Ever since Henry Deringer introduced his first pocket pistol in 1852, these little handguns have been a popular choice for concealed carry and just fun plinking. These two-shot classics are small enough to tuck into a pocket, purse or ankle holster, and their simple, reliable design makes them a dependable back-up firearm. Omaha Outdoors offers a wide range of modern derringers, so now you can buy a gun that has been one of the classic American firearms for more than 150 years. We carry models made by the leading manufacturers, including Cobra and Bond Arms, in a variety of finishes and with a range of grip styles. Derringers are also chambered in many different calibers, from .22 LR and .22WMR to .32 ACP, .380 ACP and 9mm. If you’re looking for larger caliber derringers, models are also available chambered in .357 Magnum, .45 ACP and dual .45 Long Colt/.410 gauge models.
In the mid-19th century, when many men (and women) routinely carried a firearm for self-defense, there was a demand for a small, reliable “pocket pistol” design. Henry Deringer (he spelled his name with one “r”), a Philadelphia gunmaker, began to produce large-caliber, short-barreled pistols in 1825. They were, of course, flintlock designs, but Deringer kept up with handgun technology as it progressed, adopting the caplock action by 1830. He did not patent his design – perhaps it was not patentable, since it was simply a variation on existing pistols – but the style he pioneered became so widely used that it became popularly known as a “derringer” (even if his name was misspelled).
With the introduction of metal cartridges, derringers were quickly manufactured to use them. The most famous of these designs was the two-barrel Remington Model 95, which was made from 1866 to 1935. The over/under barrel design, crescent-shaped grip and size are still instantly recognizable as the classic derringer and remains the pattern for most to this day. It has not only become a favorite of shooters throughout the world but has become an iconic firearm in countless Western movies and television programs, where it is shown tucked into a gambler’s vest pocket or tucked into a woman’s garter.
The pistol is a breech-load design, typically with two barrels in an over/under configuration. To load a derringer, the break lever on the side of the frame near the breech is pushed forward and the barrels are tilted up and back on the hinge (located at the top of the breech). After the two cartridges are loaded into the breech, the barrels are returned to their original position and the lever locked. It is strongly recommended that, if the derringer to be carried, the hammer is left uncocked and the safety is placed into the on position (particularly in models without a trigger guard).
To fire, place the safety in the off position and manually cock the hammer with the thumb. Typically, the upper barrel is the first to fire. Since a derringer is single action, the hammer will have to be manually cocked before the lower barrel can be fired. Since most models have a barrel length of 3″ or less, accuracy is limited to within a few feet. Many derringer shooters prefer the “instinctive” shooting method, rather than aimed fire.