While waiting in line to pony up for my range time recently, a pleasant man in spectacles and his son struck up a conversation with Matt, the owner of Sovereign Arms. Sovereign Arms is the scruffy shooting range at the intersection of 141 and 21 in Fenton outside St. Louis. I frequent their establishment for the fair prices and good service. It’s where I first showed my grandsons how to shoot a pistol. Matt’s handling a small object…

It’s a small gray block of machined metal in the shape of a gun. Matt manipulates a catch, and the gun opens up.  I instantly recognize the over-under hinge action of the Heizer DoubleTap. The pleasant man is Thomas C. Heizer of Heizer Aerospace.

Mr. Heizer has come by Sovereign Arms to show Matt a prototype of the .45 DoubleTap. After Matt checks it out, I ask Tom Heizer for a look. He is says “sure” and Matt places it in my hand.

While I look the prototype over, Tom describes the mechanism to Matt.  “You can dry fire it, it’s all real smooth ball bearings inside.”

I ask “May I check out the trigger feel?”

“Go right ahead” Tom offers.

I point the empty gun in a safe direction and pull the trigger. The trigger is both smooth and weighty. There’s no slop whatsoever in the mechanism. I dry fire it a half dozen times.  The closest I could compare it to is my wife’s 642 Smith .38 snubbie, a fine firearm with the stiff trigger of a double action revolver. There is something alien about how the trigger pulls – straight back and butter smooth, but somehow the weight of the trigger is incongruent with its silky travel.

Machined using CNC milling technology, the DoubleTap prototype is a gun nerd’s dream.  It’s an incredibly well-executed example of machining. The seams are flawless, the fit is tight and tidy. I don’t spend a great deal of time with it, but I detect no looseness in the piece at all.

“We’re going to put a speedloader in the grip compartment” said Heizer, “That will give you two more shots with it. It’s .45 caliber.”

Matt smiles “Oh yeah, I’m a .45 guy.” He taps the piece he has strapped to his thigh.

Tom explains how it fires the two chambers. “When you pull the trigger, it strikes a chamber, and the mechanism sets up to strike the next chamber on the next pull”

“Does it reset when you open the action?” I ask.

“No, it just strikes whatever chamber is next – if it just struck the top, it will strike the bottom.”

“So if I loaded one cartridge into a chamber leaving the other empty, it could strike an empty chamber after a reload.”

Tom nodded “Yeah, you would have to pull trigger again to hit the chamber with a round in it”

If there were a misfire, a second strike on the problem cartridge could be affected by cycling through again.

I believe the prototype was carved from high strength aluminum, but Heizer plans to offer them in Titanium, too. This prototype was amazingly light. Tom graciously let me take photos of the piece. I placed it next to my Diamondback DB9, fresh from the factory after warranty work correcting a busted trigger.

I had just run about 20 rounds through it as part of my skills upkeep. Shooting 9mm in that small of a gun is a handful, even with a recoil spring adapted from a McPherson strut.  I can only imagine what touching off a .45ACP in the same size package must feel like,  even with the Heizer’s barrel-porting that could drain a kiddie pool. My gut tells me this could be a pistol you only want to shoot if your life depended on it, but if your life depends on it, .45 is hard to beat.

Still, just looking at the quality of the engineering and the sheer tour de force of the machining, it’s going to be a must-have for collectors of derringers. I’ll reserve judgment as to its utility as an everyday carry or backup weapon for when I get a chance to shoot it – hopefully soon.

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34 Responses to Heizer DoubleTap Hands-On

  1. I just don’t get the derringer thing… Two shots ain’t enough for my tastes, even if it IS a .45. I’m not even someone who thinks you need several dozen rounds on you when you leave the house, I carry around a 5 shot S&W 442 all the time with an extra speedstrip.

    Going off their specs (and those from mouseguns.com) my Sig P238 is the same height/length (3.9″/5.5″) though the Sig is a bit thicker and heavier (consider that the Sig is not the lightest/smallest of the pocket .380s). But I’ve got 5 more shots on top of what the Heizer carries, even if they are “only” .380s.

    Plus, who wants to shoot a titanium .45ACP derringer? I bet that thing will hurt worse than some of those ultra light .357s.

  2. On the “pro” side – I think the design eliminates a failure to feed/failure to eject stoppage. Two shots of .45 ACP as reliable as the sunrise.

    If I had the spare change, I would pick one up for the sheer James Bond coolness.

  3. I like the design and simplicity, but I too can’t get over just having two shots.

    If this gun was in the right price range I might buy one for the heck of it, tho.

    • I guess the idea is that it’s two shots at muzzle contact distance after everything else has failed. Thrust into the rib cage and pull the trigger twice and hope for the best.

  4. I’m just happy that someone is designing something new. Something “out of the box”. I can see a use for this, the thinness of it makes it very concealable. Nope I wouldn’t carry it as a primary defence gun, but tucked in an ankle holster for a last resort gun, it would certainly be useful

  5. I can think of a few “last ditch” pistols that would be a lot worse than this one. Unlike some pistols, this won’t jam after a contact shot. Stick this in a bad guy’s armpit and drop the hammer — if a second shot is necessary, the BG’s name must be Godzilla.

  6. While I would want to see testing to demonstrate it, the trigger and the strike felt very authoritative. Unless the ammo is screwed up, the gun will fire no matter how much crap it has been exposed to.

  7. I love all these companies mentioning that their products are CNC machined, acting like it’s hot shit.

    I can just picture some construction worker saying “I made this hole with a power drill! No punk ass hand drill for this guy!” while bobbing his eyebrows at the hot administrative chick who is looking at him like he’s a moron.

    CNC was hot shit a decade ago. now it’s just standard.

  8. I wonder what the velocity is out of those ultra short barrels. I saw some data for a 3 inch barrel giving velocities about 720 fps for a 230 grain .45. 600 fps or less is still plenty lethal, about the same as a .380.

      • He was just saying 230 grains going 600fps has about the same energy as 95gr going 950fps.

        One thing to remember is that, unlike a Kimber .45, this thing has NO backpressure, so all the energy is directed out front. If a 3″ Kimber can do 805fps, I’d bet this will be 845+fps with the same ammo.

        If they make a 9mm version that comes in around $300, I’d look into it…but with the PF9 at $275 and carrying 8 rounds (and no failures in 800+ rounds), it’d be hard to justify getting within $200 of the MSRP of $499 for aluminum and $759 Ti.

  9. Most gunfights are 2 shots. Relaibility and portability are high on the guns positive atributes. .45 makes bigger holes than .40, .357, .380, .32. Bigger holes more chance of vital damage. This is a close range gun. That is where most gun fight happen and very close range. Another small gun but with a big caliber.

  10. Interesting? Yes, but whenever I look at something new I judge it by what would it replace (within its likely category) and I would still pick up a revolver on my way out the door. Every time.

    • I guess what it’s got going for it is its slim profile, which a revolver can’t match, but then again, I’d probably take the extra three shots over the slim design.

      • Rule number 1 is actually point the thing in a safe direction. Yes it would be better if he had mentioned that he checked it to make sure it was empty. In his defense, he saw the action open and being in a gun store, they don’t let you have ammo and a gun at the same time

  11. 45 makes bigger holes through PAPER than 40, 357, etc, but the hole size in a meat target has a lot more to do with hydrostatic shock than caliber. F=ma, not F=caliber.

    • True, but if you had to choose between getting shot with a .45, and getting shot with a .40, which one would you pick?

      • A — Neither? It’s like the ole military Sargent that stated to the new recruit that knew all about gun stats…”I ain’t seen anyone that can out run it” I like the gun (though it is going to be pricy, for a while at least), nice concept. I often carry a Bond Arms “Snake Slayer”, 45lc / 410. It “hurts” to shoot, and have had several people comment on that very thing. However, (just guessing) one is not thinking about recoil, ft lbs, and how big a hole I’m gonna leave in this guy/girl, when one is in real danger. I would think one would appreciate that someone came up with a gun that can be trusted to do the job…

  12. THE DOUBLE TAP IS SMALL AND ONLY FIRES 2 ROUNDS.THAT IS ALL I NEED WHEN A CARJACKER ASK FOR MY CAR KEYS AND I REACH INTO MY POCKET AND PRODUCE THE .45, IN LIEU OF CAR KEYS.

  13. Much less chance of a FTF? Slim and light? Available in stopping power calibers? (Check the website – it’s available in 9mm and .45.) Sold.

  14. I am buying one. yeah its 2 rounds, but as something i can carry when running pt this will do the trick. i have big guns and carry them but a second gun is always the fastest reload

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