Concealed Carry

Throwback Thursday: Review — North American Arms Mini Revolver

North American Arms Pug Revolver

The NAA Mini Revolver is a neat little revolver that has great appeal. It is reliable, well made, stainless steel and reasonably powerful for its size. Ever since the introduction of this little jewel, it has been immensely popular and well accepted. The North American Arms revolver is never seen in the gunsmith’s shop and the revolver seems to never go out of time.

While the caliber isn’t noted for effectiveness, the mini revolver is a good backup and offers some protection when nothing else may be worn. This .22 Magnum is a last-ditch effort in defense. (Also available in .22 Long Rifle.) The mini revolver has by and large replaced poor quality and unreliable .25 ACP semi-automatic pistols. This little gun may be packed in unexpected locations and the element of surprise is important. In the end, anything is something and something is better than nothing!

NAA Revolver
The NAA revolver isn’t a chore to load, but it isn’t fast to load!

Features and Specifications

I would not wax poetic over the North American Arms revolver save for one point, it is so well made it is a good example of the gunmaker’s art. Sure it is more expensive than the inexpensive small automatics, but it is reliable and well made. The handgun is small and it is a good solution to the problem of excess recoil and indifferent accuracy.

The NAA .22 LR and .22 Magnum revolvers are affordable and useful. This is a single-action revolver. This means the hammer must be cocked for every shot. Cock the hammer, press the trigger and the revolver fires. The North American Arms revolver features a five-shot cylinder with recessed cylinders. The cylinders are recessed for safety in the event of a burst case head. While this is a rarity, the .22 Magnum is a powerful cartridge.

Most versions of the NAA revolver weigh but 6.2 ounces. My example is 4.5 inches long and only three inches tall. That is a neat and light package. When you load the revolver, be certain the hammer tip — the firing pin in reality — rests in the safety notch in the cylinder. If not, the hammer nose will rest on the primer section and the revolver may fire if dropped. Be certain you practice placing the hammer nose in this safety notch!

NAA Ranger Revolver
The Ranger is an upgrade on the original revolver.

How It Feels

For safety, when handling this revolver, be certain you keep your fingers away from the muzzle. The barrel is so short that fingers may come into contact with the muzzle! Use deliberate motions and do not fumble as you cock the hammer. The revolver may slip and the muzzle goes upwards if you do not have a good, solid firing grip. Sometimes for larger hands, this may be difficult.

My practice sessions are limited to 20 cartridges or so due to the slow loading process. The base pin is removed and the cylinder pressed out to load the revolver. The base pin is used to knock out spent cases.

The NAA Ranger is a great improvement in handling. The Ranger features a hinged frame. A latch is activated to tilt the barrel down and allow loading and unloading. While it is unlikely you would have time to reload in a close-range gunfight, the hinged frame makes for much easier range work. Some prefer the original. For all-around use, one is as good as the other.

North American Arms Ranger
The Ranger is a hinged-frame revolver.

The Pug Variation

Another variation is the Pug. It is superior, in my opinion, to anything else offered by NAA. The synthetic grip offers plenty of adhesion when firing. While recoil isn’t great, muzzle flip is, and this grip helps control the handgun. The grip is important in order to effectively keep the hand stabilized as you cock the hammer and fire the revolver.

This Pug doesn’t have a trigger guard, as none is needed. It will only fire if the hammer is cocked and the trigger pressed. The Pug also features a modified wedge-type cylinder base pin.

Finally, the revolver features some of the best sights I have seen on a small handgun. Small handguns need good sights even more so than larger handguns, as the short sight radius invites misalignment. The NAA Pug features express-type sights intended for fast work at close range.

NAA Revolver
Whichever North American Arms mini revolver you use, be aware that the hammer nose must be placed in the notches between the chambers for safety.

How It Shoots

As for accuracy, the best way to practice is to quickly bring the revolver to bear and snap a shot at the target. I recommend using the revolver as if you were giving the adversary a nasal inhaler. That is nasty business, but so is getting killed.

I have carefully benchrested the revolver and managed to hit a man-sized target on a regular basis at a long 15 yards. The group isn’t impressive, but it is a group, not a pattern.

NAA Revolver
The NAA revolver must be gripped properly for good results.

Load Performance

As for ammunition performance, the Fiocchi 40-grain JHP breaks about 850 fps in a one-inch barrel. The Hornady 45-grain Critical Duty is purpose-designed for defense use. At 840 fps, this is a reasonable load for use in the .22 Magnum.

CCI now offers a segmented .22 Magnum with real promise. Most of the NAA revolvers strike to the point of aim at five yards or so. At seven yards, a quick five-shot group puts all five shots into 4.75 inches, impressive for such a small handgun.

As for ballistics, the .the .22 Magnum cartridge is far superior to the .25 ACP in penetration. The.25 ACP 50-grain FMJ only generates about 670 fps from the typical short barrel.

.22 Magnum Bullets
This is the CCI .22 Magnum segmented bullet recovered from water. This is interesting performance.

Conclusion: North American Arms Mini Revolver

Neither has the type of power I am comfortable with, that begins with the .38 Special, but any handgun is sufficient for a threat. No one wants to get shot. The real advantage of the North American handguns is that they are well-made of good material and offer solid reliability.

Have you ever shot a North American Arms Mini Revolver? Tell us what you thought in the comments section below!

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in November of 2020. It has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and clarity.

About the Author:

Wilburn Roberts

When Wilburn Roberts was a young peace officer, he adopted his present pen name at the suggestion of his chief, as some of the brass was leery of what he might write. This was also adopted out of respect for families of both victims and criminals. The pen name is the same and the man remains an outspoken proponent of using enough gun for the job.

He has been on the hit list of a well-known hate group, traveled in a dozen countries and written on many subjects, including investigating hate crimes and adopting the patrol carbine. He graduated second in his class with a degree in Police Science. It took him 20 years to work himself from Lieutenant to Sergeant and he calls it as he sees it.
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (42)

  1. This is my 3rd NAA 22 magnum. The 1st I gave as a gift to a good friend and Parole officer the 2nd I sold to a dear friend when I moved from NY to California. I quickly realized how naked I felt without it si for the 3rd time I have purchased this identical firearm. I added the folding handle which truthful gives a much better grip, Added safety when carrying and a edc knife like pocket clip. Looks like I’m carrying a knife or it can just about disappear anywhere. Very reliable and never have I had a problem. I also have the guardian 32acp. North American Arms stands for quality. Wish they had a larger line up. Or more pistol selection vs revolvers. Do yourself a favor buy one and carry it.

  2. Regarding safety, I put my Black Widow in the safe position, then used painters tape on the frame and cylinder then used a white paint pen to put a line on the cylinder that lines up flush with the frame when the hammer is down between the rounds in the safe position. Good visual indicator.

    One of my LEO friends (East coast big city) took a 22 wire bore cleaning brush, stuck it in the muzzle, tied 550 cord to the brush, and wore one around his neck under his shirt.

  3. I’ve had one in .22lr for about 6 years and I carry it every day as a backup or, if weather doesn’t allow for concealment of my Glock 36, paired with a fixed blade knife worn openly. It’s on my CCW, which means, yeah…I’ve had to qualify with it several times now, and have never had a problem doing so. Mine’s loaded with CCI Stingers.

  4. I have had mine for 25yrs. I have the .22mag. I did recently replace the original grips with NAA boot grip that gives me another finger on the grip. For self defense I use Hornady hollow points. Very concealable.

  5. A light weight reliable small caliber pistol that you always carry is 1000% better than the 1911 45 ACP that you left in the car. To function as a concealed carry weapon you have to carry it.
    This gun is so small, light and easy to shoot it will become second nature for you to take it wherever you go. Mine has the folding grip which just makes it even easier to carry.

  6. I forget how long ago it was when I bought a NAA 22 LR version of the revolver. It was before the safety notches were put in the cylinder. Mine is unmodified do only carry four rounds. I have LARGE hands and am unable to get a good hold on the grip and when I fire the revolver, the recoil rocks the barrel up quite a bit. I like it because I can carry it in the watch pocket on my jeans. I wanted to send it back to NAA to get the cylinder safety notches put in but the cost to send it was exorbitant.

  7. I bought mini about to years ago for my first wife because she attended a number of meetings in downtown Dallas and had to walk several blocks to her meetings. However, the instructor at our gun range taught her to hold the mini with both hands, holding it to her abdomen and using her body to aim since any encounter she might have had would have been fairly close-up. Part of this was to reduce the possibility of someone grabbing the gun away from her. And yes the mini is a great little gun wonderful for the purpose it was designed for. But also thank God she never had to use it.
    P.S., thanks for the reminder about the safety, I need to double check.

  8. I bought my 22 mag in the early 80s. I quickly realized they are a little difficult to hold on to so I started making custom grips that were a little larger than stock grips and started selling them at gun shows. Mine is around 40 years old now and is still one of my favorite guns. I have actually hit a Pepsi can at 25 yards with it. If you follow the instructions and lower the hammer between the cartridges on the cylinder, it will NOT accidentally discharge if dropped. Just like everything else, you have to read the instructions.

  9. Tommy, When I worked in Law Enforcement, I carried a NAA revolver in a Buck folding knife case next to my handcuffs. No one ever knew it was not a knife. I loaded mine with CCI Stingers.

  10. I own three of your very nice revolvers. one in 22 sht., one in lr., and a mag. that’s convertible. use it most of the time when canoeing, and wear it on a lanyard around my neck even going into the water never felt it would be lost. Always loaded first rd. with shot ctg. good for snakes and if human first shot, would be to face, hope to give them something to ponder. as I got my act together. just another thought.

  11. We have owned the. 22lr model for about 5 months…these guns are a marvelous combination of sturdiness, reliability, and concealability…they are not extremely powerful, easy to shoot, fast to reload, or incredibly accurate…we look at ours as that last ditch surprise in a badguy’s eye type of weapon, and that is about it…a small, specialized niche, it does fulfill rule #1, have a gun…practice, practice, and more regular practice the key with these guns…

  12. Hola buenos dias quiero saber si puedo conseguir repuesto para la 22
    La verdad tengo 2 y no funcionan ambas me seria de mucha ayuda

  13. Cheryl- first thing I would ask/check is: did u have the hammer in one of the slots between rounds ? Never have I been worried about it going off if dropped if that is done correctly.

  14. Cheryl- first thing I would ask/check is: did u have the hammer in one of the slots between rounds ? I’ve carried a Black Widow for years, before that a std 22 left. Never have I been worried about it going off if dropped.

  15. I bought the .22 magnum revolver about two years ago. It is so compact I wore it all the time. I came home last night, sat on this stool that is a half a foot off the ground and my gun fell out of my holster when I sat down and fired off missing me and hitting the wall. This scared me so much that I refuse to even use it again. How does a gun that requires you to pull the hammer back and pull the trigger just discharge on its own? This could have ended up real bad because I was sitting close to the wall and the gun fell in between the chair I sat in and the wall.

  16. I have carried a mini .22 LR for tens of years and loved it. Never had to shoot anybody but several copperheads. It was nicecto have it in my pocket. Then I decided I needed the magnum so I got it and carried it for years. Still only shot snakes.
    And now; my wife is licensed and wanted NAA revolver. So of course as a good husband I gave her mine. 😎.
    So… I bought with great effort to find one a Wasp .22 mag!
    What a great look ! And the grips work. A bit small but I can hold and shoot it. Somewhat accurately. At 21 yards it would be over for them.
    All in all. These guns are high quality. Easy to conceal . Look great with many choices.
    Bottom line. GET ONE. You won’t regret it.

  17. I bought one of these in .22LR that mounted in a belt buckle about 30 years ago. I was carrying it in my coat pocket when I came home from work one day instead of having it clipped into the buckle. I went to hang up my coat, and it slipped off of the coat hook. When it hit the ground it discharged, fortunately into the wall and not into me! I could not sell that little bugger quick enough, had it gone in less than a week.

  18. I have had the NAA mini revolver for 25 years. I bought a new grip from the NAA Co. online that folds to go along the bottom of the revolver and covers the trigger for more safety and enable the shooter to better manage the recoil of the revolver when it is unfolded for use . I also bought a red dot laser sight from the NAA Co. that is made especially for the NAA Mini Revolver. I had to go deep into the site to find the laser sight

  19. I have owned one of these in 22LR for many years but found it difficult to shoot (broad side of the barn comes to mind), but I do get it out to just shoot for fun. As one of the comments said, it is difficult to shoot well and has a tendency to rotate in the hand at discharge. I do appreciate the finger-over-the-topstrap idea, and am motivated to give that a try. I sure do agree on the quality and excellent customer service comments. I purchased one of their 380 semi-auto pistols recently and had the pleasant experience to deal with their customer service people directly. Excellent service. The emphasis on quality is evident in both the revolver and the semi auto.

  20. I’m a father of six and spent a good deal of the time out in the desert of Southern Arizona shooting as a family. We were extremely careful to follow Range Rules wherever we were shooting. I’m proud to say that all of my Children are now grown and there has never been a bad or dangerous experience with only one possible exception. I had a silver and turquoise belt buckle with a NAA mini revolver in 22lr. Well my 12 year old Son wanted to shoot it. So we went through the mechanics of the gun as well as how to hold it. He fired the first two shots exactly as I showed him with the second hand over the first hand to increase the grip on that tiny gun. If he was older and stronger shooting it single handed would have been fine. Well I turned to help my other Children as he fired the other two rounds. I looked back just after he fired it and he was lying on his back flat on the ground. He shot it single handed and it popped out of his hand when he shot and the gun hit him in the forehead. Only his pride was injured other than a small bump on his forehead.

  21. My Black Widow model came with both 22lr and .22 mag cylinders. Shooting a qualification course my .38 revolver developed a problem. I was able to qualify on a 40 round course out to 15 yards. Used my NAA to run the course. Was surprised at the accuracy with such a short barrel. Agree with the article well made, very concealable, reliable.

  22. I have a NAA .22wmr with the .22lr cylinder fitted with a laser aiming device. Good choice at night. I also have a couple of these in black powder. Loaded with just a primer and a .22 air rifle pellet it makes a cheap practice piece. Normal load is 2 grain of ffffg black powder and a 30 grain round nose bullet. The trigger on the black powder version is very much like the rimfire so muscle memory does transfer from one to the other. My groups are noticeably better for the extra practice.

  23. Great little revolvers . I pack the Black Widow 22 magnum as a back up. Shoots great and so far has been very reliable while practicing with it. I always keep it in my pocket just in case my main carry semi auto pistol fails me.

  24. For safe carry I like the holsters made by Desert Gun Leather here in Phoenix. They specialize in all types of NAA holsters.

    The holsters for these need to cover the hammer to assure that it cannot catch and drop on a live round.

  25. I have several NAA pistols. I gave my son in law a 1 5/8″ Mini 22 Magnum for killing Copperheads on their property. It does a fine job using the CCI Mag Shot shells.
    I have the same 1 5/8″ Mini and also the Black Widow and Mini Master. I carry the Black Widow most every day to take care of any rattlesnakes here in AZ.

    The pistols are much more controllable with aftermarket grips. I prefer the Revision grips made by CVang.

    For safe carry I like the holsters made by Desert Gun Leather here in Phoenix. They specialize in all types of NAA holsters.

    Overall these are very well made small revolvers with great customer service if it is needed.

  26. I have several NAA pistols. I gave my son in law a 1 5/8″ Mini 22 Magnum for killing Copperheads on their property. It does a fine job using the CCI Mag Shot shells.
    I have the same 1 5/8″ Mini and also the Black Widow and Mini Master. I carry the Black Widow most every day to take care of any rattlesnakes here in AZ.

    The pistols are much more controllable with aftermarket grips. I prefer the Revision grips made by CVang.

    Overall these are very well made small revolvers with great customer service if it is needed.

  27. Bought mine around ’75 for general protection, especially for snake protection using snake shot ammo. Can always find a spot to carry it. Seems it’s bark is worse than it bite – large flame & bark is quite effective. Well made & cool to have, love it!

  28. Have owned an NAA Wasp for several years. Easy to carry in summer or winter, accurate enough for the job(practice, practice, practice), and a 22 mag. HP is more than suitable. Wouldn’t want to get in a gun fight with it but for quick intimidation it works for me.

  29. A major advantage to the NAA revolvers in California is that they are actually legal to buy. I got one about a year ago, mainly because I liked it’s looks. I don’t expect to have any serious use for it, but it is beautifully made and works well, except for my serious arthritis. I don’t plan to add it to my CCW; my LC9 is by far a more appropriate item for edc

  30. I bought the first model NAA mini revolver in 1987 from Oshmans sporting goods on sale for
    $149.00. It has been a wonderful little jewel that i carry with me anytime I’m out and about.
    I carry it in the little belt clip holster that came with it, and with the uncertain times we are having,
    Its comforting to know that it will do the job if a situation arrises. Its very comfortable to shoot and easy to control as i have small hands. Its not as powerfull as my S&W 38spl, but it’s much lighter
    and smaller for easy carry. Ive enjoyed shooting it and amazed how accurate it is up to 75ft.
    All in all I give 5 Stars for reliability and excellent manufacturing. It will be passed on from generation to generation and still perform flawlessly in a hundred years! What a great company
    North American Arms. 🤗

  31. It was sometime in the mid 1970s at a gun show I saw my first NNA mini pistol held in a belt buckle. I was impressed with the workman ship and price as the whole rig was under $100. I begged the gun dealer to let the pistol sell as I could not afford both the pistol and the belt. He made me wait till the last minute of the gun show before he sold me just the pistol.
    Like the comment above,, a spring broke inside and would only cock holding it just at the right angle. Used it that way for years. The internet came along and found a repair spring from NNA and fixed it. .
    Like above,, loaded up with bird shot its a wonderful rattlesnake weapon. Trying to shoot it on a hot day I found the grips to slick to be safe, so made some wooden extended grips.. I have carried it almost daily for the past 45 years.
    Mine is old enough it does not have the hammer notches between shells so just carry it over a empty chamber. Sure wish now I had gotten the belt also. Safe shooting you all.

  32. I was a detective at the Valley County Sheriff’s Department in Idaho. I attempted to carry the North American mini revolver as a hide out weapon. It is well made, excellently finished, and effective for the purpose it was designed. The only problem I had with it was the hammer is prominent and sharp. It will wear a hole in both pants and jacket with daily work day carry. Uniforms are pricey therefore it had to go. It really is an extremely well made mini firearm.

  33. I own a NAA revolver i purchased seco d hand almost 30 years ago. Its been a stow away gun, backup gun or general comforter for a long time.

    A good friend stitched up a front pocket holster for me.last year and now it goes with me everywhere.

  34. I too, have been an owner of North American Arms mini handguns. In particular, the models 22 Long Rifle and the 22 Magnum Black Widow. The Black Widow has been a constant companion to me whenever I leave my home. It is, as mentioned by the other commentators, a very good weapon for that ”close up and personal” moments in your life. This handgun is very reliable and dependable to place your shot where you want it. Of course, that is enhanced by practice at the range or elsewhere. I further improved this handgun’s aim by adding a laser light to it. The product was Laserlyte’s NAA Venom Programable Laser. Aim is now deadly. The laser component did not increase the footprint of the gun’s dimensions significantly. The laser light replaced the original cylinder bolt. Therefore, it’s positioned under the barrel of the handgun. Tucked into any pocket, this gun becomes invisible. Some may call this weapon a mouse gun. But the facts are that the 45 grain 22 Magnum caliber is formidable and has been used to bring down the mountain cat in hunts with one shot. Additionally, when the 22 magnum is fired at someone, the explosive sound generated is not distinguishable from a 9mm, .38, or 10 S&W. Especially if you’re the intended target and you don’t want verify if a mouse gun was indeed being used. After hearing the shot, I would’ve lost that interest immediately!


  36. I’ve had a 22mag ported barrel PUG for a few yrs and I love it. More bang than a 380 at close range and intimidatingly loud for its size. I know someone who was patted down while carrying and the arm was not discovered. I have wads of keys bigger than this is.
    Very solid little wheel gun.

  37. I bought one a few years ago. I needed something I could put in my pocket for summer wear while active. It really does fit the bill. I will agree that I would never try to fire this at much distance, but I disagree with the light recoil (22 mag). 40 grain of powder in a 5 oz gun that is shorter than my index finger (pug) is a trick to control. But a 3” grouping at 5 yds is easily attainable, just be cautious with your first use as the gun wants to jump behind you somewhere, and there isn’t much to hang on to. I normally carry a .45, and to me, this kicks more, but is a fun and easy edc, I did get the pocket holster as well so I keep my cash in same pocket

  38. While interesting in concept, I’d rather have something with a little more oomph in it. Roughly that same in size and slightly heavier, I carry the Bond Arms Bullpup 9 7+1 9×19, but using 960 Rowland 9×23 instead…

  39. I bought a NAA mini in ’76 or ’77 for one purpose, well, that’s not entirely true. I really liked the look of the thing and I needed a small gun for snakes. I loaded it with CCI Speer shotshells and used it for rattlesnakes when I was humping the hills out in the boonies of Oklahoma. I carried it hammer down at the half way notch between shells so if it was dropped, it could not discharge accidentally. I kept it on a lanyard to carry around my neck and in a shirt pocket for easy access when and if a snake popped up at an inopportune moment. Just pull the hammer back, point, and shoot.
    I did find that I did better if I used my middle finger on the trigger and my index finger over the top to keep it from trying to jump out of my hand. More than once, I found myself almost looking directly at the muzzle of the thing immediately after firing it. Changing my grip fixed that.
    Somehow, something inside broke and it was retired for many years, probably at least 20. Then, one day some years back, I found it, packed away, still in the original black velvet case and I called the company to see what it would take to get it fixed.
    Long story short, I sent it in, they fixed it, good as new, even put new scales on the grips, and all it cost was the shipping I paid to get it to them. That is customer service!
    That little piece is currently in my truck, loaded, with the hammer down at half notch, between the shells, just waiting to be cocked and shot. Almost makes me want to find a snake…

  40. I have owned a NAA mini revolver for over 40 years, first the 22 and for the last 10 years or so the Black Widow 22 mag. I always have at least the Black Widow on me, mainly as my backup, but at times the only gun on me. In a pocket, quickly handy, and I practice all aspects of handling and shooting it regularly. Its an “up close and personal” weapon but I wouldn’t be without it. Hornady Critical Defense ammo has been the best as far as my experience with it.

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