Heizer Defense: Itty Bitty Guns That Pack A Big Punch
Recently I had the chance to visit with representatives of Heizer Defense, a Missouri company making a big bang with little pistols. They make some remarkable handguns with an emphasis on futuristic design and big cartridges.
Heizer Defense is a family enterprise, founded by Charlie Heizer, now 83 and still active in the business. As a young man, he was working on cars for a living when a Douglas Aircraft employee recruited him to that company, which began his career in aerospace engineering. He also raced motorcycles. This combination of experience, education, and passion for mechanical power led him to create innovative handgun designs.
All Heizer Defense guns are made entirely of stainless steel, polished and textured on the outside. The hallmark of the company’s design is a one-shot, internal hammer derringer with a look like no other. If you like art deco style, this just might be a gun you’ll love.
In every available caliber, the little guns are shaped more like a wallet than a gun. Edges are rounded and trigger pull is heavy. These features are designed for concealment in a pocket.*
The original Heizer design is a 45LC/.410 caliber model called the Pocket Shotgun or PS1. It’s available in stainless or black finish. Those familiar with this flagship design of the Heizer brand may be pleased to know that recent updates include even more rounded edges and a higher grip.
The Hedy Jane is a so-called women’s model of the PS1, with a lighter (read: eight pounds) trigger pull. It comes in a choice of purple, green, pink, and aqua trim colors.
Both the PS1 and Hedy Jane are 21 ounces, heavy for the 3 and seven-eighths inches high by 4 and five-eighths inches long frame, but also heavy enough to take a little bit of sting out of the recoil, which is substantial.
A nice feature is the ability to stash two extra rounds inside the grip. While not exactly quick to reload, it’s a great way to backup your backup for, say, snake eradication, and it’ll keep your friends from giving you “Barney Fife” as a nickname.
In recent years, the company also released the pocket AR (PAR1), which fires .223/5.56, and pocket AK (PAK1), which fires 7.62×39, yes, you read that right – out of a barrel that’s about two inches long (including the chamber) comes an AK or AR round, depending on model.
Both rifle-caliber models are comparable in size and weight to the PS1. That’s only important when you consider that the company makes replacement barrels that can be used in every other of their single shot models.
The PAK and PAR models have the option of a ported barrel for recoil reduction. I only got to test the ported one, however I believe the PAK1 may border on unbearable to shoot without porting. It’s still not exactly pleasant to shoot, but that thought is outweighed by the fact that, hey, you’re shooting an AK round out of a tiny pistol!
Power fiends, take heart, the ports only gave up 110 feet per second of muzzle velocity. Heizer Defense has patented its progressive porting design, and each hole is surrounded by a U-shaped depression that funnels down to the circular port.
Firing the PAK1 and PAR1, each with ported barrel, I found a palpable difference in recoil between them, with the .223 having much more bearable recoil. Were I to purchase any of these derringers for myself, it’d be the .223–less recoil with all the rifle-caliber coolness.
Loading of each model is done using a break-open design, akin to a shotgun. The release is a flush, textured slider on the left side, easily operated with a thumb. I should’ve tried it left-handed too, but range time was short. The bore axis is low and the jigsaw puzzle piece-like grip shape makes it impossible to grip any way but correctly and the flat shape is surprisingly easy to hold.
The trigger–not gonna lie, it’s heavy and takes some getting used to. Considering the gun is designed for carrying unsheathed in a pocket, which I won’t do, the heavy pull is appropriate.
Any of these powerful single-shots would be super as a backup self-defense gun. The .410 model makes a good eliminator of poisonous, shoulder-less guests to your property. But the best thing about them is, they’re a work of art. Like the Empire State Building, they’re not the only thing around made of steel, but they are the most eye-catching.
It’ll be style, not price per round of capacity, to think about when purchasing a Heizer Defense handgun. The PS1, Hedy Jane, and PAR1 are is priced at $399; add $150 for an interchangeable barrel. The PAK1 is priced at $499, and ported barrels add $50 to the price. Having interchangeable barrels adds value in terms of flexibility and resilience in a changing ammo market.
*Regardless of the gun, pocket carry should include a holster that covers the trigger guard. There should never be other objects in the same pocket as the gun/holster. Safety isn’t always sexy, but a permanent injury or death is even less so.