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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.