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!
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!
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.
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.