Anonymous asked in SportsOutdoor RecreationHunting · 1 decade ago

why do so many people not like derringers for self defence?

I understand that they only have two shots, but is there any handgun as concealable as a derringer, has the firepower and that can carry two quick shots? I can't think of any.

I'm not dising any other handguns, just found it interesting that all my answers involving derringers(I said have a snub nose revolver and have a derringer for a back up, or they asked what would be a good back-up, I said derringer), I get all thumbs down, no ups?


ok, reduced velocity? not enough power to be a manstopper? I'm sorry, I think the .45 colt, .45 APC and the 9mm Parabellum are some of the most popular cartridges around for self defence and they are chambered in derringers.

accuracy? your not shooting 100 yards here, most self defense situations happen within 5-10 yards, I can point and shoot and still get reasonable groupings at that distance, also, some derringers are also chambered for 45 colt/.410 bore, I think point and shooting 00 buck shot from these firearms will do the job nicely.

13 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    A derringer sounds like a very viable alternative to the bulk and weight of most of today's high capacity semi autos. Not for a primary ccw, but as a backup to a smaller, lighter pistol.

    My choice of concealed carry has always leaned toward small pistols of substantial caliber, and in the past I carried a Star firestar in 45 acp, (6 rnd mag) and even shot a couple of combat competitions with it. I never felt outgunned while carrying it because I knew what I could do with it. While I never owned a derringer, the thought of having a small, light weight backup gun handy always appealed to me.

    These days I carry a bulldog pug in 44 spec, or A CZ 82 in 9X18 (I know, not a substantial caliber, but I love the gun, and it shoots fantastic!)

    Most people today seem to have bought into the "spray and pray" theory of hand gunning, where you empty a 15 rnd mag, don't hit a damn thing, reload, empty another mag, then end up using your gun as a club to bludgeon your opponent to death! In real life, by the time 4 or 5 shots have been fired, either the attacker or the defender is down, or has retreated (run like hell!)

    My point is this, I prefer a smaller, lighter pistol, minimum of 38 cal, with between 5-7 shots. A derringer secreted in another pocket, with 2 additional shots, might just be the difference between going home or going down, if your primary weapon runs dry, jams, or gets taken away from you.

    As for derringers firing 45 colt, 45 acp or 44 mag, these tend to defeat the purpose of a derringer, since in order to handle these large calibers, the derringer itself has to be built larger and more robust. The Bond arms derringers are beautiful guns, but they are heavy for only 2 shots.

    A traditional style derringer in 38 spec or 9 mm seems a much more viable option as a back up gun.

    • Commenter avatarLogin to reply the answers
  • 1 decade ago

    You've already hit on the big disadvantage derringer's have, limited capacity. However its worth stating again that you only have two shots with a derringer vs. the 5-6 of a revolver or 7+ of a semi-automatic. In addition there are issues with recoil for the larger caliber derringers. Though that's true for any extremely small, extremely light-weight (the lightest derringer's weigh in around 7-8 ounces) gun chambered in a modern combat cartridge (.45LC/.410 bore, .357 magnum, .45 ACP, .44 Special, .38 Special, etc...) Finally there's the power issue. While modern derringer's are chambered in a variety of reasonably powerful cartridges, the traditional cartridges that derringer's came in (like .22 short, .22 long, .22LR, and .41 rimfire) which everyone is familiar with were quite anemic (IE poor man-stoppers) especially in a gun with a 2-3 inch barrel.

    As for a concealable handgun... Derringers have an edge in concealability due to the fact that they're break-actions. However there are both classic and contemporary designs that come close in size and which have more capacity. Examples include things like the Colt 1903 pistol, North American Arms mini-revolvers, Walther PPK, Sig-Sauer P 232, Colt Cobra/Detective Special, S&W 37...

    Basically the reason people gave you a thumbs down is that more modern designs are generally going to be more effective. The derringer was a good option for a hold-out gun back in the 1880s, but we've come a long way since then.

    • Commenter avatarLogin to reply the answers
  • 1 decade ago

    Well, Im one of the guys that agree with you and like derringers. That said, i dont regularly carry one, which makes me sound like a hippocrate. I have a collection of North American arms mini revolvers, which in the purest sense arent derringers since they have a rotating cylinder. The smallest, a .22Short is almost small enough to swallow, so that makes it in the same class in my book. The NAA PUG is chambered in .22WMR, has a rubber birds head grip and trijicon XS big dot tritium sight. Aside from it being a single action, its a fine backup gun, or the best gun to carry when nothing else fits. I can hold 8 inch groups at 10 yards with it, and thats fine with me. Plus, they have excellent service and are built like little tanks.

    I also have a Bond Arms derringer (freshly back from the engraver, actually) and its chambered in a .45LC and .410. I dont conceal carry that often for two reasons. First, collateral damage potential, and second it weighs more than my J frame S&W airweight.

    It does do a wicked good job on snakes and carjackers however. Keep in mind that the range pretty much should be within 10'. There have been several articles about my model Bond arms, and at 5 yards, the 000 buck load put all the pellets through 4 gallon jugs of water. Thats four 9mm holes that are going to penetrate about 8" minimum in tissue, which i agree should do the job. Im not sold on bird shot though, i think it would just make a bloody mess. I suppose thats not a bad thing in a close range defense encounter. Its important to note that these .45/410 pattern wildly different with different barnd loads, so if you buy one find ammo it likes and stick with it.

    Bottom line, derringers are limited, but if you understand and accept those limitations, then they are fine little options. Just dont buy a crappy pot metal one.

    • Commenter avatarLogin to reply the answers
  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I would rather have a Derringer than a pocket knife for self defense. I agree with the feller above me that they aren't very accurate and they lose muzzle velocity with the short barrels. However, I disagree with 2 of his points. They DO make Derringers in decent enough calibers. Check out Those guys make a .45-70 Derringer... WOW!!! That's be cool as all hell to own, but I don't have the balls to try and shoot one. The thing I must point out about the accuracy issue is that over 90% of all handgun fights (this includes self-defense firefights AND police firefights) begin with the 2 shooters within 15 feet of each other. More often, within 10 feet. Derringers are accurate enough to get those 2 shots off and hit center mass within 10-15 feet. I wouldn't try and aim for the head, but you'd have an excellent chance at that range to put 2 in somebodys stomach and run like hell. If you had the quicker trigger finger, you'd almost be assured to get away unscathed. In other words, They aren't target shooters, but they COULD more than suffice in a self-defense firefight. I'd love to have a .38 spl Derringer. And they damn sure make one. However... I'll never put my trusty 1911 on the shelf.

    • Commenter avatarLogin to reply the answers
  • How do you think about the answers? You can sign in to vote the answer.
  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    They are for close work only. Across the room it is difficult to hit anything. The calibers are usually on the small size and you only get 2 shots. They do make larger caliber derringers but you pay the price for it when you touch it off. (.357 mag, 45 Long Colt, 44 mag.) If you are a very strong man you can hold the large bore derringers down for the second shot. But most everyone will end up with the gun pointing straight up and the hammer buried in the web of their hand. (When I say buried I mean into the skin and bleeding like crazy) And last of all the hammer springs are usually made out of 18 wheeler truck springs and getting the hammer back for a fast 2nd shot is a two handed, hold it between your legs type of effort.

    • Commenter avatarLogin to reply the answers
  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

    Let us consider not the merits of other firearms, but consider what the derringer does do well.

    As Art Linkletter used to say, "People are funny."

    I say, you have to wear the suit that fits.

    If you like to be armed while in your residence in case someone kicks in your door during a home invasion robbery, wearing a Bond Arms derringer in .38 special +P/.357 magnum caliber would give one an advantage as you would already be armed with a formidable caliber. Load the bottom barrel with .38+p SpeerGDSB load and the top barrel with a good .357 defense load.

    You could use your derringer to fight your way to your N frame Smith, your all steel 1911 style pistol, or Mini 14 Ranch rifle.

    I would rather have two rounds of .38+P/.357 from a Bond Arms derringer than try to quickly shoot an LCP, P-32 or NAA Pug.

    Derringers are good self defense firearms to have on you when taking out the trash, checking the mail or walking one's dog. We live on the edge of a forest and if an animal, rabid or not, were to come out of the forest and attack me or my dog, a derringer would give me the means for self defense without having to lug a heavy 1911 type pistol around.

    I don't carry a 1911 pistol any longer since I am a senior citizen with some health problems that precludes that type of weapon.

    I did carry 1911 style pistols in my younger days. They still have a place in my heart.

    The Bond Arms derringer would certainly have less chance of locking up in a gunfight than a semi automatic pistol. If the first round did not fire due to a hard primer, one has the capability of trying to fire again without having to go through a malfunction clearance drill as in the semi auto pistol.

    As has already been mentioned, I would rather have a derringer with me versus trying to fight off an attacker with my just my small, folding pocket knife. I prefer a firearm as my primary carry weapon.

    As for the limited two round capacity of the derringer, I do as they did in the old days, I carry a 7" blade Bowie knife on my belt. A nice backup to the derringer.

    To each his own. Everyone has to work out his or her own plan of self defense.

    If you don't like a derringer or any other type of firearm for self defense, you can always slip a Cold Steel Trail Hawk tomahawk in your belt while doing the laundry.

    Regardless of your choice of self defense firearm, Stay Safe.

    • Commenter avatarLogin to reply the answers
  • Archer
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    If all your answers were discussing derringers then no serious or knowledgeable person responded. It is availability not just conceal-ability that is desired for self defense. I personally have not met many bad guys who travel alone, they run in packs and if you only have two shots they are not going to stand still long enough for you to reload. A 380 simiauto is good backups for larger cal. My primary is either a 40 or 45 because of it's stopping power. No single bullet will kill instantly unless you sever the brain stem or pulverize the brain. A mortally wounded person may still shoot at you for about 10 seconds and that is a lot of time when they are packing 15 rounds. Do you only want two when they are carrying six or more?

    • Commenter avatarLogin to reply the answers
  • 4 years ago

    Be aware of your surroundings. Best bet in the world, no matter what martial art you take up, your unlikely to upset a 6ft tall stocky man with your build. At best, you may disable him temporarily, like knocking him to the floor etc. or hit a sensitive part. That is unless you are armed in some way. To come to a point where you can confidently use technique instead of strength to cause harm will take years of training, which I doubt you have if you have already met the person you are fearful of. Ideally, you need to be aware of your surroundings, go to a few lessons to learn how to put someone on the floor fairly quickly and make a hasty get away.

    • Commenter avatarLogin to reply the answers
  • 1 decade ago

    I personally don't see the point in a backup gun. You should be proficient with one concealed gun and very good with it. If you carry backup anything, it should be extra ammo/mag. There are a lot of good concealable guns, while not as small as the derringer, still conceal so well that nobody would even know they are there. A derringer is better than nothing but since I have a choice, I will choose better. I find the rounds a derringer shoots to be too under powered and with only two shots, you better be very good with it! An extra 13rd 9mm mag would take up the same space as a good sized derringer. Personally, I think they are neat collectible guns that should be in display cases or used at the range for fun. If they were my only choice, then I would probably carry one.

    When most people say derringer, most people think they mean the tiny derringers that fit in a purse or a pocket and shoot small ammo. If you want to tell people to get a derringer in a larger caliber, then you need to tell them you are talking about the larger guns and possibly provide a link. I think that is why you are getting thumbs down...

    • Commenter avatarLogin to reply the answers
  • 1 decade ago

    So many people like them for several reasons. I own several (most were gifts). The .45LC or .410 is well in existence ( Bond Arms) , the tried and true .38 2 shot is a poker players special, and a I have a.22lr 4 barrel 4 shot, with a revolving hammer. They are not my carry arms, but I love the nostalgia.

    Edit : most don't like them because of limited capacity.

    Source(s): My derringers are antiques
    • Commenter avatarLogin to reply the answers
Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.