North American Arms 22 Magnum Ranger Break-Top Mini-Revolver


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

January 5th, 2011


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NAA 22 Magnum Ranger break-top mini-revolver.



The NAA Ranger compared to 45-caliber Navy Arms "Founder's Model" Schofield.



The Ranger comes in a soft, zippered case.



Cylinder is easily removed for cleaning.









CCI shotshell at six feet patterns very well.





I have always had a love for break-top revolvers, especially break-top single actions. I think that the most beautiful handgun that I own is my Navy Schofield Founder’s Model 45 Colt. Maybe it is because I am left-handed, and am fond of ambidextrous designs. The break-top is absolutely ambidextrous. It allows fast unloading and reloading like a modern double-action revolver with a swing-out cylinder, but is just as easy for a left-hander to operate as it is for the other ninety percent of the shooting population.

A couple of months ago, when I heard that North American Arms was making a mini-revolver as a break top, I knew that I just had to have one, before ever even seeing a picture of the little jewel. NAA makes some dandy little revolvers, as they have for many years. Lots of folks depend upon the miniature revolvers for close range personal protection. They are simple, reliable, and well made. I especially like the 22 Magnum version of the NAA Mini Gun. The 22 Magnum is a very under-rated cartridge, and as a defensive round, offers good penetration in flesh.

These smallest examples of the revolver maker’s art have long been relied upon as a last-ditch weapon for uniformed law enforcement officers, hidden away in a pocket or boot, used as an up close and personal defensive weapon in the event that the officer lost the use of his primary duty gun. These compact five-shot rimfires are also carried daily by thousands of people who cannot, for whatever reason, conceal a larger weapon, or carried in addition to a larger handgun as a back-up gun.

Some sneer at the diminutive power of these twenty-two caliber revolvers, and while they do not possess the force of a big-bore handgun, one of these tiny revolvers in the pocket is much better than a forty-five that is left at home. The basic premise of carrying a handgun for protection is that it is ALWAYS within reach. Always. The need for a defensive firearm is, by definition, a response to an imminent or in-progress attack. When you need your defense handgun, you need it immediately. There is no time to go get it. It needs to be within reach. If you can’t reach it, it is of no use to you. As law-abiding citizens, we carry a defensive handgun as we go about our daily lives, doing the things that we do routinely every day. If we were expecting trouble, we would choose to be in another place, or would be armed with a fighting shotgun or rifle. If I was certain that trouble was coming, a .22 caliber rimfire revolver that is no bigger than a pack of smokes would be way down on my list of preferred weapons. Somewhat higher on the list, but still not near the top, would be a larger handgun. However, the handgun is a compromise as a fighting weapon. We carry them because they are so handy. We can do the things that we must do everyday with a handgun hidden somewhere within reach because the handgun is easier to carry and conceal than a twelve-gauge pump. If we ever need our handgun for defense, it will be in response to an attack, and will, as stated above, have to be within reach. That is where the compromise comes in. We must choose a balance between portability, concealability, and firepower. While way down on the firepower chart, the mini revolver is at the top of the easy-to-carry, easy-to-hide list. Also, especially in .22 magnum caliber, these little guns can do quite well in a pinch, and I would much rather have one of these in my pocket than a knife as a defensive tool. In my experience, a .22 magnum penetrates flesh better than a .38 Special, and with any small caliber handgun projectile, penetration is paramount.

Another use for which these little revolvers really shine is as a snake gun. Every time I write about killing snakes, I get several emails from those who proclaim that we should never kill a poisonous snake, and condemning me for promoting such practices. I get the feeling that these folks most likely live in the city somewhere, and never encounter a poisonous snake outside the confines of the local zoo. They certainly do not live out in the woods of the South or the deserts of the Southwest, nor do they have defenseless and curious grandkids playing out by the woodpile. I never kill a harmless snake, but around here, cottonmouths and copperheads are shot on sight. Tree-huggers tell us that a cottonmouth will not attack a human unless cornered, but they have failed to inform the cottonmouth population in the Tennessee Valley. I have first-hand experience that they will absolutely pursue a human being. Rattlers are not nearly as aggressive in my experience, but if found around my house, they get the same treatment, and that treatment is usually a dose of lead shot. The CCI shotshells pattern very well from these little revolvers, and especially in .22 magnum caliber, dispatch a viper handily.

When I first opened the box containing the NAA Ranger, I said, ”Now this is cool!” I was right. It is a really cool little revolver. However, after shooting the Ranger, I soon realized that aside from the uniqueness of the design in a mini revolver, it is very practical as well. Like its larger brethren; the big Schofield, American, and Russian S&W revolvers of many years ago; the Ranger design has tactical advantages over conventional mini-revolver designs as well. Just as with the large guns, the Ranger can be unloaded and reloaded many times faster than can the mini revolvers that require removal of the base pin, followed by poking out the empty cases one at a time, reloading the cylinder, inserting it into the frame, and reinstalling the base pin. With the NAA Ranger, one fires the weapon, opens the break top, dumps the empties, reloads, and closes the action. Shooting the Ranger is very easy and simple to do. After loading, simply cock the hammer, point the weapon, and press the trigger. Shooting every brand and type of 22 magnum ammo that I have on hand, I prefer hollow points for most uses. From the short barrels of the mini revolvers, they do lose a lot of velocity compared to a longer-barreled handgun, but some of the .22 magnum loads still manage to exceed one thousand feet-per-second from the one and five-eighths inch barrel of the Ranger. For defensive purposes, I like the PMC Predator, Armscor, or Winchester Dynapoint hollow point cartridges. I fired several types of ammunition for velocity readings at a distance of ten feet, with the results listed in the chart below. Velocities are listed in feet-per-second (fps). Bullet weights are listed in grains. JHP is a jacketed hollowpoint. Velocity readings were taken at an elevation of approximately 541 feet above sea level, with an air temperature of thirty-four degrees Fahrenheit.

Ammunition Bullet Weight Velocity
PMC JHP 40 938
Winchester Dynapoint 45 848
CCI TNT JHP 30 1129
Winchester Supreme JHP 30 1118
Winchester Supreme JHP 34 1096
CCI +V JHP 30 1100
Federal JHP 50 722
Armscor JHP 40 1088

Recoil is mild, but the small grip on the 7.1 ounce Ranger does not allow for much of a hold, so the revolver does move a bit upon firing, but there is no recoil pain at all. The little Ranger is a delight to shoot. The trigger pull measured slightly under six pounds, and was very crisp and consistent. The Ranger holds five rounds in the cylinder. Up close and personal, it is easy to hit the target with the Ranger, but due to its short sight radius and diminutive size, no attempt was made to shoot for groups on paper at twenty-five yards. On a human paper silhouette, hits in the vital zone were easy at three, five, seven, and fifteen yards.

Like other NAA minis, the Ranger is very well-made. It worked perfectly as designed. Extraction of empty cases was easy, with none sticking in the chambers. The NAA Ranger is unique among handguns, and is even in its own class as a mini revolver. It is the only small-frame top break revolver currently made, and the only top break of any size being made in the US. That is a shame, as the top break is a good design, and was once a unique American icon among revolvers. I would love to see the top break revolver make a comeback in the United States, and perhaps this smallest of all top breaks will lead the way. The NAA Ranger is a limited-production revolver, chambered for the 22 magnum cartridge only, so if you want one, now is the time. NAA also offers a variety of accessory holsters and grips for the Ranger.

Check out the NAA Ranger online at

For the location of a North American Arms dealer near you, click on the DEALER LOCATOR at

To order the Ranger online, go to

Jeff Quinn

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NAA offers a variety of holsters and grips for the Ranger.