A recent issue of Handguns & More Handgun attempted to
represent the usefulness of a rather large laser sight, attached to a
very small derringer. Amazing what ad dollars can produce in the way of
editorial coverage in some publications. The truth of the matter is, outside of being
gadgets, and sometimes mandatory equipment for CAS, derringers seem a dramatically compromised solution for
virtually every application.
Derringers are awkward to hold, they are comparatively
oversize for any chambered cartridge, the actions are generally weak,
the triggers are mechanically complex, and it takes six or seven hours
to dump empties and reload. Chambered to follow the current .410
shotshell trend, all the owner has to do is put on clown shoes and pop
out of a tiny car to reach manifest destiny. But, hey, maybe that's just
me. In any event, I thought I would pick up a popular inexpensive model
and see how it held up and performed.
Enter - The Chiappa Firearms Double Eagle
|Country of Origin
and measures are actual
Chiappa Firearms Double Eagle Derringer is sold by the company of the
same name, a U.S. subsidiary of Italy's Chiappa Group. The is billed as
an "affordable classic for the collector of historic type firearms".
Product marketing literature references the Remington Derringer which
was produced from 1866 - 1935. Outside of several small steel stampings
and barrel liners, the gun is made of
aluminum, copper, magnesium, and iron die casting alloy which is a nice
way of saying something akin to pot metal, a substance that is great for
The first example of a Chiappa Firearms Double
Eagle Derringer I received was returned to the distributor as damaged
and missing accessory parts. The black finish has chipped off the barrel casting and the little plastic bag that was to contain the
safety key lock was empty. The replacement gun had a key lock,
but also the same finish problems. The packaging is retro graphics
cardboard, the manual is a single piece of 8x10 paper, folded in
I've not before seen a gun with parts held together with
sheet metal screws that are threaded directly into a frame and barrel casting. In
this case, while a machine screw does secure the barrel to the frame,
sheet metal screws secure the locking lever to the frame,
the frame halves and the extractor to the barrel. I would tend to believe routine
disassembly was not at the forefront of Chiappa's thinking.
The gun is coil compression and torsion spring sprung,
which is a good thing. The barrel/breech lock up is accomplished with a
half round cam and lever. The gun's barrels rattled after being fired twice
breech face is more of the Chiappalloy magic. The firing pin is a vertical
stamping that rides in the face of the gun's hammer, shifting when cocked to alternate barrel firing. Trigger pull
measured an aerobic 7 lbs 8 oz.
The hammer and sear surface engagement was crisp and
there was no noticeable creep in the trigger release. The cross bolt
safety was positive and the integral safety lock with mini spanner key
worked as per the instructions. The carry instructions were a little
ambiguous where suggesting that the chamber under the hammer and firing
pin be kept empty. As the firing pin alignment alternates on firing, and
there is no external mechanical indication of which barrel will fire. I
would assume this means the gun should be carried with both barrels
The geometry of the grip frame and hammer is such that
this is a tough gun to cock and fire single handed. A lot of
grip shifting is required, or using both hands to stabilize the gun when cocking the
hammer. The problem is two fingers barely grasp the grip and the grip
has to be held low to get an angle to facilitate cocking the hammer.
The Double Eagle was relatively easy to control when
shooting, after the hammer was cocked and the gun was properly gripped.
At seven yards, which is a long ways off for what is primarily a point and
shoot gun, it was pretty easy to get two shots within an inch of one
another, the lowest perhaps an inch above and to the right of the
bullseye. The notch and blade sights are black on black and not exactly
easy to pick up against any backgroud.
The gun's manual indicates that proper ammunition
includes .22 long rifle, longs and shorts -
regular, high and hyper velocity. The case at the left with pressure
distortion was typical with virtually all hyper velocity .22 LR ammunition.
For self defense, the derringer is a bust; harder to
conceal than even the KEL-TEC P-32 autoloader. The KEL-TEC is smaller, thinner,
easier to shoot and certainly better made. 7+1 shots of .32 ACP rather
than two shots of .22 LR.
As a collector's piece and/or maybe just a nifty
little gun to own, this derringer is not slick, the design isn't
interesting and the quality of materials and workmanship are substandard
by any measure. While I was writing this story and working through
verification of safety and loading instructions, a little piece of
bright metal fell out and the gun lost its half cock
I don't like to write negative reviews. I prefer to be
more careful of the firearms I choose to review and I prefer to spend my
time researching, testing and writing about guns that other enthusiasts
might also enjoy or find useful. This gun I don't like. I prefer one
that has been sorted out for reliable use.