Review: North American Arms Hot New BreakTop Mini-Revolver

The group at North American Arms has always been very active in the industry. Just recently, North American Arms long a SAAMI member has become a voting member. The latest from NAA has been named the “Ranger,” their first break top mini-revolver.

The NAA BreakTop is a diminutive .22 WinMag five-shot revolver that fits where most guns cannot, limited only by your imagination. Weighing just over seven ounces, the NAA Ranger is just over five inches long. The NAA part number clearly spells out the break-top action, it is #NAA-22M-BT.

The NAA BreakTop is crafted from 17-4PH stainless steel, a metal typically used in oil refining, chemical processing, and the aerospace industries. The 17-4 family of stainless is considered to have an outstanding combination of high strength coupled with good corrosion resistance. It gains substantial strength through heat-treating and it withstands corrosive attack better than any of the standard hardenable stainless steels and is comparable to Type 304 in most media. 17-4PH has a density of .280 lb. per cubic inch with a melting point of 2560 – 2625 degrees F. This is ideal for an anytime, anywhere deep concealment piece. Like all NAA firearms, the BreakTop comes with NAA's no-hassle lifetime warranty.

Velocities developed from the NAA BreakTop are in the area of 950 fps with Winchester Super-X JHP ammo #X22MH, with a average standard deviation of 29. One of the fastest loads is the CCI Maxi-Mag +V 30 grain HP that achieves over 1100 fps on average. One of the features I appreciated right away about the NAA BreakTop is how easy it is both to load and close the action with the cylinder's safety notch in proper “hammer all the way down” orientation. With the hammer nested in the cylinder notch, no contact between it and a fresh cartridge is possible.

North American Arms has always been sensitive to uniquely personal choice of grips, holsters, and method of use. The standard bird's head grips are likely my general preference as they take up so very little real estate. The entire revolver is an essentially snag-free design, with no sights or little sharp edges jutting about, so standard low profile wood stocks make sense aesthetically and from a carry standpoint. The oversized rosewood “boot grip” stock set does feel better in the hands and offers more control-ability, albeit at the compromise of greater width and bulk. If this was a target gun, the larger grips would be an easy choice. It isn't though, it is something designed to be accessible and quickly deployed when nothing else fits as well, or is readily available.

In prior tests with calibrated 10% ballistic gel, the Winchester X22MH 22 Winchester Magnum round out of a 1-1/8 in. barreled NAA Mini-Revolver penetrated nearly 11 inches. This was with an FBI dimension gel block of six by six by sixteen inches. The longer barrel of the BreakTop nets you a slight muzzle velocity increase of 50 fps or so and slightly deeper penetration as well. The FBI standard of 12 inches of penetration is based on several factors, one being that a bullet used on a human attacker shot through the arm needs 10-12 inches of penetration to pass through the heart. When fired from the front, according to the FBI, penetration of seven inches is required just to reach the major blood vessels in the back of the abdominal cavity in a slender adult human thug. See “Handgun Wounding Factors and Effectiveness” by Special Agent Urey W. Patrick, FBI Quantico, VA, July 14, 1989.

Self-defense handgun choice is a serious topic, though NAA Mini-Revolvers have gained favor with collectors and the BreakTop is a model no NAA collector would want to be without. By far, in wounding ballistics, the two most important factors are penetration and permanent wound cavity. This is presuming you hit what you are shooting at as without shot placement, the previous two factors do not happen.

You've heard the saying, “Shotguns Are For The Birds?” Well, birdshot clearly is. While two inches of penetration may be plenty for a duck or a turkey, it may be ineffectual in a self-defense situation. The notion of using bird shot for self-defense is recklessly foolhardy. As Dr. Martin Fackler has shown, “Too little penetration can get you killed.” A .22 short out of a handgun puts a 1200 pound Black Angus steer straight down every time. Birdshot, as far as I know, never has. If you are contemplating using a firearm for immediate, unavoidable self-defense you really need to understand the difference.

I found the NAA BreakTop a dream to load and unload. Its function is simple and essentially self-explanatory. No parts are added or taken away from the revolver; it is self-contained with nothing to drop or misplace. It is effortless to clean as well.

When shooting the NAA BreakTop, I find it easiest to pull the trigger not with the pad of the first finger, but with the joint at the second knuckle of the forefinger. This nestles the BreakTop rigidly deep in the hand and makes it not just controllable, but comfortable to shoot. It also gives me good trigger control as you would certainly want when using a 6-3/4 pound trigger in potentially a very high stress situation.

The brass hits were all crisp, distinct notchings. There were no reliability issues observed and it is very easy to hit the critical zone at intimate self-defense ranges. Unloading spent brass couldn't be easier: it is just break it open and give the gun a quick shake to deposit the spent rounds into your waiting hand or into the garbage.

The latching area on top of the frame is beefy and wide. With its snag-free design, there isn't much jutting up in the way of front sights and ramps. I found it easy to shoot using the flat top of the frame as a sighting plane-- ideal for low light conditions without any added gizmos. Regardless of circumstances, the Breaktop doesn't care if you are right or left-handed, nor is there any moving slide that could possibly bite you or mash up your off-hand. Fast and intuitive is a good way to describe its function.

The NAA BreakTop is beautifully and durably made and has just become my favorite NAA Mini-Revolver. There is nothing remotely like it on the market. It is five shots, anytime, anywhere, when you least expect to need it and therefore need it the most. Hats off to North American Arms for a superb product. It isn't necessarily easy to manufacture small parts with close tolerances, rugged durability, and complete reliability. NAA, to their credit, has pulled it off with the BreakTop. It fulfills and fits a need when, quite literally, little else will fit at all.

As soon as you see one, you'll likely want one and perhaps a second one for your wife. A BreakTop in the hand is worth many times whatever remains in the bush, the basic premise of these intimate fist firearms. Whenever I review a NAA product, there is invariable a tremendous amount of interest as evidenced by the large number of e-mail and phone calls. I don't sell them, never have, so please contact your local dealer to get yours today. For more help locating one, you can of course contact North American Arms directly and they will be happy to help. The BreakTop is a limited availability product for now, so you'll want to act very quickly. Let's hope it becomes a standard member of the NAA line: it richly deserves it.



Copyright 2011 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.

Custom Search