By Mike Searson
USA – -(Ammoland.com)- Sometimes in the Gun Culture we come across a gun that seems to serve no real purpose, only to find out later we were totally wrong with our initial assessment.
Such is the case with the Bond Arms Derringer “cowboy”.
Derringers have been popular for over 150 years due to their small size. Unfortunately, most models are cheap and made out of questionable materials.
Additionally, their manual of arms is not the most intuitive and the extremely short barrels make their ammunition less effective.
Bond Arms, Inc., of Granbury, Texas ( www.bondarms.com ) , set out to change those perceptions by machining their derringers out of high-quality stainless steel. They went further by adding unique and modern safety features and pushed the envelope further by using a system of interchangeable barrels, not unlike those of the Thompson Center Arms Contender and Encore.
Shooters have the option of running everything from 22 long rifle through 45 Colt or even 410 Shotshells through their derringers.
We opted for the Cowboy Model with Ivory grips in 45/410 as it showed up in a consignment case in a local gun shop at the right price.
Bond Arms Derringer Handgun ~ The Good
On looks alone, the Bond Arms Cowboy Derringer is a winner. The bright stainless steel resembles an old-time nickel finish and it is perfectly accented by either the factory rosewood or bonded ivory grips.
A cross-bolt safety improves greatly upon the original design and makes this a safe pistol to carry.
The sights are simple, yet big, allowing for a good sight picture, but frankly, this is meant as a point-and-shoot defensive pistol. The Bond Arms Cowboy is big for a derringer, but it actually conceals quite well due to its profile.
The Bond Arms Cowboy Derringer is a true heavyweight. In this size and weight category, a shooter can do better with an S&W J-Frame or one of the various single stack 9mm pistols like the new Glock 43 Handgun. Plus these other types of handguns provide more than the limited 2-round capacity of the derringer.
Reloading is slow, but an improvement over the earlier derringers, flip the lever, tip the barrels, dump the empties, slide two live rounds into place, lock it back up, point the derringer, cock the hammer and squeeze the trigger. Repeat.
To keep the styling in that of the trappings of the 19th century, the Bond Arms Cowboy Derringer has no trigger guard. Other models, like the identical Texas Defender, that the company makes incorporate a trigger guard, which is a must if the shooter wants to safely carry this on a daily basis.
Picking up the Bond Arms Cowboy Derringer nearly five years ago was really an impulse buy for the cool factor of having a 45/410 derringer. The weight actually dampens the recoil of the 45 Colts or 410 shotgun shells. Its weight and slow manual of arms usually mean it’s relegated to backup gun duty on very rare occasions.
The niche it is ideal for is the shooter who wants a classic derringer that is a shootable, safe, and can convert calibers with a few turns of an Allen wrench.
The author lives in rattler country and finds it easier to avoid them rather than killing them, unless there are small children or dogs and cats around. The Bond Arms Cowboy Derringer is suitable for this role, too.
Despite the Bond Arms Cowboy Derringer being an extremely well-made and robust handgun, in good faith, we cannot recommend this for consideration as a CCW piece. The size, weight, manual of arms, and ballistics all come into play here. It can be handy to have while hiking and prove useful against feral dogs, coyotes, snakes, rats, etc., and maybe even a single human attacker.
Against more than one assailant, you are better served with a compact semiautomatic or revolver.
About Mike Searson
Mike Searson’s career as a shooter began as a Marine Rifleman at age 17. He has worked in the firearms industry his entire adult life as a Gunsmith, Ballistician, Consultant, Salesman, Author and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1989.
Mike has written over 2000 articles for a number of magazines, websites, and newsletters including Blade, RECOIL, OFF-GRID, Tactical Officer, SWAT, Tactical World, Gun Digest, Examiner.com, and the US Concealed Carry Association as well as AmmoLand Shooting Sports News.