There are concealed carry-sized weapons, and then there's North American Arms. The ultimate in deep concealment and American-made, these miniature rimfire revolvers fit in a boot, the palm of a hand, even a belt buckle. If the smallest gun of all is what you desire, then NAA should be at the top of your list. Let’s look at the features and builds of two main designs – the Pug and Ranger II – to show you why.
About North American Arms
North American Arms handguns are made in Provo, Utah, from American materials. Do you remember the petite pistols set inside belt buckles? NAA built those and still does. There are revolvers in .22 Short, .22 Long Rifle, and .22 Magnum. Some have octagonal barrels, others night sights, and some even fold into their own grip for a smooth and almost unbelievably compact backup.
Heck, they even offer a percussion cap-and-ball option in .22 caliber. Though they do also build a duo of semi-automatic vest pistols, our focus here is on the bread and butter of the NAA line. All also carry the company’s lifetime warranty and exceptional customer service.
The vast majority of NAA’s designs are pint-sized single-action revolvers loaded and unloaded by removing the cylinder. Another more recent addition to the family is the Ranger II, which utilizes a top-opening design for more rapid cylinder access.
Built like the stout dog that gave the gun its name, the NAA Pug is compact, convenient, and delivers both bark and bite. The single-action Pug is chambered in both .22 LR and .22 Magnum with a 1-inch heavy barrel. Pebble-textured rubber grips are slightly oversized for a bit more grip. These five shooters can be had with either the standard XS White Dot sights or the XS Tritium night sights. Our test gun was the Pug in .22 Magnum.
The gun measures only 4.56-inches long with a height of 2.81 inches and a width of 1.06 inches. Like the other NAA guns, it ships with a nicely made metal locking vault with the NAA logo.
NAA Ranger II
A step outside the NAA norm are the easier-loading Sidewinder and Ranger platforms. While the Sidewinder features a swing-out cylinder, our test Ranger II has a break-open top. It’s chambered in .22 Magnum, though a .22 LR conversion cylinder is available. The barrel is slightly longer than the Pug at 1.63 inches.
The sights are also simpler, with a single front bead. The single-action revolver wears dressy rosewood grips with a bird’s head shape. There’s a star ejector for much more rapid reloads. The Ranger II has a bead-blast finish. Overall length is slightly longer at 5.16 inches, but it’s the same height and width of the Pug.
One of the most interesting features on the NAA platform of rimfires is what they call the Safety Cylinder. This engineering design allows the single-action gun to be safely carried while fully loaded. The Safety Cylinder is instantly recognizable from the notches located halfway between the chambers.
The hammer is lowered into one of these notches after the gun is loaded. When the hammer is cocked into the firing position, the cylinder naturally rotates to the next chamber. This eliminates the potential danger of a hammer sitting at half-cock over a live cartridge. We demonstrate this process in our full video and, like anything, practice makes perfect.
Field Work & Impressions
If you’re coming from a traditional shooting background, using the NAA mini-revolvers requires practice. The feel, grip, sight picture, and trigger are all different from the norm in both size and design.
The trigger is actually more of a spur than an extended blade style. Because of this and the gun’s small stature, shooters must take care not to overreach, but rather use correct finger pad placement on the bang switch. The NAA trigger itself on both model guns was surprisingly pleasant. They break right around 4 pounds. They operated flawlessly with all types of ammunition, from personal protection to birdshot.
Speaking of triggers, it is important to note that dry firing any rimfire is never a good idea. To remedy that problem while still allowing for practice, NAA suggests first removing the cylinder from the firearm. That allows shooters to familiarize themselves with the trigger pull.
Plenty of critics will claim that no rimfire is adequate for self-defense. While it’s true that most rimfires generally fall short on knockdown power and penetration as a primary defense caliber, the size of the NAA all but ensures these guns will always be on your person. Further, the correct choice in .22 WMR ammunition gives the shooter every advantage you can in this small package. We test fired some of our favorite rounds: Speer Gold Dot Personal Protection Short Barrel and Hornady’s Critical Defense. Further, no assailant or yard pest wants a faceful of CCI birdshot.
One of the more pleasant surprises with NAA, especially given the price, is the included packaging. Each of our NAA mini-revolvers came with a quality lockable metal gun vault. The little safe is keyed and foam-lined, with ample room for both the gun and accessories if desired.
Need one more reason to choose NAA? The holster options in leather and nylon are on point. We used IWB holsters from DeSantis GunHide, another American-made company. The tiny stature means the NAA is as at home in a belt buckle or boot as it is along the beltline or rigged in a pocket. Having an appropriate holster is always a good idea.
We did our range time testing up close and personal, with defense distances of 5 yards. The revolvers more than hold their own at that distance. The NAA is an in-your-face type of piece, not a target pistol or precision shooter. I’d rather have it on my side than against me any day. With its quality and American-made build, it’s a design you can trust to function when the chips are down.