May 2016

How About the .410 Derringer?

Reader Tom wants to know more about a shotshell-shooting pocket gun. Reader Bob would like to know about the results of a test before the test. Two readers share more Taurus stories.

How About the .410 Derringer?

We evaluated the Bond Arms Texas Defender 38 Special/357 Magnum and the Bond Arms Cowboy Defender 45 Colt/.410 in the July 2002 issue. In that issue, we said, “In today’s world, derringers are indeed marginalized firearms for people seeking to protect themselves. Lightweight metals such as titanium and scandium have made revolvers not only pocket guns, but in some cases possibly even shirt-pocket guns (at least in terms of heft). Double-action wheelguns offer more capacity and easier handling than derringers, we found in a recent test. Ditto that with small-frame pistols.”

Of the Bond Arms Texas Defender and the Bond Arms Cowboy Defender, we said “Don’t Buy” either of them for self-defense. “There are simply better, more modern guns out there that make more sense than a derringer, in our view.” We added, “If we wanted a Cowboy Action derringer, the Texas Defender, whose trigger guard can be removed, would be ‘Our Pick.’” Another gun in the test, the American Derringer DA 38, earned a Conditional Buy (probably a B ranking today). We said, “If you have to have a derringer for self-defense, this double-action model is easier to use than the single actions. But it wouldn’t be our pick for this job.” In that test, we also looked at an American Derringer Model 1 in 45 Colt/.410. Of it, we said, “Don’t Buy.” We said, “For Cowboy shooting, we like the Bond Arms Texas Defender much better and the Cowboy Defender somewhat better. For derringer self-defense, we like the American Derringer DA 38 better.” 

A look at the data from that test gives you some ideas about the efficacy of the .410 shotshell versus the other chamberings. A Winchester 38 Special 158-grain roundnose lead Cowboy load in the American Derringer DA 38 created muzzle energy of 178 ft.-lbs. and 169 ft.-lbs. in the Bond Arms Texas Defender. With a Federal Classic .357 Magnum 158-grain Hi-Shok JHP, we got muzzle energy of 464 foot-pounds and 439 foot-pounds, respectively, out of those derringers. A Cor-Bon 357 125-grain JHP produces 519 foot-pounds and 494 foot-pounds muzzle energies, respectively.

Shotshells weren’t in the same realm in terms of energy. A Winchester Super X .410 Shotshell 000 Buckshot (three pellets) produced muzzle energies of 229 foot-pounds and 217 foot-pounds in the American Derringer Model 1 and Bond Arms Cowboy Defender, respectively. A Rexio .410 Shotshell 00 Buckshot load (four pellets) generated 130 foot-pounds of muzzle energy in the American Derringer Model 1 and 126 foot-pounds of muzzle energy in the Bond Arms Cowboy Defender.

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