Remington Double Derringer

DunnBy Robert Dunn
AGI and GunTech Video Producer,
AGI Pro Course Graduate, GCA Charter Member

Some things are just meant to be, for instance, me and my new (old) Remington Double Derringer, Type 3.

When I was a kid, I had a Derringer cap gun and I have wanted the real thing ever since. My Mom told me that my great Grandmother used to carry a Derringer in her boot back in the 1800s! She lived in a tough little coal mining town in Virginia. Those folks worked hard and partied even harder!

Not much in appearance or ballistically, but effective at a range of 4 or 5 feet, especially in the pre-antibiotic era.

Not much in appearance or ballistically, but effective at a range of 4 or 5 feet, especially in the pre-antibiotic era.

After four decades of admiration, I finally bought one of these wonderful little firearms! I had ogled this little gun for about 6 months as it patiently waited for me to make its purchase. Every time I would head out to the beach to wet my gills, I would stop by this little antique shop. The owner always has something in on consignment that I want and usually can’t afford. I figured that someone would buy it eventually, but it was overpriced by about $100. I knew folks were looking at it because I would always gently uncock the hammer each time I went in to look at it. I wanted to keep the tension off of the mainspring.

On one of my visits, I asked the owner for the phone number of the guy that was selling it. I’m glad I did because after talk­ing to the seller, he dropped the price $100! I enjoyed talking to this older gentleman who is a firearms collector. He asked me if I would like to come over some time and do a bit of work on some of his firearms that need some attention. Oh, be still my heart! I will definitely take him up on that offer!

I think that my wife got really tired of listening to me blather on about the Derringer. To defend her sanity and stop my whining she actually withdrew the cash from our account and sent me off to buy it. I have used this technique in the past and, as you can tell from the photos here, it works!

Extraction as simple as it gets. Cracked, or in this case missing, hinge rings are more common than not in these veterans.

Extraction as simple as it gets. Cracked, or in this case missing, hinge rings are more common than not in these veterans.

On many of these Derringers the hinge is broken or cracked and mine is no exception. Mechanically, the gun works perfectly. The firing pin works on a rotating ratcheting wheel system that lowers and raises the firing pin after each shot is fired. The design is really quite inventive.

The Derringer was designed by Dr. William H. Elliot (used to be a dentist) and it was manufactured by Remington from 1866 to 1935. There were around 150,000 of these little dudes pro­duced in a few variations. Some were blued and others were nickel plated. My gun is a Type 3. The Derringer is chambered for the .41 rimfire cartridge. The .41 rimfire was brought into the marketplace by the National Arms Company in 1863. The cartridge is loaded with 13 grains of black powder and is topped with a 130 grain lead bullet. It is not the most powerful cartridge but it would sure spoil a card cheats evening if they were shot with one from across a card table!

Every now and then someone will run a batch of these car­tridges but they are pretty hard to find. One original cartridge runs about $6 if you can find someone that will part with a few of them. I think Navy Arms was the last company to load a batch of these little gems.

The gun is loaded by rotating the barrel lock and tipping the barrel downward. To extract the cases/cartridges, you simply rotate the barrels open 180° and use the thumb extractor to pop out the cases.

The lettering identifies this gun as a Type 3, made between 1912 and 1935. Again, note missing top left hinge ring.

The lettering identifies this gun as a Type 3, made between 1912 and 1935. Again, note missing top left hinge ring.

There is a half cock notch on the hammer for a safety but the real safety is between the ears of the operator on a gun like this. Though most of these guns look the same from a dis­tance, a collector can identify what “Type” it is mostly by the varying markings on the gun itself.

Like most of my new acquisitions, this gun went with me everywhere for a while. I am really pleased with this gun and I look at it every day, it is hanging on the wall of my stu­dio/workshop. I wonder what kind of mischief this little guy created; it probably wonders the same thing about me.

8 Responses to Remington Double Derringer

  1. What an awesome story! Very well written as always.

    Good find – neat little piece! Hope you can get’er up and running and find some ammo.

    Great to see you treat other’s guns as if they were your own (regarding you uncocking the hammer to remove tension from the mainspring)- that’s totally my style too.

    Hope you get some time soon to visit the seller of your little piece and check out his collection and offer your services to some of his guns.

    Thanks for such a great story and thanks for the laughs (your intelligent method of negotiating with the wife for guns) Robert.

  2. I also had a cap gun derringer when I was a kid, and I’ve wanted one ever since too! If/when I ever get one it will likely be a modern recreation chambered in a modern, centerfire cartridge so that I can actually shoot the darn thing though.

    • I recently bought a Bond Arms derringer in 45 long colt. They make barrels in different calibers which you can easily swap out (in most states anyway). Made in Texas and the quality is superb.

      • I bought a Bond Arms Snake Slayer in 45LC/410 and then purchased a 38/357 barrel. Great gun. I just bought their Old Glory witch is a limited addition model in 45/410 and it came with the 38/357 barrel. I noticed that the trigger/cocking action was lighter and talked with Bond Arms and discovered the Old Glory has the action upgrade in it. I also asked if the kit might be available for DIYers and after explaining that by using AGI’s DVD to disassemble and assemble the gun and that I am a certified 1911 pistolsmith, they agreed to send me the kit. It is a very well made gun and some of us in Texas had the pleasure of meeting and listening to Gordon Bond at the GCA meeting in San Antonio

  3. I had one in .38SP I ended up trading it for a NAA revolver in .22LR
    When I owned it it was a constant companion as the .22 is now I never leave home without it

    • I’ve got a couple of NAA’s mini-revolvers, and I like them a lot. I’ve got a a little 4″ Mini-Master (.22WMR/.22lr) with adjustable sights and a Laserlyte under-barrel laser that I keep in my personal survival kit and one of their standard 1.625″ NAA-22M-C models (.22WMR/.22lr) in a belt buckle holster. That one doesn’t have a laser yet, but it’s going to be getting one of Laserlyte’s new grip lasers very soon. I also refinished it in semi-gloss black Cerakote to make it a bit more low profile and less noticeable than in its original brushed stainless finish. I’m also looking at maybe trading that one in on one of their new Sidewinder models as soon as my budget allows for it.

      My grandfather had one with a wallet holster when I was a kid, but the idiots at the BATFE decided that a leather holster somehow magically transformed it from a mini-revolver into an NFA item, morons.

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