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GUNS Magazine Digital May 2011 - Page 32
MIKE CUMPSTON A break-Top Mini .22 WMR from NAA. n April of 2010, somebody close to the source sent I up a trial balloon of sorts. It was a pre-announcement revealing the development-in-progress of a new evolution of the perennially popular North American Arms Mini Revolver. Rather than depending on partial disassembly for loading, this .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire would break open from the top in the tradition of the 19th century Smith & Wesson and Iver Johnson pocket revolvers. Accompanying pictures of the complete revolver suggested introduction was imminent. “We Will Sell No Revolver Before Its Time”—Sandy Chisholm, President, North American Arms Inc. I contacted Sandy at NAA and learned the future of the top-break revolver was very much up in the air and the design would see the light of day only if it proved mechanically sound and economically feasible. The design that emerged in late October features a sturdy hinge with camactuated cartridge lifter that appears to be identical to the arrangement on my Iver Johnson hammerless. It operates in the same way. Pushing up on the topstrap locking stirrup releases the barrel a BLast from the Past The overall measurements of the break-top revolvers (above) are the same as those of the Model 22M. The lock work parts are identical and the BT should be amenable to the investment casting used in other models. The cam-actuated ejector (below) works exactly like those of 19th and early 20th century top breaks. As the barrel is swiveled down, the ejector plate rises and ultimately snaps back in to place. The throw is too short to eject the magnum cases but it does present them for easy manual removal. The product of lengthy and intensive research and development, the north American Arms Top Break Mini Revolver has entered the marketplace in the form of a 500-unit “pre-production” run. A portion of the tool-room revolvers were made available by pre-order with the remainder placed with distributors in early november 2010. The challenge facing nAA is putting the design into full production at a significant reduction in price. 32 and cylinder to rotate downward. At the height of the rotation, the shell plate lifts the cartridges for easy removal. At the end of the stroke, the shell plate snaps back flush in the cylinder. A fully enclosed stirrup engages a square lug at the top of the frame—promising far greater rigidity than is usually seen on 19th century top breaks. The lock work is borrowed from the existing mini revolvers and the safe-carry and shooting sequences are the same. The cylinder attaches to the barrel assembly via a spring-loaded arm that hooks into a groove in the cylinder bushing. The BT, as it is currently known, seems inspired by enthusiasm rather than any hope for immediate profit. The first 500-unit run is machined from stainless steel stock, involving many intricate operations and considerable expense. The ongoing challenge is to translate the design to the investment cast major substructures common to the NAA line. Chisholm predicts that a 25-percent reduction in price will be required to give the BT a foothold in the marketplace. WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM • MAY 2011