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The Modern Derringer, For Today’s Shooter




The word Derringer is synonymous with “palm pistol” or “pocket pistol.” Basically, it is a very small single or double shot pistol that is meant for deep concealment. At short distances, one of these little guns is devastating to whoever is on the receiving end. However, due to the fact that these guns usually have a very large projectile and small frame, the person doing the shooting actually feels a bit of pain, too.


Photo Credit: Bond Arms

These guns were very popular among women back in the mid to late 1800s because a lady could very easily conceal one of these guns in her purse, or wherever she decided. Originally, these guns were designed as muzzle loading flintlocks by the Deringer family (notice the spelling only had one “r” in the name), but eventually moved up to what we know today.

Even though the Deringer family based out of Philly had designed them, the second “r” was dropped, and only a hint of the original gun remains today.

Modern Derringers

Over the last few years, the design hasn't changed all that much for these potent little pocket pistols. There are a few things that are different between manufacturers, however, that are necessary to address.

One of the most common differences among today's derringer style guns, is that some have a trigger guard, and some do not. Greater care must be taken when holstering a cocked derringer that doesn't have a trigger guard to ensure that the gun carrier doesn't shoot him or herself in the leg.


These handy little guns are as popular as ever, and even seem to have a bit of a cult following. In the old days, the Derringer was only available in limited calibers. However, today's guns are available in a wide variety of projectile sizes. For example, this handy little hand cannon from Bond Arms comes in 9mm, and goes up to .45 Colt. In other words…OUCH!

Photo Courtesy of Bond Arms

Can you imagine shooting a 250 grain bullet from a gun you can barely get your hands on? This gun from Bond Arms also chambers the punishing .410 shot shell to make sure you don't miss your mark in your persuasion to prevent your attacker from getting up.

But this doesn't answer an important question, and that is: What exactly is a two shot pocket gun good for, if you need more than two shots?

The unfortunate answer, is that they aren't good for a whole heck of a lot after that. What they do have going for them, however, is petite size. This makes them a good back up gun to be worn on the ankle, or even in the pocket.

But as a duty gun? Or as a lone carry gun? It wouldn't be my first pick. Why? Well, if you're attacked by a small gang of thugs, two shots from a derringer will only take out two bad guys, and that is if you're a good enough shot.

The Derringer pocket pistol has come a long way since its inception back in the 1800s. While it may not be a practical duty gun, it can serve its purpose as a capable back up, as they are small enough to fit in tight spaces.

Sound Off Gun Carriers. Do you own a Derringer? If so, what's its use in your arsenal? Do you carry it as a back up? Or, is it your primary EDC? Let us know in the comments below.

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  1. ws huffman

    December 2, 2023 at 8:05 AM

    I have and shoot a 38 Derringer. At 5 yds hitting a pop can is do able
    (with practice). It’s not a pistol you’re proficient at by shooting once a month. I use it while camping and walking on trails. I don’t live in bear country.

  2. Roy

    April 29, 2016 at 8:09 AM

    I don’t own a derringer, but I do spend time shooting all my hand guns “point-and-shoot” mode. Up to 50 feet away. Most times when you are going to have to discharge your pistol, you don’t have time to aim. For the most part it is just like pointing with your finger. Practice, practice and practice. You will get it down.

  3. Curlybill45

    June 18, 2015 at 12:48 PM

    I would tend to disagree with the author about the effectiveness of the weapon in crowds of more than two. Normally when you show that you can and will shoot one of them. Generally the others will allow a safe and peaceful exit while you hold the second shot.

  4. Ed Gleason

    June 18, 2015 at 9:14 AM

    Maybe I am the exception rather than the rule but I tried hitting a twelve inch target at ten feet with a derringer chambered in 45 cal. and I was 0 for 6. That is when I was trying and not under any pressure, I don’t think this type of weapon suits me very well.

  5. Norm Cordova

    June 18, 2015 at 9:04 AM

    how much is the Derringer ??

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