“The Earl” .22 Rimfire Magnum Revolver from North American Arms


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

April 19th, 2009

UPDATED April 27th, 2009




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For many years now, North American Arms has manufactured revolvers and pistols that are well-crafted, and built for concealed carry. Their small auto pistols are reliable, and chambered for their own .25 and .32 NAA cartridges, and also for the .380 ACP cartridge. The diminutive five-shot rimfire revolvers ride daily in the pockets of law enforcement officers as a last-ditch backup to their primary duty guns. The little revolvers are also popular with those who choose to go armed, but need something that can always be with them, everyday, everywhere. They are good, reliable weapons. Chambered for the .22 Short, Long Rifle, or Magnum cartridges, these little revolvers hold five cartridges, and weigh around a quarter pound. NAA also makes a cap-and-ball Mini-revolver call the Companion. All of these are dandy little revolvers, but a few months ago, I saw a picture of “The Earl”, which is the subject of this piece, and I had to get my hands upon one.

Having always been a fan of the cap-and-ball and cartridge Remington revolvers of the nineteenth century, The Earl is reminiscent of those fine revolvers, with its fake loading lever that serves as the base pin retainer. Seldom have I become so enamored by the appearance of a handgun as I was when seeing that picture of The Earl.

The Earl was so named in honor of the North American Arms gunsmith that designed the little revolver, which seems fitting. I am glad that his name was not “Bubba” or “Biff”. Earl is a much better name. Anyway, The Earl is basically a .22 Magnum Mini with a four-inch, octagon barrel and that under lever to retain the base pin. However, these two features really change the handling and appearance of the little revolver. The grips are square-butt laminated wood, and contrast nicely with the matte and polished surfaces of the stainless steel revolver. The non-fluted cylinder has five chambers to hold the .22 magnum cartridges, and has safety notches between the chambers into which the shooter can place the hammer-mounted firing pin to safely carry with all five chambers loaded. If dropped, the hammer would not fall upon a loaded cartridge, preventing an accidental discharge, which can be embarrassing at best, and potentially lethal.

Even with the four inch octagon barrel, The Earl still only weighs in at eight and one-half ounces, and has an overall length of just seven and three-quarters inches. The overall height measures three and one-eighth inches. Compared to any other .22 revolver with a four inch barrel, The Earl is still a miniature revolver, yet possesses the same power. I have a lot of respect for the .22 Magnum cartridge. It has killing power all out of proportion to its size. I find that the .22 magnum penetrates better than does the .38 Special, and that the superior hollowpoint loads expand well also. The Earl is a single action revolver, meaning that the hammer must be cocked manually before each shot. To eject the empty cartridges, the lever is lowered, the base pin removed, and the cylinder removed from the frame. The empty cases are poked out with the base pin, the chambers reloaded, and the cylinder and base pin inserted into the frame. It is a very simple and reliable system, and The Earl functioned perfectly during all testing. Every cartridge fired, and extraction of the fired cases was easy, with no indication of sticky extraction with any brand of ammo. The barrel/cylinder gap measures five one-thousandths (.005) of an inch, and the trigger pull releases crisply with three and three-quarters pounds of pressure. The Earl shown here came with an optional .22 Long Rifle cylinder, so I fired both Long Rifle and Magnum rounds over the chronograph to see how well the cartridges performed out of The Earl. The chronograph was set at a distance of ten feet from the muzzle. The air temperature was sixty-two degrees Fahrenheit, at an elevation of approximately six hundred feet above sea level. JHP is a jacketed hollowpoint bullet. LR is .22 Long Rifle ammunition. WMR is .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire ammunition. TNT is a plastic-tipped jacketed bullet. HP is a lead hollowpoint. Velocities are listed in feet-per-second. Bullet weights are listed in grains.

Ammunition Bullet Weight Velocity
.22 Magnum Ammo    
PMC JHP WMR 40 1154
CCI Maxi-Mag TNT WMR 30 1372
Winchester Dynapoint WMR 45 1037
Federal Game-Shok JHP WMR 50 907.8
CCI Maxi-Mag +V JHP WMR 30 1350
.22 Long Rifle Ammo    
CCI Mini-Mag Solid LR 40 867.3
Federal HP LR 36 969.7
Winchester Dynapoint LR 40 838.2
Winchester Wildcat Solid LR 40 868.2
PMC Zapper HP LR 36 956

In addition to the bulleted loads, I tried CCI Maxi-Mag shotshells in The Earl, as I see this little revolver doing a lot of work for protection from poisonous snakes. The revolver is light enough and compact enough to always be in the pocket or a holster while walking in the woods or working around the homestead. I find that the CCI rimfire shotshells pattern much better than do their centerfire counterparts, and I have killed many poisonous snakes using those rimfire shotshells. From The Earl’s four inch barrel, the CCI shotshells pattern perfectly at a distance of six feet, as can be seen in the picture. Even at twelve feet, the pattern is dense enough to do good work for snake protection. With bulleted ammunition, accuracy was very surprising from The Earl. Magnum hollowpoints printed on target exactly where I aimed at a distance of ten yards, proving that the sights are well-regulated, at least for my eyes. Even at twenty-five yards, keeping all shots on a standard human silhouette was easy to do. I did no formal bench testing with The Earl, as I doubt that this little revolver will ever be used for target shooting or small game hunting. At close range, The Earl’s sights are adequate for such, and it could be pushed into service to collect game for the pot in an emergency situation, but there are better tools available for those jobs. However, The Earl fills a niche that needed filling, bridging the gap between the other NAA revolvers and the larger six-shot “kit gun” type revolvers. The Earl weighs half as much, and is much easier to carry concealed. NAA sells a full-flap belt holster for the Earl, and it is pictured here. The leather is thin to keep the weight to a minimum, but it offers good protection for the revolver. It would be foolish, I suppose, to have the holster to weigh more than the gun, but I would love to see a tooled Slim Jim style holster built for The Earl. I find that more often than not, The Earl just gets slipped into my hip pocket, and I don’t even notice it being there until needed. In fact, it is there right now, loaded with two CCI shotshells, and three PMC Predator hollowpoints.

I don’t know why I like this little gun so much, but I do. I have a safe full of weapons that are better-suited to do most of the things that The Earl can do. However, none are as small, as light, nor as easy to carry, and The Earl is just eat up with “cool”, for lack of a better word. It is the definition of efficiency, packing five .22 Magnum cartridges into such a small, lightweight, and well-crafted package. The Earl is a dandy little revolver, built of quality materials, and built in the USA.

Check out the entire line of North American Arms quality revolvers, pistols, and accessories online at www.northamericanarms.com.

For the location of a North American Arms dealer near you, click on the DEALER FINDER at www.lipseys.com.

To order The Earl online, go to www.galleryofguns.com.

Jeff Quinn


For a list of dealers where you can buy this gun, go to: To buy this gun online, go to:



Just received from Rob Leahy of Simply Rugged Holsters is this slick little crossdraw rig.



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"The Earl" .22 Rimfire Magnum revolver from North American Arms.



To remove cylinder, lower lever and remove base pin.





The Earl is available with an additional cylinder in .22 Long Rifle.



.22 Long Rifle cylinder (left) and .22 Magnum cylinder (right).



Sights are sturdy and easy to use.









Compared to a lightweight five-shot .38 Special, the Earl is smaller and lighter.





The Earl shot to exactly point-of-aim at ten yards, handheld.



Shotshell pattern at six feet from the muzzle shows the Earl would be a great solution for packing around in "snake country".



NAA's flap holster is thin and lightweight.