Several years ago, I attended the Kayaderosseras Fish and Game Club’s Circle K Regulators Cowboy Shoot and had an opportunity to shoot a North American Arms (NAA) five-shot .22 magnum model 1860 Earl revolver.
It was a neat little gun with a four-inch barrel, fixed sights and fun to shoot. Last January at the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s SHOT Show, I stopped by the NAA booth and spoke with Ken Friel, general manager, who showed me their 2013 products. The more I touched these little revolvers, the more I knew before I left, Ken would be filling out an order with my name on it.
There were literally dozens of guns, including several semi-auto pistols, to choose from, and I believe I held and pointed all of them. But finally, I chose the .22 magnum NAA Pug, and both Ken and Sandy Chisholm, NAA president, applauded.
My reasons for the .22 mag were simple — I always liked that caliber since my first .22 magnum rifle that I used for woodchuck, squirrel and coyote hunting. Ballistics on this caliber are very respectable, and the Federal Game Shok 50-grain, jacketed hollow points will generate a velocity a bit over 1,000 feet per second leaving the Pug’s little barrel, quite sufficient for what I intend to do with this revolver. I know there are those that will think that I’ll be giving up (wasting) over 600 feet per second bullet speed and substantial foot-pounds of force, but this revolver wasn’t designed for long-range shooting. It’s designed for carry/self-protection and just some all-around fun shooting.
And speaking of self-protection, there’s a photo of Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) with the latest edition of the NAA catalog and a caption that reads, “He mentioned that he regularly carries two of the firm’s firearm products after receiving death threats several years ago.” Sen. Hatch was also presented with the American Shooting Sports Council’s 1996 Congressional Leader of the Year Award “in appreciation of his leadership and commitment in defense of our heritage, our industry and our life.”
Before I reveal my plans for this little revolver, let’s look at all the features of the NAA Pug-D. As the catalog/website said, it’s squat and sturdy like its namesake dog, but this dog delivers a bite even worse than it’s bark. It has slightly oversized pebble-textured rubber grips which allow the shooter to keep a firm grip on the gun. The XS sighting system with a white dot site provides quick sight picture and will enable the shooter to direct the “bite.”
Safety is an important part of all gun handling, and that’s why NAA single-action revolvers are all equipped with a safety slot. In the past, the safest way was to keep the hammer on an empty chamber of a revolver when carrying it, should it be dropped or the hammer banged. This safety slot fits the blade of the hammer into a notch instead of in line with the rim of the cartridge. When the hammer is fully cocked, the cartridge automatically aligns itself into the proper striking position for firing.
Other features include a one-inch heavy steel barrel, overall length of 4 1⁄2 inches, height of 2 3⁄4 inches and width of seven-eighths of an inch. The Pug tips the scales at 6.4 ounces.
Before actually going to the range with the Pug, I researched some of the previous tests done by several noted gun writers and found they were impressed. A couple reviews said the aiming point for this type of gun can be different for each individual. One of the tests that proved the accuracy of these mini wheel guns used a special solidly mounted handgun shooting vise to hold the Pug steady when being fired repeatedly. At 10 feet, he managed a five-shot group inside of eight-tenths of an inch.
Last Sunday, I headed to the range with box of CCI WMR Maxi Mag hollow point, 40-grain ammunition, which is currently not that easy to find. At the advice of the expert gun writers, I confined my shooting distance to five-round tests at 10 feet from a standing position and was able to accomplish a shaky five-inch group. But when I got serious with the next 10 rounds, using a more solid rest, that group closed up to just over two inches. Just as the gun guys all agreed, this mini revolver is reliable, accurate and will make an ideal carry or protection gun. The only thing they forgot was, it’s a lot of fun.
For my last test, I set up an upper-torso silhouette target like they use in the Cowboy Shoots out at 10 feet. Then standing with the Pug down, I raised it and fired five shots which were in a four-inch group, but near the center.
That evening, when I was telling a friend about the Pug, he mentioned “shot loads,” which I did not know they made in .22 mag. Now, as someone always looking for a hunting challenge, I thought about hunting with the Pug. Obviously, it would have to be small game and/or pests.
Currently, all of the small-game seasons are closed, but the pests are open. I know those who live in rural areas have barns and sheds that are continuously damaged by chipmunks, pigeons, mice, rats and red squirrels. I think the Pug and I are going to visit a few farms and wooded areas where I know there are red squirrels. The hunt will start as soon as I get my CCI .22 magnum and 52 grains of No. 12 shot (200 pellets) ammo.
Check out these little revolvers at www.northamericanarms.com.