Edge Arms has hit the Interwebs hard in the last few days, trying to build some blogosphere buzz around their forthcoming four-banger ‘Reliant’ derringer. I try not to badmouth new gun ideas until I can actually try them–or at least watch some YouTube videos of their catastrophic failures–but there’s really not much ‘new’ about this gun at all.
Nonetheless, I shall reserve judgment while we retrace the phylogeny of the four-barreled rimfire derringer.
Riverboat Gamblers Loved Them
First, of course, was the rimfire Sharps Derringer. It was a single-action pocket pistol with a then-unique rotating firing pin that all subsequent 4-barrel derringers have copied. These card-sharp Sharps were notoriously inaccurate, Mark Twain having once described Derringers as so dangerous that the only safe place in the room was directly in front of the muzzle.
And So Did Mafia Hit Men
The two-barreled High Standard Derringer was chambered in .22 LR and .22 WMR, with a more useful double-action trigger mechanism. The High Standard has been in nearly continuous production for more than fifty years, even though nobody but Mafia hit men ever found them useful. They were small and cheap, with just enough accuracy and power to whack a snitch or uncooperative union boss.
Most 50+ year old patterns would earn the designation as ‘classic’ gun designs, but I’m not sure anybody would describe the High Standard that way. Why not? You can find out for yourself pretty cheaply: they sell used for less than $200.
Cops Didn’t Like The COP
The next big leap backward in Derringer technology came in the form of the brutally uncomfortable, extremely heavy and very expensive COP (Compact Off-Duty Police) .357 backup pistol. It weighed nearly two pounds loaded, delivered poor accuracy, and had a slow rate of aimed fire due to its poor ergonomics and extremely heavy trigger. Muzzle flash with anything but tame .38 Specials was reportedly awe-inspiring.
The COP’s commercial failure was a surprise to nobody, because it weighed (and cost) nearly twice as much as a five-shot aluminum frame .38 snubnose.
On the positive side, it delivered solid ballistics from .357 Magnum 125-grain JHPs, and it was utterly impervious to corrosion because it was milled from solid stainless steel. It would have excelled as a pistol-whipping weapon once it ran empty.
Double Tap: Two Blasts From The Past
Most recently there’s the Double Tap. This new 9mm and .45 ACP pistol provides two very reliable and potent shots in a very small package…at the cost of heavy recoil.
Where does this leave the Edge Arms Reliant? At the tail end of a rather uninspiring 150-year legacy of multiple-barrel American pocket pistols. It’s not likely to be an accurate firearm, because it has always been extremely difficult to regulate the point of impact of multiple firearm barrels. This is even more difficult when the barrels are all bored out of a single block.
The fact that the Reliant is CNC milled and available in .17 HMR probably won’t make much of a difference to the millions of shooters who won’t be remotely interested in it. I wish it well, but I’m very skeptical.