NAA Black Widow Revolver in .22WMR Review – BUG Gun Yes or NO?

by Col (Dr) Ben Findley
Col Findley reports his findings on if the NAA Black Widow Revolver is suitable as an everyday carry back up gun (BUG).

NAA Black Widow Revolver in .22WMR a Mini Revolver
NAA Black Widow Revolver in .22WMR a Mini Revolver
AmmoLand Gun News
AmmoLand Gun News

USA -( I like BUG [guns].

A “Bug” is not only some annoying insect. BUG stands for Back Up Gun, a second handgun carried in deep concealment, as an ancillary support and supplement to a primary self defense weapon.

It is often used late in the fight for very close-range point-and-shoot situations.

For me, I want my BUG to be an available last-option tool for self defense when in extremely close encounters, so I will have a few shots to end or escape from an attack. It is not meant to serve as a primary carry gun. For my self defense, I want to stop the threat and the assault from an attacker, rather than kill the attacker, with whatever reliable tool, i.e. BUG, that is available. Also, I may want to have a BUG if I experience a malfunction or stoppage with my primary gun.

So a BUG in an adequate caliber may accomplish these goals.

But, what is an “adequate” caliber? Well, this has been and continues to be a very hotly debated question for many folks. Also, is there a reliable and accurate deep concealment carry BUG?

My primary carry guns are 9mm calibers with proper state-of-the-art ballistics ammo and that is what I recommend, for most shooters.

Recognize that a BUG is not designed nor intended to replace a handgun of a larger caliber and size, especially for carry. But, a BUG is designed for carry as a complement to your primary gun, as a backup for exigencies. For me, if you are committed to carrying, it makes sense to actually carry a firearm with you and not let it be home in the safe. Some say that carrying “any” gun, for example .380 or .22WMR, is better than NOT carrying any gun at all. The “best” gun is the gun that you will actually carry with you, everywhere and all the time. Of course, this is very subjective, personal, and varies greatly among folks.

NAA Black Widow Revolver

Well, I discovered the North American Arms (NAA) Black Widow (BW) mini-revolver, a .22 Magnum with a laser sight, only 7/8 inches wide, and weighing in at only 8.8 ounces. Yes, its caliber is .22WMR and not 9mm ammo.

I wondered if it was worthy to be my BUG, when my primary gun is not convenient or not practical.

Is this a good option for deep concealment?

  • Could I use it when fishing, taking the trash bin out to the curb at night, hiking, biking, jogging, working out at the gym, fending off snakes and small critters, etc.
  • Should I even consider it?
  • What are its dimensions, especially the grip width with that cylinder for carry?
  • Does it hold only 2 rounds like many derringers or have a greater capacity?
  • What about its sights? What about that .22WMR caliber?
  • Is it going to be expensive to always shoot .22WMR rounds… what about using .22LR ammo?
  • Can it shoot both .22LR AND .22WMR rounds?
  • Is it accurate and reliable? Is it a SAFE gun by design?
  • Can I buy this deep concealment gun for around $300 or less? What are some pros and cons?

Lots of questions, so I had to explore the NAA Black Widow Revolver and shoot it for myself, so I hope some of my findings and opinions will help you with your own very personal back up gun decision.

NAA Black Widow Mini-Revolver in .22WMR with Venom Laser Sights & Rubber Cobblestone Grips
NAA Black Widow Mini-Revolver in .22WMR with Venom Laser Sights & Rubber Cobblestone Grips

Here are Specifications for the NAA Black Widow Revolver with Fixed Sights with .22 WMR and .22LR interchangeable cylinders:


NAA Black Widow Revolver; NAA-22-BWC


.22 WMR and .22 LR


5 rounds


Single Action Mini-Revolver

Barrel Length

2 inches

Overall Length

5 7/8″

Overall Height

3 5/8″



Weight- Unloaded

8.8 ounces


Stainless Steel


Stainless Steel


Rubber Stock; Polymer; Options


Fixed; Optional Laser



Pros and Cons Of The NAA Black Widow Revolver

NAA Black Widow Revolver PROS:

  1. Small & Compact: Only 5.8 inches long and .87 inch wide across the grip
  2. Lightweight: Only 8.8 ounces weight (frame & cylinders are stainless steel)
  3. Decent Capacity: 5-Rounds
  4. Interchangeable cylinders: of .22LR for economical practice and .22WMR (Magnum) for self-defense
  5. Very Concealable: Narrow frame for deep concealability; no trigger guard with trigger only extending .25″ from the housing
  6. Reliable: and well-made Single-Action Revolver which requires the hammer be manually cocked before it will fire; has a very short and soft trigger- about a 4.5 pounds trigger press measured on my Lyman Gauge
  7. Safety notches: enhance safe carry with all 5 chambers loaded; safety slots are milled into the back rim of the cylinders, so lowering the hammer into a notch locks the chamber in place so hammer rests against cylinder rather than cartridge rim
  8. The Grip angle: is very nice, open, and allows a solid & comfortable grip (the bulbous Grip allows a great purchase for me from concealment & the smaller Cobblestone Grip is nice for certain types of carry)
  9. Many North American Arms accessories are available, including many grips & holsters for various purposes; custom laser sights (see BW custom holster below)
  10. The .22LR ammo: is less expensive to practice & plink with than the Magnum rounds (NOTE: a friend told me that the .22LR works almost as well if loaded with CCI Velocitor Ammo which gives about a 30% higher power factor over a standard .22LR hollow point round. So, I can practice more at a lower cost.
NAA Black Widow Revolver in Custom NAA Pocket Holster
NAA Black Widow Revolver in Custom NAA Pocket Holster

NAA Black Widow Revolver CONS:

(1) Time consuming to reload and load- the cylinder must be removed for this, so the cylinder pin must be removed, inserted into each chamber to extract the spent cases, then the cylinder positioned correctly back into the frame, with the pin then reinserted (so make your 5 rounds count in an encounter!)

(2) The rear sight notch is not that wide to help with sight alignment (but remember your purpose for this gun-an extremely up-close encounter probably not using your sights)

NOTE Although Discontinued: The Laserlyte Venom Laser Sights were custom made for the NAA BW & weigh less than .75 ounce, adding no length or width to the BW. They quickly mount under the barrel by removing the factory cylinder pin and locking the laser sights easily in the notch there, projecting a red laser beam for quick target acquisition. Just press a reachable bottom-of-the-barrel laser button to activate either as constant-on or pulse mode. I found Point of impact and Point of Aim with the laser to be very close and my point-and-shoot up-close accuracy was acceptable. See my results below.

(3) .22WMR cylinder with laser sights added will not fit in currently readily-available standard pocket holsters.

Is .22 WMR Acceptable Ammo For Self Defense?

.22 WMR Ammunition
.22 WMR Ammunition :

Many consider the .22 WMR (Magnum) as too small a round for self defense. I want to share with you some studies and tests I discovered.

To me penetration, velocity, and shot placement are key for the carry goal and caliber.

Richard Mann did a 2013 research study about .22WMR loads and larger-caliber loads. He found that terminal performance from barrels between 2″ and 4.6″ were, for all practical purposes, identical. Mann also found the average penetration for 9 mm Luger and .45 ACP to be about 13 inches and the penetration for .22 WMR Ammunition to be just over 12 inches with barrels ranging from 1 inch to 4.5 inches.

Mann concluded “Not much difference.” Mann’s study concluded the velocity and penetration of the .22WMR, when compared to 9 mm or a .45 is not all that different.

The difference in the terminal performance of a .22WMR when compared to a 9 mm or a .45 is mostly in expansion and energy.

What if the .22WMR is the most powerful handgun you can handle and shoot effectively? Perhaps a medical condition, like one of my recent students had. She was not able to handle and shoot a 9mm or greater caliber. I believe that the .22WMR round is more weak in power and energy, but the deep penetration possible with its velocity makes it, FOR ME, acceptable as a BUG. I do not plan on switching my primary 9 mm and .45 ACP handguns soon, but do accept the .22WMR for its support role. Like I did, you must shoot a .22WMR to see its power, deep penetration, velocity, and accuracy.

NAA Black Widow Mini-Revolver in .22WMR Range Test
NAA Black Widow Mini-Revolver in .22WMR Range Test

North American Arms Black Widow Mini Revolver Range Testing

For very close-up target shooting, standing, one-handed at 5 feet, 3 yards,and even 4 yards, I was impressed with the accuracy, bullet velocity and penetration of this little gun. I enjoyed shooting it and it was reliable and so very easily concealed in my cargo shorts front pocket. I believe with practice and proper shot placement, with quality ammo, this BW may help you stop a threat out to about 4-5 yards or less.

The bad guy/gal would not want to get shot with a .22 Magnum round.

For me, the .22WMR load now is an option to consider for personal defense up close from a short-barreled BUG, with the modern and advanced ammunition with superior terminal ballistics from Hornady, Speer, CCI, Winchester, etc. I know Hornady has Critical Defense 45 grain .22WMR available. Also, Winchester has PDX1 with 40-grain bullets at 1295 fps. Speer Gold Dots 40-grain bullets have 1250 fps and are for short-barrel guns.

There are several new loads specifically designed for self-defense with enhanced ballistics and deep penetration out of short barrels. I understand that the CCI Maxi-Mag +V in .22WMR has about 17 inches of average penetration in gel.

Above are my first 9″ target hits out of the box with my NAA BW .22WMR with laser sight attached, firing 5 shots each at 5 feet, 3 yards, and 4 yards. I found I had to grip the gun very firmly for better accuracy, more so than usual for me. I shot the ammo I had available which was only 50 cartridges of Winchester Super X .22WMR jacketed hollow points, 20 grain, rated to 2200 fps. I had no malfunctions or stoppages with the NAA BW BUG revolver and ammo and the recoil was very manageable for this very lightweight, ultra small, and very concealable mini-revolver. More rounds need to be shot to better determine its reliability and accuracy.

NAA Black Widow Revolver Conclusion

I recommend the NAA Black Widow Revolver in .22WMR with the LaserLyte Venom laser sights as a BUG and supplement to your primary carry handgun and for very close-up, point shooting, but not as a primary gun.

This is just my opinion with limited data and minimal field testing; of course, you must make your own decision. I caution you when first shooting it to concentrate on gripping the gun very firmly to help control recoil for accuracy and to recognize that to reload it takes much time. So understand this if actually using the BW for self-defense encounters. The BW might be nice as a supplemental companion when fishing, camping, hiking, walking your dog, working in the yard, etc. You should try it for yourself to decide if it works for you and how best it meets your purpose and goal.

Continued Success!


North American Arms
2150 South 950 East St.
Provo, UT 84606

Photos by author.

* This personal opinion article is meant for general information & educational purposes only and the author strongly recommends that you seek counsel from an attorney for legal advice and your own personal certified weapons trainer for proper guidance about shooting & using YOUR firearms, self-defense and concealed carry. It should not be relied upon as accurate for all shooters & the author assumes no responsibility for anyone’s use of the information and shall not be liable for any improper or incorrect use of the information or any damages or injuries incurred whatsoever.

© 2016 Col Benjamin Findley. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reprinted or reproduced in whole or in part by mechanical means, photocopying, electronic reproduction, scanning, or any other means without prior written permission. For copyright information, contact Col Ben Findley at [email protected]

Col Benjamin Findley
Col Benjamin Findley

About Ben Findley:

“Col Ben” is retired with 30 years service in the U.S. Air Force, with joint services Special Ops duty and training, and is Air Force qualified as “Expert” in small arms. Ben is an experienced NRA-Certified Pistol Instructor, NRA Range Safety Officer, and FL Concealed Carry License Instructor.

Ben recently wrote the book “Concealed Carry and Handgun Essentials for Personal Protection” with 57 comprehensive Chapters about concealed carry and handgun principles, techniques, and tips for both experienced and new shooters.

His reference book is endorsed by several organizations and is available on his website at Contact him at [email protected]

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Trendsetting African American Businessmen

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Dave Proulx

Love the article. Thoughtful and analytical. Back in the 60s, wealthy men in Las Vegas routinely carried S&W .22 mags for personal defense. If you understand Las Vegas in the 60s, you know they had a pretty good idea what they were doing. Your ballistics report validates their choice. As for the single action “limitation”, it’s all a matter of training. If you can handle a gas pedal, brakes and a steering wheel in heavy traffic, a single action is much less complex. Just condition your muscle memory. A similar NAA gun that’s getting my interest is the Pug. Hope… Read more »


I have an NAA Black Widow chambered in .17HMR. I don’t believe it is made in this caliber anymore. It is not equipped with a laser sight, but identical otherwise. What is your opinion of this gun as a BUG? Mine seems very accurate and minimal recoil.


I had a NA mini revolver and stress had. For years I argued that it was a good pocket gun and safe. That is until while removing the cylinder to unload, it went off in my hand. Like all rimfire ammo, there is a higher degree of danger of accidently discharge. To this day, I have no idea what happened because I was doing the exact same thing I had done hundreds of times over the 25 years I own the gun. The only thing I can think may have happened is the ammo was defective. This happened when 22… Read more »


I can see it now, you take the iPad back under warranty and say “hey, this thing is so poorly made it just died after getting hit by a BUG! I want it replaced under warranty.”.


1) Who needs to quickly reload a BUG (aka “Ah, $#1T”) backup? It’s produced in the final stages of a confrontation.
2) Single action under stress? NO WAY! The caliber is deadly, but the action is too slow.

Col Ben

Hi Durabo & thanks for your opinions. Personal preferences matter. The Situation, desired purpose for the gun, your training and practice/familiarity with your gun are all key. If your primary gun malfunctions, any supplemental BUG may help. If there are multiple attackers, any supplemental firepower may help. There could be a lull in the action and time for reloading. Situation matters. The SA with its short & soft press enhances accuracy, but you must thoroughly know your gun and practice with it, especially for very close tactical encounters. Many use SA guns successfully with the proper training and regular practice… Read more »


As Jorge states, it’s better to deploy a .38 SPCL. After all, it’s just a last-resort defensive device. BTW, he writes, “I would like very much to know Colonel Benjamin Findley’s opinion concerning a weapon and caliber that have been glorious until very few years ago, before the appearance of the .45 ACP. I refer to the .38 SPCL. I don’t regard the .22 favorably, even if it’s enhanced with a hollow point and a supposed higher velocity. Also, does the weight of the projectile make a difference, or not?” Estimado Jorge: Le ruego se consiga in traductor, para comunicarse… Read more »

JorgeNorberto Pedace


K. C. Robertson

Just a thought, here: Is there ANY question that you have the right to communicate in any frigging language that you choose? None, nada, geen, barkaghe (phoenetic spelling)! But thats not the question: The point is that some of us aren’t as fluent in Spanish as you (gee, imagine that), and we’d like to know what you have to say; it might just help us.
Soo moenie Y ligt onder jou blik hoe nie. Or: don’t keep your light under a can.
With apologies for spelling; ¡Que tange un buen dia!