I have developed a growing affection for a certain tiny revolver from North American Arms that I almost laughed at until I shot it. This little .22 Mag surprised me after two months of carrying it and a few range visits.

I wouldn’t call the .22 Mini Mag my primary carry gun, but I have been kicking it around for a bit to see just what makes these mini revolvers so popular. I will also say that I bought this revolver with my own money, and it has some features that I love and a few that are not my favorite. Let’s dig in.


Table of Contents:

Intro: NAA Mini History
Specs & Function
Shooting
Concealed Carry 
Pros & Cons
Final Thoughts

Intro: NAA Mini History
 

NAA North American Arms .22 Mini Mag Revolver
NAA has had mini revolvers on the market for quite some time. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)


Small guns just have a special appeal, and the now employee-owned NAA is all about making some of the smallest guns on the market. But the real question is whether they are worth the space saved?

Small guns are hardly a new affair in the firearms community. In fact, as tiny as they are, the North American Arms mini revolvers are hardly the smallest wheelguns to hit the concealed carry world. But NAA actually has something uniquely American on offer that, from my experience, has been a joy to shoot and carry. 
 

Related: Mini Revolver Maker NAA Now Employee-Owned


The company dates back to 1972, when it was founded in Utah as the Rocky Mountain Arms Corp. NAA’s small guns have found their way into many pockets over the years, and in 2022, the company effectively turned over ownership to the employees to ensure those guns continued to roll off the Utah assembly line.
 

Specs & Function
 

NAA North American Arms .22 Mini Mag Revolver
Obviously, the most noticeable spec is the gun's size. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)


Perhaps the most important thing to note about the NAA revolvers is the existence of safety notches. These are single-action-only rimfire guns, and normally that would entail keeping an unloaded chamber under the hammer for carry purposes.

NAA has specific notches cut into the cylinder to lock the hammer away from a live round for safety, which then gives you the ability to carry five rounds in a full cylinder. I did spend two weeks testing that cylinder safety notch with dummy ammo, and I did not notice any shifting. 
 

NAA North American Arms .22 Mini Mag Revolver
You basically have to disassemble the gun to load it. Though, I did find it to be very reliable with Federal 30-grain Speer .22 WMR. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)
NAA North American Arms .22 Mini Mag Revolver
Leaving you with only five rounds that are slow to load and unload. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)
NAA North American Arms .22 Mini Mag Revolver
Actually, the shooting process is somewhat slow, too. As a single-action-only gun, you have to break your sight picture before each shot and cock the hammer before you can even take your first shot. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)


The loading and unloading process is simple but more involved than most semi-auto guns, so I would recommend practicing it on an unloaded firearm. You need to remove the entire cylinder for a reload, and then you need to remove the casings. On a gun this small, that takes a bit of dexterity. You can also use the cylinder pin to punch out stock casings. 

Digging into more specs, here’s how the gun breaks down:
 

  • Barrel Length: 1.19 inches (varies by model)
  • Unloaded Weight: 6.3 ounces 
  • Loaded Weight: 6.9 ounces loaded with five rounds of 30-grain Federal TNT Speer .22 WMR 
  • Trigger Pull: 4.83-pound average
  • Width: 0.85 inches
  • Height: 2.78 inches
  • Action: Single Action Only
     
NAA North American Arms .22 Mini Mag Revolver
The safety notches between each chamber are key to allowing you to carry the gun with all five rounds and the hammer safely off the rim of a casing. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)

Shooting


I had a handful of guns out with me on my last few range trips, and I was somewhat surprised by the little NAA revolver. First, the gun lacks true sights and relies almost solely on a rather fat front blade with no real rear sight. But my groupings were actually not that bad at 20 feet when shooting with one hand as fast as I felt confident I could still control my shots. 
 

NAA North American Arms .22 Mini Mag Revolver
Not outstanding accuracy, but it's certainly functional at 20 feet. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)


From my perspective, the gun is a backup option or a last resort, so it seemed fair to test it in one-handed shooting. The mechanics felt sound, with very positive and audible clicks to the single-action-only hammer and trigger. There is a half cock that allows you to release the cylinder. 

Reloading this small gun is a process, and that even requires using the plunger to pop out stubborn casings. But, perhaps more to the point, you have to completely remove the cylinder – there is a hinged version – making anything approaching a fast reload relatively ridiculous. 


Related: Magnum Minis – NAA Pug & Ranger II Revolvers


I will say it is enjoyable to shoot and rocks in the hand with the birdshead grip. Recoil in the .22 Mag is a bit snappy, which is to be expected for the gun’s size, but it’s hardly unpleasant. In fact, while shooting with a buddy testing out his new Ruger LCP Max as a daily pocket carry, he agreed that the NAA revolver was more enjoyable to shoot but not his cup of tea as a primary carry gun.
 

NAA North American Arms .22 Mini Mag Revolver
The sights are sparse, to say the least. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)
NAA North American Arms .22 Mini Mag Revolver
Making this more of a "be the gun" and point to shoot it kind of affair. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)


I would tend to agree. There is no trigger guard, and you have to carefully align the cylinder safety cuts with the hammer to properly load and carry five rounds. Sure, the LCP Max comes in at a few ounces heavier, but it offers more than twice the capacity in a semi-auto .380. I would put my money on the Max, and I did like the one I tested.

The trigger is spurred, and the short barrel does not lend itself to stabilizing the bullet for any significant distances. I noticed some slight key-holing at 20 feet, but there are also models with longer barrels. In hindsight, I think I would have gone with one of those. The gun is so small and light, I hardly feel like a barrel length under 2 inches is worth it. In fact, a 2-inch length would actually make it easier to reload because the cylinder pin would not extend past the barrel. 
 

NAA North American Arms .22 Mini Mag Revolver
The barrel on this model is so short you actually have to take care to avoid muzzling your hand while taking out the cylinder. Note the button at the tip of the cylinder pin. It releases the small ball bearing that locks it in place. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)


My final verdict on shooting, however, is that it is about as much fun as you can squeeze into a gun this size. I only have 200 rounds through it, which is likely more than most lifetime owners. That took three range visits, and the gun has been reliable and comfortable to shoot. But you have to cock the hammer and aim after every shot. The grips are small, but they point well enough. I can also easily index the cylinder to make sure it is properly positioned on a safety notch.
 

Concealed Carry  


Would I carry this gun for self-defense? Well, it does work marvelously for pocket carry and as a backup gun. The caliber isn’t my favorite for relative power or reliability, but I will always say I don’t want to be shot with .22 LR and much less .22 Magnum. 
 

NAA North American Arms .22 Mini Mag Revolver
It doesn't get much easier to conceal a gun. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)


Actually, on my second cylinder, I shot a bit high and hit a 1/8-inch washer on the target carousel. Embarrassing? Sure. But the metal washer won that fight quite handedly and barely showed a mark from the 30-grain .22 Mag round. 

So, if we consider this gun to be a last-ditch self-defense tool – and I do – then defining it with those parameters seems fair. There is nothing tactical or particularity fast about it. I have tested multiple grip modules with clips and holsters to see how the gun performed with different carry methods.
 

NAA North American Arms .22 Mini Mag Revolver  
Pocket carry is also an option... (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)
NAA North American Arms .22 Mini Mag Revolver
...as are various grip clips and folding designs. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)


The short answer is that the gun has multiple snag points. These are most noticeable to me at the hammer, trigger, base of the grip, and sides of the cylinder. After two months of carry experience, I have found the best solution to be a small IWB leather holster that is easily molded to the gun and, fortunately, also one of the cheapest options. The holster solves the snagging issues and also serves as a pocket-carry option.

I wouldn’t toss out the grip-carry options, as they seem to work well for exercise and minimalist situations. Just don’t expect to sling the NAA Mini Mag like the “Big Iron.” It likely won’t keep pace, and that was never its purpose. As a BUG option, I like the NAA revolver. 

I would prefer something with more controllability, capacity, and accuracy as my go-to option. In fact, if you held my feet to the fire, I know I would get far more use out of a decent pocketknife.  
 

NAA North American Arms .22 Mini Mag Revolver
But for my money, the best option has been a simple, moldable leather IWB holster. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)


Pros & Cons

Here are my top pros and cons for this NAA revolver:

Pros:

  • Easy to conceal
  • Reliable
  • Very lightweight
  • Simple to operate/maintain
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Small, rimfire chambering
  • Lots of snag points
  • Hard to shoot very accurately
  • Low capacity
  • Lots of steps to the shooting process
  • Slow to reload
     

Final Thoughts
 

NAA North American Arms .22 Mini Mag Revolver
I wouldn't really call it a novelty piece, but it certainly has that quality as well. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)


I’m a fan of clever guns, and the NAA mini revolvers are certainly clever. I generally would not consider them as a good primary carry option, but they are certainly easy to conceal. There are affordable holsters and grip options, the weight is barely noticeable, and the guns run reliably in my experience.

For me, this is a great little backup gun. But if you don’t want to stuff a larger gun into your pants, it might be exactly what you want. I have heard of folks carrying around these guns in their pockets so long that their jeans eventually had an imprint of the gun. Plus, most NAA firearms come with a pretty nice metal locking safe that is just icing on the cake to me. 

revolver barrel loading graphic

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