Heizer Defense: Space Age Derringers and More For Self Defense


Looking for a very different and unique pocket derringer? Missouri-based Heizer Defense makes a selection of unusual space age derringers that can fit the bill for a range of specialized needs, while having space age appeal and serious power.

This company is family owned and operated, and grew from humble beginnings. The family of Charlie Heizer, now in his mid-eighties, escaped Hungary during WWII and relocated to the Midwestern US. An engineer and inventor at heart, Heizer became educated as an aerospace engineer. Among his many inventions are a series of derringers, with looks and features entirely unlike others on the market.

In the not too distant past, I had the opportunity to handle and fire two Heizer pistols with rifle-caliber chambering. Who’d have ever thought you could fire a .223 (PAR1) or 7.62 x .39 (PAK1) cartridge from a palm-size pistol? The company also makes a .45 LC/.410 model. The barrels can be interchanged with either the PAK1 or PAR1.

PAK1, 7.62x39, Photo by Author
PAK1, 7.62×39, Photo by Author

These little guns have a single shot, break-open action, operated by a zero-profile sliding lever on the left side of the frame. Loading is similar to a shotgun of the same style. The 45 LC model can store two extra rounds in the grip.

Construction is entirely of US-made stainless steel. “This is the same steel C-130 landing gear is made of,” said company principal, Hedy Heizer. The trigger in these derringers is a patented roller bearing design, with a long, eight-pound pull as a safety feature. (Though I’ll add, safe carry method and finger disciplines are the best safety features). The molded, non-adjustable sights are small and standard on this type of handgun.

The guns are thin and pancake-like, with a squared profile but rounded edges. The shape is conducive to discreet pocket carry. Overall dimensions are 3 7/8 inches in height, .7 inches in width and 6 3/8 inches in length for both the pocket AR and AK. Weight is 23 oz. Muzzle velocity for the AK is 1200 fps and 1400 fps for the AR.

Heizer guns’ durable construction is made more so by the hammer and other action components being contained in the frame. There’s nothing to gather dirt or catch on clothing.

The 7.62x.39 has a ported barrel for recoil reduction. It’s still snappy. According to Heizer reps, the porting only sacrifices 110 feet per second of muzzle velocity. The .223 recoil is very manageable and would compare to a small frame .45 ACP.

PAR1 .223, Photo by Heizer Defense
PAK1, 7.62×39, Photo by Author

These high-powered rounds create sufficient pressure inside the frame that re-opening the action can be tricky. The simple solution is pressing the trigger again on the empty case, which clears the hinged opening.

Heizer is not only in the derringer business. One of the newest offering by this company is the PKO-45 that debuted at SHOT Show 2016. It is a 45 ACP, semi auto that is only .80 inches in width and weighs 25 ounces. Magazine capacity is 5 or 7 rounds depending on a flush or extended magazine.

PKO-45 with extended magazine, Photo by Heizer Defense
PKO-45 with extended magazine, Photo by Heizer Defense

One of the most commonly used holsters for Heizer line of handguns are the Sticky brand holsters, which seemed to work well. I’m otherwise familiar with this brand, and they are pocket- and waistband-friendly. In essence the Heizer Derringer is comparable to carrying todays IPhone.

The PAK1 and PAR1 have the advantages of being light and packable or concealable, while having the truly unique advantage of being able to fire a high power cartridge from a tiny package. Powerful as they are, they’re still manageable to shoot. The company recommends not using lacquer covered ammunition for these guns.

On the downside is the single-shot capacity. If you care to look at it from a weight-to-capacity ratio, it’s a bit heavy. Cost is reasonable at $449.00 for the PAK1 and $399.00 for the PAR1. The PKO-45 MSRP is $899. There are other offering by this company, you can check them out at https://heizerdefense.com/

PKO-45, Photo by Heizer Defense
PKO-45, Photo by Heizer Defense

Personally I see these little guns as a contender for pocket carry or to throw in a pack with a bit of ammo for any potential survival circumstance. If you are interested in a high powered rifle cartridge from a pocket pistol, look no further than one of these space age derringers from Heizer Defense.

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