Bond Arms Snake Slayer Pistol ~ Gun Review & Range Test

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.

The Bond Arms Snake Slayer is chambered for .45 Colt (sometimes referred to as the .45 Long Colt) and .410 shot shell.
The Bond Arms Snake Slayer is chambered for .45 Colt (sometimes referred to as the .45 Long Colt) and .410 shot shell.
AmmoLand Gun News
AmmoLand Gun News

USA –  -( We are obviously not talking about James Bond's Walther PPK, but Gordon Bond's “Hand Cannon” that has more power and stopping power than the former.

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.

Bond Arms Snake Slayer Pistol

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 s unique in that the barrels are interchangeable. You have a choice of 36 different barrels and 14 different calibers.
The Bond Arms Snake Slayer is unique in that the barrels are interchangeable.

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.

Dr. Donny MacDougall
Dr. Donny MacDougall

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.”

Bond Arms Snake Slayer shown in the Waistband Holster, #BAJ
Bond Arms Snake Slayer shown in the Waistband Holster, #BAJ

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.”

Bond Arms Snake Slayer in a Western Holster, #BWB
Bond Arms Snake Slayer in a Western Holster, #BWB

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.

Doc, Gordon Bond and Mary at the 2017 SHOT Show
Doc, Gordon Bond and Mary at the 2017 SHOT Show

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.

  • 19 thoughts on “Bond Arms Snake Slayer Pistol ~ Gun Review & Range Test

    1. I have a .410 hand cannon. It can take a car door off. The recoil will rub your hand raw. Switch out the barrel and use another caliber shot shells. Good stopping power. Even .22 LR shot shell can do some serious damage to an attacker.

    2. i have a Snake Slayer 4 and I am having problems with my wooden gripes cracking behind the hammer on both sides of the gripe with less than 50 rounds on each set of gripes. The original, then the jumbo rosewood and then back to the original style again. All three have cracked in the same place. Bond Arms tells me it doesn’t happen very much and have stood behind all of them. I like the original gripe but I don’t like the constant cracks coming back. I don’t like the looks of the rubber and don’t want to have to change to the rubber every time I want to shoot. Mostly 9 mm being used because the 45/410 is very unpleasant to shoot. Are others having the same problem? I repeat Bond Arms have been great to work with and as they are going to replace the ones that are cracked now I need to make up my mind what to go with. Thank you in advance for any help. Jim

      1. regardless of appearance, i recommend to only use rubbber grips: large size for “4” calibers, small size for others. the most unpleasant calibers to shoot are 45acp and 357, regardless of grips. too bad because i really want to like 45acp. i have barrels in 410/45lc, 45lc, 45acp, 357/38, 9mm, 380acp, 22lr. i found some relatively cheap 45 schofield ammo online that is a resonably soft replacement for 45lc, which itself actually isn’t that bad. i recommend to only use handgun specific 410 ammo, long gun 410 ammo is unpleasant when shot out of a bond arms derringer. i especially like a bond arms derringer without a trigger guard for handy winter ccw when im wearing gloves.

    3. I have the Bond Backup in caliber .45 ACP. Grip it as described above and the recoil is very manageable. Pay close attention to the trigger pull downwards; if pulled straight back — well, it won’t work. It’s not a muscle memory issue, because the entire hand grip is adapted to the unique form of the derringer.

    4. I use my Snake Slayer for a CCW. It pocket-carries well in a soft Remora Holster. I bought a .38/.357 barrel for it, in 2016. I was disappointed in the first one, as the machining lacked a good finish quality, shot inaccurately, and stuck a few cases. I had very good customer service, and Bond’s girl quickly sent a replacement. That new barrel is everything I wanted! The trigger has been heavy since I got the gun about five years ago. Out practicing with the new barrel, the trigger became very difficult, just as Danny described. I went home and did a complete tear-down, for cleaning. It had a lot of grit, and pocket lint, that was seriously impeding operation. It now shoots better than it ever did before. I’d describe this gun as “different”. It shoots and operates differently, but I always feel comfortable with its overall capability. Using .410 in 000 Buck, accurately placed, makes this an excellent defensive piece.

    5. Gordon Bond<

      I have two .45 ACP Backups. The only thing lacking is a Laser Light or similar laser sighting device.

      I will be first in line to buy one; other will be directly behind me.

      Your reply, positive or negative would be courteously received.

      1. I called Bond Arms with the same question. They couldn’t tell me if any laser sights fit any of their Hand Cannons.
        I would be the person lined up behind you to buy it. Perhaps we can find one at the Atlanta NRA show?

      1. They have two specific models that can be sold in CA.
        The compliant barrel cannot be swapped, nor can it have the shot shell chambered.
        Check their web site for details.

    6. I have an older Snake Slayer, which I LOVE! It has a beautiful polished finish. I wouldn’t buy one with the ugly finish they are now using.

    7. I had one of these bond snake slayers. It was clear it was well made.BUT the trigger was so stiff it was unusable at times. The one time I was faced with a rattler I was unable to fire it. We latter put it on a trigger gauge and the pull was more than the gauge could measure.. I sold it of and went back to carrying my S&W model 60 with cci birdshot for snakes. I would point out I spent 15 years as a police firearms instuctor and never seen a gun with this bad of a trigger pull.

      1. If you have the opportunity to fire another Bond, or try one in a store, note that as stated in the article above that you do more of a pull-down with the trigger. It is a bit unusual but makes a huge difference in the felt pull weight.

    8. I’ve had mine for a few years now. I’ve fired it once. Stout? Yeah, I’d say it fires real stout. A little painful but I love this little pistol.

    9. I’ve had mine for several years. While guiding WY antelope hunters in Oct, several rattle snakes didn’t survive. Great vehicle piece in horizontal cross draw holster. New ammo is far better than #6 shot!
      Highest quality, great AMERICAN company.

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