Bond Arms 'Back-Up'

A .45 ACP/9mm Pocket Surprise
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Bond Back-Up with 9mm barrels installed offers a business-like visage.

A .45 ACP/9mm Pocket Surprise

It’s been about 20 years since Greg Bond redesigned the classic Remington derringer of 1866. The old iron-frame original had a weak barrel-pivot, and the spring-tempered barrel-latch handle was also fragile. In both of these, breakage was not unusual.

In the Bond version, the massive barrel-pivot is good steel. The latch was moved to the left side of the frame and given a separate internal spring, and this was better in two ways. It offers more convenient operation, and a much stronger system.

There were several other improvements on William Elliot’s original design. One was Greg Bond’s patented rebounding hammer, allowing reengagement with the sear. Another was the relocation of the striker-block in the hammer to the left side. This enabled the added hammer-block push-button safety to have an off-safe movement from left to right, also much more convenient. In the top right of the frame, there’s also a small Allen screw that can secure the safety in on-safe position for storage.

Beauty and The Beast? The Back-Up and the more elegant Bond Ranger. Both function identically mechanically.

In J.B.’s average-sized hand, the Back-Up is about J-Frame size.

The Back-Up

Their others, such as the Ranger and the Snake Slayer, are beautiful. High-polish finishes and fancy wood grips, with an “Old West” flavor. The Back-Up’s stainless-steel barrel unit and the small parts have a matte-gray finish. The steel frame is black, and the grips are rubber. The chambering also reflects its intended serious use — it’s .45 ACP. For those of us not of the big-bore persuasion, there’s also a 9mm barrel unit. Suggested retail for the extra barrel is a reasonable $109, and everybody who gets this little monster should have one.

At the Big Tree range, I used the 9mm barrel set for most of the test-firing. With the original .45 in place, I put on a shooting glove and fired only two shots. Hey, these bones have served me for eight decades. Why abuse them? At 7 yards, two-hand hold, the .45 rounds hit the top edge and lower edge of the 8″ black of the Champion VisiShot target.

With the 9mm barrels installed, the results were a lot better. A typical target had one well-centered, in the “1” ring, and one just 2″ below it, in the “3” ring. In a derringer with superposed barrels, shot placement is slightly affected by which barrel fires first. Also note in a gun of this type, the fixed square-picture sights are for reference only.

On my Lyman Electronic Scale, the crisp trigger pull averaged 4.5 pounds. Keep in mind because its pivot point is well to the rear, the trigger moves downward as much as rearward. In practice, compensate for this so you won’t pull the muzzle down and hit low. With a firm hold, some shooters may not even notice this.

The .45 ACP barrel delivered significantly more recoil than the 9mm.

A Bit Of Recoil

Now, let’s address the subject of “felt recoil.” Yes, the old saying is true: if your life is in danger, you won’t notice it. However, as with any gun, you will need to do some practice firing. With the .45 Back-Up, even if you’re using ordinary loads, the comeback is fierce. Be sure to hold it firmly, and I’d recommend a padded shooting glove of some sort.

With the 9mm barrel installed, the felt recoil is markedly less. Still brisk, but not painful. To change the barrel units, you just have to remove and replace a single large Allen screw. In appearance, the Back-Up may not match the elegance of the other Bond derringers, but it makes up for it in practical use.