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The Dandy Double-Deuce and the ever dependable "mouse guns"

Tom Lounsbury

Mon, 19 Aug 2019 11:11:44 EDT

 


click on the picture to enlarge






             The Dandy Double-Deuce and the ever dependable "mouse guns"
                                                                     By Tom Lounsbury


If I had to pick one cartridge as my all time favorite, it would have to be the .22 Rimfire round that I fondly refer to as the "Dandy Double-Deuce". Being 165 years old makes the Double-Deuce not only America's first (and oldest) successful self-contained cartridge, the fact that it remains as one of the most popular rounds according to annual sales today speaks for itself. Being inherently accurate with virtually no recoil, it is used in competitive shooting events, small game hunting, general plinking, and when required it has filled the niche for self defense as well, despite its diminutive size.
Daniel Wesson had a real brainstorm when he wondered if it would be possible to place powder and a lead projectile in a copper percussion cap and form a self-contained cartridge during a time when powder, cap, and ball were slowly loaded as separate entities. When you compare the diameter of a musket (percussion) cap to the diameter of a .22 Rimfire case, you will realize what obviously played a key role in determining the caliber designation of the .22 Rimfire.
Of course Wesson had to figure a way for everything to stay firm in a firearm's chamber, as well as offer a hard surface for the hammer to strike and ignite the powder charge, thus the "rim" was created, and the .22 Rimfire (now known as the "Short") was born. Daniel Wesson, in partnership with Horace Smith, would patent the .22 Rimfire cartridge in 1854. "Smith & Wesson" would soon market a .22 Rimfire pocket pistol that would set the stage for firearms development in America.
A key example is in 1860 when Tyler Henry, in the employment of Oliver Winchester, developed the .44 Rimfire round for his lever-action Henry Rifle. This was the Yankee repeating rifle that Confederate General Jeb Stuart claimed could be "loaded on Sunday and shot all week" during the Civil War. The .44 Rimfire was nothing more than enlarging the .22 Rimfire in size to enhance ballistics and killing power.
The irony here is that the .22 Rimfire was originally designed as a self defense round because it could be used in small, very concealable, non-cumbersome "pocket pistols" that could be carried completely out sight but readily available when desperately needed. Despite its lighter ballistics, it was a good deterrent during a dangerous confrontation and much better than nothing at all, and this is a certain fact that holds still true today.
However the .22 Rimfire's use in rifles as a handy piece for small game hunting and pest control was quickly set in stone at the onset. In either a handgun or rifle, the .22 Rimfire would remain a highly popular and versatile round in America, and would stay at the forefront of annual production even when other rimfire caliber/rounds would fall to the wayside as the popularity of centerfire rounds took over.
Like a majority of shooters, the first rifle and handgun I ever shot was a .22 Rimfire. Tin cans of course were my first targets, and a vintage single-shot .22 rifle was the first hunting arm I used in the field. In any given year, I still shoot more .22 Rimfire rounds than any other cartridge. The fact is, I generally purchase my .22 Rimfire ammunition by the (500 rounds) "brick", as it is usually the most economical way to go with an already economical round when you shoot as often as I do.
Fortunately for American shooters .22 Rimfire ammunition remains the cheapest firearm ammo on the market still today, and it comes in a variety brands, bullet types and sizes, such as the very mellow CB Long (and CB Short), Short, Long, high-velocity Long Rifle, subsonic Long Rifle, solids or hollow-point and even birdshot loads as well. I'm sure I'm missing some more, but that is the list that I've personally shot over the years and still shoot.
Back in the early 1980's, Dick Casull of Freedom Arms developed not only the largest revolver at that time, the single-action .454 Casull (which I have), but he also had developed the smallest .22 "Mini" revolver in 1978, which relates back to the days of small, concealable pistols when the .22 Rimfire first came into being. Like its large revolvers, the Freedom Arms Mini-revolvers were finely crafted of stainless steel and I made a point of getting one more than 30-some years ago. While some of the Minis featured a small bird's head grip and only a one-inch barrel, I went with the "Boot Gun", which features a 3-inch barrel and larger "plow handle" type grip.
Over the past three decades, I've grown to fully appreciate my Mini-revolver (often referred to by some big-bore shooters as being a "mouse gun") because of its lightweight and handy nature, and I have taken a variety of small game and pests with it, as well as slain countless tin cans. It happens to be one of my most shot and used handguns. Ironically, it was with this little revolver that I accomplished my longest kill with a .22 Rimfire handgun. This occurred several years ago when I was hand-planting some trees in the spring and I spotted a woodchuck in my near vicinity, about 50 yards away. The woodchuck had stood up on its hind legs to analyze me while I knelt down and used the tree-spud t-handle for a solid brace. The headshot woodchuck dropped on the spot (they make a great stew).
Maybe it was simply a case of an unlucky woodchuck and a lucky shot, but I hit where I was aiming, and the "mini" was what was on hand due to its ease of carry. It weighs and takes up about the same space as an average size multi-tool, and it is very secure and accessible on my belt in its flap-holster.
Although Freedom Arms quit making the Mini-revolvers some time ago, North American Arms (NAA), based in Provo, Utah now makes the only Mini-revolvers today. Constructed of stainless steel, the NAA Mini-revolver is a fine example of American ingenuity and craftsmanship. Once I handled their "Black Widow", I had to have one.
The NAA Black Widow, like its namesake, is a small, durable and packs a nasty bite. Based on NAA's .22 Magnum (a more powerful direct descendant of the old Double Deuce) frame, the Black Widow can be had with both cylinders (and why I selected it) to handle the entire .22 Rimfire lineup, including the larger cased.22 Magnum, which causes it to be extremely versatile. In my opinion, the .22 Magnum can readily hold its own as a personal defense round.
The Black Widow features a heavy ribbed, 2-inch barrel, and has a hand filling and comfortable rubber grip that even accommodates the little finger for more shooting stability. It also comes with either Millett low-profile sights (which I have) or the taller Millett adjustable sights. For those wanting a longer barrel, there is the NAA "Mini-Master" that is identical to the Black Widow, but comes with a 4-inch barrel instead that makes it the "Buntline Special" of min-revolvers.
Like the pocket pistols of yesteryear, NAA mini-revolvers entail a "spur" trigger which lacks a trigger guard that in my opinion is not a problem in regards to a single-action revolver. In fact the spur itself acts as a stop which blocks any creep after the (short) trigger-pull. While trigger locks don't work with this type of handgun, the NAA mini's come with a convenient padlocked, hard plastic case. Just like the Freedom Arms Mini-revolver, it is loaded and unloaded by easily pulling out the cylinder pin and removing the cylinder. The cylinder pin is then used to eject any stubborn empties.
I do on occasion use my mini-revolvers for small game hunting (especially rabbits and squirrels), because it adds some distinct spice. And if I miss, well folks, I have a real good excuse, and if I hit my mark, I can really toot my horn! I can remember squirrel hunting with a friend who was carrying a scoped Ruger .22 rifle, and he commented on how it was the first time he ever saw someone down a bushy-tail with a "purse pistol".
Whether you call them purse pistols or mouse guns, the Mini-revolvers relate directly back to a bygone era which created the dandy "Double Deuce" round.
For more information about North American Arms and its versatile line of mini-revolvers, check out www.NorthAmericanArms.com or call 1-800-821-5783.









click on the picture to enlarge

   Tom Lounsbury truly appreciates the handiness and efficiencey of his .22
Mini - revolvers, a vintage Freedom Arms 3 inch barreled "Boot Gun" (left)
and a 2 inch barreled North American Arms "Black Widow" (right), which also
has an extra .22 Magnum cylinder. Although often called pocket pistols, Tom
prefers to carry his Mini revolvers in quality leather belt holsters.


 

 

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