Review: NAA Black Widow Revolver

posted on May 28, 2020
NAA black widow handgun revolving derringer small black gun

The North American Arms (NAA) .22 Mag. Mini revolvers represent some of the more unique offerings in the pocket-pistol market these days. Few handguns are as compact and concealable as these five-shot, single-action revolvers.

Available in exceptionally small .22 Short and .22 LR configurations, the slightly larger .22 Mag. version is a more potent defensive option in a pinch. Although they don't offer the ammunition capacity or stopping power of centerfire handguns, they can be carried in places and ways that bigger handguns cannot.

arrangement three revolvers guns pistols handguns on table stainless steel black wood table

I've enjoyed learning to operate the magnum-frame Minis, but they do take some getting used to. The standard models draw many of their design cues from the single-action pocket revolvers of the late 19th century. This includes the birdshead grip frame with smooth wood panels, a rudimentary rounded front blade sight and short barrels between 1-1/8" and 1-5/8" in length.

The reduced size of the revolver only leaves about one finger's worth of grip surface to work with. As a back-up gun or a last-ditch, get-off-me gun, when the priority is maximum concealment, it’s enough to do the job.

NAA Black Widow revolver closeup hammer cylinder

But not everyone is going to find the standard magnum Mini model to be a good fit for their needs. For those with more modern concealed-carry handgun preferences, and larger hands, NAA offers the Black Widow.

Thanks to an oversized rubber grip, it feels and handles more like a J-frame size concealed carry revolver. The 2-part sight system is easier to see and the barrel has been extended to 2" in order to squeeze more performance out of the .22 Mag. cartridge. Last year, the company introduced a version of the Black Widow with a matte-black PVD coating. Here's a closer look at this model.

NAA Black Widow reolver closeup rear hammer cocked

The Black Widow shares the same sight, barrel and cylinder pin configuration as the Pug and Mini Master models. This version ships with fixed Marble Arms 3-dot sights, which are dovetailed into the barrel.

The squared off front sight blade and square notch rear sight provide a sight picture that's typical for today's defensive pistols. The 2" long slab-side barrel has a squared off vented rib that's reminiscent of the Colt Python. The top of this rib, between the sights, is grooved to reduce glare.

Right side NAA Black Widow grip stocks logo

NAA Minis have been simplified for improved frame strength and reduced production costs. As a result, they don't have loading gates or ejector rods. Instead, the cylinder is removed from the frame for loading. Other Minis have cylinder pins with rounded, knurled heads and a release button.

However, the Black Widow's cylinder pin is held in place by a rotating locking block. The pin is released from the frame by pulling down on the block and giving it a quarter turn before pulling the pin forward and out of the frame. The cylinder is then tipped out of the right side of the frame. Spent cartridges are removed by poking them out of the cylinder with a small punch type tool.

left side NAA Black Widow handgun revolver fieldstripped disassembled gun on table

Because this revolver is a single-action, the exposed hammer is manually cocked each time the gun is fired. The rimfire primers are ignited by a hatchet-like blade extension which is fixed directly to the hammer itself. In order to prevent the lowered hammer from resting on a live cartridge, NAA has cut a set of safety notches into the unfluted cylinder in between each of the five chambers. Lowering the blade of the hammer into one of these notches allows the Black Widow to be safely carried with all of the chambers loaded.

The trigger is quite small. It's more of a textured stud or button than the bow shaped triggers found on most revolvers. Nevertheless, it's comfortable to work with due to a short 1/8" ark of travel, a smooth feel and a clean break. In this case, the trigger pull measured 4-lbs. 12-oz., according to a Lyman digital trigger gauge.

NAA Black Widow revolver cylinder in hand brass hornady rimfire cartridges

Some folks worry about the absence of a trigger guard. With the hammer set forward into one of the cylinder's safety notches, the Mini will not fire until the hammer is manually cocked. This means that a trigger guard is not required for safe concealed carry.

The rounded black rubber grip has finger grooves along the front strap, the NAA logo on the left panel and a red hourglass medallion on the right. I've described other Minis with smaller grips as having a jumpy kind of felt recoil.

three ammunition boxes on table federal hornady speer

The recoil is modest, but it feels like the little guns are trying to jump straight up out of your hands if you don't have a firm grip on them. The Black Widow’s hand-filling grip eliminates that jumpiness for a comfortable, soft-shooting feel that makes this revolver accessible to beginners as well as more experienced handgun operators.

At the range, the Black Widow proved to be utterly reliable with all the ammunition tested, including rifle and handgun-specific . 22 Mag. loads. With its five-shot capacity and the need to dismantle the gun for loading, it's not a high-speed, low-drag competition gun. But it's enjoyable to shoot.

NAA Black Widow reolver on lockbox table

Because this is a pocket pistol, formal bench rested accuracy testing was conducted at 7 yards by firing five 5-shot groups into paper targets. Bullet velocity was measured using a LabRadar chronograph with a 12" offset from the muzzle.

How well-suited a small .22 Mag. handgun may be for self defense remains a matter of debate. But what I do know for certain is that ammunition choice is important should you choose to carry a small handgun in this caliber.

The majority of .22 Mag. ammunition is designed for hunting rifles with barrels that are 16" or longer, like the Federal Champion 40-gr. full metal jacket. These loads tend to shed a good deal of velocity when fired from short-barreled revolvers, as you can see here in this table containing the range results:

North American Arms Black Widow mini revolver specification table ballistic testing federal hornady speer ammo velocity energy accuracy

The other two loads tested, Hornady’s Critical Defense 45-gr. FTX and the Speer Gold Dot Short Barrel 40-gr. jacketed hollow point, are specifically designed for small revolvers with listed velocities that match their purpose. Both of these loads performed well out of the Black Widow.

I've enjoyed shooting North American Arms’ Mini revolvers for quite some time. They are well-made, reliable and provide a shooting experience that's unlike any other handgun series currently in production. The Black Widow is a well-balanced option that's easier to learn to operate while remaining compact enough for deep concealment or carry in light clothing.

This model is also an ideal kit gun for fishing, camping and hiking. The Black Widow is available with a stainless-steel finish and it can be ordered with a second factory-fitted cylinder chambered in .22 LR for less expensive practice sessions and plinking.

Manufacturer: North American Arms
Action: Single-Action Revolver
Caliber: .22 Mag.
Finish: Stainless Steel with Matte Black PVD Coating
Cylinder: Fluted
Grips: Oversized Rubber with Black Widow Logo
Sights: Marble Arms 3-Dot
Barrel: 2" Heavy Barrel with Vented Rib
Trigger Pull: 4 lbs. 12 oz. (As Tested)
Overall Length: 5.88″
Height: 3.69″
Cylinder Width: 0.85"
Weight: 8.6 oz. Unloaded
Capacity: 5 Rounds
Twist: 1:12” RH
Rifle Grooves: 8
Accessories: Locking Steel Storage Box, Owner's Manual
MSRP: $318 (.22 Mag Only), $353 (With Second .22 LR Cylinder)


Vertical Foregrip
Vertical Foregrip

The Viability Of The Vertical Foregrip

Learn the benefits of the vertical foregrip (VFG) and how this inexpensive upgrade can transform your tactical marksmanship skills.

New For 2024: Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 2.0

Smith & Wesson upgraded its semi-automatic Bodyguard handgun with an all-new 2.0 model in 2024.

Blaser USA And MidwayUSA Foundation Team Up To Give Back

Held at Joshua Creek Ranch in Boerne, Texas, Blaser USA and MidwayUSA Foundation paired recently to host a training event with proceeds benefiting youth shooting sports.

The Armed Citizen® July 22, 2024

Read today's "The Armed Citizen" entry for real stories of law-abiding citizens, past and present, who used their firearms to save lives.

Review: Chiappa Little Badger TDX

Survival firearms come in many shapes and sizes, with the masses in utter disagreement upon ideal chambering—and even platform. But the Chiappa Little Badger TDX certainly fits the bill as a survival arm.

"Only Accurate Rifles Are Interesting."

"The only limitation to skill in marksmanship is that imposed by the rifle and its ammunition." Col. Townsend Whelen


Get the best of American Rifleman delivered to your inbox.