North American Arms Sidewinder: Backup at its Best
Founded originally as Rocky Mountain Arms in the 1970’s, North American Arms (NAA) had a reputation for operating at both extremes of the handgun spectrum, producing a miniscule 3.5” .22 revolver as well as a 450 Magnum Express pocket mortar. Today, North American manufactures firearms with a philosophy of personal protection.
The guns shipped out of their Provo, Utah factory are not target-grade, nor are they designed to be used for hunting. NAA produces guns that are deliberately small, light, and concealable; in other words, they’re a perfect fit for the concealed carry market.
The latest addition to the North American Arms line of mini-revolvers is the .22 Magnum “Sidewinder.” Featuring the famous NAA stainless steel finish, this little gun introduces a swing-out cylinder, a huge improvement from the old cylinder-removal reloading system.
The .22 Magnum caliber is the standard for the Sidewinder, but a .22LR conversion kit is also available.
The NAA Sidewinder is slightly larger than the traditional minis that NAA is known for. The overall length is 5 inches, with the barrel comprising 1.5” of the total. The weapon’s height is 2 7/8 inches and its width is 1 1/16 inches with a cylinder capacity of five rounds.
During range testing, the North American Arms Sidewinder proved itself as a viable self-defense backup weapon. Firing one-handed at 20 feet and two-handed at 30 feet, the Sidewinder produced similar results: groupings of about 10 inches, which isn’t bad considering the limitations of the single stainless steel post sight.
However, rapid fire testing isn’t possible with the NAA Sidewinder since it is a Single-Action-Only revolver. Trigger pull was about 4 pounds and recoil was negligible. Muzzle velocity is extremely high for this firearm, averaging about 1200 fps on the chronograph and penetration was impressive as well, boring 12 inches into a 25 pound clay block.
While the Sidewinder is probably unsuitable as a primary carry weapon in most situations, author Scott W. Wagner describes its usefulness as a backup option in his article “North American Arms .22 Magnum/.22LR ‘Sidewinder’—Ultimate Hide-out Revolver” at USConcealedCarry.com:
“While the .22 Magnum is certainly no .357 Magnum, its low recoil coupled with high velocity and five shot capacity, could make it an effective self-defense tool for those needing the deepest concealment.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)
The Sidewinder is an excellent addition to the North American Arms arsenal, providing some additional size and firepower over their traditional minis, yet maintaining the NAA tradition of easy concealment. If you are looking for a backup or alternative pistol, look no further.