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North American Arms, more commonly referred to simply as “NAA,” is what I’d call a niche firearms manufacturer. They’re best known for their series of Mini Revolvers — TTAG reviewed the standard .22 LR offering here and the .22 WMR / .22 LR convertible Sidewinder here — but they have a bit of a cult following for their Guardian semi-auto pocket pistols as well. While south of Salt Lake City I found myself in the neighborhood of Provo-based NAA with no more than ten minutes to spare, so popped in for the speed dating version of a factory tour.

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A representative of nearly every product line in the NAA catalog is on display in the reception area and can be handled by visitors (cylinders are not bored out so cannot accept live ammo). Seen above is the smallest revolver NAA makes, the .22 Short model.

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Mike of CMPR marketing draws a bead with the .22 Short.
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I fell in love with the color case hardened Mini Revolver. This one’s in .22 WMR.20160914_154433

Although the high polish, deep blued .22 LR Mini above is pretty spectacular as well. Grip choice aside.

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“The Earl” is pretty cool. Available in .22 WMR or in .22 WMR with a .22 LR conversion cylinder, and in various barrel lengths.

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I asked if I could borrow a Guardian in one of NAA’s own calibers, the .32 NAA (a .380 ACP necked down to .32 caliber), for review, but neglected to photograph them in the lobby there, hence the stock photo above. There’s a tiny version available in .32 ACP or in .25 NAA (.32 ACP necked down to .25 caliber), and a darn small version available in .380 ACP or in the aforementioned .32 NAA.

They’re straight blowback pistols machined from stainless steel. While most of the market has moved to polymer frames for micro/pocket/mouse guns, NAA is effectively keeping it old school — keeping it niche — and is making what’s known to be a highly-reliable, soft-shooting pocket pistol at the expense of them being a little heavier and wider than the plastic wonders that have filled shelves of late. I’ve never shot one of these, but hope to rectify that soon.

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Exiting the lobby puts you into a huge room surrounded by offices and filled with large cubicles, and passing through that room and out the back lands you on the factory floor (above).

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CNC machinery abounds and is used to make nearly every part in an NAA firearm.

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These are laser engraving machines, used for engraving serial numbers and other markings into frames, cylinders, and more.

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One of the assembly and inspection areas. There’s a not-insignificant amount of hand fitting and careful inspection that goes into every gun.

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Every firearm is test fired.

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Mini Revolver frames in a big CNC fixture getting machined into shape.
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Cylinders awaiting fitting to a frame and finishing.

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Each frame is inspected and hand finished.

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At some point, a cylinder or cylinders is “married” to a specific frame and they proceed through the fitting and finishing process together. In the photo above and below I removed the sheet of paper with bar codes for each serialized firearm so we could see the guns, but those papers can be seen on top of the trays in the rest of the pictures. In each finishing and inspection step, this allows NAA to track an individual gun’s progress and relevant notes.

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Speed walking through the production floor, I was happy to find my photos didn’t have too much “action blur” haha. It was definitely cool to see where one of my favorite firearms (my .22 LR Mini Revolver) is made. One day I’ll upgrade that thing to a color case hardened model.

36 Responses to Factory Tour of North American Arms

  1. I’ve never seen an naa semi auto or the ammo for same in the real world. I have seen their mini revolvers. They appear to be well made and functional. If I got one it would be the longer barrel in .22wmr.

    • Well-made and functional, indeed. Most of the .22 WMR models are available with a .22 LR conversion cylinder, and I think that’s the way to go. It obviously costs a few more bucks to add that second cylinder, but the ability to shoot Long Rifle from it, too, is worth it for plinking use.

      • A stainless steel .22wmr with rubber boot grips and longer barrel would be a great carry gun for my gold panning trips. I’m sometimes in water to my chest and since i live in the great state of CA being able to carry discretely is a plus.

    • From experience, non short barrel .22 Magnum ammo is not worth shooting in a handgun because it meant for rifles. The velocity isn’t that much more, the blast is, and the accuracy is about the same at best, unimpressive at worst.

      The .22 Mag really only shines with the JHP defense ammo meant for handgun barrels and that ammunition is basically extinct as the manufacturers have focused production on .22 LR and .17 HMR.

      IMO, .22 Magnum is close to being as irrelevant as .22 Long.

    • Not sure if you count the interwebs as the “real world” but you can buy 32 NAA ammo at several retailers online. Its not exactly cheap compared to more popular offerings, but its not impossibly-to-find rare and not too-expensive-to-contemplate-shooting either.

  2. I’ve never been that interested in these mini revolvers. Still, I’ve got to admit that NAA certainly makes a quality product, and this factory tour was pretty cool. Thanks

    Also, I do like their new swing out cylinder feature. I’d enjoy having one in .22lr, mainly for fun.

  3. This article was a revelation.

    I expected that tiny little guns would be made by elves in a factory the size of my daughter’s first dollhouse.

    Does NAA make anything in .9mm? Because that round, made famous by the MSM, would be a perfect match for a gun the size of my thumb.

    • That’s Keeblers, and they are all in jail for contributing to the delinquency of minors (remember the “1911-eaten” pop-tarts?). NAA handguns, according to owners I’ve talked to, are well-made fine shooters, definitely not throw-aways, as I would probably do to a thumb-sized 9 before the second shot.

  4. My Guardian .380 with Novak night sights and DeSantis Nemesis pocket holster is always on my person. Always in my pocket, little noticed, low weight and compact. It carries and conceals easily.

    Super classy pistol.

    Thousands of rounds of all manufacture and style. Not one FTF or failure to go into battery. Ever.

    I did have to have the trigger reset spring replaced last month. It had snapped in half while I was practicing with dry fire and snap caps.

    They not only replaced the spring but re finished and rehabbed the pistol to brand new condition.

    Thanks to Sandy Chisolm for a fantastic pistol, company and customer service.

    NAA customer service makes every other company pale in comparison.

    • Just FYI, if anyone is thinking of getting one because they believe it’ll be easy to shoot, they’re barking up the wrong tree. Usually when you go smaller and lighter, you go more difficult to shoot for a given caliber, and the Minis are no exception. They’re single action only with a decently strong hammer spring, they’re difficult to get a solid firing grip on, and they kick. It’s a rare .22 LR that has noticeable recoil, but because of the Mini’s light weight and small size, these things do kick. Which makes them fun, but not an easy shooter like a larger, heavier .22 LR would be.

      If it’s about being fun, cute, high quality, and/or easy to conceal, they’re on the right path here.

      Also, and clearly on the plus side, it’ll fit in interesting places.

      • Seriously, you’re claiming a Mini “kicks”? It’s .22LR, folks fire it from a zip-gun and don’t flinch. I shot a Mini a few months ago (one of the guys picked it up in trade) and the recoil was just this side of irrelevant with Stingers. The guy who owned it held his hand steady, and (kinda clumsily) fanned an entire cylinder in a coupla seconds.

        • I have shot a NAA mini plenty, and they “jump” alot because there is no hold on them really. fun to shoot, mechanically accurate, but difficult to aim and real easy to point in the wrong direction.

        • “Jumps” as sagebrushracer said is a better description. With the small wood grips the Mini tends to rotate in most shooters’ hand(s). If a finger is touching the back of the cylinder, you’ll definitely know it when it fires, and most people I’ve seen shoot it have to adjust their grip after each shot. It jumps and moves and it has some force behind it when it does.

          This is alleviated with some experience — figuring out how to best grip the thing — and a tight grip. The biggest thing, though, is the grips installed on the pistol. If your NAA Mini experience is with any of the rubber grips or the larger wood grips, your experience is completely unrelated to how the standard wood grip models try to kick/jump/spin.

          Anyway that’s all somewhat irrelevant. Bottom line is that it’s probably one of the most difficult .22 LR firearms to shoot well. It isn’t easier because it’s smaller, as a lot of people assume, it’s harder. It isn’t about me having an issue shooting it, it’s about knowing that a lot of people do have a hard time, do have issues with it jumping/rotating, and that it’s not really a good suggestion for a “beginner” for those and other reasons. They’re also not for people who think .22 LR doesn’t require ear protection haha

          And “zip gun” just means a homemade gun. Plenty of those are huge 😛

        • Yes it may “rotate” a bit with the wooden grips, get some rubber/polymer and that pathetic excuse disappears. It’s freakin’ .22LR. There IS NO KICK.

          And please quit tying to sell the millenial affectation of using currently redefined words to suit your BS narrative – “zip guns” were always straight tube, almost always .22LR, and they were easy to shoot 70 years ago. My old man had one (like the rest of his classmates in the ’50s), they were all .22LR. Guess they’ve gotten too “rough” for the ‘speshul snowflake’ class, but actual men had had no problem with them. Times change, but I don’t have to welcome the pansification. .

          Referring to a ‘plumbing shotgun’, or any other improvised firearm as a ‘zip gun’; is a bastardization of the real term.

        • Haha okay then. Great choice for the womenz and kidz, then. I’m sure they’ll love it and appreciate the suggestion. Just not the millenial ones, of course.

        • Or referring to the USFA Zip Gun (aka the worst gun ever made(I know, I own one)). I agree that with the factory smooth round bottom grips on a mini revolver (all that I have experienced on mine), it is a bit cumbersome to grip, pull the hammer, aim and shoot well……unless you have an infant’s hands.

      • I have one and carry it all the time. I’ve shot a few hundred rounds through it in both LR & WMR. Does it “kick” a little more than a larger .22? Yes, but in comparison to any other pistol I’ve carried there is no kick.

        As for accuracy you have to know what it is you’re carrying. You’re not going to shoot nice tight groups at 25m with this, but at close range (5m-10m or so) you could certainly expect to get center mass shots. And the truth is that if you shoot someone outside of 10m you are probably going to have a hard time selling “self-defense” to the DA.

  5. ” It was definitely cool to see where one of my favorite firearms (my .22 LR Mini Revolver) is made. One day I’ll upgrade that thing to a color case hardened model.”

    One thing to be aware of, Jeremy, is that the case-hardened model is carbon steel, *not* stainless steel. I found that out about a month back when Ashley posted the pic of her case-hardened Glock slide and I did some digging on NAA’s website.

    Rust might be an issue for EDC. It will still look awesome in that belt buckle holster, though… 🙂

    • Naturally. I was also surprised not to see any elves, dwarfs, or politically correct “little people” working there.

  6. I’ve seen tours of the NAA factory online before and this one again doesn’t give me much hope that the break top Ranger will ever be released even though NAA is “still working on it.” NAA is a production shop and their workers only know to produce the same thing over and over again, not produce new designs like Ruger or Kel Tec. The skill level isn’t there.

    Not trying to be a butthole when I say it, I like NAA, just calling it as I see it.

    • I played with the break top earlier this year, and I think it’s gonna happen!

      FWIW though, they already sell their full production capacity. While I can’t exactly say why they haven’t chosen to expand (as far as I can tell, that is, as I have no specific info about this), their incentive to create and sell new designs is limited considering they’ve been selling all they can make for many years.

      • They don’t expand because it’s difficult to be able to find people who can produce manufactured goods of high quality and doubly difficult to find those people and convince them to work on a night shift, which is one way to improve production rates.

        Being situated in Utah isn’t exactly a place you’re going to find skilled employees. Hell, it’s tough enough to find skilled manufacturing labor in populated areas.

        That’s one reason. On top of that, companies are very hesitant to buy new machines that cost 100 grand or more in what is still a shaky economy.

  7. The Black Widow model, with 2″ barrel and large rubber grips, is more like a real gun. It has excellent sights and practical accuracy is much better than the smaller Minis with the birdseye grip. Still, it’s very easy to conceal.

    • LOL. Pretty dang close! As stated I had a max of 10 minutes to spare and with small talk and such we probably spent closer to 15 at NAA, which led to me getting yelled at by the wife when I was late for our dinner thing haha

  8. What? No one chirped up with comparisons of the Guardian to the Seecamp 32? I’m disappointed…
    That said: the 32 and 25 NAA are a couple of cartridges I’ve been watching intermittently over the years and quietly rooting for other manufacturers to pick up.
    Go check out the ballistics: pretty damn impressive for pocket sized guns. Besides, i like North American, great company and I like the novelty of bottleneck cartridges.

  9. Has anyone ever thought of a specialty load just for the NAA mini revolver; a .22 short, with a 40 gr bullet and same powder charge, optimizing the belt buckle revolver?!

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