I’ve long held that small handguns and laser sights are a perfect match. Now we have both the perfect mini revolver and the perfect laser sight to go with it. Why do I label a mini revolver as “perfect?” Well, since late December of 2012, when North American Arms (NAA) announced the Sidewinder, I’ve considered it the epitome of the mini revolvers.
Other than a short-lived hinged-frame design put out a year earlier by NAA, the Sidewinder has proved to be the quickest mini five-shooter to load and unload due to its swing-out cylinder. While it’s no .45, it offers five rounds of .22 Magnum firepower, and the ammo companies have now designed rounds with bullets that will expand when fired from a 1-inch-barreled revolver. It’s a backup gun for sure, but it still covers the first rule of a gunfight—have a gun.
As far as the laser sight goes, I consider it a perfect complement to the NAA Sidewinder because of its simplicity of operation. Prior to the introduction of the Mighty Mouse laser sight by LaserLyte, all mini-revolver laser sights had to be turned on with a push-button or a switch. In my book, that requires too much in the way of fine motor skills when the stress levels are out of sight in a lethal-force situation. The Mighty Mouse has its activation button on the front portion of the grip that covers the frontstrap, so you grab the gun to shoot and the laser instantly turns on.
The NAA Sidewinder is the pinnacle of the mini revolvers with its swing-out cylinder capability, which translates into simultaneous ejection of empty cases. With the one exception cited previously, the older version could only be loaded or unloaded by removing the cylinder. Essentially, you got done what needed doing in five shots. I was interested in seeing what the cost of having the swing-out cylinder was size- and weight-wise over a standard .22 Magnum mini. I measured a NAA Black Widow and found that the topstrap length was 2.05 inches on it and the Sidewinder. From the top to the bottom of the frame ahead of the cylinder, the Black Widow measured 1.14 inches, while the Sidewinder was 1.22 inches, which is a slight increase to accommodate the cylinder crane assembly. Weight-wise, a standard .22 Magnum mini weighs 5.9 ounces while the Sidewinder is 6.7 ounces. For me, the slight increase in size and weight are well worth it on the Sidewinder.
Other dimensions worth considering are the Sidewinder’s 1-inch barrel, its stainless steel construction, its overall length of 5 inches, its height of 2.87 inches and its width of 1.06 inches. The Sidewinder has a single-action (SA) mechanism, which means it has to be cocked for each shot, but the hammer spur is easily accessible and serrated, and it has a serrated spur trigger. The mini revolver offers operators a front post and a fixed rear notch sight. You can also get it with a .22 LR conversion cylinder to make for less expensive practice. The grips are a smooth, laminated wood.
The Mighty Mouse by LaserLyte will fit any of the NAA mini revolvers, including the Black Widow, the Pug and other standard models. Besides instant activation, it has the red dot intimidation factor that, thanks to TV, everyone is aware of. The laser unit replaces the factory grip entirely, and a stalk that extends up from the right grip panel projects the laser beam over the top of the cylinder.
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Built from 55-percent glass-filled nylon, the Might Mouse unit is tough, and it attaches to a firearm using a hex-head screw. The right grip panel holds the 3×392 batteries and a coin-slotted compartment cover allows a battery change without having to remove the grips. The unit produces a 5-mW, class IIIA laser and has a constant-on life of over one hour. My sample came with batteries installed and three extras, plus hex wrenches for the grip and sight-adjustment screws and instructions. The tradeoff is the unit adds 0.75 ounces of weight and extends the gun’s width to approximately 1.25 inches.
I installed the Mighty Mouse on the Sidewinder and tried to adjust it match the revolver’s point of aim (POA) at 7 yards with the fixed sights.
For a tiny five-shooter with small sights, the NAA Sidewinder turned out to have plenty of practical accuracy. I used three different .22 Magnum loads shooting from the bench at 7 yards, and my best five-shot group measured 0.69 inches with CCI Maxi-Mag +V 30-grain JHP bullets. Second place went to Winchester PDX1 loads and third place to Hornady Critical Defense. For point of impact/point of aim, the gun shot slightly low and left with the sights.
Next, I fired the .22 Magnum cartridges into some ballistic medium to see what kind of expansion and penetration potential the bullets possessed. Penetration using the CCI Maxi-Mag was about 8.75 inches, but the conventional hollow-point bullets didn’t expand. The Hornady Critical Defense went in about 5.25 inches and displayed a classic “mushroom,” while Winchester’s PDX1 projectile folded back the jacket petals, forming jagged points for increased soft-tissue damage.
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To test the Mighty Mouse laser sight, I re-installed the sight and then put up a reduced-sized silhouette target at 15 yards. The Sidewinder was loaded with a mix of the test cartridges and I moved up to the 3-yard line. To my way of thinking, the NAA mini revolvers are for last-ditch, up-close-and-personal engagements.
Having to use some Kentucky windage, after a couple of rounds I knew where to put the red dot to hit in the center of the head. I moved back to 7 yards, reloaded and, after putting the dot about 2 o’clock in the 8 ring, I started getting center-mass hits. I had no trouble seeing the red dot at these two distances, but it got pretty challenging at 15 yards in shaded daylight. I had some hits over in the right shoulder area before I walked a couple back into center mass.
Of note, and it was something I’d anticipated, was that the stalk with the laser projector makes dumping all five empty cases at once improbable. At least one or two cases would be left in the cylinder, and it had to be turned slightly and the ejector rod pushed again to extract them. Again, I don’t think you are going to need over five rounds, and if you do, you’d better get some distance and cover between you and the bad guy(s) before you attempt a reload.
The Sidewinder with the LaserLyte riding shotgun was fun to shoot. I’m going to keep working with this laser unit to see if I can get POA matched up tighter with point of impact. At 5 to 9 yards, it won’t make a lot of difference, and I like the intimidation factor of the red dot and the extra time one gets for target identification. Without question, the Mighty Mouse has found a new home on my little Sidewinder, and in a near-future issue of CH, I’ll be wringing out NAA’s new micro member of the family—the 4-inch-barreled Sidewinder.
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