Monday, June 3, 2013

North American Arms Sheriff Review

At the Lake a couple of weeks ago we had a new toy to play with. North American Arms makes an entire line of mini revolvers, most of them chambered for the 22 long rifle or the 22 magnum cartridges. The one that we are dealing with is called The Sheriff. Here it is below.

As you can see, it is a pistol. And it is of the small variety. How small? Well, the barrel is 2 1/2 inches long. It is 6 1/4 inches long overall, and it is 3 1/8 inches tall.Um, okay, you say, that sounds rather small. But really, how small is that? What can it be compared to?

How about this? Let's compare it to a BIC lighter. Okay, let's.
All right. Now you know how small it is. Let me finish telling you about it. It is a 5 shot, single action revolver. This means that you must cock the hammer back each time before you pull the trigger. Contrary to what some congressmen and lots of news personalities would tell you, it is not considered an assault weapon.  It does not hold enough "bullets" in its "high-capacity ammunition clip bullet magazine thingy"as they would say.  Being a 5 shot, it only holds 5 rounds of ammunition.  And I don't believe that I have ever seen a terrorist using one of these. It weighs 7.3 ounces. That means that it is pretty light.
All right., now that we know that it is a small weapon, maybe it is too small.. Is it even big enough to be able to hold in your hand ?
Here it is, in nephew's hand. Nephew is 6 feet 1and weighs approximately 160 pounds. He would probably be considered to have a large hand.

But as you can see, it actually fits in his hand pretty well. . He is able to get a good grip on it. Besides that, it is a 22.  There won't be much recoil.

It comes in a hard plastic  storage case and you can even padlock it closed. If you want to.

 The pistol that we were shooting had the 22 long rifle cylinder installed , but it also came with an extra . 22 magnum cylinder. We did not try any magnum loads in it.  Here the magnum cylinder is wrapped up in some type of plastic protective wrap and there is some extra room in the case to put other things. If you wish.

 Here is another shot showing the size comparison to a 12gauge shell.  This is how you take it apart to load or unload it. Push the button on the cylinder pin and slide it all the way out to the front. Remove the cylinder, stuff in 5 cartridges , put the cylinder back in and slide the cylinder pin all the way back until it locks in the place.  Then you are ready to shoot.  After you have shot, remove the cylinder pin  and the cylinder,use the cylinder pin to poke out the empties from the chambers ,then reload and you are ready to fire again.  It takes longer to explain it than it does to actually do it. After you have done it a few times,  a person can probably accomplish a reload  pretty quickly.  Nephew can fire 5 shots, reload and be ready to fire 5 more shots in 35 seconds.
 Okay, so how well does it shoot?  Does it produce marvelously tiny little groups at  extreme yardages ?
The answer to that is - I don't know.  Groups are out of season where I live, consequently nobody shot any groups.They shot cans.  They shot boxes.   They shot marshmallows. They shot a tarantula.  The sights are not  what you would find on a target pistol, it was not designed as a target pistol, so it probably does not shoot as well as a target pistol . There is a groove along the top strap to look down and the front sight is a post at the end of the barrel.  It is not the best set up in the world ,but it is certainly not the worst either. . It seemed to work fairly well for the Colt peacemaker and countless other handguns down through the years.. I can tell you that  aluminum cans at 20 feet are  pretty easy targets.  And after he fired a few cylinders full of ammunition and had gotten a little used to the trigger, nephew was able to use a rest and solid two-handed hold and put 4 out of 5 shots on something the size of a stop sign at 45 yards.
. What about velocity? Well, I am fairly certain that the bullets exit the barrel with some velocity.  We have no chronograph, so there was no way for us to measure the velocity.. Most of these tiny revolvers have shorter barrels and there is not really that much to be gained by using the 22 magnum cylinder instead of 22 long rifle.Since the barrel on this one is longer, there is likely to be an appreciable difference and if I were going to use it for self-defense against people, I would definitely be using magnum ammo. A side benefit would also be a bigger fireball from the barrel, more likely to scare someone off .
What is to like about this gun?  It is small. It is light.  The octagon barrel is cool.  It resembles an old cap And ball revolver.  The machine work is well done  and it is nicely polished.  There are precise, solid clicky noises when you pull the hammer back and the cylinder locks up tightly with no play. It is a well built, solid little shooter. We put over 200 rounds through it over the weekend and there were no malfunctions, nor did I expect any. And it is handy,  you can always have it in your pocket and it is so light that you may forget that it is in there.   In all, 6 different people handled and shot the little weapon  and their 1st comments upon laying eyes on it ranged from  "Hey cool" to "Aw, it's so cute."  Nobody didn't like the way it looked or shot.
What is not to like about this gun? The trigger is a bit heavy.  It is slow to reload. The sights are adequate, but not wonderful.  It is a 22, therefore it  will not stop a charging grizzly with one shot.
 Who might want one of these? Lots of people. I see it as a good choice for anyone that could use a small, lightweight pistol. Ranchers, farmers, hikers, campers, fishermen, , even joggers. If the first 2 chambers were loaded with shot shells for snake busting and the rest of the chambers were loaded with  solid or hollow point ammo, I would feel perfectly safe roaming the woods with it.  Rabid foxes, raccoons, skunks or dogs would be no problem for it. It is certainly not the best  choice for self-defense against 2 legged vermin, but it is better than using a stick or a rock.  And it is small enough, light, enough and handy enough that you can always have it on you.
To sum it all up, I think is a neat and useful little gun.


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