Bond Arms: King of Derringers
Bond Arms of Granbury, Texas made quite a showing at the Blue August gun writers’ conference in Orlando last week. With a flashy display of derringers, plus a new, and very different design in semi-autos, it was impossible to look just once. Good thing was, we got to try them out too.
Gordon Bond is the CEO of Bond Arms, a family business that began with his brother’s reinterpretation of the derringer design. Their claims to fame are many: The Bond brand was the first to put a trigger guard on a derringer. They make what Bond says is the world’s smallest .45. And all of their 16 barrels are interchangeable with all their derringers, so one frame can accommodate up to 22 different loads.
The Texans work with an Oklahoma leather craftsman who makes holsters that match these mostly western-styled guns in fine style. American artists have also been employed to engrave grips and frames.
A catchy trick Gordon showed was holding one of his Bond derringers by the grip, action unhinged. He then flicks it sharply, and the gun snaps together, looking like a gun again. It’s fun to watch and impressive that he’s willing to subject the products to what looks like rough handling. The grin on his face as he flicked the gun shut, saying “you can do this all day,” convinced me they’re tough.
I got into the firing booth at the indoor range, and couldn’t wait to “flick” the loaner, because hey, it’s cool. I tried it, and two 45 ACP rounds fell out and rolled across the floor. Turns out “flicking” is a party trick only, and not for actually putting the gun in loaded condition. The Bond family instructor at the event looked at the puzzlement on my face as I watched the rounds fall to the floor. “You’re only supposed to do that when it’s unloaded,” she said. Oh.
Firing the derringers was not at all like using a subcompact pistol. They require a low grip for the hammer to operate, and the trigger press is a lot different, though that’s not obvious from just looking at them. The press is as much a downward motion as it is rearward. Learning that made the difference between pressing as hard as I could and getting no result, to operating the little shooters with relative ease.
As expected, the bigger the caliber, the more recoil. Even in 9mm these babies are snappy. In .357 and with a 2.5-inch barrel, shooting one borders on painful. But the company sells .22, .22WMR, and .380 for folks who want little to no felt recoil.
Bond Arms derringers retail from $469-$1,429. Extra barrels start at $130, but there’s a 50% off barrel special as of this writing.
Did I say something about a very different semi-auto? Well, it’s not quite to market yet, but I got to see it, fire it, and can report it worked well. Here’s a hint: the magazine is loaded backwards, with bullets facing the closed side. Here's a bit more info on it, as well as a diagram of how the backwards magazine works, as well.