February 21, 2020
North American Arms in Provo, Utah, has taken the concept of ultralight, ultra-concealable defense pistols to a new level. The company’s .22 Magnum Pug, for example, weighs just over six ounces and measures less than five inches long. But minimalist design comes with its own challenges. Many NAA revolvers require removing the cylinder to reload the gun, and that slows the reloading and shooting process considerably. However, NAA has made reloading and case removal much easier and much quicker with the introduction of the new Ranger Break Top II revolver.
As the name indicates, the Ranger II Break Top opens upward. Retract the spring-loaded lock on the topstrap and the hinged barrel tilts up. Tilt the barrel farther down and the star-shaped extractor is activated, elevating the spent cartridges for easy removal. It cuts down on time between shots.
Despite its ease of use, the Ranger Break Top II doesn’t add a lot of bulk or size. With its 2.5-inch barrel, this revolver weighs 7.5 ounces and measures just over six inches long and 3.25 inches high. At its widest point, the grip, the Ranger Break Top II measures around 0.9 inch. That’s slightly larger than some of its NAA mates, but it’s substantially smaller than competing subcompact semiautos.
Between each of the five chambers in the cylinder, you’ll notice a milled notch, and that allows the hammer blade to rest in the lowered and locked position. This makes it safe to carry the revolver with a fully loaded cylinder.
There are three cocking positions: hammer down, half-cock and full cock. The hammer’s upright, knurled spur is easy to control and manipulate, and the clockwise cylinder rotation and lockup are smooth and precise. Speaking of spurs, the spur-style trigger is compact and rounded and lacks a traditional trigger guard.
Machined stainless steel construction ensures durability, and the overall fit of the metal components is very good. The polished stainless finish is accented by rosewood boot grips.
The Ranger Break Top II I tested came with a pair of DeSantis holsters: an outside-the-waistband leather Lil’ Shot and an inside-the-waistband Ranger. If this were my gun, I’d own both of these holsters. The Lil’ Shot’s open-top design is great for carrying around the farm or at the range, and if you plan to conceal the Ranger II, the IWB holster is a superb option.
The gun is light and easy to conceal under any clothing. I even ran a couple miles with it in the IWB holster, and it didn’t bounce or chafe. That’s a great example of where the Ranger II outshines other defense pistols. When you’re out trail-running, you’re exhausted, far from help and vulnerable. You need a very light gun that won’t bounce around or gnaw at your side, and while the merits of a .22 Magnum for self defense are up for debate, it’s a far more effective weapon than, say, a pointy stick.
At the range the NAA was more fun to shoot than its counterparts that require cylinder removal. Tipping up the barrel makes this gun almost as fast to reload as a standard .22 Magnum with a swing-out cylinder, and the star extractor does a good job of elevating those sometimes sticky .22 Magnum cases. As a bonus, you can purchase a .22 Long Rifle cylinder as well.
The action is smooth, and the single-action spur trigger is surprisingly crisp and light, breaking at an average of 5.6 pounds during the test. One thing shooters need to be aware of is that the cylinder release lever, which also houses the notch rear sight, sits directly in front of the hammer on the topstrap. Get too aggressive in your efforts to cock the hammer and the cylinder can open unintentionally. I did that once, and it’s not a good feeling.
In addition to the notch rear sight, there’s a post front sight, and both are fixed. They’re also rudimentary, which makes shooting tight groups from the bench at 15 yards something of a challenge. Surprisingly, though, the Ranger II shot a couple groups in the low two-inch range (the best was 2.1 inches), but you can expect average group sizes of around three inches from that distance. At 15 feet I could keep shots in the threat-neutralizing portion of a torso target.
I like the grip profile of the Ranger and feel it offers far better purchase than guns with smaller grips, but a crack developed on the lower left corner.
If you want a deep concealment gun, it’s hard to beat the NAA line of single-action revolvers. The Ranger Break Top II offers all the build quality you’d expect from these guns at an affordable price—suggested retail of $519, including a metal lock box and lock—and the top-break design makes this gun that much more fun to shoot.
North American Arms Ranger Break Top II
- Type: single-action rimfire revolver
- Caliber: .22 Magnum; .22 Long Rifle cylinder available
- Capacity: 5
- Barrel: 2.5 in.
- OAL/ Height/Width: 6.1/3.25/0.9 in.
- Weight: 7.5 oz.
- Finish: polished stainless
- Grips: rosewood
- Sights: notch rear, post front
- Trigger: 5.6 lb. pull (measured)
- Price: $519
- Manufacturer: North American Arms, NorthAmerican Arms.com
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