Holdout Revolvers from NAA

naa sidewinder problems
| December 15, 2015
Categories: Assorted Ramblings

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They say any gun is better than no gun, right? Read up on this little mosquito bites and draw your own blood and conclusions. Mad Duo


Holdout Revolvers from NAA

Mike the Mook

It was 2200 on a Friday night and I was walking out of a casino with the missus. We’re not degenerate gamblers, we go to this casino to watch $3 movies in the theater.

Walking toward us was a group of 15 to 20 urban yoots. They were acting rowdy and loud and one of them peeled off from the main group to walk directly toward us. I slipped my hand into my pocket, palmed a North American Arms mini revolver in 22 Magnum, and at about 10 feet boldly made eye contact and gave him the “dude nod”. He nodded back and hurried back to his group.

The wife turned to me and said, “I thought he was going to do something.”

“If he would have, it would have been the biggest mistake of his life”, I said, showing her what I had hidden in my hand the whole time.


When we talk about concealed carry, we usually recommend a minimum caliber of 380 ACP or 38 Special. My two favorites are the Seecamp 32LWS and NAA Mini, primarily because of their small size which allows you to always have one or the other on you.

You might be thinking, “You got a point with the Seecamp, that was the ‘go to’ CCW piece of the 90s and it was carried by many professionals. But what’s up with the mouse gun?”

We dismissed the NAA Minis as “mouse guns” for a long time. They were reportedly inaccurate, slow to reload and for Chrissakes…they were single action spur trigger 22s!

Rim fire rounds such as 22 lr and 22 magnum bay be dismissed by a lot of gun types, but one thing is certain: those rounds send a lot of people to the morgue.


These revolvers are as small as a compact flashlight, always check your pockets on wash day

On a whim a few years back we found one on sale for $100. Lo and behold, we had $100 in our wallet. After filling out a 4473, we owned it.

Unfortunately our first shooting sessions confirmed what we heard: inaccurate at ranges inside of 10 feet, slow to load, scary to get into safe mode. We second guessed ourselves for picking it up, but still have a fondness for single action revolvers so we held onto it. It languished in the safe for a while until we discovered the main source of our problem: the ammo.

Something better

Most 22 Magnum ammunition is designed for rifles. We were using the same brand we’d been shooting through a 10” Ruger Single Six, and it performed well in that revolver because the longer barrel allowed the powder to burn properly. Out of the NAA’s tiny barrel, you get a lot of flash and excess unburnt powder which prevent the bullet from properly stabilizing when using ammo designed for rifles. This changed when we were introduced to Hornady’s Critical Defense ammunition, which is optimized for use in these little revolvers.

With this type of ammunition you can drop your groups down to 2” at 10 feet. If you apply yourself and practice often with this mini revolver you can get much better at longer distances.

The only problem with this extremely well-made revolver is that it still hearkened back to the 19th century spur trigger revolvers developed during the Civil War, meaning crude sights and having to remove the cylinder to reload. Surely there could be something better?

We asked North American Arms and they sent us two of their newer models: a Pug and a Sidewinder.


Pug on the left has better sight, whereas the sidewinder is faster to reload

The Pug comes with a completely different profile, more befitting a 21st century revolver. It’s more squared off with an improved cylinder release and makes use of a big tritium dot front sight and a molded rubber grip.


Big tritium dot on this little fella

At first we were still skeptical, but sure enough that front sight makes all the difference in the world when it comes to shooting a consistent group. Again this is no bulls eye-grade target revolver to use at 100 feet, but it can give you a postage stamp sized group at bad breath distance and a little beyond (and that’s all you need out of a piece like this). Still, an improved release and better sights only fixes part of the problem. You still need to pull a pin and remove the cylinder for reloading when you fire all five rounds.

Back to the positives: it seems more compact and streamlined than the standard models.


NAA’s Sidewinder isn’t much bigger than a Spyderco Cricket

Enter the Sidewinder


NAA’s Sidewinder features a swing out cylinder

The sidewinder features a swing out cylinder similar in concept to the revolvers that most of us are familiar with.. There is no fumbling with a spare loaded cylinder or worry of dropping a cylinder or the rod that keeps it in place. The only real downside to this model is the lack of that big tritium dot. It doesn’t open as fast as a cylinder latch mounted on the side of the frame or a top break, but it definitely is more convenient than the other models.

We hope that NAA comes out with a Pug/Sidewinder version that bridges these two designs in yet another variation of their base model.


They offer larger gripped versions such as the Black Widow and make the Sidewinder in barrel lengths up to 4” as of this writing. Our two test pistols actually shipped in the company’s new cases, which are compact steel lock boxes instead of the old MTM type plastic cases.

We have watched this company grow over the past 20 years with constant innovations and are confident they will continue to push the envelope on these pint sized pistols.

Yeah, um it’s a 22


At this point you are probably shaking your head at the thought of carrying a self-defense piece this small with what may seem like marginal ballistics.

First of all, we only use ours as a backup piece to our normal carry pistol. It excels in this role due to size and weight. Some police officers actually carry one in the lighter or coin pocket

of their jeans. We prefer a DeSantis pocket holster that keeps it in the pocket with the rough side out leather and even has a small pouch to hold additional rounds. There are other designs for IWB or Appendix carry, but we find the pocket version to make the most sense for this little revolver.


Can’t afford a proper holster? This one can ride in the lighter or watch pocket if needed.

As far as ballistic performance with Hornady’s Critical Defense you’re looking at a 45 grain bullet launched at 760 feet per second. When shooting into ballistic gel, slugs are recovered expanded and retaining all their weight with a penetration depth of 15 to 16”. That may pale in comparison to a service caliber, but a Glock 21, Sig P220 or HK P30 will not exactly drop into the watch pocket of your jeans and will probably see more safe time than a revolver so small you forget it’s there.


If you need to compensate for something you might as well go with the S&W 500. If you want something you can carry constantly, go North American


As a backup or holdout piece, it gives reassurance because it’s there when you need it.

-Mike Searson


You can visit North American Arms online here or give them a follow on Facebook 

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  1. Ginny.

    I just ordered a sweet holster for my sidewinder from the Absaroka Kid.

  2. Davey

    On one forum I belong to, we’ve been discussing “Rule #1 guns”. [1]

    [1]: Rule #1 – Have a gun.

    • Skyler

      Looks like heavy rains here will eliminate my own thpreay session.I have an old Mauser calling me, and some 8×57 needing conversion to smoke and noise. Enjoy the range day….. hope the range master has some new toys to show off too. If the one guy has a Baikal .22 target pistol laid out, ask to try it…. it’s a laser disguised as a pistol.

  3. Gene DeSantis


    They are selling more minis because of the holster! Thank for the plug. C U @ SHOT


    • Sylvie

      Another good resource is Jerry Miculek’s DVD on S W reevovlr action tuning, available for example at briaenos.com. Not as detailed probably as Kuhnhausen, but practical, easy to follow and interesting.


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