When you think of firearms for combat and defensive purposes in today’s modern age, images of custom-built ARs and tricked-out pistols come to mind. There are all kinds of gadgets and gizmos that you can affix to current weapons to make them look like the next centerpiece of a sci-fi blockbuster. What you don’t hear too much about or see in the latest and greatest video reviews is the erstwhile derringer. Such as the Bond Arms Grizzly.
The Bond Arms Multi-Caliber Grizzly
The derringer’s basic design originated in 1825. There have been many companies that have seized on Henry Deringer’s original concept to produce numerous iterations of their own. From pot-metal throwaways to four-barrel wonders to Remington’s classic over-and-under design, the derringer-style pistol has a certain mystique about it.
While it doesn’t have the sex appeal of a high-capacity, micro-compact, the modern derringer, as presented by Bond Arms, has its own distinct beauty and a far-ranging versatility that few firearms can match.
The Bond Arms Vision
Established in 1995, Bond Arms was created to bring the derringer into the modern age. Working from the blueprint of the Remington Model 95, Bond Arms developed a much more robust derringer design. It incorporated a beefier barrel and frame and that was built with the latest manufacturing processes.
Made entirely from stainless steel, Bond Arms derringers were built to safely fire modern cartridges. Likewise, it serves as a modern, double-barrel defender whether one is going about town or out on the trail.
What sets Bond Arms apart in this market segment is its rigorous quality controls. Not to mention the level of attention that is given to each pistol manufactured. A significant amount of time is spent building and hand-polishing each of their standard models.
If, upon inspection, a flaw or the tiniest mechanical issue is found, the pistol goes back through the pipeline again until it is perfect for the end user.
Aside from the level of quality found in each of Bond Arms’ derringers, another reason for their popularity is the wide variety of accessory barrels available in a multitude of calibers, greatly increasing the pistol’s versatility. No matter which model you purchase, all the available accessory barrels, with lengths from 2.5 to 6 inches, will fit.
It’s a quick, easy process to switch one barrel for another with just a 1/8th-inch Allen wrench. Whether you want something to do a finishing shot during the hunt, take out snakes or other pests, ride shotgun during your daily commute, or be your last-resort backup in a defensive encounter, a Bond Arms derringer can just about do it all.
A Grizzly Encounter
For this review, I requested the Grizzly model, which has a 3-inch barrel and is chambered in .45 LC/.410. I picked the Grizzly because of its rustic appeal. Additionally, the larger grip provides more control over the loads with stiffer recoil.
The Grizzly is a member of the company’s “Rough” series of derringers. They were designed to make the company’s derringers more affordable.
To reduce the selling price, the “Rough” model derringers do not have the top-shelf polish job of the standard models. Instead, only minimal cleanup is done to the exterior, and each gun is given a bead-blast finish.
By omitting the polishing part of the process, four to five “Rough” derringers can be built for each standard model. However, it should be noted that the internals receive the same work as each standard model. This ensures smooth operation and absolute reliability.
With a few buddies in tow, I hit the range with the Grizzly. I also brought three extra barrels that I also received to compare the shooting experience with different calibers. Those barrels were chambered in .45 ACP, 10mm and a third 4.25-inch barrel was set up for .45 LC/.410. That barrel included Mag-Na-Port vents to help knock down the recoil.
With friends and a good assortment of ammunition on hand, I had a feeling it was going to be a fun and interesting day.
Taming The Griz
We did not do the standard accuracy testing that is done with most pistols. The derringer is a close-up weapon, and the sights are minimal. They’re serviceable for slow fire at the range, but you’re not going to find them quickly in a real-world situation. Also, rounds fired from the two individual barrels have different points of impact on the target.
With that in mind, I wanted to get an idea of the distance between the two points of impact at a close distance. For this test, I tried the 3-inch .45 ACP barrel on a Thompson Targets Half-Size B27 target. Likewise, I used the 4.25-inch 10mm barrel on an Eddie the Executive zombie target made by Champion Targets.
At 5 yards, there was an approximate distance of 5.5 inches between points of impact with the .45 ACP. Correspondingly, there was 4 inches with the 10mm. Of course, this could vary a bit with different ammunition, but you get the point.
I found that the bottom barrel’s hits lined up the closest to the sights. But since the derringer alternates between barrels with each shot, it’s easy to lose track of which barrel is going to fire next.
This is another reason a derringer is going to be a close-up weapon. With such a significant difference in points of impact, you’re not going to be shooting surgically precise shots downrange.
A Grizzly Big Bore Recoil
While working with these two barrels, I let my buddies give them a try. The guys nodded approvingly, smiling as they shot the 230-grain Elite V-Crown load from Sig through the .45 ACP barrel. The recoil was not exactly modest, but the Grizzly is a chunky little beast at 20 ounces. So, the recoil was still very manageable.
The smiles weren’t quite as wide when they shot Buffalo Bore’s 180-grain low recoil/low flash load through the 10mm barrel. They weren’t exactly complaining, but each one gave me a look when they were done. What can I say? For the big-boy loads, you need to bring your big-boy pants, and that wasn’t even the heavy stuff.
Next, I tried some number 7.5 .410 shells through both the 3-inch and 4.25-inch .45 LC/.410 barrels at 5 yards. Surprisingly, with just that 1.25-inch difference in barrel lengths, the 4.25-inch barrel deposited over three times the amount of shot into the Champion Targets 8-inch VisiColor target.
So, if you want to use .410 shells with your Bond Arms Grizzly, it’s worth getting the 4.25-inch accessory barrel. Or just pick up a Snake Slayer IV from the start.
There was also a fairly significant difference in recoil, thanks to the porting on the 4.25-inch barrel. The recoil was fairly mild, to be honest, just about in line with the 3-inch, .45 ACP barrel. It was probably the favorite barrel used during the session.
Switching it Up
Unfortunately, I was not able to put my hands on any .410 buckshot for this test. As you can imagine, it’s rather scarce right now. But I’ve used both 00 and 000 buck in the past with review units and my own Snake Slayer IV. I have gotten great results with quality loads, as well as with Winchester’s PDX1 load for personal defense.
However, I did have some of CCI’s .45 LC shotshells on hand that are excellent for snake eradication. I guessed the average distance one would be when dealing with a venomous viper and went with 12 feet. At that distance, the 8-inch VisiColor target was fairly saturated and promised one very dead reptile.
The recoil with the Mag-Na-Ported barrel was like shooting a .38 Special out of a full-sized .357 Magnum revolver. It was very soft and effortless to control.
Most of the guys were new to the Bond Arms derringers. I noticed a couple of things with them that are worth pointing out.
First, the trigger is a little different than other firearms. You have to pull down a bit on the trigger while you’re also pulling it back. That’s just the nature of the derringer’s design, and you’ll get used to it quickly.
Also, barrels with calibers like .357 Magnum and .45 Long Colt feature an extractor to assist with easy shell removal. However, barrels for rimless cartridges like 9mm and 10mm do not, so you’ll need to use a fingernail to remove those.
Exception To The Rule
The Grizzly is very versatile with the various accessory barrels. However, I felt there was an exception to the “One Bond for Every Mission” rule. It has a larger grip to help control the recoil of various loads. For this reason, it’s not absolutely ideal as a deep-carry, hideout piece.
So, I also had Bond Arms ship out their Mini model with a barrel chambered in .357 Magnum/.38 Special. The Mini sports a high-end finish as well as a 2.5-inch barrel and a smaller grip. Though it still weighs in at 19 ounces.
I asked for .357/.38 because that gives the user the option to shoot lighter .38 Special loads at the range. But you still have the power of a .357 Magnum at your disposal for everyday carry. Also, some folks could opt for +P .38 Special loads for carry as well.
I got more than dirty looks when the fellows shot the Mini with the 158-grain .357 Magnum rounds that I loaded up for them. I also got a few choice words as well, but it was all in good fun.
There was significantly more recoil than the Grizzly with the 4.25-inch 10mm barrel, but everyone survived the ordeal just fine. Shooting the Mini with full-house .357 loads isn’t going to be a daily routine. It’s for those times when your life is on the line, and you want all the power you can get. To hell with the recoil.
Although somewhat anachronistic in today’s world of high-speed, low-drag firearms, Bond Arms derringers, like the Grizzly, are the multi-tools of the handgun world.
I was surprised by how often I ended up carrying my Snake Slayer IV. It’s a relatively small package, considering it allows me to shoot calibers like .45 Long Colt, 10mm, and .410.
Whether I had it charged with snake shot during the summers or buckshot while in the car, I’ve found a multitude of uses for it. It has a range of versatility that my other handguns just can’t match.
With its robust build, high quality, and relatively low price, the Grizzly is a fantastic way for you to enjoy a Bond Arms derringer for the first time. With the proper selection of a couple of accessory barrels, you’ll have an adaptable tool that will last a lifetime. And it will help you accomplish any mission you might undertake.
Even better, you’ll get lots of enjoyment out of it along the way.
For more information, please visit BondArms.com.
Bond Arms Grizzly Specs
Caliber: .45 LC/.410
Barrel: 3 inches
Overall Length: 5 inches
Weight: 20 ounces (empty)
Sights: Front blade, rear notch
Action: Break-open double barrel
Finish: Bead Blast, Polished Flats
This article was originally published in the Combat Handguns November/December 2021 issue. Subscription is available in print and digital editions at OutdoorGroupStore.com. Or call 1-800-284-5668, or email [email protected].
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