Some guns just scream out, “BUY ME!” And I have to say, over about $300, I can resist the urge (well mostly). Under $200, not so much, but these days there are very few guns even close to that price range. Derringers have always had a particular BUY ME appeal for me. A Davis derringer was my first daily carry gun, and it is tough to walk into a gunshop these days without running into at least one Cobra brand derringer. They are generally well under $200, though I see them online a lot for upwards of $250 in custom finishes. Do they work? Do they keep working? Are they safe to carry? In generally, my answer to those questions is yes, but watch the video, because I did find some unexpected hiccups in one of the guns.
I feel like the derringer option is outside of most concealed carry discussions. This is of course GunsAmerica, so most of you will prioritize your carry budget higher than Cobra derringer. The point of this article is for when a friend who works at Starbucks asks you how cheap they can carry. Do you answer $300-$500 for a Taurus revolver? $250 for a Kel-Tec? Or do you answer just over $100 for a Cobra derringer? Here is a pretty good list of pros and cons, starting with the cons lol.
- There is not much barrel at all beyond the cartridge, so though I didn’t chronograph this gun at all, I’m sure there is a significant hit on velocity.
- What barrel exists has very shallow rifling, so the bullet is prone to tumble.
- Derringers never hit to point of aim, so beyond a face to face encounter, you are required to **not aim** at your target by a great deal (see the video).
- You have only two rounds.
- Each has to be cocked.
- Reloads are cumbersome, almost irrelevant.
- It’s a cheap gun, so even the best ones can be buggy, and will eventually break.
- A Cobra derringer is about as cheap as you can get into concealed carry with a gun that reliably works.
- You are buying a new gun, not an old gun that is probably someone else’s problem gun.
- They don’t pull down your pants wearing shorts.
- If you carry the gun in half-cock like I showed in the video, in some ways having to cock the gun is a plus. You are not so far away from firing that you have to rack a slide, but you don’t have to be as aware of trigger protection or a manual safety as you would with a gun that is 100% read to fire.
- If my kid dumps a bucket of sandy, salt water on it at the beach, I’m not going to feel like my daily carry gun is eroding out from under me no matter how well I clean it.
- For me the Cobra derringer points and fires naturally. I can shoot it quickly with one hand as well as slowly with two hands.
For those of you in the choir here, if you don’t already own a Cobra derringer, I’m sure you have considered one. They really do scream out BUY ME, even if purely from a historical curiosity. There are real, robust personal carry options in a derringer, from Bond Arms these days, but those cost as much as a real gun. My personal carry gun is the original Springfield XD-S in .45 ACP, post factory recall mod. For many years I carried a S&W revolver, and I’ve also carried a Para-Ordnance P-10, a Beretta PX4 Subcompact, and for a while after Hurricane Wilma I tried a full time belt gun in a full sized Para P-14 LDA.
But I said in the video, my first long term daily carry gun was a Davis derringer in .32ACP, which is the same gun as the Cobra. If I remember, Cobra originally bought the toolworks of the Davis company, though I have no idea whether the guns are made on that same equipment today. More importantly, as I explained in the video, there is a lifetime warranty on Cobra firearms. If you ask your local gun dealer candidly how many of them come back, they will tell you that a certain percentage have issues. In my experience, most of those issues are from repeated dry firing, and you don’t want to dry fire these guns *AT ALL* because it work hardens the firing pin. That is double true for the rimfires, any rimfire for that matter.
One of the two guns I purchased had occasional failures to fire. It was the rimfire, and in my experience, it is almost always the rimfire that will give you trouble first. In a Cobra derringer, I would stick to the centerfire options. I can hit a pie plate reliably at across the bedroom distances with the .38 you see here, even though I have to aim a foot plus low. Oh well. That’s a cheap gun. Just remember the Cobra derringer option when your friend who works at Starbucks asks how cheap they can get into concealed carry. And don’t be afraid to buy one for yourself. I’m in Key West this weekend, and my XD-S pulls down my shorts, so guess what’s in my pocket?