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The term '''derringer''' is a genericized misspelling of the last name of Henry Deringer+, a famous 19th-century maker of small pocket pistol+s. Many copies of the original Philadelphia Deringer pistol were made by other gun makers worldwide, and the name was often misspelled; this misspelling soon became an alternative generic term for any pocket pistol, along with the generic phrase '''palm pistol''' Deringer's competitors invented and used in their advertising. The original Deringer pistol was a single-shot muzzleloading+ pistol; with the advent of cartridge+ firearms, pistols began to be produced in the modern form still known as a derringer.



A derringer is generally the smallest usable handgun of a given caliber. They were frequently used by women, because they are easily concealable in a purse+ or as a stocking gun+., around half the speed of a modern .45 ACP+. It could be seen in fight, but at very close range, such as at a casino+ or saloon+ card table, it could easily kill. The Remington derringer was sold from 1866 to 1935.

The classic Remington design remained popular even with the advent of smaller, higher-powered cartridges, made possible by the use of smokeless powder+, rather than the black powder+ used in the 19th century and before. A Remington-pattern derringer in .38 Special+ is still smaller than the most compact .25 ACP+ semiautomatic, and provides superior terminal ballistic+ performance to the .25 ACP. While the classic Remington design is a single action+, manufacturers have also made double action derringers, including some four-shot models, with the barrels stacked in a 2 x 2 block. The COP 357 Derringer+ provided four shots of .357 Magnum+ in a package not much larger than a .25 ACP automatic, and was significantly more compact than a similar revolver. The COP derringer was invented by Robert Hillberg+ and closely resembled his earlier work on insurgency weapon+s.

A related design, often grouped with derringers since it fits no other standard classification, is the Semmerling+ pistol. It is a five-shot, .45 ACP+ pistol with a manual repeater: the barrel mechanism is manually pulled forward to eject the fired round, then pushed back to chamber the next round. These pistols were originally built for the United States Army+, and the few available on the civilian market are highly sought after due to their unique combination of high power, large capacity, and tiny size. Another military pistol that is truly a derringer design is the FP-45 Liberator+, a .45 ACP insurgency weapon dropped behind Axis+ lines in World War II+.

The Remington derringer design is still being manufactured; Bond Arms+, Cobra Arms and American Derringer all manufacture the over/under derringer in a variety of calibers from .22 long rifle+ to .45 Long Colt+. The current production of derringers are used by Cowboy Action Shooting+ reenactors as well as a concealed-carry weapon. It is the smallest handgun that is capable of handling the largest ammunition. Some favor the derringer as a concealed carry weapon because of its size as well as the swiftness of putting it into action. Critics believe it is not an adequate weapon for self-defense since the derringer possesses only a two-shot capacity.


The '''Philadelphia Deringer''' was a small percussion handgun+ designed by Henry Deringer (1786–1868) and produced from 1852 through 1868. A popular concealed carry+ handgun of the era, this pocket pistol+ design was widely copied by competitors, sometimes down to the markings.

For loading a Philadelphia Deringer, one would typically fire a couple of percussion cap+s on the handgun, to dry out any residual moisture contained in the tube or at the base of the barrel, to prevent a subsequent misfire. One would then remove the remains of the last fired percussion cap and place the handgun on its half-cock notch, pour of black powder down the barrel, followed by ramming a patched lead ball down onto the powder, being very careful to leave no air gap between the patched ball and the powder, to prevent the handgun from exploding when used. (The purpose of the patch on the ball was to keep the ball firmly lodged against the powder, to avoid creating what was called a "short start" when the ball was dislodged from being firmly against the powder.)

A new percussion cap would then be placed on the tube (what today would be called a nipple), and the gun was then loaded and ready to fire. (The half-cock notch prevented the hammer from falling if the trigger were bumped accidentally while carrying the handgun in one's coat pocket.) Then, to fire the handgun, a user would fully cock the hammer, aim, and squeeze the trigger. Upon a misfire, the user could fully re-cock the hammer, and attempt to fire the handgun once more, or, equally common, switch to a second Deringer. Accuracy was highly variable; although front sights were common, rear sights were less common, and some Philadelphia Deringers had no sights at all, being intended for point and shoot use instead of aim and shoot, across Poker-table distances. Professional gamblers, and others who carried regularly, often would fire and reload daily, to decrease the chance of a misfire upon needing to use a Philadelphia Deringer.

Henry Deringer's production records, and contemporaneous records of his imitators, indicate that these pistol+s were almost always sold in matching pairs. (A typical price was $15 to $25 for a pair, with silver-inlaid and engraved models selling at higher prices.) The choice of buying a pair, in part, was to compensate for the limited power of a single-shot, short-barreled pistol, and to compensate for a design considerably less reliable than subsequent cartridge derringer designs. Original Deringers are almost never found still in their matched pairs today.Flayderman (2007)pp. 410-412

Initially popular with military officers, the Deringer became widely popular among civilians who wished to own a small and easily concealable pistol for self-defense.

In total, approximately 15,000 Deringer pistols were manufactured.Flayderman (2007)pp. 410-412 All were single barrel pistols with back action percussion locks, typically .41" rifled bores, and walnut stocks. Barrel length varied from 1.5" to 6", and the hardware was commonly a copper-nickel alloy known as "German silver+". The back action lock was a later, improved design among locks, which had its spring and mechanism located behind the hammer, where it was thereby protected from dirt, fired cap residue, and gunpowder residue unlike earlier front action locks that had their springs and mechanism located directly in the path of such residue in front of the hammer, under the tube.

Because of their small size and easy availability, Deringers sometimes had the dubious reputation of being a favored tool of assassin+s. The most famous Deringer used for this purpose was fired by John Wilkes Booth+ in the assassination of+ Abraham Lincoln+. Booth's Deringer was unusual in that the rifling twisted counterclockwise (left-handed twist), rather than the typical clockwise twist used on most Philadelphia Deringers.


Remington Model 95+ over-under double-barreled derringers were manufactured from 1866 until 1935, in several rimfire calibers, the most common of which was .41 rimfire. They were never serially numbered, but were numbered within production batches. Batches apparently went from 500 to 5,000 guns per batch depending on demand. There were 3 trademarks — "E. Remington and Sons, Ilion, NY", "Remington Arms Co.", and "Remington-UMC". The 1st model derringer had a hollow rather than skeleton butt and no extractor. It was marked "E. Remington and Sons, Ilion, NY". The 2nd had a skeleton butt but no extractor and the same trademark. The 3rd model had a 2-part extractor and same trademark. The 4th model had a one piece extractor and all 3 trademarks.Flayderman (2007)pp. 165-168

Remington went bankrupt in 1881. In 1883 the assets were bought by Hartley and Graham of New York, a major firearms wholesaler. Hartley and Graham renamed the company Remington Arms Co. and marked all Remington firearms with that trademark until 1910. In 1910 Hartley and Graham merged Remington with Union Metallic Cartridge Company+ and changed the trademark to "Remington-UMC". In 1921 Hartley and Graham sold Remington and UMC to the DuPont+ company. DuPont separated Remington and UMC and marked all Remington weapons ''except'' the derringer with Remington Arms Co. The derringer continued to be marked Remington Arms-UMC until production ceased in 1935.Flayderman (2007)pp. 165-168

Hollow-butt derringers were made only in 1866.Flayderman (2007)pp. 165-168 Skeleton butt without extractor from 1866 to 1867. Two part extractor thru '69. One part extractor thereafter. Derringers with one part extractors marked E. Remington and Sons, Ilion, NY—1870-1881. Remington Arms Co. mark—1883-1910. Remington-UMC—1910-1935.Flayderman (2007)pp. 165-168

Remington derringers often played critical roles in the exploits of James T. West, fictional Secret Service agent, in the American television series ''The Wild Wild West+''. He would carry up to three derringers: one as a concealed carry+ backup gun to his holstered and openly carried+ full sized revolver. This derringer was carried either in a vest pocket or an inside pocket of his jacket. Another derringer was carried as a sleeve gun+ under his right shirt sleeve, and the third was broken into two parts with the barrel assembly hidden in the hollowed out heel of one boot and the frame hidden in the heel of the other.

A single-shot Derringer was the concealed weapon of choice for Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen+ in ''Back to the Future Part III+''. He uses it to kill Dr. Emmett "Doc" Brown+ in a previous unseen-on-screen timeline. However, in the timeline seen in the movie, Tannen's attempt to kill Brown is thwarted when Marty McFly+ throws a pie plate at the Derringer in Tannen's outstretched hand. The gun discharges, hitting Brown's hat and knocking it off his head.

A double-barrel Derringer was seen being wielded by Miss Pauling in the Team Fortress 2+ short known as Expiration Date during a fight with a large bread monster.

* .41 Short+
* Bond Arms Derringer Manufacture+
* Cobray+
* Deer gun+
* FP-45 Liberator+
* Garrucha+
* National Arms Company+
* Protector Palm Pistol+
* DoubleTap pistol+


reflist:

* , a report of an FBI analysis of the Booth Deringer, made after rumors that the original had been stolen and replaced with a replica.
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Multiple Barrel Firearms:

Derringer+ The term derringer is a genericized misspelling of the last name of Henry Deringer, a famous 19th-century maker of small pocket pistols.
 Derringer Award+ The Derringer Award is the Short Mystery Fiction Society’s annual award honoring excellence in Short Mystery Fiction.
Derringer (album)+ Derringer is a 1976 album by Derringer and was released on the Blue Sky Records label.
 Derringer (surname)+ Derringer is a surname. Notable people with the surname include:
 Derringer (disambiguation)+ A derringer is a type of pistol.