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No matter how you spell it, a Derringer is a useful little thing. It’s a deep concealment firearm that’s a whole lot better than a sharp stick, should push come to shove come to imminent, credible threat of death or grievous bodily harm. Same goes for the new breed of .380’s and tiny nines. Not to mention the venerable snub-nosed revolver. They’re all great guns for gunfights — provided you don’t need a lot of capacity or accuracy. Which you probably do but whatchugonnadu when they come for you?

desantis blue logo no back 4 smallWhat’s the smallest handgun you own? Is it your primary everyday carry gun, a backup gun, something for knocking around the house or what? What ammo do you feed it? How often do you practice with your smallest handgun, if at all?

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  1. NAA .22WMR with folding grip. Like carrying a jack knife on belt.

    Carry almost daily – great with running shorts.

    Practice monthly. CCI Varmint tip.

    Cowboy double action; hold back the “trigger” thumb the hammer 5 times.

    • Same here on the NAA with the folding grip. Mine is the two cylinder combo version, for swapping out between 22lr and magnum.

      It’s great for deep concealment or with very light summer clothes. I carry it as a backup gun for myself, but also as a primary gun for anybody else I’m with who isn’t carrying at that moment.

      Between unfolding the handle and cocking the hammer, though, it isn’t exactly a quick presentation sidearm. It’s more suitable for a somewhat slowly developing scenario where you have some kind of time (ten seconds or so?) to prepare. Perhaps an active shooter where you hear the gunshots down the hall?

      It’s a little tricky setting the hammer to rest on the halfway notch between cylinders, though. That takes practice to be able to do it on the first try every time. I’d recommend practicing at the range, in case anything slips.

      • “It’s a little tricky setting the hammer to rest on the halfway notch between cylinders, though. That takes practice to be able to do it on the first try every time. I’d recommend practicing at the range, in case anything slips.”

        At home, I did it over a bucket of sand. When I had my NAA dual-cylinder mini I kept a bucket of sand on the back porch just for that purpose.

        That NAA was the smallest I ever had, and back then I loaded it with CCI Stingers.

        When ShootingTheBull410 did his NAA ammo round-up awhile back, he found a derringer load that was an excellent performer, next time I buy an NAA mini, I’ll look up that review and feed it that ammo.

        The next smallest was an AMT .380 backup, it was a good little gun, but watch for slide bite…

    • NAA mini here as well. The .22 LR version with the 1-1/8″ barrel. Fits in a jeans 5th pocket.

      • Same.

        My gunsmith friend made a set of extremely flat grips out of stainless steel before he passed away. It makes the mini hide even better and people with larger hands can’t operate the action. Perfect for me.

        He also put a swivel stud for a lanyard on it. This allows me to wear it on a chain around my neck under a shirt when I’m wearing shorts without pockets. Nobody can tell it’s there.

  2. I own and occasionally used to carry a Walther PPK/S. There’s an article on the topic here.

    With Critical Defense ammo, it is more than capable of meeting FBI specs and still sits in my gun safe for whenever I need a firearm that doesn’t print like crazy. Fortunately, in Illinois, printing is a non-issue. (Within reason.)

        • I only use Rugers, but I really like the Bersa Thunder series–have shot and handled them numerous times–from what I have seen, it is a better, more reliable gun than the Walther–would also choose it over the Glock–you can also get one with a double stack mag that holds 15 rounds–they are very accurate guns

    • The P238 is one of those tiny guns that is actually very fun to shoot. That’s one of the reasons I got it as a backup.

      • I used to have a PPK/S. It was my ankle gun before I retired. It was not pleasant at all to shoot and the slide would tear up the web of my hand when shooting. This little Sig is just peachy. It eats my Rainier plated reloads with no complaints at all so shooting it regularly doesn’t cost a fortune.

        Its my summer EDC as I can pocket carry it (in on of those sticky pocket holsters) in a pair of shorts. Lots of dry-fire practice to make sure I can get it out of there cleanly. Its way too hot here to layer anything clothing-wise during summer!

        Typically carry an M&P9C during ‘colder’ weather (as rare as that is).

    • Completely forgot I have a Raven .25 auto sitting in my safe. (Thanks Hoplopfheil)

      Never carry it
      Never shoot it

      I picked up a handful back in the early 90s and gave them to friends as stocking stuffers (yes, they were that cheap!). Picked them up in the rudest colors I could find (chrome with pink grips, blue with zubaz-like color camo grips, etc.).

      It is sad that I could do that in the 90s but today that would probably earn me a place on some list with Agent Thomas knocking on my door…

      • I gave the 938 a serious look after I’d enjoyed my P238 for a while. It was just a bit too big for (my) pocket carry. I keep thinking about picking one up ‘just because’…

        • I always wanted a p938 to replace my p238 until I actually set them side by side, while not much bigger it is a decent bit longer and wouldn’t be as pocketable…

  3. For now, my smallest is an Israeli copy of a Browning Hi-Power in 9mm that was a gift. So. Not that small. It would be a .22 of some variety, but .22 ammo is still so hard to find in my area that I can’t justify buying one. I’ve been considering a Springfield XD for appendix carry on sweltering days, which would then be my smallest.

  4. A revolver. Which I can hypothetically conceal in California (illegally). Or Illinois (semi-legally). Of course, I can hope the busting cop is sympathetic to my former prison guard credentials. Or my Queen’s melanin content. Or likes antiques.

  5. Smith Wesson Shield. That’s about as small as I need. Those NAA teeny pistols are cool though, I just can’t really justify spending even as little as they cost on something I don’t really need since I have our first kid on the way.

  6. Ruger LCP Custom–great accuracy–depending on circumstances, either backup or primary with reloads–shooting range in back yard, practice no problem–mix if Fiochhi & Remington JHP’s alternating in mag–the Fio’s penetrate but little expansion, the Rem’s good expansion but not as much penetration–practice popping beverage cans filled with water

  7. An LCP, used to be everyday carry until I moved to an LC9. Carried with Lehigh ammo after seeing STB’s review of same. Keep it around in case I feel like I need to go to pocket carry for some reason (like carrying illegally), in a pocket holster it shows not at all.

  8. Ruger LCP for those rare days I’m in shorts and a tank, or less.
    Feed it with HPR XTP rounds
    Once a month at the range to make sure I can still use it with some degree of skill out at 7 meters or closer.

    • I love the p32 in the roll of “what you carry when you don’t feel like carrying a gun.” Just a bit lighter than a .380. Much less bulky and heavy in the pocket than a j-frame. Wouldn’t mind getting an LCP or similar, but it’s not high enough on my want list.

      • Carried a P-32 for two years. Great gun except:

        aggressive texture on grip can leave a rash, so under an untucked shirt-not so great, and

        read up on .32ACP rim lock. Especially with the HV Buffalo Bore ammo (shorter overall), you can have full FTF. Luckily it only happened at the range. You can snake a wire down the spine of the Mag to force all length cartridges into line.

  9. Inherited Colt Police Positive .38 however due to it’s age I don’t shoot it too much. Whenever I do though, cylinder timing is like a Swiss watch.

  10. LCP.

    But, I’d rather have that blonde in my pocket…

    A classy, well put together lady makes me think unclassy, yet well put together thoughts, if you know what I mean.

  11. .25 ACP Baby Browning. It will be useful if I ever decide to become a New Orleans pimp.

    • I’ll see your Browning and raise you a Beretta! Model 950 Jetfire. Amazingly accurate for such a pipsqueak .25, won’t part with it for anything I’ve been offered so far.

    • +1 for the Baby Browning. Inherited from my father in law. Can’t shoot the thing without tearing up the web of my hand.

      Can you believe they actually make hollow points in. 25?!

  12. I have a decent little Intratec Protec 25 in .25 Auto.

    My AMT Backup .380 single action is a close second.

  13. Smallest gun I own right now is a Sig 2340. What can I say, I have big paws and never was really impressed with mouse guns anyway. ^,,^

  14. A Radom P-64. I need to get Marschal grips for it because it’s hard to not have my hand slide up the grip while firing and I get slide bite if I don’t adjust my grip after every shot.

    • Here, here!
      I second that!!
      Bought new for $200 at LGS sale.
      Great pocket piece. Add one extra mag, good to go.

      EDC was a P938 till my Sugar decided she liked it best for her new CCW permit.

      EDC is now a CZ40B.
      Dead nuts accurate to 75 yds (and beyond… Just change POA).
      (Felt the need to tool up for any home grown ISIS fodder…)

    • +1 on the TCP for easy pocket/office carry

      However, I had an incident happen near me recently where, if I had been present, I would have wished for something bigger with more ammo. I know it’s a no-no, but I’m thinking of going with a glove compartment gun.

  15. I don’t have any derringers. My smallest is probably an HK4 with .32, .380, and .22 barrels. Next in size is a s&w model 640-1 .357 revolver or hk p30sk. Without laying them all next to each other hard to say, but the hk4 feels smallest, smallest caliber too.

  16. NAA .22 mag.
    Great pocket gun. It’s a bit of a handful to practice with, but it goes bang every time.

  17. NAA .32 ACP Guardian, hasnt been reliable enough for EDC though, and twice as heavy as my G43 which gets the daily duty in warm weather. In cold weather I go to my G30S.

  18. Smallest gun I have is an XD mod 2 subcompact. Our 380 is a Browning 1911-380, essentially a Combat Commander. If the only thing that concerned me was an up close and personal self defense scenario I might consider a pocket pistol but keep in mind that so-called 3,3,3. rule is a result of misinterpreting FBI data. The real data shows that 2/3 of officers shot inside three yards never got a shot off. They were surprised. The engagement does not start at three feet. It starts when you recognize the threat. If that doesn’t happen before you get close enough to draw your defensive weapon you have most likely lost before the first shot was fired. And in almost all cases you should be retreating from and not closing with the threat.

    Here is what the FBI data really says:

  19. Like a lot of folks, the smallest gun I have is a Ruger LCP. It was my EDC gun until I got a M&P40c and had Ken Null gin up a OWB scabbard and belt for me. I still carry the LCP when wearing FTL shorts and shirts in summertime. I just wish I had more pockets sometimes.

    Next up is my 642, and I’d be delighted to get one of the NAA .22’s but in all honesty I have a lot of other things to spend money on at the moment.


  20. Right now my smallest gun is a 9mm Shield, but I’d love to get the .32 Seecamp as a pocket pistol, but I live in Massachusetts and that may constitute as an assault weapon and be banned. We’ll see! ???

  21. NAA mini, .22 mag, carry Speer Gold Dots in it. Actually has good expansion and energy transfer similar to a .380 according to the charts. And even if I miss the muzzle blast will scare my adversary into submission.

  22. Lately, Ian from Forgotten Weapons has been covering a lot of stuff from that museum. It’s definifely on my short list of places I need to visit if I ever head back out west.
    Also on my short list, are the NAA Sidewinder revolvers and Guardian 32ACP.

    • If you ever make it to Cody don’t miss the Taxidermy Museum either. Its just across town. Not far at all. Its a very small town.

  23. Don’t own any handguns yet, so the Steyr M95 carbine takes the spot. It has, hands down, the most unpleasant recoil I’ve ever felt out of a long gun

  24. My smallest is a Ruger LCP in .380 ACP of course. It is basically a safe-queen. I will take it out if I want it as a backup or for ultra-deep concealment. I do not target shoot with it … don’t need to practice for its intended application which is backup or ultra-deep concealment for engagements at contact distances.

    I carry BuffaloBore hardcast lead cartridges for self-defense. I want penetration and a virtual guarantee of two holes — both entry and exit. (By the time that bullet exits, it will be moving so slow that it will pose pretty much zero risk of serious injury to bystanders.). Note: according to a bullet calculator, those little hardcast lead (flat nose) bullets should make a .45 caliber hole (permanent wound channel) in a human attacker … not bad in my book.

    • Whoa!
      Serious research into gruesome.

      And I cannot thank you enough for that new tidbit.
      I will act accordingly.

  25. Colt Model 1908 Vest Pocket .25 ACP. I was suspect of this not being a “real” gun the first time I shot it, but knew it was after putting 6 holes close together in a target 7 yards away multiple times (reloading the single magazine in between strings). The trigger is a pretty decent single action striker fire setup that can lay down accurate fire fast. If this was all I had I wouldn’t feel unarmed, though I would hope there was only one baddie. I don’t carry this due to it being a great old carbon steel gun and this being hot Texas.

    My littlest carry gun is a M&P340 with no frame lock. It is sweet.

  26. Either my (essentially worthless) Beretta Nano, or a Makarov. I have a RAMI, but it’s considerably thicker than the other two.

    Allow me to take this opportunity to ask the rhetorical question of what the fuck Beretta was thinking, omitting the external slide stop from a gun that double feeds, a lot!

    • Interesting. What ammo were you using so I know to never buy it? Mine has been fine with self defense loads.

      • It chokes, pretty much, on anything that isn’t a self defense load. They tend not to be loaded as hot as defense loads. That includes even (occasionally) Nato Spec 9mm.

        Since the gun lost my trust, I’d have to put about 500 rounds of defensive stuff through it before I’d trust it with defensive loads. Then (in principle) I’d be willing to practice with occasional malfs. Except this gun fails two or three times a box (if not MUCH more) with a double feed, and that’s the hardest malf to clear…and it’s MUCH harder to clear without being able to lock the slide back manually.

    • Beretta totally screwed up both the Pico & Nano–was totally amazed by how bad both these were–went with Ruger LCP Custom & LC9S

  27. Seecamp LWS32. So easy to pocket carry in almost any kind of situation – prints the same as a wallet with my pocket holster. In 380 it’s a beast to handle, but I find the 32 to be reasonably comfortable for regular practice. It doesn’t get much smaller. I had a S&W 642, but it just wasn’t for me – too uncomfortable to shoot enough for adequate practice, and my hand would be sore for a day or two afterwards. I had a NAA 22LR mini, too, and those mini-revolvers are really neat little guns, but being single action they’re just too impractical for SD purposes, IMHO. I wonder if NAA would ever come out with a DA version, like the Casull CA2000 or the old Velo-dog revolvers.

  28. Currently an AKM clone. I live in a place where open carry is banned and concealed carry permits are practically not issued. So, I have no use for pistols at the moment.

    • Move to NC–open carry with no permit, including vehicle–CCW good in 39 other states, even DE–communist states should be abandoned

  29. Glock 26.
    10+1 rounds of 9mm with a grip I can actually, well, grip, thanks to Pierce magazine extensions.

  30. Kahr CM9 – EDC.

    I feed it the cheapest, most unreliable ammo that I can find at Walmart. The gun has gotten more reliable with time and a few after market bits and pieces.

    My S&W M66 is actually my largest handgun.

    • Walmart does not sell unreliable ammo (except for maybe Tula, but I never have used it)–the Perfecta ammo (less expensive than Tula) they sell is Fiochhi ammo loaded in Italy and everything else is name brand–Perfecta ammo is one of the true bargains out there–there a lot of unreliable guns out there though

  31. Pen gun in 22RF. Body is a machined aluminum tube with an old papermate pocket clip. The barrel is turned down to the insert part of an AR7 tube. Just pull the top click part back and release to fire. Fits in a shirt pocket. Looks cool too, after I polished it to a mirror finish.
    Never carry it and seldom shoot it. It was just a shop project in spare time. Its just a toy.

  32. Had a “Twist-2” derrenger, sold it. NAA .22 mag and the P3AT with ARX rounds.(most carried in summer) WInter/cooler weather 462 Taurus . 357. I upgradeddd from the 5 shot Charter Arms Undercover I used to carry for about 8+ years. Never had to use it but it’s there if needed.

  33. Baretta Bobcat in 25ACP. Strictly ball ammo in this gun. You need all the penetration it can muster. Goes in my pocket in a soft tuck holster when the PPQ is too cumbersome. It has almost no sights and almost no recoil but somehow I can shoot the wings of a fly at ten paces. It’s a mouse gun but has a chunky grip which is why I think it’s soo accurate for me at least. I’ve done extensive polishing of the action and chamber so it’s smooth like butter. This one has the “Tilt barrel” loading action and normally when you unload them you have to use your finger nail to get the round out of the chamber because they don’t have an extractor. Mine on the other hand will toss them out when the barrel flips up because it’s so slick. It’s only 25 Auto but it’s better than nothing.

  34. The smallest gun in my personal collection is a Freedom Arms Revolver that fits in a Belt Buckle. Cool gun!

    It looks like I’m going to be doing some writing for the site. Any guns in particular you all wanna read about? I’ve got 7,000 in the museum to choose from 🙂

  35. Phoenix Arms .22. I shoot the he’ll out of it and I love that little 10 pound pistol. If I feed it CCI mini mags, it runs flawlessly, but I still wouldn’t carry it. For carry, I go either Glock 42 or 43.

    • Carried a Phoenix Arms .22. for years–the only way I could practice a malfunction was to put at random water damaged ammo in it–it even fired the damaged ammo that Walther P22, Sig Mosquitoe, and Beretta Neos shooters left laying on the ground at a public outdoor range–used this same damaged ammo in my Ruger SR22–people shooting these 3 guns gave me a lot of free ammo

  36. Beretta Nano, EDC. I learned that I’m awful about IWB carry and the Nano fits comfortably in a pocket holster in almost everything I wear. Feed it Speer gold dot +p. It has never malfunction with that, but it HAS had a few stovepipes with 115 gr cheap reloads. Still, I trust it with +p factory ammo.

  37. Walther tph in 22lr.
    At 25 feet I can hit a clay pidgeon. Can’t ask more from a gun that small.

  38. Taurus TCP 380 is the smallest thing I regularly carry. Smallest thing I own. I’ve never had any issue with it at all, 100% reliable. Ammo is Hornady Critical Defense. Worst things about it are the tiny sights and 2 finger grip. DeSantis pocket holster for carry.

    Backup small gun is a S&W 442 in 38 +p. 158 gr JHP from Remington is currently in it.

    My wife carries a S&W M&P 9c for her EDC. When a bad shoulder bothered her, she swapped it for a Kel-tec PMR30 due to weight. Ammo is Hornady 45 gr Critical Defense. If that doesn’t stop them the fireball at the muzzle is a good imitation of a flamethrower. The PMR30 is picky about ammo, but has been 100% with the Hornady, which is expensive and hard to find.

    • Would not own an ammo picky gun–this is why I only use Rugers–of the numerous ones that I own, not one (rifle, revolver, or pistol) cares what I feed it–can mix several types of ammo into one mag & everything cycles perfect–I had ammo picky other brands & they went away–no time for unreliability

  39. I have a 1948 Beretta 418 marked 6.35mm browning (.25 ACP) I’ve shot it a few times with whatever ammo I can find but it doesn’t seem to be good for a whole hell of a lot. My dad found it in an empty box of .308 ammo and gave it to me to give an idea of the size of the pistol

  40. I have two that are about the same size. Bersa Thunder .380, loaded with Hydra-shoks. Also a two inch snubnose Taurus Model 85, with Speer Gold Dot .38 +p rounds. Either one is great for summer carry in a loose pair of shorts.

  41. LCP in a pocket holster for shorts and T shirt days. Hornaday loads. Sweet Pea Trigger. Weekly range, 25 or so rounds to keep my aim acceptable.

  42. 21A Beretta .25 ACP. Carried it as a hideout when I started in law enforcement 25 years ago. I remember that one of our female deputies called it “cute” and wanted one too. Around $175 if I remember correctly. I have about 100 rounds of ball ammo in the safe but I haven’t shot the gun in years

  43. S&W Bodyguard .380 with Buffalo Bore hard casts and JHPs. bought it for my wife, she didn’t like it, so it’s usually in my pocket. Me likey, it hits hard and accurate enough.

  44. I guess it depends on how you classify ‘smallest.” I own a couple of .22 pistols, but they aren’t small in terms of the size of the gun itself. Probably the smallest is a Kel Tec P32 pocket pistol with a CT laser on the trigger guard. Nice little last resort gun and fits easily in a Bulldog cell phone style belt case.

  45. Well I don’t own it now but a Taurus TCP. Ran great-may get another one. Oh yeah I had a tiny SaturdayNight special in 32 short-never shot it.

  46. LCP custom; its my primary carry from ~April-October. It goes to the range with me every time and gets at least 50 rounds through it.

  47. I have the Walther PPK/s and the slightly smaller and lighter clone, the Bersa Thunder cc both in .380
    Both with laser grips
    The Walther is a high end gun that my children will cherish long after I am gone
    I like the Bersa better as it is lighter, shoots anything and has a slide lock release lever
    And it was exactly one half the price!
    If it is confiscated or stolen I can cheaply replace it
    That Bersa is the one I take everywhere
    Appendix carry or pocket carry
    I shoot both of them regularly as both are fun and accurate target guns
    With Crimson trace laser grips I can make hits while running away from the target!

  48. Gees, they sure grow ’em purdy in Wyoming… mmmmm.

    Oh – my smallest gun? My Pug. I’ll let you decide what exactly that refers to.

  49. My BUG for the BUG is a .22lr NAA Mini with the smallest barrel. It has custom flat low profile stainless grips. It looks like a toilet flush handle but hides like no other. It also makes a passable box opener in a pinch. It’s loaded with CCI stingers. It is to be deployed at spit swapping range but I practice with it whenever I practice with my main EDC. It is on me every day. I had to hold off two meth-heads one morning in 2003 and it was all I had in my pajama pocket.

  50. Seecamp LWS 380 .380 lcp. It’s very light but feels dense because it’s just so dang small. It really makes a Ruger LCP feel big. Quality wise the difference between it and most pocket pistols feels like the difference between a Rolls Royce and a Yugo. Small and light enough for any clothing or situation. A true every day/always carry

  51. 1908 Colt vest pocket in 25 acp. Cute little bugger but I only ever carry it when I have/get to wear a suit.

  52. I have my grandfather’s EIG .22 Pepperbox Derringer, which he carried while collecting rents in Newark, NJ in the late 1960’s. I have his New Jersey Firearms I.D. Card with it, dated October 1967.

    It’s similar to the Mossberg Brownie. It has a double-action trigger and a rotating firing pin. Each trigger pull cocks and releases the hammer while rotating the firing pin to fire each chamber in succession. A top-mounted latch releases the barrel assembly to open forward.

  53. If a woman tells you the size of your gun does not matter, it means you are rich enough she don’t care.

    • What, are you 13 years old? I thought people on these blogs were at least old enough to legally own a gun.

  54. Ruger LCP Custom and a Taurus TCP PT738 in .380 ACP. Next step up are S&W M&P Shields in 9mm and .45 ACP, followed by an M&P 9c.

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