By Jim and Mary Clary
The Clarys give us their thoughts on the Bond Arms Snake Slayer Pistol, including shooting it with some SIG Sauer Elite Performance Ammo.
That being said, we want to point out that even though the Bond gun would be classified as a derringer by some folks, we also prefer the name “Hand Cannon”. The Bond Arms Snake Slayer is chambered for .45 Colt (sometimes referred to as the .45 Long Colt) and .410 shot shell.
The Bond frame is machined from a solid block of high grade stainless steel, unlike the really cheap double-barrel pistols on the market whose frames are made from alloys of unknown origin. Secondly, the Bond Bond Arms Snake Slayer is unique in that the barrels are interchangeable. You have a choice of 36 different barrels and 14 different calibers.
You read correctly, one frame and you can fit barrels with 14 different calibers to it, depending upon your circumstances, the conditions that you will use the gun and your personal preferences. That characteristic, in and of itself, is enough for most folks to consider buying this pistol.
The Bond Arms Snake Slayer pistol is CAD designed for optimum configuration. However, more importantly, the frames and barrels are machined using Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) equipment. This allows them to maintain tolerances of 0.001 of an inch. That is what allows the Bond Arms Snake Slayer pistol to accept different barrels for various cartridges without custom-fitting by a gunsmith. Changing barrels requires only a 1/8″ Allen wrench. The patented locking lever (which is also the rapid reloading lever) precisely locks the barrel to the frame for a perfect fit. To our knowledge, this is the only derringer on the market with the capability of changing barrels and calibers without a gunsmith being involved.
They added a lot of extra features to this gun, not found on other pocket pistols. For example, there is a stainless steel crossbolt safety, a hammer that rebounds to a blocked position off of the firing pin and a key entry internal Safety Locking Device (SLD) which is an effective child safety device.
You don't incorporate these features into a firearm unless your aim is to produce the best on the market. AND, in our opinion, Bond Arms have succeeded in that goal.
With all of the above features, there are even more. The chambers are honed to provide for a smooth extraction of spent cases and for rimless cartridges such as the 9mm Luger and .45 ACP, there is a cutout at the breech end of the barrel to permit their removal with a fingernail.
And, before we forget, the trigger guard is removable for those who want a more “conventional” look. We prefer the guard as it makes it easier to hold and fire the gun with both hands.
The only major questions that remain are: How does the Bond Arms Snake Slayer shoot & is the recoil manageable?
With that in mind, we headed to the Zia Rifle and Pistol Club outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico, with several boxes of SIG SAUER Elite Ammunition. SIG was kind enough to provide us with both .45 Colt and .38 Spl. (our second barrel) for our tests. We are appreciative of that, because if you are going to test a firearm for accuracy, you do not want to use anything except high quality ammunition. Our previous tests of the SIG Elite Ammunition confirmed that it is as good as it gets.
We set our targets up at 15 yards. Given the short barrel of the Snake Slayer, it is unlikely that we would ever need to shoot it at more than 15 yards. We used the Caldwell Tack Driver Shooting Rest for stability. Our targets were Hoppe's Bullseye Pistol Targets. We fired multiple five shot groups for record.
SIG Sauer Elite Performance .45 Colt, 230 grain V-Crown @ 850 fps (JHP) at 15 yards:
- Smallest group: 1.75″
- Largest group: 4.25″
- Mean average group size: 2.25″
SIG Sauer Elite Performance .38 Spl., 125 grain V-Crown @ 965 fps (JHP) at 15 yards:
- Smallest group: 1.50″
- Largest group: 3.75″
- Mean average group size: 2.00″
In case you are wondering, We were not the ones who shot for accuracy. We enlisted the assistance of Dr. Donny MacDougall, DVM, who is a champion shooter in the CMSA venues. We determined that if there was anyone who could “do justice” to the accuracy potential of the Snake Slayer, it would be Dr. Donny. And, we were right. As you can see from the results above, the Bond Arms Snake Slayer is a pretty good shooting little gun. The recoil from the .45 Long Colt is quite stout. It is definitely not a caliber that you would want to shoot for fun in a pocket pistol. However, changing to the .38 Spl barrel, the Bond Arms Snake Slayer became a fun gun to shoot (and lethal). It is not a target pistol, but still capable of respectable groups.
The Snake Slayer has a pretty “heavy” trigger, averaging 6 lbs. You can blame that on the litigious liberals out there who will sue firearms companies at the “drop of a hat“. Companies who put out guns with “light” triggers are their favorite targets.
Bond Arms suggests the following as the preferred manner to fire their guns and remain on target:
- With the hammer in the full cock position, grasp the grip with your shooting hand making sure that your hand is not touching the cocked hammer. Any amount of pressure applied to the cocked hammer by your hand will increase the trigger pull substantially.
- Make contact with the trigger using the pad of your trigger finger. Avoid pulling the trigger with the bend of your first knuckle.
- Pull the trigger down, instead of straight back. That solves the “heavy trigger problem” for most folks (including us).
All in all, this is a very nice gun for concealed carry. That being said, one still needs to consider a holster that will fit this uniquely designed piece. We bought each of the following Bond holsters:
“In the Waistband Holster, #BAJ: This holster comes with a stout metal belt clip and is made for concealed carry in the small of your back, cross draw or with a strong hand presentation.”
“Western Holster, #BWB: This is the Bond premium leather Western Holster. It comes with a hammer spur strap and belt loops for belts up to 1 1/2″ width and two bullet loops for either .357/.38 or .45/.410.”
These holsters are made in Texas from high quality leather materials. The BAJ costs $62 while the BWB runs $73. not cheap but quality rarely is.
The specifications of the Bond Arms Snake Slayer are:
- Calibers: .45 Long Colt / .410 or .38 Spl. / .357 Magnum
- Overall length: 5.5″
- Barrel length: 3.5″
- Sights: Front blade & Fixed rear
- Weight: 22 oz.
- Grips: Extended Rosewood
- Origin: Granbury, Texas
What you get with a Bond Arms Snake Slayer is a handmade firearm with a Lifetime Warranty. The MSRP of the Snake Slayer is $568. (less online) Given the fact that your initial Bond gun can be configured for multiple calibers and different barrel lengths, that is a good deal. However, a word of warning: After you buy one, you will definitely want to buy a second, or at least several additional barrels…. They Are That Good. In the following picture, Gordon Bond is holding what will be our next acquisition, the Bond Texan with a 6″ barrel in .45 Colt / .410 calibers.
Author's note: Regular jacketed ammunition, FMJ or JHP, shot very well in the Snake Slayer. However, we DO NOT recommend shooting any of the new copper-polymer matrix bullets. Matrix bullets are too light (with too high a velocity) to stabilize in a short barreled derringer. They tumble and will “print” a keyhole on the target, if you manage to even hit it. While these bullets perform very well in most semi-automatic pistols and revolvers, they are just not good for derringers.
About Jim and Mary Clary:
Jim and Mary Clary have co-authored over three hundred and fifty articles, (and counting) on shooting and hunting. You can read many of them on AmmoLand News.