By Eve Flanigan
Lots of people who carry concealed want a very small handgun — known as the “micro-gun” set — for predictable reasons, with discretion and comfort being the most common. Others derive confidence in having such a firearm as a backup gun, in case their primary gun fails or is otherwise unavailable, and some merely find it convenient to slip one of these tiny shooters in a pocket (in a secure holster designed for that use), especially in the warmer months when concealing a larger gun can be challenging.
In this first of a three-part series featuring ideas for carry guns, we examine the most diminutive among widely available handguns. In no particular order, here are our five top picks of micro-guns for concealed carry.
Taurus M380 IB Mini Revolver
This revolver is chambered in .380 ACP, making the recoil from its 1.75-inch barrel quite tame. A rubber grip is standard. It weighs just one pound unloaded and is 5.95 inches long overall. Moon clips to hold five rimless cartridges of .380 are included with purchase. Unlike many concealment-ready revolvers, this one has an adjustable rear sight. A transfer bar safety backs up its double-action-only operation. For those who love a revolver but want to avoid the snappy recoil of a .38 Special snub-nose, this is a top pick. The M380 is available in an anodized matte black finish ($476.40 MSRP) or natural stainless ($513.79 MSRP).
North American Arms .32 Guardian
North American Arms (NAA) is better known for its rimfire derringers, but this little shooter in .32 ACP is a serious carry gun. Available only in a stainless finish, the steel frame has black hard-rubber grips. Richly grained wood grips are offered by NAA as an upgrade. Capacity is 6+1. The sights are fixed, and the overall profile of the gun is curvy and concealment-friendly. One of the two included magazines has a pinkie shelf. Thanks to its rounded profile, concealing the NAA 32 Guardian is easy. It has a double-action trigger, with a hammer that is flush with the back end of the slide. This is a reliable choice for those interested in a chambering that’s a bit off the beaten path. ($409 MSRP).
Ruger LCP II
Ruger’s encore version of its lightweight, compact pistol (LCP) was created in response to consumers who wanted easier-to-acquire sights, a better trigger and improved handling compared to the original. The updated LCP II also lost the “toy” look and rewards the shooter with great controls for its size. At 10.6 ounces unloaded, it’s among the lightest in its class thanks to a polymer frame. It’s not among the smallest, but with a 2.75-inch barrel and overall length of 5.17 inches, this is still in mouse-gun territory. Its capacity in .380 ACP is 6+1. It does feature a magazine disconnect and cannot be dry-fired without a dummy magazine, which is provided with purchase. For someone wanting a .380 with a solid track record of reliability and tons of color/finish options off the shelf, the LCP II is a top choice. Base MSRP is $349; models with factory-installed lasers and custom trim are higher.
Bond Arms Backup
From the heart of Texas comes this popular derringer. Bond makes many, but the Backup is distinctive with its bead-blasted barrel finish and its rubber grips featuring a stylish Texas star. It comes in an initial choice of .45 ACP or 9mm with a 2.5-inch barrel, but Bond Arms barrels are interchangeable, and with a few turns of an Allen wrench, both barrel length and chambering can change (other chamberings have shiny stainless-steel barrels). Operation is single-action, hammer-fired. A cross-bolt safety enhances this two-round derringer, but unlike others in the derringer class, Bond Arms guns have trigger guards.
The Backup is one of the heaviest on this micro-gun list, 19 ounces, with an overall length of 4.5 inches. Originally designed as a law enforcement backup gun with its muted colors and a grippy grip, it makes a great concealment gun or civilian backup because of those same features. The $540 will equip buyers with a Bond Arms Backup as well as stellar customer service from a well-established, family-owned company.
Heizer Defense PAR-1
For someone who wants power and “urban style,” the Heizer Defense PAR-1 is to pistols what the DeLorean is to automobiles. Designed by Heizer Defense founder Charlie Heizer, a Hungarian immigrant and patriarch of the family business, this pistol is thoroughly innovative. Its footprint is flat with curved edges so that it cuts the profile of a cell phone more than a gun, even in a thin pocket holster. Its finish is shiny in silver or black and reminiscent of industrial decking. But those innovations pale in comparison to its chambering: .223 Remington! This tiny shooter fires quality brass-cased factory rifle rounds, if only one at a time; its capacity is two, owing to a storage compartment in the grip that carries an extra round.
The PAR-1 weighs 23 ounces and is 6 3/8 inches in length. Its name means “pocket AR,” apropos as it slings rounds downrange with a muzzle velocity of 1,400 fps. Recoil is substantial, but Heizer Defense offers help with an optional ported barrel. The PAR-1 packs serious firepower for boutique tastes for $399 or add $50 for ported barrel models.
These five are but a sampling of a wide array of micro-handguns available today. What they lack in capacity or caliber they make up for in concealability and, often, maneuverability — and that can trump all when you need one the most.
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