NAA’s Pug is a 5-shot, single-action, mini-revolver chambered for the .22 Mag. Its size and weight, plus the X-Press sights make it a perfect back-up gun for deep cover carry. With an available conversion cylinder, the Pug is also capable of firing .22 LR.
About 1971 an outfit came along called Rocky Mountain Arms who began to produce a mini-revolver that was smaller than anything available at the time. It was designed by Dick Casull, a name that will ring a bell with older, more experienced shooters, and it was only 3.5 inches long and chambered for the .22 Short rimfire cartridge. Before too long, this company morphed into North American Arms (NAA), which was later purchased by Sandy Chisholm, who serves as company president to this day. Over the years NAA has greatly expanded the mini-revolver line and added other innovative products like the Guardian semi-automatic pistols. These diminutive handguns have always been quality products and serve well in the role of back-up gun or even back-up to the back-up. Their size and weight, especially the smaller models lend themselves to deep concealment and become that “last ditch” defense when the primary or even secondary firearm is lost, damaged or runs dry and there’s no time to reload or escape.
In the past I have used several NAA products like the Guardian in .32 ACP and the .22 Mag mini-revolvers, which I especially liked to carry with the holster grip accessory that replaces the grip and allowed you to carry the little wheel-gun like a clip-on folding knife. I was more than a little interested when in September 2007 NAA announced the Pug in .22 Mag. I always tended to agree with the late, great Bill Jordan, who in his well-known book No Second Place Winner thought the .22 Mag in a short-barreled revolver would be a wicked little weapon. To me the Pug is just that small, but kind of nasty looking befitting its name. I decided to test one out and see just what kind of performance I would get from a micro-barrel, midget-sized .22 Mag.
The Pug, unlike the other NAA mini-revolvers is what their website describes as “squat and sturdy” like the namesake dog. While the regular mini-five-guns have a tiny round barrel and exposed cylinder pin, the Pug has a heavy 1-inch barrel that is square shaped and fluted with a built-in housing that blends into the barrel with the cylinder pin release modeled after the design first seen on the Black Widow mini-revolvers. This system allows you to pull down and twist a locking lug that frees the cylinder pin so it can be rapidly removed for reloading. The bigger parts associated with this system are easier to grasp and work with when the stress is on and precise motor movements are much more difficult. This barrel gives the little handgun a look that belies its 6.4 ounces unloaded weight.
If you are unfamiliar with NAA mini-revolvers, they are all single-action. They are very reminiscent of the vest pocket pistols of the 19th Century and have what is called a “spur” trigger—there is no triggerguard, just a spur built into the frame to give the trigger some protection. Both the hammer spur and the trigger tip are serrated for better thumb and finger purchase. Another feature that reminds me of cap & ball revolvers of the 1850’s and 1860’s are the slots at the rear of the cylinder between the chambers. These slots are there to provide a secure place to rest the hammer nose/firing pin, other than on the cartridge rim itself, to prevent accidental discharges. Like lots of small handguns from by-gone days, the NAA Pug requires that the cylinder be removed in order to load or unload it. It is both simple and relatively fast, with a little practice. The cylinder pin can also be used to push a stuck case out if need be. Of course with this type of gun and in the kind of situation where it might be employed, you will more than likely only use the 5 rounds available, so a fast reload is probably “not in the cards.”
One big advantage the NAA Pug has over its 19th Century predecessors is its all 17-4 ph stainless steel construction. A hide-out gun can wind up in a lot of different places, some that cause exposure to corrosive body fluids or moisture. The old-timers had to make sure their blued or nickel-plated derringers or boot guns were free from rust and frequently cleaned, which is not the case with the NAA Pug, you can carry it almost anywhere you can hide a small handgun and not worry a whole lot about it collecting rust until you have had the opportunity clean it up. The sample gun also came with “Magnum” grips, made of rubber and pebble grained on the surface for a secure grip. They offer a lot better control when firing the .22 Mag loads in the Pug and are not slippery like the laminated wooden grips that come standard on the NAA mini-revolvers.
NAA Pug comes equipped with fixed Xpress sights. The front sight may either be a white-dot type or a tritium night sight. Note the firing pin on the hammer nose and the notches between the chambers on the rear of the cylinder for it to rest in.
While the NAA Pug is a true “Belly Gun” which means you push it into the belly of your assailant and pull the trigger. It comes with a set of sights that will allow you to take a more precise shot if the situation calls for it. The topstrap/barrel rib is deeply serrated and dovetailed on the front and rear for the XS Sight System it is equipped with. The rear sight is an Xpress type with a shallow V-notch highlighted by a white bar at the bottom center of the V and the front is a big white dot blade or an optional tritium dot night sight. If you have to make a shot in dimly lit conditions, that is far enough where a rough aim is necessary, the glowing front sight will allow you to get in the vicinity before you pull the trigger. If you have the time and the light, the sight setup is good enough for something more precise and point of impact is very important with a small caliber gun.