Big Bores, Budget Prices: Bond Arms Roughneck & Rowdy
Let’s face the facts. For shooters who dig big-bore double-barrel handguns, Bond Arms has been holding the top spot – but also the highest prices – with their all-American, Texas-made shooters. So, would you believe that Bond has now figured out a way to build pocket pieces with the same internal quality for half the price? Guns.com checks out the Roughneck and Rowdy to find out if bargain-priced Bond Arms are too good to be true … or a dream come true.
Bond Arms Rough Series
To quickly oversimplify Bond’s cost-saving Rough series, what we have is a pair of pistols with the same stainless steel build but significantly less exterior finish work and attention to aesthetic detail. Rather than hand polishing and examining, Roughneck and Rowdy frames are basically deburred and bead blasted. The internals remain unchanged, and buyers receive the same high-quality components and meticulous bore and chamber work. The barrel flats are about the only area with a mirror shine.
Bond offers two main Rough product lines – the Roughneck and the Rowdy. The former is available in three chamberings – 9mm, .45 Auto, and .38 Special/.357 Magnum. The Rowdy, meanwhile, is the pocket cannon, chambered in .45 Colt /.410 bore shotgun.
Regardless of the model and caliber selection, these weighty babies are dressed with an unassuming black rubberized grip material. Yet they remain compatible with all standard Bond Arms’ barrels. The guns open with a spring-loaded, cammed-locking lever and retain the full trigger guard found on most other models. The same internal features remain, with a patented rebounding hammer, retractable firing pins, and a cross-bolt safety – all design changes that have set Bond apart from troubled derringer designs of old.
In the past, buying a Bond meant spending a pretty serious amount of cash. Prices in the current catalog see those existing models with MSRPs from $535 to over $700. Current retail cost on variants of the Rough series – as we’re calling this new low-polish, high-performance family – sits at $269 for the Roughneck and $299 for the Rowdy. For comparison’s sake, the closest other Bond doubles are the Mama Bear 9mm, priced at $541 and the Texas Defender .45/.410 at $543, showing almost 50% cost savings. Plus, the Roughneck and Rowdy still ship in a branded hard case.
Bond Arms Roughneck
The Bond Arms Roughneck chambers the more common handgun calibers of 9mm, .45 Auto, and .38 Spl/.357 Mag. It sports 2.5-inch barrels topped with a blade front and fixed rear sight. The Roughneck does not have extractors. Instead, it has a notch that allows spent casings to be lifted and removed by hand. Overall length is only 4.5 inches, and the unloaded weight is 19 ounces.
Bond Arms Rowdy .45/.410
The Bond Arms Rough N Rowdy – or Rowdy, as it’s known – has a stainless barrel and frame, but it is built for the biggest punch and chambered for either .45 Colt or .410 bore. Shotgunners can pack defense rounds or almost any hunting load as long as it’s a 2.5-inch round. Black rubber grips offer control over the snappy centerfire. The 3-inch barrels are topped with a front blade sight and fixed rear. Unlike its counterpart, the Rowdy is fitted with extractors for removing spent shells. Overall length is only 5 inches, with a weight of 20 ounces.
On the Range
No matter how rough these new guns may look under microscopic external examination, they seem to shoot just the same as their more expensive counterparts. The controls are smooth, albeit heavy, just like with their counterparts.
It’s no secret that derringers are not built for long-range or precision-target shooting, but they excel at concealability and close-quarters defense. Partner that with serious centerfire chamberings, and we have a reliable winner. We shot for defensive groups at roughly 7 yards, and we were pleasantly surprised at both the accuracy and controllability of these snubs.
Though there does seem to be a slight gap between shots from the top and bottom barrels, that never seemed to account for more than 2 inches at defensive distances, remaining well within the center mass. We ran both heavy Federal Premium 9mm Hydra-Shok and low-recoiling Hornady Critical Defense Lite through the Roughneck with ease, as well as plenty of mixed FMJ in between.
Though the Roughneck may seem like a more off-putting gun because it fires a shotgun round from a small double-barrel handgun, recoil was surprisingly minimal. This was likely attributed to a mix of the stainless-steel weight, ergonomics, and rubberized grips. We ran a bunch of ammo through the gun, including Federal Premium Personal Defense .410 with 000 buckshot, Hornady Critical Defense .45 Colt, CCI .45 Colt shotshells, and plain old .410 game loads. It was controllable, and those with more hand strength could easily fire this with one hand.
To that end, both the hammer and trigger pull require a bit of strength, but they are surprisingly smooth. The trigger pull on the Bond is slightly different than a standard CCW pistol. The Roughneck and Rowdy have a hint of a downward and rearward pull. But it is short and crisp. Though slightly awkward at first, a little range practice breeds comfort and confidence. Just because they’re small of stature does not mean these pieces are light.
Bond Explains the Low Prices
With a reputation for building double-barrel pocket pistols with the highest degree of attention to detail, Bond Arms gives a considerable amount of hands-on worker hours. With the Roughneck and Rowdy, Bond realized they could maintain the robust design and internal components without all the frills, thereby shaving dollars and cents. Owner Gordon Bond is quick to point out that these lower-cost handguns are made of the “same grade of stainless as our current production models.”
However, the personal attention to exterior work is considerably less, as Bond describes the process for producing perfection in the rest of their doubles. “We literally sand every part and then spend a tremendous amount of time polishing and hand finishing ... our quality control guys go to extreme measures to find every cosmetic flaw, scratch, ding, or pit or anything else that didn’t pass our inspection. This may not sound like much, but in comparison, we can build four to five Roughnecks in the same time it takes to build one Texas Defender.”
That kind of labor savings keeps money in the customer’s pocket and makes Bond Arms more accessible than ever before to the masses.