lr mini for several yrs now. it doesn't take long before it actually becomes a part of you and you literally don't feel its presence but you know its there "just in case".

Donald Horvath wrote:
January 20, 2013

I just love my mag revolver! Loved the feel and function of it from the start, but thought it would be difficult if not impossible to qualify it for concealed carry. But it turned out to be easy -- hit 38 of 40 at 7 yeards with 7 dead center bulls eye with 30 grain ammo. 40 grain ammo is more accurate, but their is a kick to it. Recommend the large black handle for much better grip. The knife holster is pretty useless and expensive; holster is not required; bought it for grip size.

Michael wrote:
July 14, 2012

I bought a Black Widow .22 magnum quite some time ago. I fiddled with it and then sent it back thinking something was wrong with it. It was returned in a few days and the next morning the NAA company gunsmith called me at home and we went over the operation of the revolver together. It became apparent that the problem was I had not read the manual as well as I should have. The gun functioned great. Even though it was all my fault the company sent the gun back to me with a spare .22 lr cylinder. They didn't have to but they did. That impressed me so much I bought another of their revolvers... Plan on another soon. I love these guns!

John wrote:
June 18, 2012

I owm a mini master and will be getting my concealed carry permit soon. I'm considering carrying the mini mag in my pocket in pocket holster and keeping my Berrsa thunder in glove box. I've shot the mini master at seven yards and I'm impressed with the quality. One thing I can see how the mini pug or master could be used as a deterrent with the element of surprise. So small, no one would know you have it.

Mack Missiletoe wrote:
May 14, 2012

I want a NAA Earl or Sidewinder in .22WMR. Mainly as a kit gun and for fun. I wouldn't plan on using it for defense except for last resort. I really like the Sidewinder's hand ejector system, but wouldn't mind an old school Earl with long barrel either.

Chris wrote:
March 14, 2012

Dorothy Here is what North American Arms website says about the safety cylinder. I hope this Helps. The Safety Cylinder is a critical part of the gun. We recommend that you practice the following steps to become proficient at using the Safety Cylinder before loading the gun. First: Make sure the gun is unloaded. Second: Make sure the gun is unloaded! Third: Retract the hammer to the point that the cylinder spins freely (about half-way) and keep it retracted. Fourth: Looking through the top/rear of the frame, locate any of the five milled safety slots (those notches on the cylinder between the chambers), and position any slot directly beneath the blade of the hammer (which is still retracted). Fifth: While still retracting the hammer, depress the trigger (and keep it depressed) now allow the hammer to settle into the slot. You can (should) confirm engagement of the hammer in the slot by attempting to rotate the cylinder; if it does rotate, the hammer was not engaged in the slot (repeat the process). Visually confirm, also, by examining the alignment of any chamber with the bore; if a bullet could physically pass from the chamber through the bore, the gun is not 'safe'. In other words, if a chamber is located at 12 o'clock, the gun is not 'safe'; in the 'safe' condition, the upper two chambers are at one and eleven o'clock. 99.9% of the failures are because the trigger was not kept fully depressed while the hammer was being lowered (Step 5). Once you get the hang of it, however, you'll find the process becomes surprisingly easy, quick and natural.

Dorothy wrote:
March 10, 2012

I just bought my .22 mag. I wonder if the hammer can be adjusted? It is a little difficult for me to pull. Also, I can't set the safety. It looks like the hammer just won't go forward enough to engauge the safety site. I haven't taken out to shoot for these reasons. If I can't set the safety I will have to take back where I bought it.

Kevin wrote:
May 11, 2011

I carry a Black Widow everywhere I go. .22 Magnum at close range will ruin somebody's day. I also have the .22lr cylinder that makes this into a fun, cheap plinker or kit gun.

Paul wrote:
April 18, 2011

When buying one of these remember this rule: 22LR is externally lubricated and picks up lots of junk in a pocket. plan on throwing out lots of dirty ammo. 22mag is internally lubricated and does not pick up junk. 22mag makes for a better carry load.

James wrote:
April 07, 2011

I carry a NAA pug. Also carry a charter arms .38 I have shot my pug numerous times at targets from 7 to 10 feet. My pug rides deep in my front pocket of my cargo pants. "I NEVER" go anywhere with out my pug> Great little companion to have.Very well-built revolver.

Tim wrote:
April 01, 2011

I have carried the Mini 22 Mag for a couple of years and forget I am carring it most of the time. Front pocket, back pocket, or coat it doesn't bulg out so no one knows. Have to be close to things to hit them but I have killed three ground hogs and put a deer hit by a car out of its missery when it could not crawl away from me. Had I not been carring it I would not have been able to go and get a gun and come back and get the ground hogs, although the deer was not goig anywhere. I hate to be without it although you have to be close to anything to hit it. It is handy for a lot more than protection

lowballone wrote:
April 01, 2011

I've carried a Blackwidow for about a year. I consider it my back-up carry to my 638. If I have to lose these to the authorities, I've not lost much. I'll keep my Kimber at home.

Neil Cook wrote:
March 31, 2011

Excellent

Kyle wrote:
March 31, 2011

A small 22 mag is exactly what you see, a small gun for up close and personal use. Hitting someone from 5ft is easy, beyond that, don't miss and hit your family cat.

Ken wrote:
March 31, 2011

Cannot hit the broad side of a barn with my .22 Mag NAA. What is the secret? It is a very well made gun, but I am not sure if I can hit an assailant. I carry a S&W 637 and can hit anything with it.

Robert wrote:
March 31, 2011

I've carried on of these as a vest pocket back-up for years.

Dlyn wrote:
March 31, 2011

After 20+ years of pocket carry and exposure to swamp, desert, pocket lint, construction dust, and seawater, the timing got off on mine. I sent it in for the new Safety Cylinder and a tune up. When it came back I thought they had given me a new gun. Complete replacement of internal parts, new cylinder, complete refinishing, and new grips. Cost was shipping and handling. Tell me ANY company that provides better service than that !

Jeff wrote:
March 29, 2011

I have the mini in 22mag...never leave home without it.

heskett gunsmithng wrote:
March 25, 2011

i am a huge advocate of these guns and i honestly not all that big on concealed carry guns. the longer barreled models like the mini master, the earl and the black widow are all accurate enough to use for small game, pack more punch than the tiniest versions, still fit into the pocket, especially with the folding grip and are excellent for defense if used with precision and finesse. the key is to shoot for vital or disabling points. place the barrel against an attacker's elbow or knee joints at an angle to shatter the bone and incapacitate the assailant. brain stem, liver, or heart/lung via arm pit should be used as a last resort when lethal force is the only option. the great thing about these weapons is the level of control. the ability to defend without lethal force while still possible if absolutely necessary makes this a highly desirable weapon in my opinion.

Frank wrote:
March 24, 2011

I own a mini in .22 Magnum and I love it. I carry a 9mm or .45ACP as a primary, the Ruger LCP in .380ACP and my NAA Mini in .22 MAgnum. I consider my NAA in .22 Magnum to be my last resort option. It is a fun gun to shoot and with Remington ammo I use, I have confidence someone would not be happy being shot with it.