Buckshot Bad Boys

Bond Arms .45/.410 Derringers

In western movies both the good guys and bad guys manage to use some tiny, little, 2-shot handguns to great advantage. Bret Maverick usually had one tucked up his sleeve or in his hat, and it saved his bacon in many a card game. Yancy Derringer was named for the little gun he carried. How many times did Paladin, who always had one tucked beneath its cartridge belt buckle, save the day with that tiny, little gun? Sometimes he even made absolutely impossible shots stopping the bad guy in its tracks with a 1-shot version. Of course, what should we expect from a gunfighter carrying a Colt Single Action, which was described as a “Custom-made Hamilton with a 2-ounce trigger pull.”

What Jock Mahoney, James Garner and Richard Boone had in common in their respective Western roles was a pocket pistol of the period, a derringer, named after Henry Deringer, with only one “r.” Henry is most remembered as the designer of the single-shot percussion Deringer/derringer that would become the infamous pocket pistol used by John Wilkes Booth to assassinate Abraham Lincoln. Good guys, bad guys, gamblers, ladies of the night, lawmen and anyone who wanted an easy way to conceal defensive weapon, favored derringers.
The most famous of the frontier time was a Remington double-barreled .41 Rimfire. It was very low powered, however if one happened to be shot with a .41, infection could easily become a greater problem than the wound itself. With these little derringers carried in pockets, they gathered up all kinds of dirt and crud, which the bullet then transferred to the wound. If most men had a choice, they would rather get shot by a “clean” .45 than a dirty .41. The .45 would probably go clean through, while the little .41 would stay in the body with its payload of crud-producing disease.

Not only was the Remington .41 Double Derringer very low powered, the design itself produced a pistol that was structurally weak. It was not all that unusual for the hinge holding the barrel and frame together to come apart. Sometime in the 1950s, Great Western produced an upgrade of the Remington Double Derringer in .38 Special. I have a good friend who still carries one as his number one pocket pistol. Derringers are still being produced and still being used as effective pocket pistols. Quite a few companies have produced derringers since the time of the Great Western .38 Special. They range the gamut from poor quality to exceptionally high quality. Among the latter are the derringers of Bond Arms.

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