Skip to main content

Ethan Allen .22 Short Derringer

Ethan Allen .22 Short
This Ethan Allen derringer is the smallest cartridge handgun ever made. It fired a blackpowder loading of the .22 Short.

This Ethan Allen derringer is the smallest cartridge handgun ever made. It fired a blackpowder loading of the .22 Short.

In the old west days, small concealable handguns were popular. Something that could be hidden and brought out quickly was attractive to gamblers and women of the night, among others. The fact that they were badly underpowered didn't seem to bother anyone. An example of a popular derringer was the Remington in .41 rimfire. A heavy coat would stop one of those bullets.

But derringers came much smaller and less powerful than the .41, as the model manufactured by Ethan Allen & Co. chambered for .22 Short, illustrates. It is one of the smallest cartridge handguns ever made. It's just four inches long and weighs a mere three ounces.

It's also quite rare. According to the records from the Springfield Armory Museum, only about 300 were produced from 1869 to 1871.


Ethan Allen was at one time a major manufacturer of guns. The company had a factory in Worcester, Massachusetts, and produced quite a few guns over the years — including pepperboxes, revolvers and other derringers and long guns.


Its .22 Short derringer is a single-shot; the barrel swings sideways to load or unload. Pulling the hammer back a little way allows access to the round. There is no extractor or ejector, so having a decent fingernail would be a plus. There is no rifling, but since you are shooting at something a foot or two away, rifling isn't necessary.

The grip is walnut of bird's head design, and there is no checkering. It has no sights, and the frame is made of brass. The firing pin spring is a typical flat type.

The barrel is two inches long, and it's half round and half octagonal.

Obviously, the .22 Short is quite anemic, especially the blackpowder load used by this gun. In a rifle, a 29-grain bullet is propelled at about 750 fps fueled by six grains of a fine-grade blackpowder. In a two-inch barrel, velocity would drop to around 500 fps, producing around 20 ft.-lbs. of energy. That's hardly earth-shattering, but it would be dangerous at close range.




If you were going to shoot this gun, I would stay away from the modern high-velocity Shorts. I'd recommend blackpowder loads or BB and CB caps. It is not meant for a lot of shooting, so keep that in mind if you happen to find one.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

Recent Videos

Federal's new.30 Super Carry pistol cartridge offers the equivalent of 9mm Luger performance with recoil and muzzle blast comparable with 9mm. Here's a first look.
Handguns

First Look: Federal .30 Super Carry Pistol Cartridge

Scott Rupp and Richard Nance correct some common shooting advice.
Learn

Bad Shooting Advice

Rich Nance shows us a drill that helps with target transition and accuracy.
Learn

Skills Drills - 3 Second Headshot

It is important to train in various shooting positions. Rich shows us some kneeling positions here.
Learn

Shooting from Kneeling

Scott Rupp highlights the Taurus GX4.
Handguns

Taurus GX4

Richard Nance shows off this easy to carry flashlight from Streamlight.
Gear

Streamlight Wedge

In early 2021, Taurus introduced the GX4, its entry into the micro-compact concealed carry pistol market. Now the company has added red-dot sight capability with the new T.O.R.O. (Taurus Optic Ready Option) version.
Handguns

First Look: Taurus GX4 T.O.R.O. Optics-Ready Micro-Compact 9mm Pistol

Widely known for their duty retention holsters, Safariland is bringing the security and safety of their LE products to the civilian world with the 575 GLS holster.
Gear

Safariland Holsters

Smith & Wesson has expanded their M&P Shield Plus pistol line to include a 3.1-inch optics-ready slide option. Scott Rupp, editor of Handguns, is with Matt Spafford, of Smith & Wesson, to check out this "sweet spot" optics-ready concealed-carry pistol.
Concealed Carry

Smith & Wesson M&P Shield Plus Pistol Series Expanded with Optics-Ready Versions

Handguns Magazine Covers Print and Tablet Versions

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

Buy Digital Single Issues

Magazine App Logo

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Handguns App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Handguns stories delivered right to your inbox.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Handguns subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Enjoying What You're Reading?

Get a Full Year
of Guns & Ammo
& Digital Access.

Offer only for new subscribers.

Subscribe Now