Hideout guns

.22 Magnum Rimfire Derringers fit the bill

A group of firearms instructors for the sheriff’s office was standing around, waiting for a meeting to begin. One of the guys, the best pistol shooter among that relatively talented group, pulled a little North American Arms .22 Magnum revolver out of his pocket, and began showing it around.

These little guns are well-made, single-action (the hammer has to be manually cocked to fire it), five-shot revolvers in either .22 long rifle, or .22 Magnum, and will fit inside the width of a man’s palm. In other words, small is the operative word.

I forget the comment I made about the little toy-like gun, but it was snide and ran along the lines of “mouse” gun, or something like that.

His reply was short, succinct and I never forgot it. In fact, it gave me a whole new perspective on personal-defense handguns that has evolved and changed tremendously since that night.

Holding his forefinger up, he said: “It only has to hold them off ’til I get to the truck. If I get to the truck, I win.”

Teaching shooting for many years, and having heard many self-defense stories with handguns, I’ve changed from that person who opened his mouth too quickly that night.

Of course you want the handgun you use in a gunfight to be the biggest you can shoot confidently and with accuracy — but as the old saying goes, “The best gun to have in a gunfight is the gun you bring TO the gunfight.”

Let’s face it: We down in the Deep South just don’t wear enough clothes most of the year to easily hide our carry guns.

I frequently resort to a Velcro and elastic De Santis ankle holster in which I stick a Ruger LCR (Lightweight Carry Revolver) in .38 Special. A fellow instructor and close friend wears a similar holster on his left ankle with a “baby” Glock 9MM in it. The first thing that goes on in the morning is his pants. The second is his socks and shoes. The third is his holster and Glock — every day.

Sometimes, ankle holsters don’t work with certain styles of boots — cowboy boots, for instance. I wear these a lot, and an ankle holster will strap around them — but it is not the most comfortable way to carry. When I want to simply slip something in my pocket, I drop my LCR or a small, flat semi-auto in there.

From the late 1960s until the early 1980s, the Louisiana State Police supplied troopers with the high quality Hi-Standard Derringers in .22 Magnum. These two-shot derringers had an open trigger guard, a single trigger with a long pull that would fire both barrels with successive pulls and a ferocious muzzle blast that would give a bad guy a heart attack even if you missed him at the point-blank range for which they were designed.

I never heard of a trooper having to use one on anyone, but I can assure you the .22 Magnum rimfire cartridge, while small in caliber, carries a tremendous amount of punch.

A friend traps alligators, and tells me they’ve tried .22 long rifle and 9mm handguns on big gators, and a .22 Magnum dispatches them instantly and more effectively than either of the other two.

Skeeter Skelton, the legendary handgun editor for Shooting Times magazine, stated in a March 1967 article that the .22 long rifle hollow point cartridge was a superior self-defense round to the .25 ACP, .32 ACP and the long-defunct .41 rimfire.

I can’t speak to the .41 rimfire, which was a black-powder cartridge developed and carried in derringer handguns in the late 19th century. But I absolutely loath .25 ACP and the little automatics that shoot it — a future article will expand on this. I frequently tell students you might as well shoot them with a pellet gun — it will kill, but not for a long time.

The new iterations of the NAA mini-revolvers have also made me take a much longer look at them. Particularly with the new Holster Grip, the gun folds up into the grip, and the grip carries a clip like those on utility knives, so it can be clipped to the seam of the pants pocket or — for real concealment — on the rim of your boot.

I like that; it gives you an option not only for a “backup.” These little guns are so concealable, and so easy to carry that you could use them as a backup to the backup.

The grip affords a much sturdier grasping surface than the original “birds head” style of grip.

Pull the gun out of its concealed spot on your clothes or boot, and hold off any aggressor with five shots of .22 MRF.

It’s a heck of a lot better than a sharp stick or knife — or a .25 ACP.

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