Your family home is your castle, but I’ll never forget the moment I realized that my castle had a parapet unguarded. You see, my personal redoubt has a firearm in just about every room. Every room, that is, except for the basement. It was a weekday morning when my wife came home from work early, unbeknownst to me. From the basement, I heard quiet footsteps as someone unidentified walked about overhead. I thought we were being robbed, and then a little panic set in when I realized that every gun I own was upstairs, leaving me pretty much defenseless downstairs.
As I quickly reached for whatever defensive tool I could scrounge up, I heard her voice and breathed a sigh of relief. Shortly after we instituted an “announce yourself” rule that we both abide by now, and I took an active role in finding a “no-excuse” carry pistol…one that I could have on me at all times, no matter what.
I wanted a gun that would be fun to shoot, so I’d get to the range with it. The tallest order? I also wanted something that could be carried safely without a holster. That last point is what made the search tough, but I found exactly what I was looking for in the North American Arms Ranger II.
North American Arms is known for making some of the tiniest single action revolvers on the planet. These guns can easily be concealed in the palm of your hand and resemble something that you would hang your keys on! Because these guns are purpose-built for deep, minimalist carry, they are usually sort of a pain to load and unload. The Ranger II changes that with its break-barrel action, which automatically ejects all five cases when cracked open.
Like all of the NAA mini-revolvers, this one is a rimfire. Buyers have their choice of getting it in the solo .22 WMR chambering, or for a nominal upcharge, grabbing the package with the .22LR conversion cylinder. I like this option because it offers the opportunity to practice with the .22 LR, the least-expensive round on the market, which also cuts down significantly on the recoil.
Yes, I said “recoil” in the same sentence as “.22LR.” I understand how strange that is to read, but when you’re dealing with a gun that weighs less than 7.5 ounces, the recoil between .22LR and .22 Magnum is actually very noticeable.
The Ranger II is a single-action-only revolver, and through the use of safety notches, it is safe to carry in your pocket without a holster. After loading all five chambers, I was able to easily rotate the cylinder to allow the hammer to drop into one of the five notches that are cut in between each round.
Once the hammer is in, it locks the cylinder from rotating, and protects against accidental discharge from being banged or dropped. As the trigger cannot cock the hammer, there is no worry of firing the gun by accidentally pressing it. In other words, carrying the Ranger II is as safe as carrying five loose rounds of ammo in your pocket.
Of course, you won’t win any quick draw competitions concealing a gun in this fashion, and Lord help you if you catch a snag! For this reason, I grabbed a DeSantis Lil’ Shot Holster and use it whenever I can. Between the soft leather and the dwarfed footprint, I forget that I have it on. This holster can be worn as a standard OWB unit, or as a cross draw, allowing you to carry the Ranger II as a backup gun.
Although the Ranger II has defined sights, I kept my test distances realistic. I chose 5 yards, as this covered most scenarios where I could see myself possibly using it. As I plugged away with a variety of different rounds I found that many bullet weights over 40 grains had trouble stabilizing.
Among the best was the Aguila semi-jacketed 40-grain soft point load that produced several groups that measured inside of 1 inch. Although the point of impact (POI) was slightly high and right, it was still more than close enough to the point of aim to handle a human threat.
During my testing I found the trigger to be relatively stiff, requiring deliberate pressure to make the gun go “bang.” Given the pistol’s small profile, I was okay with this because it significantly reduces the chance of a negligent discharge.
The North American Arms Ranger II has become a regular addition to my practice lineup. Before leaving the range I like to swap the gun into its .22LR cylinder and practice my pocket draw on a full-sized IPSC target. I have found that with enough practice I can draw, cock and land a shot in relatively short order.
Is a North American Arms Ranger II your ideal first line of home defense? Not exactly, but its use in the home would primarily be to get to one of your main firearms. If you are looking for your next “pajama gun” give the Ranger II some serious consideration…because carrying a small gun is better than carrying no gun at all. northamericanarms.com