In the world of making firearms, there aren’t numerous smaller than the offerings from North American Arms. Its Defender series is about as petite as semi-automatic pistols come, & I believe its Mini-Revolvers may be the smallest stock revolvers in the world. There aren’t many clothing choices — at least ones you can legitimately get off with in public — that would prevent carrying a gun this small. As I’ve had an NAA Mini in .22 LR for about five years now, I think it’s high time I officially reviewed it . . .
The winner of the least handgun title was, & still is, the North American Arms (NAA) NAA-22S single-action revolver, which will be held to hereafter as the Short for, well, brevity. Not mainly is this version of the NAA Mini revolver just about as small as a real gun can be, but it’s also in current production (in limited runs), it shoots a standard cartridge (the .22 Short) & it has a palatable suggested retail price of $226.
What I appreciate the most about the Short is that the association does not treat it like a range toy or a device. It’s built to the related standards, using the same stainless steel & precision machines, like the rest of NAA’s product lines. The Short is a single-action revolver built entirely of stainless steel with a polished cylinder, polished flats & satin finish on the curves.
NAA’s Mini-Revolvers are ready in eight or nine significant variations in multiple styles & finishes & sometimes various caliber choices for each. There are too many barrel diameter, barrel style, cylinder style, sight, frame style, grip, & finish options to list them hither, so you’ll have to give some time browsing NAA’s website to learn about all of them. Calibers on the list are .22 Short (a small cylinder w/ matching block that accepts just Shorts), .22 LR (you can too shoot .22 Shorts), .22 WMR aka .22 Magnum (can be had with another cylinder for .22 LR/Short), & .22 cap & ball. Even the biggest of the Minis is still rather darn mini, though.
In extension to their Lilliputian dimensions, there are other commonalities across the line. Several notably, the Mini-Revolvers are all single action only — you must manually cock the hammer all the way back for each & every shot. They also all have a 5-shot capacity & are made entirely of stainless steel (excepting grip panels &, in some cases, sights).
I own one in the .22 LR character with a 1-1/8″ barrel (part number NAA-22LR), so we’re just going to focus on that. Here are its specs:
Width: 13/16″ (at the fullest part of the cylinder diameter)
Weight: 4.5 Ounces
The Mini’s Mission Statement
North American Arms has been making the NAA Mini Revolver since 1990 & these dandy little guns are touted as being Convenient, Reliable, & Effective. These tiny five-shot single action revolvers chambered in 22 Short, 22 LR, & 22 Magnum are the sort of guns you can have with you at all times, & in situations where a larger gun is just out of the problem. This series has become so successful that there are now variations on the theme (like top break & swing out cylinder versions, & even target models). & there is a multitude of accessories for these little five shotguns.
Design & Features
The base model NAA Mini Revolver is formed of stainless steel & features bird’s headway wooden grips. Despite being only steel, the guns weigh in the region of 4 ounces unloaded. The base model guns will either have a 1 1/8 inch or 1 5/8 inch barrel with a set half-moon front sight milled above the barrel. The rear sight is a simple notch.
The revolver is a single action. Cock the hammer & squeeze the spur trigger to discharge the weapon. The cylinder holds five rounds of ammunition & is released by pushing a detent on the cylinder pin & pulling it out. The barrel can then be removed for loading & unloading. Pulling the hammer back to the half-cock position allows for easy re-installation of the bottle. Half-cock only, though.
The revolver has no passive protection, but the gun can be carried with all five chambers loaded. Once the full cylinder has been installed, just put your finger on the trigger & pull the hammer back somewhat so you can index the bottle to one of the machined catches. This allows you to leave the hammer in between the chambers.
As previously stated the guns are chambered in either 22 Short, 22 LR, or 22 Magnum. & this alone may be the final determination of effectiveness. .22 caliber rounds are lethal, though they may not stop threats immediately. The magnum, though, adds some punch.
Now, is it a great defensive firearm, ready to do battle with brig&s & bank robbers? No. But it is the gun you can have with you when circumstances discourage carrying a full sized one. Fully loaded with five rounds of .22 long rifle, it weighs 5.1 oz. With the naa mini revolver holster, it hits a mere 5.8 oz.
So how does it work & how does it shoot? The NAA is a single action, five shot revolver. The only move means that the hammer has to be manually cocked for each shot. You may know that old style Colt separate actions, although “6-shooters,” can only be safely carried with five rounds, & the hammer down on an empty chamber. The NAA has a brilliant, but the simple solution… between each chamber is a hammer rest notch so that you can carry it fully loaded. You just need to be careful to lower the hammer on the rest notch. To load it, put the hammer on half cock, remove the cylinder retaining pin, roll the cylinder out of the frame, & drop in the five rounds (use the retaining pin to poke out empties). Roll the cylinder back in, reinstall the retaining pin, & CAREFULLY lower the hammer into the rest notch. To fire it, get the best naa mini revolver gripsyou can manage with your middle finger & palm, lining up the gun so that it runs straight back in the web between your thumb & trigger finger, in a straight line with your wrist. Cock it with your thumb, point it at the target & squeeze the trigger. Notice I didn’t say “aim” it at the target. It may be different with other hand sizes, but the rudimentary sights are non-existent to me. The trigger pull is hefty, but crisp.
The hammer has three primary settings: fully forward, fully cocked or half-cocked. NAA Mini revolvers have a security system that allows these guns to be carried with all their chambers loaded.
The 5-shot cylinder has notches cut between the chambers that will enable the hammer blade to rest in the fully forward area until the revolver is cocked. The trigger is not much more than a textured stud that sticks out from the frame. However, it has a flat, short stroke that breaks cleanly with 4 lbs. 8 oz. of trigger pull.
The grip frame is a reduced scale configuration. The flower-petal sized laminated rosewood grip panels are secured in place by a single slender screw. For those who are questioning, the answer is yes; the NAA-22S can be provided with the recently released Laserlyte V-Mini grip-mounted naa mini revolver laser sight. The Short Mini shares the related grip profile as the .22 LR models so that it can be just as tactically cool as larger handguns.
The good folks at Aguila were kind enough to send me something I feared I might not ever see again— an entire brick of .22 Shorts. The load provided for this test is the group’s Super Short Extra. It’s topped with a 29-gr. round-nose, copper covered bullet. Next to a .22 Large Rifle cartridge with a 40-gr. Bullet it looks pint-sized.
Believe it or not, .22 Shorts are loaded to different velocity levels, just like .22 Long Rifle rounds. The softest shooting of the bunch is the CB loads with rifle barrel velocities of about 700 fps. Target loads scoot on at about 830 fps with the firm hollowpoint loads maximizing the cartridge’s production potential by launching at approximately 1110 fps. The Aguila Super Short Extra is one of the hot loads with a listed rifle velocity of 1095 fps, generating 77 ft.-lbs. Of energy.
You’re not running to win a bullseye competition with this thing. It is a last-ditch weapon. But, with practice, a person can quickly hit center mass at five yards. It’s also not great for rapid fire. The little .22 round has quite a sharp snap of recoil, & follow-up shots require a readjustment of your grip. About 8 to 10 seconds is pretty good for five shots.
At the shooting range, the loading & unloading procedures for the Short called for the same steps as other Minis. Place the hammer in the half-cocked position & then depress the button on the front of the cylinder pin to separate it from the frame. Tip the cylinder out of the right side of the frame. Apply the bottle pin to poke out the spent brass, load the empty chambers & then place the barrel back into the frame. Reinsert the cylinder pin, cock the hammer & proceed with the noise making.
As one might expect, this small revolver’s level of felt recoil will not rock your world. But the gun still rolls back in control. I’ve learned from years of shooting Minis that you have to bear down on the grip with the middle pointer while tucking in the ring & little finger tightly to provide a stable platform for the rounded base of the birds head grip. As you can see, there was no practical way to use an adjustable shooting rest, so I leaned into the bench & held on tight.Ten shots across a chronograph showed that the Short’s snubby 1.125″ barrel caused a speed drop of more than 300 fps for a normal flight speed of 771 fps. & an energy level of 38 ft.-lbs. I believe the short form of the bullet & the velocity drop contributed to this particular Mini being less strict than other models I’ve tested. With the short-barrel .22 Magnum frame Minis, like the Pug Carry, I can hold 5-shot group areas to around 1.5″ to 2″ at 7 yards. The short equated 2″ groups at 3 yards, but at 7 yards the patterns opened up to nearly 4.5″.
If you’re in the business for fire-breathing hand cannons able of causing small buildings to tremble to their feet, then the North American Arms NAA-22S Mini revolver chambered in .22 Short is not something you’re watching for. For those who are thinking an NAA Mini for use as a large shelter or backup gun, the much extra potent .22 Magnum models are a better choice. Their larger grips are more comfortable to manage & they can be fitted with .22 LR regeneration cylinders to cut down on use ammunition costs. If you need a small-framed Mini to use as a kit gun, then go with .22 LR frame & enjoy shooting the same bulk-box fodder as your favorite rimfire rifle.
The Short, however, should be respected & collected for what it is—an artistically executed exercise in scale reduction meant to show off the company’s skill. This revolver was, in its way, just as fun to take to the range for its pure originality as a big bore blaster or age model. Running the gun was an experience unlike any other. Thanks to NAA’s attention to detail & quality, this is a revolver that collectors can enjoy shooting at the area just as much as they appreciate having it in their collection.
MSRP for this particular model is $209, but you can probably find it for $149-189 or so. I highly suggest it as a backup or deep carry pistol.