I recently got a note from my friend Doug asking me about the NAA revolvers. He said that he and a bunch of other guys had them and liked them and they were having a discussion on the NAA Forum about how well these little pistols worked. He also said, “If these minis are gaining popularity as an “alternative” carry (when something is better than nothing), then it would be nice to check out their penetration and punch.”
Long story short, I contacted the General Manager of NAA, a nice fellow named Ken, and asked him if he would be willing to loan me a couple of their firearms to test. He not only agreed, but seemed very favorable to the idea. I told him that I would be honest, but would be fair in my evaluation. He assured me that was all he expected and said if I had any problems with their product, they would use the information to make them better.
I arranged for my FFL to receive the pistols for me and Ken and I thought it would be an interesting idea to compare a .22 LR versions and a .22 WMR version, and see how they compared.
First, let’s get one thing cleared up… I am not suggesting that a .22 LR or ever a .22 Mag can compete with a heavy center fire handgun. But these little pistols are the smallest BUGs (Back-Up Guns) that are available. They are meant to be easily carried in a pocket when a larger gun cannot be easily concealed, or as an emergency back-up if the primary weapon is lost. They are sometimes called “Deep Back-Up Guns”.
My old buddy Tman used to carry one in .22 LR in his pocket when he and his wife walked around their neighborhood. He was not really concerned about bad guys in this neighborhood, but carried it in case a dog attacked. If I remember correctly, he told me that he once pulled it when a big dog threatened them, but the dog backed off, maybe because dogs can often tell the difference between a person that is frightened, and one that is fixing to kill them.
A good buddy that is a police officer and I went to a gun show in Houston recently and I noticed a bunch of dealers with NAA revolvers on their table. They must be popular with a lot of folks. My buddy was looking at them for a Deep BUG, in case he ever lost his duty piece.
I plan on looking at three main areas:
- Quality – Are these little guns junk, or are they well-built pieces of equipment?
- Does the .22 WMR penetrate much better than the .22 LR? Or will the very short barrel make it impossible for the .22 WMR to generate much more velocity and penetration?
- Will any round reach the FBI 12 inch minimum penetration standard from such a short barrel?
Let’s look at the pistols first.
These little pistols are extremely well made, and as tight as a bank vault.
As you would expect, the .22 WMR is slightly larger.
The barrels on both pistols are 1 1/8 inch long.
To disassemble for loading or unloading, you just push in the button on the end of the cylinder pin…
Then pull it out…
And the pistol comes apart for loading or cleaning.
You can use the cylinder pin to punch out the empty shells.
One “problem” with any single action design is that it is unsafe to lower the hammer down on a live round.
NAA has fixed this problem by designing a recess for the hammer between the cartridge heads.
This allows you to place the hammer down between cartridges and in a Safe position for carry.
You simply draw back the hammer slightly, which allows the cylinder to be rotated…
Then pull the trigger and slowly lower the hammer into the recess between rounds.
When you need to go to work, you just pull the hammer to full cock, and the next round will line-up with the barrel.
The pistols are very small, and easy to conceal.
My lovely wife has small hands, yet this pistol fits in her hand easily.
The .22 Magnum is slightly larger than the .22 Long Rifle Model, as you would expect.
But both of these have the same length barrel.
I wish we could test all the dozens of different ammunition types that are available, but we simply cannot. So, we will compare a couple of types of ammo that are commonly available and use them in the same barrel lengths, see what we can see.
First, let’s look at barrel length and velocity for these two rounds. Looking at some tests done by NNA I extrapolated some velocities.
For the 1 1/8 barrels, the .22 LR (CCI MiniMags) gets about 700 fps and the .22 WMR gets 790 fps.
With the longer 1 5/8 barrel, the .22 LR gets around 740 fps, and the .22 WMR gets about 875 fps.
It seems (as we might expect) that the .22 WMR gets a lot of help with a longer barrel. Of course, the trade-off is that the shorter barrel, the easier it is to conceal the firearm. If the barrel gets very long, and the pistol becomes harder to conceal, we might as well go to a larger caliber.
We drug out the Waterbox O’ Truth to test penetration.
We will put a couple of layers of denim in front of the water jugs to simulate clothing.
First, let’s try a round of Federal Lightening .22 LR Solid.
It penetrated 3 jugs, for 18 inches of water, or 9 inches of ballistic gelatin.
Next we’ll try a round of CCI Minimag Hollow Point in the .22 LR.
It also penetrated 3 jugs, or 9 inches of BG, and did not expand at all.
Lastly, let’s try a round of CCI Stinger .22 LR.
It also penetrated 3 jugs, or 9 inches of BG, with no expansion of the Hollow Point.
Now we’ll try the .22 WMR pistol.
First we will try a round of Hornady 30 grain V-Max ammo.
It penetrated 3 jugs and stopped. It did not expand at all.
Let’s try a round of CCI .22 WMR Maxi-Mag, JHP.
It penetrated 4 jugs, or 12 inches of ballistic gelatin, but did not expand at all.
Let’s answer our original questions.
1. Quality – Are these little guns junk, or are they well-built pieces of equipment?
These are finely made and high quality pistols. They are not “cheaply” built and are very solid. I see them reasonably priced at just over $200, so they are not budget busters.
NAA gives a Lifetime Warranty on the pistols, and you can’t do much better than that.
The pistols ran 100% for me, with no problems at all.
2. Does the .22 WMR penetrate much better than the .22 LR? Or will the very short barrel make it impossible for the .22 WMR to generate much more velocity and penetration?
It seems that none of the .22 Long Rifle rounds tested penetrated over 9 inches of BG, and none of the hollow points expanded. I suppose the velocities from these short barrels are not enough to cause the hollow points to expand.
The .22 WMR penetrated slightly better with one type of ammo. It also made a lot more noise and had more (if still very slight) recoil.
3. Will any round reach the FBI 12 inch minimum penetration standard from such a short barrel?
None of the .22 Long Rifle rounds tested made the 12 inch minimum penetration. This was no surprise, as we did not expect the .22 LR out of such a short barrel to make the minimum.
One round of .22 WMR, the CCI Maxi-Mag JHP, made the minimum penetration standard of 12 inches, but did not expand at all.
These fine little pistols are carried as Deep Back-Up Guns. They would be used when it was not possible to conceal a larger pistol. They fulfill this function very well, but do so at the expense of penetration and wounding potential. If you want a major pistol caliber, you will need to carry a larger and heavier pistol.
Thanks to the fine folks at North American Arms for the loan of these pistols for the tests. They are high quality products and very well made.