GUN OF THE WEEK By Bob Walsh
The Gun of the Week this time around is the Remington Model 95 Derringer
The term “Derringer” has come to be used as a term for any very small, concealable handgun that is neither a revolver nor a semi-automatic pistol. The gun was made infamous as the weapon used to assassinate Abraham Lincoln and later became a fairly common and almost iconic last ditch backup weapon by good guys and bad guys alike, both real and fictional. (Little known fact, the Booth Deringer had reversed rifling in it, spinning the bullet counter-clockwise.)
The Original Philadelphia Deringer (one “r”) was made by Henry Deringer. It was a small percussion pistol and was often copied and the name spelled incorrectly, possibly on purpose in an attempt to evade copyright, possibly by accident. The tales vary somewhat. The original guns made and marketed by Deringer were almost always sold in pairs, at $15 to $25 per pair. This was a considerable sum of money at the time.
The Remington Model 95, commonly called the Remington Derringer or Double Derringer, began production right after the civil war, in 1866 and stayed in production until 1935. It was manufactured only in .41 short rimfire. More than 150,000 were manufactured. There are four commonly recognized variations.
The cartridge was either marginally underpowered or seriously underpowered, depending on whose research you believe. Some sources say the 130 grain bullet was pushed by the standard 13 grain load of black powder at 425 fps, which is arrow velocity. You could actually see the bullet travel when fired. Other, more recent tests assert that the actual velocity was more like 685 fps, more than doubling the impact of the bullet. As far as I know no one has commercially loaded this cartridge for many, many years. Available ammo goes for about $3 or more per cartridge and mostly predates WWII.
The little gun was famous in western lore, in stories, movies and television. I confess I would like to own one, but the limited availability of ammo and the relative expense of the guns do not appeal to me. I don’t have any “safe queens” so I shoot what I own. I don’t see any great point in owning a gun I can’t shoot if I feel the inclination.