I have always had a love for break-top
revolvers, especially break-top single actions. I think that the
most beautiful handgun that I own is my Navy Schofield Founder’s
Model 45 Colt. Maybe it is because I am left-handed, and am fond
of ambidextrous designs. The break-top is absolutely
ambidextrous. It allows fast unloading and reloading like a
modern double-action revolver with a swing-out cylinder, but is
just as easy for a left-hander to operate as it is for the other
ninety percent of the shooting population.
A couple of months ago, when I heard that
North American Arms was making a mini-revolver as a break top, I
knew that I just had to have one, before ever even seeing a
picture of the little jewel. NAA makes
some dandy little revolvers, as they have for many years.
Lots of folks depend upon the miniature revolvers for close
range personal protection. They are simple, reliable, and well
made. I especially like the 22 Magnum version of the NAA Mini
Gun. The 22 Magnum is a very under-rated cartridge, and as a
defensive round, offers good penetration in flesh.
These smallest examples of the revolver maker’s
art have long been relied upon as a last-ditch weapon for
uniformed law enforcement officers, hidden away in a pocket or
boot, used as an up close and personal defensive weapon in the
event that the officer lost the use of his primary duty gun.
These compact five-shot rimfires are also carried daily by
thousands of people who cannot, for whatever reason, conceal a
larger weapon, or carried in addition to a larger handgun as a
Some sneer at the diminutive power of these
twenty-two caliber revolvers, and while they do not possess the
force of a big-bore handgun, one of these tiny revolvers in the
pocket is much better than a forty-five that is left at home.
The basic premise of carrying a handgun for protection is that
it is ALWAYS within reach. Always. The need for a defensive
firearm is, by definition, a response to an imminent or
in-progress attack. When you need your defense handgun, you need
it immediately. There is no time to go get it. It needs to be
within reach. If you can’t reach it, it is of no use to you.
As law-abiding citizens, we carry a defensive handgun as we go
about our daily lives, doing the things that we do routinely
every day. If we were expecting trouble, we would choose to be
in another place, or would be armed with a fighting shotgun or
rifle. If I was certain that trouble was coming, a .22 caliber
rimfire revolver that is no bigger than a pack of smokes would
be way down on my list of preferred weapons. Somewhat higher on
the list, but still not near the top, would be a larger handgun.
However, the handgun is a compromise as a fighting weapon. We
carry them because they are so handy. We can do the things that
we must do everyday with a handgun hidden somewhere within reach
because the handgun is easier to carry and conceal than a
twelve-gauge pump. If we ever need our handgun for defense, it
will be in response to an attack, and will, as stated above,
have to be within reach. That is where the compromise comes in.
We must choose a balance between portability, concealability,
and firepower. While way down on the firepower chart, the mini
revolver is at the top of the easy-to-carry, easy-to-hide list.
Also, especially in .22 magnum caliber, these little guns can do
quite well in a pinch, and I would much rather have one of these
in my pocket than a knife as a defensive tool. In my experience,
a .22 magnum penetrates flesh better than a .38 Special, and
with any small caliber handgun projectile, penetration is
Another use for which these little revolvers
really shine is as a snake gun. Every
time I write about killing snakes, I get several emails from
those who proclaim that we should never kill a poisonous snake,
and condemning me for promoting such practices. I get the
feeling that these folks most likely live in the city somewhere,
and never encounter a poisonous snake outside the confines of
the local zoo. They certainly do not live out in the woods of
the South or the deserts of the Southwest, nor do they have
defenseless and curious grandkids playing out by the woodpile. I
never kill a harmless snake, but around here, cottonmouths and
copperheads are shot on sight. Tree-huggers tell us that a
cottonmouth will not attack a human unless cornered, but they
have failed to inform the cottonmouth population in the
Tennessee Valley. I have first-hand experience that they will
absolutely pursue a human being. Rattlers are not nearly as
aggressive in my experience, but if found around my house, they
get the same treatment, and that treatment is usually a dose of
lead shot. The CCI shotshells pattern very well from these
little revolvers, and especially in .22 magnum caliber, dispatch
a viper handily.
When I first opened the box containing the
NAA Ranger, I said, ”Now this is cool!” I was right. It is a
really cool little revolver. However, after shooting the Ranger,
I soon realized that aside from the uniqueness of the design in
a mini revolver, it is very practical as well. Like its larger
brethren; the big Schofield, American, and Russian S&W
revolvers of many years ago; the Ranger design has tactical
advantages over conventional mini-revolver designs as well. Just
as with the large guns, the Ranger can be unloaded and reloaded
many times faster than can the mini revolvers that require
removal of the base pin, followed by poking out the empty cases
one at a time, reloading the cylinder, inserting it into the
frame, and reinstalling the base pin. With the NAA Ranger, one
fires the weapon, opens the break top, dumps the empties,
reloads, and closes the action. Shooting the Ranger is very easy
and simple to do. After loading, simply cock the hammer, point
the weapon, and press the trigger. Shooting every brand and type
of 22 magnum ammo that I have on hand, I prefer hollow points
for most uses. From the short barrels of the mini revolvers,
they do lose a lot of velocity compared to a longer-barreled
handgun, but some of the .22 magnum loads still manage to exceed
one thousand feet-per-second from the one and five-eighths inch
barrel of the Ranger. For defensive purposes, I like the PMC
Predator, Armscor, or Winchester Dynapoint hollow point
cartridges. I fired several types of ammunition for velocity
readings at a distance of ten feet, with the results listed in
the chart below. Velocities are listed in feet-per-second (fps).
Bullet weights are listed in grains. JHP is a jacketed
hollowpoint. Velocity readings were taken at an elevation of
approximately 541 feet above sea level, with an air temperature
of thirty-four degrees Fahrenheit.
|CCI TNT JHP
|Winchester Supreme JHP
|Winchester Supreme JHP
|CCI +V JHP
Recoil is mild, but the small grip on the 7.1
ounce Ranger does not allow for much of a hold, so the revolver
does move a bit upon firing, but there is no recoil pain at all.
The little Ranger is a delight to shoot. The trigger pull
measured slightly under six pounds, and was very crisp and
consistent. The Ranger holds five rounds in the cylinder. Up
close and personal, it is easy to hit the target with the
Ranger, but due to its short sight radius and diminutive size,
no attempt was made to shoot for groups on paper at twenty-five
yards. On a human paper silhouette, hits in the vital zone were
easy at three, five, seven, and fifteen yards.
Like other NAA minis, the Ranger is very
well-made. It worked perfectly as designed. Extraction of empty
cases was easy, with none sticking in the chambers. The NAA
Ranger is unique among handguns, and is even in its own class as
a mini revolver. It is the only small-frame top break revolver
currently made, and the only top break of any size being made in
the US. That is a shame, as the top break is a good design, and
was once a unique American icon among revolvers. I would love to
see the top break revolver make a comeback in the United States,
and perhaps this smallest of all top breaks will lead the way.
The NAA Ranger is a limited-production revolver, chambered for
the 22 magnum cartridge only, so if you want one, now is the
time. NAA also offers a variety of accessory holsters and grips
for the Ranger.
Check out the NAA Ranger online at www.naaminis.com.
For the location of a North American Arms
dealer near you, click on the DEALER LOCATOR at www.lipseys.com.
To order the Ranger online, go to www.galleryofguns.com.