Saturday, January 31, 2015

Guns: NAA Wasp review - Float like a butterfly, sting like a mousegun

Longtime readers know that I once owned  a .22 LR North American Arms mini-revolver. It was a nifty, well-made gun, but I did eventually sell it because it didn't serve much of a purpose. In the end, it wasn't powerful enough for defense, it wasn't accurate enough for target shooting, and it wasn't convenient enough to really be fun.

Things change, though. In particular, the dress shirts and suit pants I wear to work every day can't take even the smallest normal concealment guns (a Ruger LCP, for instance, creates a noticeable .380-autopistol-sized bulge in such pockets). Absent a smaller gun, I would be relegated to not carrying at all.

Enter the NAA Wasp, with a 1-5/8" barrel and chambered in .22 Magnum. It's noticeably bigger than my previous mini-revolver, and it's packing a (marginally) beefier cartridge. But is it enough to actually be useful for defense?

First Impressions

The Wasp is, in my estimation, one of the neatest looking NAA models. There are decorative touches all over the gun that don't affect function, but look cool: the hammer is skeletonized, the barrel has a vent rib, and both the cylinder and the cylinder pin have concentric engravings that evoke a wasp's abdomen. I did switch out the black rubber grip panels that came with the gun in favor of a lighter, bigger one-piece Hogue grip (the same one that comes standard on the NAA Pug).

I opted for the conversion cylinder model of the Wasp, which comes with an extra .22 LR cylinder. Of course, .22 is basically a precious commodity at this point, but the extra cylinder still makes for a handy way to practice with cheap(er) ammo. If you don't buy the gun with the conversion cylinder, you can get one for your gun afterwards, but it requires a trip to NAA to time the cylinder.

Some of NAA's other revolvers feature fancy swing-out cylinders or top break actions, but the Wasp uses the same pin-and-cylinder assembly as my old .22 model. You pull the cylinder pin out of the gun from the front, knock the cylinder out, and manually extract the fired rounds with the pin. It's laborious and slow, and usually not something that can be done in the middle of a fight.

A Word on Ballistics

.22 Magnum out of a gun this size is better than harsh language, but it's an order of magnitude weaker than a round from a full-size service pistol. The NAA website lists the CCI 40 grain Maxi-Mag JHP at a velocity of about 850 fps. That's about 60 foot-pounds of muzzle energy, roughly as powerful as a typical .25 ACP.

To put this in perspective, all five rounds from a NAA .22 Magnum have less muzzle energy than a single round of standard pressure 9mm. Needless to say, don't carry a .22 Magnum unless you can't carry anything else.

Sights and Trigger

The Wasp features a gold bead front sight that I actually prefer to the wide blade used in other NAA models. Factor in the vent rib barrel, and the Wasp looks a lot like the world's tiniest shotgun. It's relatively easy to get a decent sight picture with the gun, considering its size.

The trigger is the same small single-action spur trigger found on other NAA models. It breaks cleanly, but you'll likely be "pulling" it with whatever part of your index finger will fit on the gun.

Range Report

I discovered that the slightly longer 1-5/8" barrel of my Magnum offered better accuracy compared to the 1-1/8" barrel of my older mini-revolver, while sacrificing almost nothing in concealability. Here are some shooting results:

Federal Bulk High-Velocity .22 LR (10 rounds each, 5 yards) - At five yards, and with bulk .22, the NAA shoots groups that are smaller than the gun.

CCI .22 Magnum 40 gr. Maxi-Mag (10 rounds each at 5, 7, and 10 yards) - The CCI Max-Mags were the only .22 WMR ammo I could find. They performed fairly well, but 10 yards starts to push the gun's limits.


The NAA Wasp, even with a (relatively) long barrel and a (relatively) harder-hitting caliber, is still, in essence, a mousegun that serves very specific niches, either as a deep-concealment carry or a backup. This would not be my first, second, or twentieth choice to bring to a gunfight. However, if someone really intends to inflict death or serious bodily injury on you, I still think it's better than pepper spray.