You're reading History Of Derringer Pistol, posted on Thursday, June 5th, 2008 at 1:44 pm in Hand Guns, on BrainBloggers at the Guns Inc. blog. More after the jump.
Derringers – a small hand pistol – was invented and popularized by a man known as ‘Deringer’. The first Derringer handgun was a single barrel, percussion .41 caliber pistol that was easy to conceal. This was the type of gun that was used by John Wilkes Booth to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln.
Derringers are usually one to four barrels only because they are so small. Probably the most famous type of derringer is the Remington over/under design that was widely copied, and is still common today. This was, and is, a single action pistol with short superposed barrels (which are hinged at the top, rather than at the bottom), a bird’s head grip, and no trigger guard, and it is what most people think of when they hear the word “derringer.”
American Derringer Corp. is probably the foremost manufacturer of improved Remington style derringers. Their derringers are made of stainless steel and incorporate a manual hammer block safety. They can be chambered for almost any pistol cartridge, from .22 LR to .45-7- Govt! Their standard Model 1 has 3 inch barrels and weighs 15.5 ounces in .38 Spec.
Because of their small size and bird’s head grips, the recoil of a Remington style derringer is difficult to control, and such guns are best chambered for relatively mild cartridges. I would not consider carrying one chambered for anything more powerful than standard velocity .38 Special cartridges. Indeed, the .38 Spec. is probably the caliber of choice for modern derringers. Another pretty good cartridge for a derringer would be the rimfire .22 Magnum (.22 WMR), and for years High Standard built a double-action-only over/under derringer for that cartridge. Since the original High Standard company folded, this derringer has been produced by others.