North American Arms (NAA) is the world’s premier manufacturer of ultra-compact mini-revolvers. As pistols go, the company’s tiny semi-autos distinguish themselves as the most miniscule, being purely utilitarian and functional in nature. Many gun manufacturers make small, concealable pistols, but few specialize in making handguns exclusively for this particular role of concealed carry, as does NAA with entire lines of such guns in the offering. NAA has this gun segment covered, making no attempts to compete in the general market of standard-sized pistols and revolvers. By concentrating on this class of weapons, NAA has become very good at what it does, providing a wide array of mini-revolvers and ultra-compact pistols.
NAA works to craft defensive guns with less mass than a cellphone (they’re often closer to that of a lighter or keychain), and it achieves this handily. NAA typically noses out its competition with the reliability and quality of its products, affordable prices and no waiting lists. The irony of NAA’s mission is that the company’s original designer, Dick Casull, has a reputation for engineering monster revolvers such as the .454 Casull and .450 Magnum Express. Casull’s first mini-revolver, a gun well under 4 inches in length, was manufactured by Rocky Mountain Arms Company (RMAC) way back in 1971. RMAC lasted only two years. By the early 1980s NAA had emerged, continuing the trend of the mini-revolver but as a subsidiary of aerospace company Talley Manufacturing. Talley later passed hands to the Philadelphia Company, then to Teleflex, and was ultimately bought in 1991 by Sandy Chisholm, one of Talley’s former executives. He moved the company to Provo, Utah, and grew NAA into the firm we know today, one that has cornered the market on “minis.”
NAA’s current lineup of stainless mini-revolvers begins with the smallest, its .22 Short mini. This tiny specimen is only 3.62 inches long overall and barely tips the scale at 4 ounces. At the other end of the spectrum are the mini-mags. One of the most stalwart mainstays of the line is perhaps the Black Widow, which features large, pebble-textured, rubber grips for enhanced control. Available in both .22 LR and .22 Magnum, the Black Widow can be had with the convenient, polymer “Holster Grips,” which can be folded under the pistol for easy carry or locked out to give the shooter a much larger, more hand-friendly grip for added control. (The grips also have a belt clip.) These revolvers are fitted with the substantial, functional Millet adjustable sights or low-profile combat sights, bull cylinders and barrel vent ribs. The Black Widow has a weight of 8.8 ounces and overall length of 5.87 inches. A somewhat larger model, the Mini Master, weighs in at 10.7 ounces and has a total length of 7.87 inches.
One of the newer and most popular of the mini-mags is the .22 Pug. This little .22 Magnum snubbie sports pebbled, rubber grips, a relatively heavy bull barrel and big-dot sights with either a white dot or tritium. NAA even makes some more novel revolvers like the Earl, a design that emulates the aesthetics of an 1860s single-action percussion revolver replete with an octagonal barrel, a topstrap channel with a blade front sight, and a faux loading lever. Looking much like the other mini-revolvers, the Companion and Super Companion black-powder, cap-and-ball revolvers are a personal protection option that doesn’t require an FFL dealer.
There are the factory-ported magnums as well, from the 1.12-inch-barreled model with an overall length of 4.75 inches and a weight of 5.9 ounces, to the 1.62-inch-barreled model with an overall length of 5.25 inches and a weight of 6.2 ounces. The Wasp line comprises mini-mags of the same length and overall dimensions, with the vent-bar “Wasp” barrel and aesthetic touches such as a skeletonized hammer and etched grooves around the cylinder’s back and around the center pin. The most recent addition to NAA’s mini-revolvers is the Sidewinder, whose cylinder swings out via a crane like those of most larger revolvers. It weighs a mere 6.7 ounces. During testing, I was able to shoot a tight 1.31-inch group at 3 yards with some 33-grain Remington Yellow Jacket HP ammo.
A .22 conversion cylinder is available for all of the .22 Magnum revolvers, allowing shooters to switch to .22 LR when desired. All of NAA’s mini-revolvers come with a five-shot cylinder and single-action trigger, with halfway notches that permit the hammer to safely rest between loaded chambers. The mini-revolvers are priced under $400, with most costing below $350.
Not content to rest on its laurels, in 1997 NAA expanded its offerings with a line of semi-auto mini-pistols, the Guardians. Inspired by the highly coveted Seecamp, NAA improved on that design by adding a 1911-style button magazine release, a quick takedown button, integral sights and reliable feeding with all types of ammo, while discarding the magazine disconnect. Most importantly, the guns are readily available to all with no waiting, at highly affordable prices.
The original Guardian pistol was the .32 ACP model, and it remains the smallest of the line today at only 4.4 inches in overall length and 13.5 ounces in weight. The .380 Guardian was brought to market in 2001 with a slightly larger frame and had a 4.75-inch length and 18.72-ounce weight. The .32 NAA, a hot bottlenecked cartridge born of a joint venture with CorBon, followed in 2002. Utilizing the same frame as the .380 Guardian’s, the .32 NAA Guardian keeps the same outside dimensions and weight while firing a round that achieves velocities of 1,222 fps, an amazing feat for a pocket pistol. Built on the same frame as the .32 ACP Guardian, the NAA-designed and CorBon-fed .25 NAA, another bottlenecked cartridge, was born in 2004. This little zinger leaves the barrel at a sizzling 1,275 fps. The .25 NAA Guardian maintains similar weight and dimensions to its predecessor in .32 ACP.
The Guardian pistols, like all of NAA’s, are meticulously fit and finished using high-grade stainless steel. The flats of the slides are brushed, while the rest of the gun sports a matte finish. The Guardians feature heavy but smooth double-action-only triggers, making them safe for concealed carry and negating the need for a manual safety. The grips are textured black polymer made by Hogue, and the guns start at around $400.
I’ve tested and evaluated many different models of NAA’s diminutive weapons and found them to be well-made, reliable in operation and accurate. For a dependable, easily concealed backup or personal-protection weapon that can be readily carried with literally any attire or in any weather, an NAA gun is tops. This company will change the way you view ultra-compact pocket guns. For more information, visit northamericanarms.com or call 800-821-5783.