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North American Arms - Sidewinder .22 Mag / LR

After letting the Sidewinder sit for a bit in the safe, I decided it was time to check it out at the range.  Besides, what good is having a new firearm and then not shooting it?  I don't purchase them to let them sit and gather dust.  I guess I am not a collector at heart.



I used my fairly new CED M2 chronograph to check the velocity of both the .22 Mag and .22LR rounds I bought with me.  While I was at the range, a nice lady asked me what I was doing.  So, I spent a few minutes explaining to her how a chronograph works.  Once I told her about it, she said she had heard of them but had never seen one. 

Since I already had the .22 Mag cylinder in the Sidewinder, I shot it first using up a partial box of Winchester Super-X 40 gr FMJ.  As I shot, I noticed that the lockup was tight and the cylinder turned smoothly and precisely each time the hammer was drawn back to full cock.



The 5 empty cases extracted smoothly from the cylinder.  There were no stuck cases.  The relatively short extractor rod only pushes the cases so far out of the cylinder....as shown in the photo. 



With the target placed 7 yards from the muzzle, I was disappointed, but not entirely surprised, to see I had a bullet key holing problem.  I've spent enough time on the NAA forum to know this is can and does happen to some of the tiny revolvers.  Before I get overly concerned about it, and knowing that NAA's customer service will make it right should I need to, I intend to try another brand or two of .22 Mag ammo to see if it makes a difference.  Sometimes it does. 

As for this 7 shot group's velocity, these 40 gr Winchesters went across the screens at an average of 979 FPS.  The standard deviation was 32.4 FPS and the extreme spread was 88 FPS.  In contrast, a 5 shot group from my Pug with the same ammo was 104 FPS slower.  I'll admit that those were shot across a different chronograph but I've yet to find any evidence (when shooting other loads) that indicates the two chronographs are out of calibration with each other. 



After a swap to the .22LR cylinder, I was ready to try the Sidewinder again.  In my shooting bag, I had box of CCI Blazer cartridges and decided to give them a try.  The 5 shot volley across my CED M2 averaged 847 FPS.  I had just shot these same cartridges from my 6" Tactical Solutions Ruger Mk1 and they averaged 1059 FPS.  I was pleased to see that these bullets did not appear to have any keyhole issues.  Furthermore, two bullets actually hit the 1" target but I believe that is really more of a random act than a testament to the Sidewinder's accuracy and/or my skill level. <grin>

Using a cylinder full of Federal Bulk .22LR ammo, the chronograph indicated 890 FPS.  The accuracy wasn't much different than the CCI Blazer ammunition. 

I still need to hit the range with some other brands of magnum ammunition to see if the Sidewinder continues to have a keyhole problem with .22Mag.  Hopefully it will not.

If you have a chance to try one of these little gems, don't pass up the opportunity.  If you want one, I hope you can find one without having to pay through the nose on a gun auction site.  I'm quite satisfied with mine and look forward to having it for many years to come.  Everyone who ordered through the early bird offer now has them.  NAA states the Sidewinder is going into full production and supposedly will be in the distributor's pipelines fairly soon. 

Next on the wish list, a holster for the Sidewinder.  I'm waiting for the specialty holster makers to get some Sidewinder models on the market that I like. 

Update:  02/04/2013

I had a chance to get to the range and shoot another session with the Sidewinder.  Here is the summary of what I found shooting these two additional brands.


The 40 gr CCI Maxi-Mag did just great.  The groups at 7 yds were every bit as good as those above....and there was no key holing problem.  After I shot a number of rounds, I reloaded the Sidewinder and gave it to my range buddy to try.  He was quite surprise at the recoil...not that it was stout, just that it causes the little revolver to jump a fair amount.  His group was not as good as mine but it was all new to him so I'll cut him some slack. <grin>  At 21 feet, his shots hit the target clean with no indications of a key hole problem.

Next came the 45 gr Hornady Critical Defense loads.  Two of the five bullets clearly printed sideways on the target.  Another one was traveling somewhat off center but no as badly as its two friends.  The remaining two rounds perforated the target with no telltale signs of a problem.  Obviously there was some instability but not as bad as the Winchester Super-X 40 gr load. 

For now, the CCI Maxi-Mag seems to be leading the pack in terms of stability and the accuracy was very good as well.




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