Review: North American Arms 2018 Masterpiece, the Ranger II Break Action Pocket Revolver

If violent crime is to be curbed, it is only the intended victim who can do it.  The felon does not fear the police, and he fears neither judge nor jury.  Therefore what he must be taught to fear is his victim. – Lt. Col . Jeff Cooper, Principles of Personal Defense.

Sandy Chisholm's team headed by General Manager Ken Friel has been hard at work developing their break-top mini-revolver, the Ranger II, for several years. Way back in 1870, Smith & Wesson introduced the “Model 3.” It was a single-action, cartridge firing revolver that was the first cartridge-firing handgun adopted by the U.S. Military. It fired a slow, 205 grain projectile (S&W .44 American) at 682 fps. In 1875 the U.S. Ordnance Board awarded a new contract to Smith & Wesson, for the Model 3 “Schofield,” as the 1875 model incorporated the improvements suggested by Major George W. Schofield. The Schofield cartridge was developed as well, the .45 Schofield had a 230 grain bullet at 730 fps as the factory load.

Cap and ball revolvers were considered less reliable than cartridges. The same was once true for rimfire cartridges. In 1887, the J.Stevens Arms and Tool Company developed the .22 Long Rifle from the .22 Long and it has been the “22 LR” ever since.

Above, Hornady's ballistic tests have had astonishingly impressive results. Hornady has discovered that their new .22 WMR Critical Defense ammo out of a 1-7/8 in. vented barrel delivers terminal performance that gets near the .380 auto arena. The testing was not against generic, no-name, substandard ammunition, but rather against Hornady's own highly-rated, premium .380 Critical Defense loads from a 2-3/4 in. non-vented .380 autoloader.

Some six years ago, Hornady introduced their .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire Critical Defense loads, offering terminal ballistics comparable to the .380 auto and the intimate self-defense world was changed forever, for the better. It is designed specifically for short-barreled revolvers, and North American Arms defines the mini-revolver today, as they have for many years. With the better, self-defense ammunition, the NAA mini's are more effective than ever before.

The North American Arms Ranger II is currently offered as a .22 Magnum, the
NAA-22M-BTII, that has a MSRP of $479 and as the NAA-22MC-BTII (MSRP $574) that comes with a .22 Long Rifle conversion cylinder as well. This little revolver is a 5 shot, with a 1-5/8 inch barrel. This little handgun is far more accurate than you might think, printing 2-1/4 inch center to center groups at 10.5 yards. This is a far greater distance than the attempted carjacking or break down your door scenario, to be sure.

You wouldn't know it from the media, but violent crime and “gun crime” in the United States has been dropping rapidly, at 50% of the levels today that it was in 1991-1992. The “Disarming Reality” has long been is that as gun sales soar, gun crimes plummet. . Yet, gun and knife crime “rockets” across England and Wales, . Gun crime in London increased by 42%: .

Still, stuff happens. Not all that far from Plainfield, Illinois, is Oswego. Just a few weeks ago a man went berserk, stabbing people. A resident in the same apartment complex grabbed his gun, and explained to the stabber that if it didn't instantly cease, he was getting shot. That ended the attack, not a shot was fired, the stabbing victim is recovering, and the suspect was apprehended. When John R. Lott, Jr. published “More Guns, Less Crime” in 1998, now in its third edition, it wasn't about guns in the wrong hands, anymore than fire extinguishers in the wrong hands have any chance of putting out a fire.

North American Arms mini-revolvers are beautifully made and have significant collector interest. Make no mistake, though, there are life-support equipment and you can have one at the ready when you have nothing else. You have five shots, and you can use them all. The NAA cylinders have a safety notch, meaning the revolver is designed to be carried hammer down locked in the safety notch located between the cylinders. You need not carry the revolver in "half-cock" position, nor lowered over an empty cylinder.

Accidental discharge is positively mechanically defeated when you carry the Ranger II revolver with its hammer down in a safety notch, and you have all five shots at your instant disposal; it is a good system. The usefulness of the NAA Ranger II is limited only by your imagination. They have been used by undercover officers for some spectacular drug busts, for example, when scant few other firearms could possibly have been employed. In fact, a NAA mini-revolver is used (in a somewhat indelicate presentation) by Val Kilmer in the feature film "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang." Kilmer’s demonstration was effective. I've known North American Arms owner Sandy Chisholm for many years. If you ever have a problem with a NAA firearm, you have Sandy's personal assurance that “We will make “right” any and every mini-revolver we have ever manufactured.  This is who we are.” Throughout Sandy's career, he has lived up to that promise. As a result, you can buy any North American Arms firearm with complete confidence.

The Ranger II is easy to use, safe to use, and safe to carry. The sight is small and minimalistic, which means the gun is essentially snag free. The specifications for the Ranger II show what a tremendously small and light instrument it really is. Unloaded weight is under 7 ounces.

Caliber: .22 Magnum / .22 Long Rifle Capacity
Capacity: 5
Length: 5.16″
Height: 2.81″
Width: 1.06″
Weight: 6.9oz.
Barrel Length: 1.63″
Sights: Bead Sight
Action: Single Action
Grips: Rosewood Bird’s Head

The star ejector of the NAA Ranger II does not actually eject, it just lifts out the spent brass for easy removal and easy reloading. With the standard NAA mini-revolver line, you remove the cylinder pin and then the cylinder, using the cylinder pin to knock out the empties. It isn't difficult at all, even I can do it with little effort and no drama, but the Ranger II is even easier to use, as no cylinder pin is removed and replaced.

Several books have been written along the lines of, “Thank God I Had a Gun!” Not too many popular writings proclaim “Thank God I was Helpless” or “Thank God I was a Victim.” We have choices. We can blindly trust that a bridge won't collapse, we can blindly trust that United Airlines will not kill your dog. First responders, no matter how good, can only respond, and respond after the fact.

North American Arms continues to do very good things: making simple to use, essentially self-explanatory mini-revolvers available to those who are most likely to become victims: the young, the old, the physically slight. The NAA Minis are made from 17-4 stainless steel and require little maintenance. They aren't target pistols for the most part, although the NAA Mini-Master (4 inch heavy barrel) is really a lot of fun to shoot, with larger grips and more generous sights.

The long-awaited NAA Ranger II was worth the wait. It goes where very few handguns can, and is made available to responsible citizens by North American Arms who want a hassle free, extremely compact little revolver that can keep you, your daughter, or your wife from becoming a victim. Certainly, not all perpetrators have learned to fear their victims, as Jeff Cooper suggested. With a Ranger II in your hand, they might want to rethink their lack of fear. Good things can come in small packages, and the NAA Ranger II is clearly one of them.


Copyright 2018 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.


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