Most of the members of the North American Arms forum say that once you get one of the little NAA 5 shot revolvers, you'll just keep on getting them. A couple of years ago, NAA released a top-break model (they ended making only 500 of them) dubbed the Ranger and I regret never buying one. Now they are crazy expensive if/when you can find one on a gun auction site. When I discovered one of the NAA Pug .22 Mag revolvers in the used handgun display at a local dealer, I picked it up without hesitation since I knew I would never get the top-break model. I spent some time on the NAA forum.....getting info on which pocket holsters work best, things to be aware of, etc.
While on the forum, NAA announced they were working on a new model, the .22 Mag Sidewinder. The Sidewinder design was a first for NAA....the cylinder pivots out for loading/unloading on a crane (like other revolvers....just a LOT smaller). NAA unveiled a prototype at the NRA Convention in May 2012 and a bunch of photos were soon uploaded to the forum for all to enjoy. NAA also announced they would be doing an "Early Bird" purchase program for the Sidewinder which would start on June 1st. I was hooked.....
The release schedule slipped a number of times before the first batch of 20 were finally shipped at the end of September. The folks at NAA did a good job keeping everyone apprised of the delays. They didn't charge credit cards until a day or two before the Sidewinder was shipped to the FFL. For those of us that ordered by June 4th, our names went into a drawing to determine the shipping sequence. I didn't make the first batch of 20 but was in the second batch (a dozen shipped that time from what I heard) that went out. There were nealy 200 Early Bird orders placed so I'll count myself lucky for getting near the front of the line. I had the Sidewinder shipped to a local FFL holder that I've used before. It was the first Sidewinder they had seen in their store....no wonder as they are currently very rare.
The Sidewinder is a single-action mini-revolver built on NAA's magnum frame. The cylinder is mounted on a side-releasing crane, just like most other revolvers. It's not as smooth as my other revolvers but it gets the job done just fine. Once the cylinder is in the frame and locked up, it feels just as tight as my Pug.
The wood to metal fit of the grips to the frame is perfect, in my opinion. No gaps, no misalignment issues, no problems, period. The cartridges shown are Hornady Critical Defense .22 WMR which use a 45 grain FTX bullet. This initial release of the Sidewinder has a 1" barrel. NAA mini enthusiasts are hoping for longer length barrels which is common in the NAA line. Time will tell if/when those become available.
The .22 WMR cartridges aren't the cheapest and so to complete my purchase, I opted for the .22 LR cylinder. It is notably less expensive to order the .22 LR cylinder at the same time you purchase the revolver. In doing so, you forego the cost of shipping the revolver back to NAA (handguns overnight are rather expensive) and the labor charges for timing the new cylinder to your frame. Either way, ordering afterwards or when you buy the revolver, you will be paying for the extra cylinder.
It is indeed nice to push on the ejector rod and have the shells come out. Beats the heck out of the method I use when I am shooting the Pug. I don't have a .22 LR cylinder for the Pug and most likely wont. I practice with it once in a while at the range.....the cost isn't that high at the rate I burn through .22 WMR cartridges.
I'm wondering if the Sidewinder will make it to full mass production or if NAA will opt to terminate it at some point like they did the Ranger. I heard the reason Ranger production was stopped was to the expense of making it....simply too high.
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