Jeff Cooper’s credited with saying that the first rule of gunfighting is to have a gun. And you’ve probably read a thousand times that the best carry gun is the one you have with you. Or something trite like that. One of the best features of North American Arms’ little mini revolvers is they remove any excuse you might have for not carrying a firearm.
These little gems are so light and compact that anyone can carry one no matter what they’re wearing or where they’re headed.
I have to admit, I was a little skeptical about them until I actually got my hands one. This little pocket rocket is NAA’s Pug-T, a five shot .22 Magnum revolver with a Hogue rubber grip and XS Big Dot tritium night sights. There’s also a version (the Pug-D) with a standard white dot front sight.
One of the first surprising things about the diminutive Pug is that it ships from NAA with a metal lockbox, the kind lots of gun owners buy for their car to store their carry gun when they have to enter a gun-free zone. It’s a nice touch.
The next thing that impresses is the pistol’s build quality. The Pug feels like a solid chunk of stainless steel. It’s beautifully made with a level of fit and finish you expect to see in much more expensive firearms.
Like other NAA Minis, the Pug is single action only. You’ll have to cock it each time you want to fire it. Both the hammer spur and the rudimentary trigger are serrated and provide solid contact when cocking and firing.
The Pug’s dovetailed Big Dot sights are an ideal choice for this little gun.
When taking a precision shot — you actually can do that, despite the tiny sight radius — just put the front sight on the rear notch. In a self-defense situation, that big front sight stands out sufficiently that it’s easy to instinctively put it on your target and fire.
Given the Pug’s size it necessarily operates a little differently than larger revolvers. There’s just no room for a cylinder release button. Instead, NAA’s engineers have devised a unique method for loading and dropping empties.
The barrel has a spung underlug that pulls down and rotates. Once you turn it, you then pull it and the attached cylinder pin forward and out of the gun to release the cylinder.
It’s a fiddly process that takes a little practice to get used to. Three or four times and you’ll have it down. Just know that you won’t be doing any tactical reloads with the Pug. This is pretty much a five-shots-and-you’re-done gun.
The cylinder pin doubles as a tool to help you clear empty casings. And you’ll need it as there are always one or two cases that expand enough that they don’t drop free after firing.
One caution…it’s easy to put a finger in line with the muzzle when loading or unloading. Don’t do that.
There’s another safety consideration to keep in mind. Like old school single action revolvers, you don’t want to carry it with the hammer down on a round. The firing pin — or blade, in this case — can rest directly on a round. Drop the gun and it could very well go bang.
That’s why NAA has designed “safety slots” between each cylinder position.
It takes a little practice, but in order to carry the Pug safely, simply park the hammer in one of the safety slots between rounds. That way it’s impossible to touch one off accidentally. Just be sure to keep it pointed in a safe direction while doing that.
The Pug, though, has a one-inch barrel and a two-inch sight radius. How accurate can it possibly be?
As I found, that depends on finding the right ammo for it. I tested the gun with two hollow point rounds, Hornady’s Critical Defense 45gr FTX and CCI’s 30gr Maxi-Mags.
I tested the rounds at ten feet, a typical self defense distance. Recoil was noticeable, but very manageable thanks to the very comfortable Hogue rubber grip.
There was a clear difference between the two rounds’ performance. Both of the above sequences were shot hand-held. I shot a number of similar strings and the Pug consistently sprayed the Critical Defense rounds much more than the Maxi-Mags.
This group was shot while braced, again at ten feet. That’s under two inches. The Pug has a clear preference for the lighter, hotter load. Shooting the CCIs, I was easily able to keep all five rounds on target at center mass even out to thirty feet.
But the biggest selling point for the Pug is, of course, it’s compactness and concealability. Here it is in a DeSantis pocket holster that’s designed to carry an extra five rounds.
But the gun’s tiny form makes it perfectly packable in a jeans watch pocket.
While .22 Magnum isn’t an insignificant round, most people who carry a gun understandably choose to carry something with more punch. That makes perfect sense. But the Pug is designed for times when that’s not possible. Or for people who simply won’t carry anything larger. It also makes a very viable backup gun.
In the end, the Pug-T is an impressively well-made, surprising accurate little pistol that lets you always slip it in your pocket and have an option should the worst happen. In that role, it truly excels.
Specifications: NAA Pug-T Mini Revolver
Caliber: .22 Magnum
Capacity: 5 rounds
Weight: 6.4 oz.
Barrel Length: 1″
Sights: XS Tritium Dot
Ratings (out of five stars):
Style: * * * *
The Pug is a beautiful little revolver that’s ingeniously designed and impressively finished.
Ergonomics: * * *
It’s small. Very small. If you have small hands, it’s very useable and capable of good results. If you have big man hands, the Pug’s size could be a problem.
Reliability: * * * * *
Bang. Every time.
Accuracy * * * * *
This was truly surprising. Pick the right ammo and the Pug is capable of very good results, particularly for such a short sight radius.
Overall * * * * *
I was truly impressed by the little Pug. It’s a great little gun for its designed role and surprisingly fun to shoot.