July 2007

Pocketable .22 Mags: Three Guns We’d Take a Pass On

The 2-inch-barrel North American Arms Black Widow may be useful, but we didnít like the 4-inch NAA Mini Master or the 4-inch Taurus Model 941 ó too little pop for the weight.

Recently we took a look at .22 semiautos for the trail. In this report we look at an often neglected caliber, the .22 Magnum, in a trio of unusual revolvers. The versatility of the revolver lets you load it with a variety of loads, such as snake shot in one cylinder, high-velocity hollow-points in the next, and that can be a handy option on the trail. We chose to evaluate the .22 Magnum for this test, and found two small convertible revolvers from the same outfit, North American Arms, in their five-shot, spur-trigger single actions. One was the Black Widow, with 2-inch barrel and fixed sights ($287). The other was the 4-inch version, called the Mini Master, and though we looked hard for one with adjustable sights, we could not obtain one by our deadline. So we took a look at the Mini Master with fixed sights ($301). Both came with two cylinders, one in .22 LR and the other in .22 Magnum. Both are available with only one cylinder in either caliber for $29 less. We also chose a larger, heavier gun dedicated to the .22 Magnum, the 4-inch Taurus Model 941 ($373). It had adjustable sights.

An associate of Gun Tests declared his intention of arming himself against all and sundry predators with the Mini-Master. We told him we thought it was not the greatest idea. Our friend knew it was better to have some sort of gun than none at all, and he wondered how good the .22 Mag would be for self defense. We tested with three types of .22 Magnum ammunition in all three guns, and with three types of LR in the NAA guns. The magnum ammo choices, all 40-grain loads, were Remingtonís PSP, CCIís Maxi-Mag HP, and CCI/Speer TNT HP. These cost from $10 to $12 for each 50-round box. The .22 LR ammo was Remington Target Rifle, Federal Gold Medal, and Winchester Super-X Power Points.

We though this small selection of revolvers would give us some idea of what to expect from the .22 Magnum and a few guns that handle it. We note some makers donít offer much in .22 Mag handguns anymore. Ruger and S&W used to produce a good variety, but today offer very little. Word is that Taurus will soon drop the .22 Mag from its revolver production. Could we be on to something? Hereís what we found.

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