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.