Derringers were the original concealed carry handgun—unless you count stuffing a wheellock pistol into your coat and lugging that around. To this day, derringers remain among the smallest of handguns you can get your hands on, but they aren’t as popular as they used to be. With the proliferation of smaller and smaller semiautomatic pistols and revolvers, derringers are now often seen as more of a novelty than a tool for self-defense. This is partly due to a misconception that all derringers come in teeny, tiny calibers to match their diminutive frames, but that’s not always the case. Several derringers have been made that chamber more powerful rounds like .223, .357, and .45-70.
Here are five examples of such “upgunned” derringers.
1. American Derringer M-4 Alaskan Survival
There’s little reason to take a derringer into the wild as a backup gun—especially when large-caliber revolves are better suited to the task—but if you do, this one would be it. The M-4 fires .45-70 Government from its top barrel and .45 Long Colt or .410 shells from its bottom barrel, and it packs quite the punch.
With that kind of power in such a tiny package, be aware of where you point this little hand cannon.
2. Bond Arms Texas Defender
If any gun has a chance of flying straight out of your hands and nailing you in the face, this one would be it. The Texas Defender in .44 Magnum is a bear of a gun, especially when loaded with 320-grain rounds that are designed for wilderness defense.
3. Heizer Defense Par1 “Pocket AR”
Heizer may not market their “Pocket AR” as a derringer, but many of its fans consider it a more modern take on an old design. To be sure, .223 is not usually considered a large cartridge, but it is still a high-pressure round—and when was the last time you saw it shot out of a gun the size of a smartphone?
4. COP 4-barrel .357 Derringer
Four barrels full of .357 Magnum. Are we sure this is still a derringer?
5. Great Gun Derringer .54
This gun is practically cheating since it’s a black powder derringer, but it is just too impressive not to be included. Firing a massive .54 caliber bullet, this gun should probably come with a warning about how much your wrists are going to hurt.
What are some other large caliber derringers? Feel free to comment with your favorites.