Bond Arms .45 Colt/ .410 Shotshell Snake Slayer: The Derringer Perfected
by Jeff Quinn – Gunblast.com
photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn
April 20th, 2009
If you have never handled a Bond, forget everything that you know about derringers. For over 150 years, the term “derringer” has been used to describe what most think of as a cheap, light, short, two-barreled last ditch backup gun. Manufacturers in the late nineteenth century jumped on the popularity of Henry Deringer’s small pocket guns, and started cranking out pistols of varying quality to satisfy the market. Ever since, derringers have been available that chambered small caliber cartridges into pistols that were cheap to build and sell. For what they are, these derringers serve their purpose, and certainly can put two reasonably quick shots into an opponent at close range, but are sometimes lacking in quality of materials, manufacture, safety, and power. Some of these pistols will slam-fire, and can also fire if dropped on their hammer. Most on the market today are made from zinc alloys, and work pretty well, but lack the quality and size to chamber powerful big bore cartridges.
Enter Bond Arms, Inc. of Granbury, Texas. The Bond Arms derringers exude quality. Some would call them the “Cadillac” of derringers. I would not. I have owned Cadillacs. Very good automobiles, but they are not up to the quality standards of Bond Arms. The closest that I can relate to the quality of the Bond pistols is the Freedom Arms revolvers. Most revolver shooters are familiar with Freedom Arms. Freedom makes the finest revolvers on the planet, and Bond Arms makes the finest derringers ever built. Ever. Made from machined stainless steel, the Bond is the derringer perfected. The Bond has a rebounding hammer and spring-loaded firing pins, adding greatly to the safety of the design. The hammer is blocked from forward movement unless the trigger is pulled, to prevent the weapon from firing if dropped upon its hammer. In addition, the Bond has a crossbolt safety that effectively blocks the hammer from contact with the firing pins. It is very simple to use, but I prefer to rely upon the rebounding hammer and block, and do not use the crossbolt. To prevent the crossbolt safety from being accidentally pushed into the “on safe” position, a small set screw can be tightened with an Allen wrench, to lock the crossbolt into either the “on safe” or “off safe” positions. To load and fire the Bond, a side lever is pushed downward, releasing the barrels to swing upward for loading. After loading, the barrels are closed, the hammer is manually cocked, and the trigger is pressed backward and slightly downward to fire. The locking block is angled, or cammed, in the design, and self-adjusts to stay tight as the gun wears, much like the lockup on a modern double-barreled shotgun. Come to think of it, the Snake Slayer is a double-barreled shotgun! The trigger pull on the sample gun released cleanly with seven and one-quarter pounds of pressure. This is a good pull on a pistol of this type. It is not too heavy, and not too light. The barrels alternate in firing sequence, without resetting when the action is opened. Most prefer to fire the bottom barrel first, and looking at the block on the hammer that contacts the firing pins, one can determine the sequence of firing. The Snake Slayer has a trigger guard, which is removable if desired, but there are models available without a trigger guard, for those who prefer it that way. I really like the trigger guard. It makes the weapon easier to handle for me, and is not in the way at all. The Bond derringers are available chambered for several different cartridges, and the barrels are interchangeable. The sample pistol wore a set of three and one-half inch .45 Colt/.410 Snake Slayer barrels, but also had spare four and three-sixteenths inch .45 Colt/.410 Snake Slayer IV and .38 Special/.357 Magnum Defender barrels that were shipped to me as well. The chamberings offered by Bond include the following:
45 Colt/.410 Shot Shell, rifled bore
.357 Magnum/.38 Special
.44 WCF (.44-40)
10 mm Auto
9 mm Luger
.32 H & R Magnum
.22 Long Rifle
Changing barrels is the definition of simplicity. Swing open the barrels, and remove the hinge screw with a Allen wrench. Insert the other set of barrels and replace the hinge screw. It takes very little effort and less than a minute to switch barrels. The extractor is built into the barrels, so no change is necessary for that part. The extractor is spring-loaded, and works to extract any of the rimmed cartridges automatically, lifting them slightly as the barrels are swung open. While several cartridge options are available, the bread and butter of the Bond line is their .45 Colt/.410 shotshell versions, such as the Snake Slayer shown here. The versatility of that combination is outstanding, allowing the pistol to chamber a variety of .45 Colt ammunition, and either two and one-half or three inch .410 shotshells, including birdshot, buckshot, and slugs. The three inch buckshot load usually contains five pellets of either 00 or 000 size, and at close range, is devastating on flesh. The pattern spreads pretty quickly, but at typical fighting distances, the buckshot is a very good choice. At contact distances typical in a gunfight, even birdshot is an excellent choice. While called the Snake Slayer, this handgun would be an ideal defense against a carjacker. Carried in the Bond Driving holster, it is quick into action, and a face-full of number six birdshot will repel any attacker, leaving him either dead or worse, blind for the rest of his life. Taurus is selling all of “The Judge” .45/.410 revolvers that they can make, but the Bond double barrel is much more compact than even the lightweight Judge, and fires the full-length three inch shotshell. The lightweight Judge is only offered in the two and one-half inch version. You have to go with the much-heavier steel Judge to get the three inch chamber. It is neither as light nor as compact as the Snake Slayer. While the Judge offers three more shots without reloading, the two in the Snake Slayer are plenty for any snake, and should suffice for close range defense from human predators as well. I like the Judge, but for a packing gun, I greatly prefer the Bond. The three and one-half inch barreled Snake Slayer weighed in at 21.8 ounces on my scale, and has an overall length of only five and one-half inches. It is a true pocket pistol, laying pretty flat, but I prefer to carry in the driving holster.
Shooting the Bond Snake Slayer was a pleasure. Recoil, with even the stoutest .410 shot loads was easy to control, thanks to the excellent design of the grip. Having that extra length to accommodate the little finger makes a world of difference, as does the trigger guard in helping to control the pistol. The recoil of the .45 Colt ammunition varied from mild to heavy, depending of course upon the load chosen. However, while shooting .45 Colt ammo from the Snake Slayer is a good option, I prefer to think of this thing as close range protection from poisonous snakes and two-legged vipers, and in that capacity, the .410 birdshot and buckshot excels. Shot patterns at close range with .410 birdshot were superior to any centerfire handgun shot cartridges that I have ever used. While the bores are rifled on the Snake Slayer, the shot load did not exhibit a donut pattern, and as can be seen in the picture, a snake would have no chance of squirming through that shot pattern, and neither would an attacker in a close range fight.
The Bond Arms Snake Slayer is a very unique weapon, like nothing else on the market. It is a specialized weapon, ideally suited for carry in poisonous snake country, and an excellent choice for a handgun to carry while driving an automobile. It is compact, relatively lightweight for the power that it packs, and built with pride by American craftsmen in the state of Texas. It is a good weapon, and I highly recommend it.
Check out the entire line of Bond Arms firearms and accessories online at www.bondarms.com.
For the location of a Bond Arms dealer near you, click here.