Pocket Pistols: 7 Great Ultra-Concealable Handguns
In 1852, production began on Henry Deringer’s ultra-concealable pistol tailored to fit in the pocket of a gentleman’s vest or overcoat. The rest is history, as miniature self-defense guns exploded, later including semi-auto and micro-revolver handguns as well. While many of these tiny designs were nothing more than novelties or otherwise seriously flawed firearms, several have – and will continue – to stand the test of time.
We’re not talking S&W J-Frames and other small-statured commoners, but rather the smallest of the small. Cuteness factor aside, you just might be surprised how capable, reliable, and practical these palm-sized shooters actually are. Here are seven at the top of our list.
In the modern era, there are no better-built centerfire, double-barrel handguns than those from Bond Arms. Think all-American, big bore, Texas-style derringers where bigger is better when it comes to caliber. Yet in size, they remain incredibly packable. Bond offers dozens of designs in half as many calibers, most with interchangeable barrels. The Bond family solved design problems that plagued old-fashioned derringers, and their guns are now engineered with rebounding hammers, retractable firing pins, and cross-bolt safeties.
While Bond Arms guns are the best derringers on the market today, they’re also generally the most expensive. That is, until now. With their new Roughneck and Rowdy lines, Bond trimmed both the polish and the price, but they kept the same internal quality. Pick up a Bond Arms in .45 Colt/.410 bore, .45 ACP, .357 Magnum/.38 Special, or 9mm, and you’re sure to have showstopping power in your pocket.
North American Arms
Mini revolvers have never been so small – and so strong. North American Arms offers the ultimate in deep concealment. Their instantly recognizable line of American-made miniature rimfire revolvers fit not only in the palm of your hand but also into their own design of big western belt buckles. If the smallest of them all is what you desire, then North American Arms should be at the top of your list.
These true babies are rimfires, with model options in .22 Short, .22 Long Rifle, and .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire. Partner the magnum chambering with ammo like Gold Dot or Hornady Critical Defense for legit protection power. Some NAA wheelguns have octagonal barrels, others have night sights, and some even fold into their own grip. Versions like the robust Pug also offer a more textured grip if desired. All carry the company’s lifetime warranty and exceptional customer service.
FN Model 1905/06
If you don’t like Belgian-made guns, I don’t think we can be friends. All kidding aside, the guns of Fabrique Nationale Herstal, or FN, have exuded quality for over a hundred years. FN’s Model of 1905/06 was the premiere vest-pocket gun of the day. They fired .25 ACP from a six-round magazine.
The whole package weighed under 13 ounces. Though small, these pieces were reliable and saw action during WWII, especially with the underground Belgian resistance because of their deep concealability and availability. With an overwhelming interest in the John Moses Browning design, it was only a matter of time before they were followed by the slightly smaller Baby Browning. Many FN models survive today, a testament to the quality, though most are more collectible than regular carry guns. When you buy an old FN 1905/06, you’re buying into a long history.
If adorable semi-automatic pistols that fit in the palm of your hand are on the wish list, the Baby Browning should be near the top. Like its European counterpart from FN, this Baby Browning is also made in Belgium. It holds six rounds of .25 ACP and sports a 1.5-inch barrel. The unloaded weight sits just under 10 ounces. This tiny frame must be seen and felt to be fully appreciated.
Though similar in looks to the FN Model 1905/06, the Baby Browning is indeed smaller, and parts are not interchangeable between the two. The Baby Browning picked up when FN 1906 production ceased, meaning that many such examples survive today. These Belgian-made pistols are more than a novelty. Some folks still pack them today because the Baby Browning is well built, pocket friendly, and something a true collector can find value in year after year.
Colt Vest Pocket Hammerless
When the term “pocket pistol” comes up, gun aficionados immediately think of the small-framed Colt Model 1908, though it’s certainly not the only worthy Colt hammerless. This particular Colt design springs from John Browning’s earlier FN 1905/06 and found a ready audience on the American market. Colt already had a solid reputation among the country’s gun buyers and was trusted by those seeking concealable protection.
This diminutive hammerless, striker-fired, semi-automatic pistol was created specifically as a vest-pocket piece, with a size that allowed easy concealment. Empty weight is only 13 ounces and matches that of the FN. Chambered in Colt’s own .25 ACP, the Model 1908 has a 2-inch barrel and six-round magazine capacity, putting it squarely in the wheelhouse of both the Baby Browning and FN 1905/06. The Colt versions remain some of the most collectible vest guns today, but they are also still fully functional carry pieces.
Beretta’s Baby Tip-Up Pistols
In the rimfire world of pocket pistols, Beretta’s Model 21A Bobcat is instantly recognizable with its tip-up design on a semi-automatic action where the barrel breaks open on the top. Beretta also has a similar tip-up design in a sizably larger caliber, namely the 3032 Tomcat in .32 ACP.
Springing from the company’s earlier Jetfire pistol in .22 Short, the 2-inch barreled Bobcat features low-profile sights that are ideal for tucking into tight places. Unlike the other guns, the Bobcat has not aged itself out of the market, not by a long shot. Modern manufacture has expanded to give us an extended, threaded-barrel version of the 21A Bobcat that makes it a suppressor-ready gun. The suppressor will add length, but should you favor yourself a James Bond type, just thread that silencer on when needed for the smallest two-pocket problem solver yet.
Remington Arms Derringers
While it’s certainly neither fair nor accurate to lump all Remington production two-shooters into one category, in the effort of saving space and including the best, here we are. We would be remiss not to mention one of our favorites in the classic .41 Remington caliber. These little doubles could be ordered as plain blued versions or with engraving, nickel plating, gold accents, and a host of grip materials such as ivory and pearl.
Built from the 1860s to the 1930s, these beauties don’t come cheap and are much more collectibles than they are regular shooters. However, it’s a testament to the quality of their build that so many are still working specimens on the used market today. No derringer collection is really complete without an original Remington.