Bond Arms Derringer Handgun Review

By Mike Searson

Bond Arms Derringer
Bond Arms Cowboy Derringer

USA – -( Sometimes in the Gun Culture we come across a gun that seems to serve no real purpose, only to find out later we were totally wrong with our initial assessment.

Such is the case with the Bond Arms Derringer “cowboy”.

Derringers have been popular for over 150 years due to their small size. Unfortunately, most models are cheap and made out of questionable materials.

Additionally, their manual of arms is not the most intuitive and the extremely short barrels make their ammunition less effective.

Bond Arms, Inc., of Granbury, Texas ( ) , set out to change those perceptions by machining their derringers out of high-quality stainless steel. They went further by adding unique and modern safety features and pushed the envelope further by using a system of interchangeable barrels, not unlike those of the Thompson Center Arms Contender and Encore.

Shooters have the option of running everything from 22 long rifle through 45 Colt or even 410 Shotshells through their derringers.

We opted for the Cowboy Model with Ivory grips in 45/410 as it showed up in a consignment case in a local gun shop at the right price.

Bond Arms Derringer Handgun ~ The Good

On looks alone, the Bond Arms Cowboy Derringer is a winner. The bright stainless steel resembles an old-time nickel finish and it is perfectly accented by either the factory rosewood or bonded ivory grips.

A cross-bolt safety improves greatly upon the original design and makes this a safe pistol to carry.

The sights are simple, yet big, allowing for a good sight picture, but frankly, this is meant as a point-and-shoot defensive pistol. The Bond Arms Cowboy is big for a derringer, but it actually conceals quite well due to its profile.

Bond Arms offers interchangeable Gun Barrels in different calibers.
Bond Arms offers interchangeable Gun Barrels in different calibers.

The Bad

The Bond Arms Cowboy Derringer is a true heavyweight. In this size and weight category, a shooter can do better with an S&W J-Frame or one of the various single stack 9mm pistols like the new Glock 43 Handgun. Plus these other types of handguns provide more than the limited 2-round capacity of the derringer.

Reloading is slow, but an improvement over the earlier derringers, flip the lever, tip the barrels, dump the empties, slide two live rounds into place, lock it back up, point the derringer, cock the hammer and squeeze the trigger. Repeat.

To keep the styling in that of the trappings of the 19th century, the Bond Arms Cowboy Derringer has no trigger guard. Other models, like the identical Texas Defender, that the company makes incorporate a trigger guard, which is a must if the shooter wants to safely carry this on a daily basis.

The Reality

Bond Arms Additional Gun Barrels
The Bond Arms bright stainless steel resembles an old time nickel finish.

Picking up the Bond Arms Cowboy Derringer nearly five years ago was really an impulse buy for the cool factor of having a 45/410 derringer. The weight actually dampens the recoil of the 45 Colts or 410 shotgun shells. Its weight and slow manual of arms usually mean it’s relegated to backup gun duty on very rare occasions.

The niche it is ideal for is the shooter who wants a classic derringer that is a shootable, safe, and can convert calibers with a few turns of an Allen wrench.

The author lives in rattler country and finds it easier to avoid them rather than killing them, unless there are small children or dogs and cats around. The Bond Arms Cowboy Derringer is suitable for this role, too.

Despite the Bond Arms Cowboy Derringer being an extremely well-made and robust handgun, in good faith, we cannot recommend this for consideration as a CCW piece. The size, weight, manual of arms, and ballistics all come into play here. It can be handy to have while hiking and prove useful against feral dogs, coyotes, snakes, rats, etc., and maybe even a single human attacker.

Against more than one assailant, you are better served with a compact semiautomatic or revolver.

Bond Arms Cowboy Derringer
Bond Arms Cowboy Derringer

About Mike Searson

Mike Searson’s career as a shooter began as a Marine Rifleman at age 17. He has worked in the firearms industry his entire adult life as a Gunsmith, Ballistician, Consultant, Salesman, Author and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1989.

Mike has written over 2000 articles for a number of magazines, websites, and newsletters including Blade, RECOIL, OFF-GRID, Tactical Officer, SWAT, Tactical World, Gun Digest,, and the US Concealed Carry Association as well as AmmoLand Shooting Sports News.

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All in all a fair article. I own both a Cowboy and Texas Defender with 22lr, 9mm, 38/357, and 45/410 barrels and have carried it CCW in a pocket holster. It is very safe to carry with or without the trigger guard because to make it fire I must hit that crossbolt safety off AND pull the hammer back before the trigger will do anything productive. The Federal buckshot in a 3 inch shell offers four projectiles that are each about 38sp sized and that should be enough to get out of a jam. True, you can only shoot twice… Read more »


Derringers were designed and intended as a hide-out, back up gun. Not intended as a primary. I’ve owned derringers off and on for many years. usually as a “taking out the trash” gun around the house. I’m giving some serious thought of stepping up to a Bond ARMS in 9mm.


I’ve always wanted a gun like this, but then I look at my Ruger LCP II and realize I can’t justify spending the money.

Dr. Strangelove

I’ve always wanted one because of the “cool factor,” but I already have a couple of safe queens like a Tokarev and Police Positive.


I’ve got an American Derringer 9mm. Never carried it though, I saw it at a gun show and was like; “gimme, gimme, gimme!”

It’s 50lb trigger pull guarantees you’ll never accidently shoot it. Probably never intentionally shoot it either.




No. It can’t.


If that is a feature you desire, might I suggest a Sig P-320?



Mine, and I assume all, uses a transfer bar to transmit the hammer impact to the primer which stays out of contact until the trigger pushes it to rise to the spot.

Last edited 1 year ago by 75FXE

Seems as a backup for snakes and critters when you’re outdoors and your PD sidearm is inappropriate is about perfect, or in a console holster for when you need someone to get off your car “Now.” and can’t easily access your carry piece. For pure self-defense use, there’s better guns out there but it seems very well suited to these niche uses.


I’ve had a .45/.410 for many years, but a 4″ barrel, not the standard 3″. This allows for longer shot shells. As far as handling, I also have a Ruger .357 SP101, the weights and kick are very similar. I often carry both or a similarly sized semi pocket pistol. My preference for my Bond is that it is an excellent response to a carjack or other up close scenario WITHOUT the danger of a missed shot nailing the innocent bystander a few blocks away.

WI Patriot

Love my Bond Arms .357…


I have three and most of the different barrels, main carry’s are 357, 9mm, or 45, I have a 22 barrel for practice, which helps work on tough trigger pull, it does work. The only problem is the kick back when shooting the 410, that is a choice of who wants to brutalize them self firing them!


As I understand it, Bond Arms makes good stuff. Unfortunately, the excessive size and weight of their existing line of derringers renders them basically useless for the traditional role of a derringer, IMHO. Compact and light they are not. As noted in the article, a J-frame or small semi-auto can provide greater firepower and quicker reloads. Over a year ago, Bond was touting a prototype 9mm, compact and lightweight model that was supposed to be available by late Spring of 2020, then Fall. Last I heard from them, it was supposed to have been available by early Summer, this year,… Read more »

Last edited 1 year ago by Grigori

I’ve been considering one for some of the same reason noted and yes even for CCW. It is true a smaller lighter 9mm with 6 rounds might seem better, but then often with those small handguns you may not hit the target in a stressful situation. A 410 -,000 buckshot will most likely not miss and will do some damage. You mention multiple assaliants, that means you get 3 shots with your nine, are you certain they will hit the mark? I have read may reviews on these and some from LE. who carry them as a backup because they… Read more »

kenneth l manion jr

I would like to know more about your company