Gun Review: NAA Ranger II Top-Break Mini Revolver

Ranger II

I’m an unabashed fan of North American Arms’ Mini Revolvers. Heck, I had a custom cowboy hat holster made for one of mine. So you can imagine how excited I’ve been to get my hands on their Ranger II since they announced its impending arrival over two years ago. Well, I finally got one! And I cannot recommend it . . .

Actually, that’s not entirely true. If you want an extremely well-made and exceedingly fun little gun to break out on the shooting range — something sure to turn heads and generate smiles — the Ranger II is right up your alley. If you’re looking to use it for self-defense against charging snakes or two-legged snakes in the grass, maybe not so much.

First, the good stuff. It’s sexy in nothing but brushed stainless steel and rosewood.

As with all of NAA’s Minis, like The Earl (above, top) that Chris reviewed and the original I’ve owned forever and the Sidewinder I reviewed, it’s impeccably well-made. It’s like a little clock. It’s precise and smooth and reliable and solid.

It’s even accurate if you can align that nub of a front sight post in the little rear notch.

And pull the stiff little nub of a trigger without moving the gun.

NAA Ranger II

The Ranger II is also far faster to reload than your typical NAA Mini. Just quarter-cock the hammer and pull back on the frame latch to release the top-break frame, allowing it to pivot open. It pops up just slightly under spring tension, then the rest is on you.

Thanks to a little lever system within the hinge mechanism . . .

It even has a star extractor that lifts the cases up out of the cylinder as the top-break is opened all the way. Give it a little upside-down shimmy and cases will often fall right out.

Reload, snap the action shut, and you’re back in business in a scant fraction of the time it takes to reload the traditional Minis.

It’s also far easier to align the cylinder such that the hammer blade indexes into one of the safety notches located between each chamber. Simply align a safety notch at 12:00, shut the action, and lower the hammer into the notch.

Once in the safety notch, the cylinder is locked in place and the hammer is resting between rounds instead of over a round. This makes NAA’s Minis safe to carry fully-loaded; an impact to the rear of the hammer cannot cause a round to fire.

Unfortunately, this top-break design — the reason I wanted the Ranger II! — is also the source of my frustration with the Ranger II. When cocking the hammer on this single action Mini Revolver, Chris and I both . . .

Simultaneously broke open the action. While shooting. Entirely on accident. And far too often.

My YouTube video comments (and the NAA owners forum) are starting to go sideways on me, but I’m honestly not an idiot. Well, at least not because of this.

The Ranger II is a dang Mini Revolver. Ergo[nomically] it’s really small. When I reach my thumb up to cock the hammer — whether it’s my left thumb or my right — it encompasses the hammer. The spur ends up right in the middle of my thumb pad.

If I’m just going to town and enjoying shooting the Ranger II, and especially if I’m trying to shoot it rapidly and I’m giving it the ol’ fast and hard cock, I’ll cause a full release every few cylinders. Under actual stress? Forget it.

It doesn’t help that the frame latch takes a fraction of the energy to move than does the hammer. If I’m 90 percent on the hammer and 10 percent on the latch, that action is opening.

Seen above, NAA’s original Ranger’s frame latch was on the top strap and had to be lifted upwards. As in, in the opposite direction of the hammer instead of in exactly the same direction. This was not as cool, was more expensive to manufacture, and was not as convenient. But maybe the new design is a skosh too convenient?

So far the folks on the NAA forum don’t agree. Though production Ranger IIs have only been shipping for a couple weeks, there are guys on there who say they haven’t had this issue at all. But somehow Chris and I both suffered the problem immediately and independently.

Apparently we’re expected to contort our thumbs better and use just the tip to cock the hammer rather than get a more comfortable, more solid, better purchase on it (and sometimes incidentally on the latch). Maybe we’re six-feet tall and wear men’s size large gloves and that’s just not simpatico with the Ranger II when it comes to Wild West mini shootouts.

Unfortunately, this open fan of North American Arms stands by this issue being an issue. At least for me (and for Chris).

But not for having fun on the range. For that, this issue’s a non-issue. For a good time, the Ranger II’s your huckleberry.

If you’re thinking of using the Ranger II for self-defense or in stressful sorts of situations, though, you’d better practice and get that muscle memory down. Remember, just the tip. Definitely don’t securely grip the hammer in a firm and/or forcible fashion. But who’d do that?

Specifications: North American Arms Ranger II

Caliber: .22 Magnum (also available with a .22 LR conversion cylinder)
Capacity: five rounds
Overall Length: 5.16 inches
Barrel Length: 1.63 inches
Height: 2.81 inches
Width: 1.06 inches
Weight: 6.9 ounces
Action: single action, break-open cylinder, star extractor
Materials: stainless steel and rosewood
MSRP: $479 as tested, $574 with .22 LR conversion cylinder

Ratings (out of five stars):

Quality  * * * * *
Excellent, as usual from NAA. Fit, finish, and machining are spot-on.

Fun Factor  * * * * *
It’s so cute! More than that, if you think shooting rimfire ammo is boring, wait until you shoot it out of a teeny tiny little revolver that barks, kicks, and spits fire. Plus, the mechanical satisfaction of a nice single action revolver with all of that clicking and indexing and clock-like feedback is, well, satisfying.

Reliability  * * * * * or  *
Five stars for range use, one star for self-defense use. It’s reliable right until it’s accidently broken open.

Concealability * * * * *
You could stash it anywhere. Anywhere. Be safe.

Overall * * * * * or * *
Five stars or two stars. Depends what you’re using it for. And if you have carny fingers or man hands. I still like it, I still want it, it’s still a hoot to shoot.

Anyone else miss Breaking Bad when they see this photo?


  1. avatar John in Ohio says:

    Great video and write-up. Thanks for making it.

    I see what you mean but I think I still need one because… guns! 🙂

    Seriously though, my thumbs are much smaller so I might be able to train around it.

    1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

      I’m sure I could train around it, too, but the design also could have mitigated the issue in various ways. I don’t expect anything as complicated as an internal lock on the frame latch, that can only be released with the hammer in a particular position (which I believe was the case with the Schofield, for instance, even though I know people still accidently open the top-break when shooting those fast in cowboy action and such regardless), but there are simple physical ways to have it less obtrusive, less easy to operate in comparison to the hammer, etc.

    2. avatar Madcapp says:

      NAA needs to take their beautiful build quality and break-top design, and upsize to a normal size gun…or at least something the size of those old Iver-Johnson safety hammer pistols…that’s not too big. And, I can do without .22 magnum, especially in NAAs current lineup of micro pistols.

      1. avatar Specialist38 says:

        I recall that Detonics was planning to make a full sized top break a la Webley. I even saw a photo of a prototype.

        My guess is they were too weak for magnum rounds or maybe even standard rounds.

        Would have fun to have.

        1. avatar Gun Free School Zones are a crime against humanity says:

          The Russians built a break top .357 magnum. I think it’s a cost factor on these guns. Not a strength factor.

      2. avatar Hank says:

        I agree, I think there would be a market for a mid-size top break in a rimfire caliber or even a semi-rimmed cartridge like the .32 ACP. I know top breaks in powerful calibers eventually stretch at the top strap and timing issues develop. But modern steels should be strong enough for low pressure rounds.

        1. avatar Mike says:

          I shoot my Webley made in ’16. 1916 not 2016. 101 years old and still going strong. So I guess the design is strong.
          Would love a sub nosed top break in 45LC

      3. avatar John in Ohio says:

        I would love to see something like that in .38 special.

        1. avatar J.T. says:

          Uberti makes a S&W No. 3 reproduction in .38 special. Only thing is that it is a single action.

        2. avatar John in Ohio says:

          I’ve seen that on the interwebz but it’s not stainless. Every handgun I use anymore is stainless, if I can get it as such. Thanks for the heads up though. 🙂

          Plus, I really like the way NAA designs and manufactures firearms; the looks, feel, and durability.

  2. avatar DrDKW says:

    Of course, NAA had to ‘redesign the wheel’, with a latch that was less “expensive”, but more “cool”.
    Fortunately, I already have a few break-tops, with reliable latches, that cost a fraction of NAA’s price!


    1. avatar TruthTellers says:

      Yeah, I just don’t see the reason why I would buy this over any other NAA revolver that would never have the unintentional opening issue. I too have break tops that cost hundreds less than this, so I don’t need this. The regular NAA’s and the Sidewinder are the best choices for carrying and defense, the Ranger is a novelty piece.

  3. avatar Bloving says:

    Well, crud. This was another new gun that I really WANTED to like. I guess the answer is: the same as any other gun – try it on first before you buy. Works for some folks, but not everyone.
    Now to get one in my own hands and see if my woodworkers hands can manipulate it with no problems or not. If not – well then, they still make the original mini revolvers…

  4. avatar Specialist38 says:

    Interesting. I would never carry any Mini revolver for defense since it is hard to manipulate them.

    That said There is a reason the old top break designs worked the way they did. The old Smith lemon squeezers opened with a pinch and pull upward. Now I know why. They were also small and any additional levers would have been in the way of hand.

    I think some the Webleys had a lever but they were full sized – not tiny.

    I wouldn’t mind owning one of these but would rather have the older style latch.

  5. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

    far less fiddly than extracting the pin. toy status deserved.
    i ogled the .22 short mini at the jefferson shop in metairie after enjoying the slidell gunshow (i went one way with carry on only, so needed a knife right away. the tsa must have spotted the 154cm pocket tool in my duffel, ‘cuz that’s gone now- not restricted, just irresistable to sticky fingers) but out of town, etc.

    1. avatar TruthTellers says:

      The Sidewinder’s are swing out. If one thought they needed to reload and hand fat fingers that couldn’t work with the pin and cylinder, the Sidewinder is their best best.

      IMO, the NAA’s are a 5 shot deal and once they run dry, you’re SOL. Get done in 5 shots what needs doing. At the distances that they’re supposed to be used, they shouldn’t take 5 shots.

  6. avatar Gun Free School Zones are a crime against humanity says:

    The Webley had a latch that you pushed forward on. Not pulled back. The Webleys were DA/SA. They were meant to be used double action in service. But even if you fired them single action and somehow got your thumb on the break latch instead of the hammer pulling it back would achieve nothing.

    Meant for specialist.38

    1. avatar Specialist38 says:

      Thank…done more shotting with Smith and IJ topbreaks.

      They are fun to shoot it is a weak design due to the necessary break in the cylinder window.

      I would like to shoot a webley fosberry automatic revolver…..that would be interesting.

      Maybe Ian will do a review if he hasnt already.

  7. avatar frankw says:

    I’ve always liked top-breaks. I’ve had several. The original design of the NAA interested me and I might have gotten one, but the cheap new latch they slapped on it turned me off.

  8. avatar Geoff PR says:

    “Remember, just the tip.”


    For some reason. that line didn’t work for me. Probably ‘cuz I’m not as smooth-talking as a Leftist politician.

    Anyways, back to the gun…

    I can think of two things to potentially mitigate this issue for those handy with (tiny) tools and lots of patience –

    1) – Fit a stronger latch spring in there.

    2) – This one’s a bit more involved –

    Smooth the serrations from the spur, then carve a shallow ‘notch’ at the front of the spur so a fingernail can hook in there to open the latch.

    But, hey, I’m just spit-‘ballin here, as an un-trained home-shop engineer…

  9. avatar Evan says:

    I am curious how the hinge joint is holding up after a few boxes of shells are put thru the new break top. Any noticeable play?

  10. avatar Ed says:

    Who’s really worried about a “quick” re-load with a NAA mini? My original design .22 mag is my back-up to my back-up..if I get to the end of that its Knife, sneakers and a prayer time!

  11. avatar TexasGunGal says:

    Yeah it’s cute but I don’t do cute handguns😳
    After age of 18 years old, other than puppies and kittens, babies really not into cute.
    For price could get another Ruger SR22 and a couple of boxes of ammunition.
    Not for me but as my dad said “whatever floats your boat”

  12. avatar Randy says:

    I like this little revolver!

    I’ve got an old .32 cal. first model Iver Johnson (1897) break top revolver that is in pristine condition. It has a side flip-up lever to break it open (it even has the same shell extractor) and is a very slick design. Easy to flick the lever open with your thumb and not at all obtrusive.

    I can readily see that it could be used on this NAA to great benefit!

  13. avatar Mikial says:

    At almost $500 for a gimmicky little pocket gun that shoots 4 rounds of .22 Mag, I think this is something I can do without.

  14. avatar JFM says:

    Three words; longer hammer spur. This could be a quick product fix for NAA or a very small niche product for some gunsmith.

  15. avatar PeterC says:

    Odd. I’ve been trying to duplicate the “accidental opening” glitch, and I really have to try, and contort my hold, in order to do it. Perhaps it’s because I have a smaller hand than those having this problem. I own both the original Ranger and the Ranger II, and the new iteration is actually a cleaner and better crafted design than the original.

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