The father of some of the largest revolvers on earth also gave birth to a company that today makes some of the smallest wheel guns on the planet.
Formed originally in Salt Lake City around 1971 as the Rocky Mountain Arms Corp, the company that today is North American Arms was founded by a fella named Richard J. Casull, better known as Dick Casull. As in the father of the big ole thumping .454 Casull cartridge.
A gunsmith gifted with both exceptional intellectual ability and creative productivity, Casull was the holder of more than 20 patents including several filed in the 70s for small, single-action revolvers with a floating firing pin and an improved cylinder lock system.
How They Work
These small mini-revolvers were simple, using a 5-round removable cylinder that was held in place by a central knurled cylinder pin. While reloading was slow, requiring the pin and cylinder to be removed from the frame, it is easily accomplished.
Casull’s RAMC was an interesting company, producing both large-frame .454 single-action revolvers alongside .22 rimfire mini-revolvers, with the latter being sold at the time for $69 (in 1971 greenbacks, about $435 today). Rocky Mountain eventually changed their name to North American Arms around 1975 while Casull later went on to found Freedom Arms in Wyoming, with NAA concentrating their efforts on mini-revolvers while the newer FA went on to produce more full-sized guns.
With that being said, FA made their series of mini-revolvers, deemed The Patriot, in the early 1980s. They were much the same and included an innovative belt-buckle-hosted revolver that did not cross into NFA territory as the handgun had to be separated from the buckle to be fired and was not concealed inside of it. They have proved popular in gun culture, showing up everywhere from movies to Donald Trump, Jr.’s IG feed.
For the past 30 years, though, NAA has been *the* player in the mini-revolver game. All their wheel guns are made from stainless steel to some of the highest standards in the firearms industry.
Based today in Provo, Utah, they have expanded their line to dozens of offerings over the years to include a short-lived .17 HMR-chambered revolver, .22 Short, Long Rifle and Magnum guns; and others.
Moving past the standard single-action/pinned cylinder design, NAA has also produced more user-friendly swing-out cylinder guns (the Sidewinder series) and pivoting top-break action revolvers (the Ranger series).
While they aren’t likely to be carried as a duty gun or used in ISSF Free Pistol competitions, mini-revolvers offer a lot of fun as recreational plinkers, snake charmers, coup de grâce guns for sportsmen in the field, or as a deep carry “get off me” piece where larger handguns cannot otherwise be carried.
Further, they are also conversation pieces and I can vouch that they get lots of attention at the range and have enticed more than one interested observer along for the ride to dip their toe into the pool of the shooting sports for the first time.