The Tiny Pocket-Sized North American Arms Zebra Killer

This nutjob is crazy as a fruit bat. However, his exploits captivated America through long months of social isolation.

Joe Exotic is all the rage these days. His Netflix biopic Tiger King apparently got the entire planet through its recent COVID-driven isolation. I watched a bit of it. That guy was the chemical formula for crazy.

These guys aren’t staples at your local neighborhood PetSmart, but a fair number of Americans do maintain animals, some of them unusual, just for the heck of it.

Collecting and maintaining exotic animals isn’t as rare as you might think, particularly in locales with a little space. It’s not like every other home on the cul-de-sac has a rhinoceros in the backyard, but a surprising number of folks blessed with the room do maintain a modest menagerie just for the heck of it.

These guys look pretty, but they sound like you ran over the horn section of your local marching band with a dump truck.

Peacocks were once a sign of means. They are undeniably attractive birds, but have you ever heard one squawk?  I’d make it a week before I put that thing on the dinner table. However, in my travels I have seen wallabies, camels, and a smattering of African hoofed stock traipsing about rural American pastures. A great friend I met in my medical clinic recently related a most fascinating tale from several decades ago.

Failure to Play Well with Others Always Carries Consequences

Zebras are undeniably beautiful animals.

My buddy grew up on a rural farm out West, and his father maintained an expansive pasture liberally populated with weird exotic animals. The man just enjoyed the novelty of cultivating his own miniature African savannah. His mini zoo included gazelles, kangaroos, some odd African deer, and a smattering of zebras.

Some of God’s creatures just have a sour attitude. A friend’s big male zebra fell into that category.

These creatures were ungulates all, so it wasn’t like they would eat each other. However, creation is indeed an undeniably fallen thing. That meant that the larger, more capable beasts tended to pick on the smaller sort. Among none of these disparate residents was this a greater problem than with a certain newcomer, a big buck zebra. He had a chip on his shoulder and the bulk to make it stick.

Collecting zebras is almost as expensive as collecting transferable machineguns. Figuring in ammo costs makes maintaining each likely comparably spendy.

Google tells me that an adult plains zebra will cost between $3000 and $7000 nowadays. Other species are endangered and therefore illegal to own. My buddy tells me his dad’s big buck zebra set him back several grand even back in the day.

This one big buck zebra was an inveterate grouch.

One fine afternoon my buddy and his dad were sitting in rocking chairs on their front porch enjoying a proper chat. Their weird animals cavorted in the front pasture providing a pastoral backdrop to a proper visit. Suddenly and unprovoked the big zebra tipped up to one of his dad’s odd African deer and bit him on the head, dropping the poor little guy like a sack of cement.

The North American Arms .22 Short micro-revolver is just adorable. Not much bigger than my thumb, this is the gun you can always have on you.

Nobody likes a bully, and my buddy’s dad immediately lost his patience. Leaping to his feet and fishing about in his front right pocket the man produced a North American Arms micro revolver chambered in .22 Short. These adorable little stainless steel pistols look like they were scaled for your kids’ action figures. However, their compact dimensions mean that these tiny little wheelguns are the firearms that you can always have available. If you’re wearing clothes and own an NAA pistol you have no excuse for not being armed.

The big zebra’s antisocial behavior prompted a warning shot above the pasture.

The man shouted at the offending creature and loosed a single diminutive .22 Short round over the top of the pasture to get his attention. The zebra indeed leapt back from the now terminally injured deer and wandered off to pick on something else small and helpless. My friend’s dad grumbled a bit, ensured his gun was safe and replaced it in his pocket. The rest of the conversation was dominated by what a jerk the new zebra was.

A short while later the bullying zebra just dropped dead.

A couple of days later the zebra fell over dead. My pal says he had seemed in no particular distress until the moment he shuffled off his mortal coil. One minute he was standing in the pasture peacefully behaving in the manner of a typical zebra. The next moment he was demised. A cursory examination revealed nothing amiss, so the local veterinarian was summoned.

Don’t let the diminutive dimensions fool you, this tiny little wheelgun remains quite lethal.

A necropsy by the animal sawbones revealed a single small-caliber bullet wound to the creature’s flank. Apparently, amidst his fit of justifiable anger, the wizened farmer had inadvertently popped the beast in the belly with his tiny little pistol at a surprisingly long range. Seventy-two hours later the zebra was no more.

Here we see any number of popular cartridges arrayed alongside the diminutive .22 Short on the far left. Feel free to name them all in the comments. Extra credit if you can specify the particular loads.

Many folks might inquire as to the practical utility of such an underpowered and anemic little defensive gun. There are indeed literally countless other options that are more reliable man stoppers. However, I have it on reliable information that, in the right hands and aggressively wielded, one can successfully hunt African big game with these tiny little rascals.

The Gun

North American Arms built its business on these cool little stainless steel single action revolvers.

The North American Arms company evolved out of North American Manufacturing. North American Manufacturing had itself been Rocky Mountain Arms back when it was founded in 1972.

The .22 Short NAA revolver is ridiculously small. It is shown here alongside a Magnum Research .44 Magnum Desert Eagle.

Today’s North American Arms is a most personable mob. Sandy Chisolm is the CEO and a regular feature at his company’s booth at the SHOT show. Sandy and his crew are invariably good for some spirited conversation.

The trim little North American Arms Guardian semiautomatic pistol is designed for deep concealed carry.

The current NAA lineup includes an array for stainless steel pocket autoloaders called the Guardian series. These trim little concealed carry guns come chambered in .32ACP as well as .380ACP along with a couple of odd little wildcat rounds.

These little proprietary necked-down cartridges are just cute as a button.

The .25NAA is a .25ACP bullet mounted atop a necked-down .32ACP case. The .32NAA is a .32-caliber projectile pushed from a modified .380ACP case. These two adorable little loadings are nothing if not unique. NAA’s real forte, however, is their expansive line of single action .22-caliber revolvers.

North American Arms produces their little revolvers in a bewildering array of configurations. This version uses interchangeable cylinders to run either .22LR or .22 Win Mag.

NAA produces versions of their classic guns with swing-out cylinders and tip-up barrels. However, most of their guns utilize a five-shot removable cylinder. All of their pistols are cut from high-grade stainless steel.

To load these guns you remove the cylinder pivot pin, disassemble the gun, and fill or empty the cylinder. This procedure is not hard but it will not be done in haste.

A typical NAA revolver features a removable cylinder pin that can also be used to punch out empty cases once it is separated from the gun. Loading and unloading will not be done in a rush, but this is not the gun you will use to win an IPSC match. NAA revolvers are the weapons you use when your more serious iron is either empty, broken, or left behind in the gun box back home. Under those rarefied circumstances, an NAA miniature wheelgun could be the final line of defense between you and some Very Bad Things.

Believe it or not, both of these guns are pistols in the eyes of the government. The SIG Rattler in .300AAC dwarfs this NAA micro revolver.

The manual of arms is completely straightforward. Modern NAA guns include safety notches between each chamber, so the gun can be safely carried with a full cylinder even loose in a pocket. To run the gun simply point it at something you dislike, thumb back the hammer, and squeeze. These guns technically have fixed sights, but you’ll likely never use them for real.

These guns have sights, but you probably won’t use them. This .22 Short version is shown alongside a 7.62mm tracer bullet.

My .22 Short version is as cute as a beagle puppy and about as useful. I own one simply for the novelty of the thing. The larger brother in .22 Magnum, however, is a serious social tool.

My .22 Win Mag NAA revolver includes a pivoting pistol grip that folds forward to shield the trigger when in carry mode.

My gun has a pivoting grip that folds up to cover the trigger when stowed. Deploying the gun for action takes mere moments and is intuitive. Once unfolded the grip gives you ample purchase to run the gun safely and well.

Deploying the gun for action can be easily managed quickly and one-handed. Winchester PDX-1 loads make the .22 Win Mag particularly nasty.

I keep mine loaded with Winchester PDX-1 .22 Magnum loads. These high-tech expanding hollowpoint rounds produce some of the most hideous-looking star-shaped projectiles in ballistic gel. Five of these rascals might not drop my buddy’s zebra amidst a proper charge, but it would certainly give an evil-doer pause were he to face one with malicious intent.

There is a veritable cornucopia of cool-guy stuff designed for these little guns. The .22 Win Mag version on the bottom has a laser sight built into the grip.

Scads of options, accessories, and sundry widgets make these good guns great. There is even a version that fires balls using black powder and percussion caps that ships straight to your door without the hassle of an FFL. I have wandered about where the Wild Things roam with my trusty .22 Win Mag mini-revolver in my front right pocket and never felt like a victim.

Your Constant Companion

A bad dog can be an intimidating opponent at close quarters.

Our hero a different day at the clinic was a house painter and a regular patient. He had been working on a local gentleman’s front porch when around the corner charged the homeowner’s hound in a state of remarkable agitation. Dogs are by their nature territorial, and this one was mightily perturbed at the presence of someone not of his tribe. The canine took hold of the painter’s hand and shook it with great vigor.

An enthusiastic dog can do a serious job on a human hand in a shockingly short period of time. That’s going to need some attention.

Before things got totally out of control the homeowner appeared and restrained the beast. My buddy’s hand, however, was by that time in dire need of attention. An hour later the man sat reclined in the treatment room at my clinic as I prepared to restore his appendage to working order. As I got down to business he related the tale of the afternoon’s excitement.

The NAA revolver is absolutely tiny and all but weightless. It can be your backup or the backup to your backup. So long as you are wearing clothes you can tote this gun painlessly. This folding grip also includes a built-in pocket clip.

He fished about in his front pocket with his good hand and retrieved a shopworn NAA .22 revolver. He showed me the gun and explained that he had been mere moments away from using it on the excessively-territorial canine. Fortunately the dog’s owner defused the situation in time. Thank goodness the malevolent creature was not a zebra.

We don’t typically imagine the zebra to be a particularly aggressive dangerous animal. However, when properly tooled up they can indeed be formidable.

For more information visit North American Arms website.

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About the author: Will Dabbs was born and raised in the Mississippi Delta, having been immersed in hunting and the outdoors since his earliest recollections. He holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Mississippi and is the product of a traditional American nuclear family. Where most normal American kids get drunk to celebrate their 21st birthday, Will bought his first two machineguns. Will served eight years as an Army Aviator and accumulated more than 1,100 flight hours piloting CH47D, UH1H, OH58A/C, and AH1S helicopters. He is scuba qualified, has parachuted out of perfectly good airplanes at 3 o’clock in the morning, and has summited Mt. McKinley, Alaska–the highest point in North America–six times (at the controls of a helicopter, which is the only way sensible folk climb mountains). For reasons that seemed sagacious at the time he ultimately left the Army as a Major to pursue medical school. Dr. Dabbs has for the last dozen years owned the Urgent Care Clinic of Oxford, Mississippi. He also serves as the plant physician for the sprawling Winchester ammunition plant in that same delightful little Southern town. Will is a founding partner of Advanced Tactical Ordnance LLC, a licensed 07/02 firearms manufacturer and has written for the gun press for a quarter century. He writes solely to support a shooting habit that is as insensate as it is insatiable. Will has been married to his high school sweetheart for more than thirty years and has taught his Young Married Sunday School class for more than a decade. He and his wife currently have three adult children and a most thoroughly worthless farm dog named Dog.

{ 16 comments… add one }
  • Don October 19, 2020, 8:07 pm

    I own three NAAs, and I’m a little surprised no one mentioned the Ranger II top-break. After reading a review of it, I waited about a year before i finally saw one for sale. Seems to me I read something about the first Ranger not being safe, but I also read something about NAA having corrected the problem with the Ranger II. Absolute crazy fun to shoot, although a little pricey!

    And I don’t know what else Steve may have had in his pocket for his NAA to end up in an unsafe condition so often, but mine absolutely never does that – and I have nothing else in the pocket with it, of course.

  • steve Hammill October 6, 2020, 8:18 am

    You cannot safely carry one of these loose in your pocket. The exception may be the folding grip. I know this from carrying a 22 mag loose in my pocket. After finding it in an unsafe condition several times, I started using the holster with the belt clip removed inside my pocket. I’ve carried my original 22 mag everyday for 35 years.

  • Mark N. October 6, 2020, 12:35 am

    It should come as no surprise to anyone that a male zebra can be a bit aggressive. There is a reason they were never domesticated, and that it is it.

  • Max Hoyle October 5, 2020, 3:08 pm

    Great article! I have 3 of these little boogers, one that’s just a plain jane 25 year old 22/22mag, a black widow with an venom laser and an Freedom arms 22lr that my dad carried in the front pocket of his pants till the leather of the holster has holes in it! I have an idea for an grip that adds no bulk and can improve shootability very much, contact me and I’ll share it. mane and email above

  • Randy Wertz October 5, 2020, 2:24 pm

    Everyone needs one of these tiny guns. Mine stopped a carjacking in Miami, Fl. three years ago. I wouldn’t think of leaving my house without it. Mine is a Wasp in .22mag. Thank you NAA for making such a fine firearm. BTW, my wife carries one also.

  • Mike in a Truck October 5, 2020, 12:51 pm

    My NAA 22 Magnum is always with me. I mean always. From the time I wake up to beddy bye it’s on me. Even in the shower on a shelf.Loaded with CCI Gold Dots it stopped a boar raccoon from tearing up my little attack dachshund that’s fearless to the point of stupidity. I will add another handgun when off property- anything from an LCP to a 1911 but the mini is always there.

  • Tommygun851 October 5, 2020, 11:56 am

    Love those little revolvers!!!!! I have two! A short barreled 22 MAG and a long barreled target model in 17 HMR! To guess the cartridges-
    22 short , 22 long Rimfire, 22 WMR, 9mm Lugar Parabelum, 45 ACP, 5.56×45 NATO, 3006 Springfield ?

  • Big Al 45 October 5, 2020, 11:34 am

    No offense Doc, but a Kangaroo wouldn’t be found on the African savannah unless you put one there.
    Just sayin’.
    Now, as to the NAA Mini, I once ran a range in Indianapolis, and one fine day a well known fella was shooting one of the magnum ones there, and managed to shoot himself in the shoulder when he had difficulty unloading it.
    Apparently, as he worked the hammer back and forth to get the center pin out, he inadvertently (carelessly) pointed it at his own shoulder, and the hammer slipped, falling on a live round.
    Fortunately, it went through the fleshy part between the Clavicle and the supraspinatus muscle.
    Painful, but not debilitating.
    I’ve seen this issue with the NAA more than once, so beware all.

  • JCitizen October 5, 2020, 11:03 am

    I love North American Arms: they have a long line of pistols I’d just love to have. On top of that list is the 22 short revolver – there is just something about having a pipsqueak 22 that is highly interesting to me. I guess it brings out the boy in me, that played with toy derringers as a kid. I used do have a Beretta Minx as well, and the ONLY reason I traded it away, what because I wanted a new one. However, unbeknownst to me, they had quit making them. I’ve never seen one since. They were completely reliable, in action, and a hoot to shoot. I’ve regretted the day I gave it away, and next time I see a clean used one, I’m jumping on it, AND the NAA 22 short! Both are exceedingly hard to find in my locale. More fun to shoot than a barrel of monkeys!

  • Erik Mayernik October 5, 2020, 9:41 am

    When I was a police officer I had a NAA .22 short that I had on a dog tag type chain that I wore around my neck. When I retired I sold it to another officer. Now that I read this article, I miss that little thing and I knew I shouldn’t have sold it, so now I have to go out a buy one now.

  • Zupglick October 5, 2020, 9:18 am

    Another good little pocket gun is the Bond Arms Bullpup 9mm.

  • Richard October 5, 2020, 8:10 am

    I use the iron sight on my NAA .22mag with a bull barrel on armadillo regularly with excellent results 👀

  • Cary A Kieffer October 5, 2020, 7:58 am

    I have 4 of these nice little revolvers (2 mags and 2 LR’s) and I shoot them regularly. They are perfect for collecting or what they are for, a last ditch weapon. I keep one hidden in each car for the rare times I forget and leave the house without my P365. Quality is top notch. Never a misfire either, no light strikes. Probably my best use is a lake/beach gun. It fits in that tiny swim trunks pocket. I’ve been in out of water countless times, never had one rust or any ammo not fire after being submerged for an afternoon. I do change ammo out after every beach day. No biggee.

  • Bob Clark October 5, 2020, 6:53 am

    That injury should be worth at least 30K and he could’ve offed the dog too. He could’ve prevented the mauling of a child.

  • Bones4442 October 5, 2020, 5:28 am

    You have an interesting way with words, Doc. I passed on the Tiger King. It is just too symptomatic of the toxic self-indulgence with which our culture seems so enamored. With that thought in mind, the NAA 22 mag seems a perfectly legitimate choice as a backup to my backup. I’ll give it a look, anyway. Thanks!

  • Jackpine October 5, 2020, 4:51 am

    Fun reading, thank you sir. Now that I know you can successfully hunt African big game with this little pipsqueak, I’ll certainly have to reconsider the brand.

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