Wednesday, September 15, 2010

NAA Mini Magnum Ballistics Shootout

"And the Winner Is... Winchester Super X!"

A few weeks ago, the results of an accuracy test of the North American Arms Mini Magnum revolvers proved these guns to be quite accurate. No matter which frame you choose, accuracy will be as good as you can make it.

At the same time I performed the accuracy tests, I also ran some ballistics tests on the four remaining magnum frames (I already tested the NAA Pug). What is interesting about the tests I performed is that my conclusions were slightly different than the tests listed on the NAA website.

These tests were slightly less thorough then the Pug tests. I did not shoot any of the .22 long rifle ammunition as I did in the Pug. I was looking for the most powerful round or rounds that may be shot out of these guns.

In addition to the CCI and Winchester magnum rounds above, I also shot the Remington Premier rounds out of the Black Widow and Mini Master revolvers.

Below, I'll list each gun in order from most powerful to least powerful, beginning with the Mini Master of course!

For reference, I shot 10 rounds of each type of ammunition through the chrono, taking note of the statistics for each group. Be aware that a true statistical sample would contain 30 or more data points in order to squeeze the margin of error. For our purposes, I shot 40 rounds of each type of ammunition through four different frame types. Even though the velocities are different for those four guns, the ammunition performed similarly across the platforms. For example, the CCI Maxi Mag HP outperformed the CCI Maxi Mag HP+V in all of the guns tested.

"If you need to slaughter cows or other large animals, the Mini Master would be a great choice."

In addition to a comparison among the various revolvers, I wanted to establish a baseline power rating. To do this, I used my rifle; a Winchester Model 67A single shot chambered in .22 long rifle. With an 18 inch barrel, the Winchester pushes a Federal 36 grain bullet to an average 1220 feet per second, giving 118.95 lb/ft of energy(Ballistics Reference). My Dad used this gun to harvest cows for butchering, and it never failed to kill in one shot. That may not be sufficient for some, but it's good enough for me!

Mini Master

With its four-inch barrel, the Mini Master has a marked performance advantage over its short barreled brothers. It is decidedly the powerhouse of North American Arms Mini Magnum revolvers.

I'll list the ammunition in descending order beginning with the most powerful:

Winchester Super X uses a 40 grain jacketed soft-tip hollow point to put the hurt on targets. When shot out of the Mini Master, the Super X are propelled to an average 1274 feet per second. That's over 144 ft/lbs of muzzle energy, and more than the Winchester 67A rifle.

CCI, with its Maxi Mag HP and HP+V, is touted as having powerful rounds. In the Mini Master, they do perform well, but not as well as expected. Also sporting a 40 grain jacketed hollow point, the Maxi Mag HP averages 1258 feet per second and 140 ft/lbs of muzzle energy. Compared to the Super X, that's pretty close. The HP+V, with its 30 grain projectile, averages 1409 feet per second. But the lighter projectile exacts a ballistic penalty, giving 132 ft/lbs of energy.

The last round tested in the Mini Master was the Remington Premier. At 16 dollars per box, many people expect amazing things from these bullets. Optimized for a rifle, the Remington Premier is just not up to the task in a revolver. Pushing a 36 grain projectile to 1249 feet per second, the Remington bullets outperformed CCI's HP+V, but fell short of the Super X or HP, with 138 ft/lbs of energy.

Black Widow

The Black Widow is one of North American Arm's most popular guns. With a two inch barrel and oversized grip, the Black Widow seems to have just the right mix of qualities for pocket carry.

The Black Widow, with two fewer inches of barrel length than the Mini Master, loses some ballistic performance over its big brother... But it's no slouch.

Pushing the 40 grain Super X hollow point to an average velocity of 1061 feet per second, the Black Widow achieves nearly 100 ft/lbs of muzzle energy.

The CCI Maxi Mag HP averages 1019 feet per second for 92 ft/lbs of energy with a 40 grain projectile.

CCI's HP+V's 30 grain bullet travels 1154 feet per second, producing 88 ft/lbs of muzzle energy.

Coming in last, with 87 ft/lbs of energy, the Remington Premiere isn't worth the extra six to seven dollars per box.

1-5/8 Inch Mini Magnum

The 1-5/8 inch Mini Magnum is my personal favorite. I've shot well beyond 1000 rounds through this little gun. Its accuracy, combined with what I think are perfect dimensions, are in a class all their own. Pocket it and forget it.

Again, Winchester's Super X hollow points came out on top. The 1-5/8 inch magnum shoots those 40 grain bullets at an average 1012 feet per second, for nearly 91 ft/lbs of muzzle energy.

As might be expected, CCI's Maxi Mag HP came out second. With the same weight projectile as the Winchester, the HP averages 987 feet per second netting 86 ft/lbs of energy.

The CCI Maxi Mag HP+V achieves an average 1083 feet per second with its 30 grain projectile. Muzzle energy falls off to 78 ft/lbs, so the clear winner is the Super X.

Given the results of the Remington Premier out of the longer barrels, I chose not to test it in the shorter revolvers.

1-1/8 In Mini Magnum

With the second shortest barrel in the NAA magnum frame lineup, the 1-1/8 inch Mini Magnum is a hot little gun. Scoring first in the accuracy test, this gun is really cool.

For this test, I installed the folding grip. I will be providing a review of the grip in a future entry, but I'll just say that it's a very high quality product. It holds the gun very securely, and gives a full size grip on this diminutive revolver.

Moving on to the ballistics tests, Winchester takes the top spot again with an average speed of 984 feet per second. That's 86 foot pounds of muzzle energy.

As has been the case with all of the other guns in this lineup, CCI's MAXI MAG HP gives 902 feet per second and 72 ft/lbs of energy.

The CCI HP+V nets 1019 feet per second and 69 ft/lbs with its much lighter 30 grain projectile.


At the end of the day, the above ballistics prove one thing: The gun you choose is just a matter of your own needs and preferences. If you need to slaughter cows or other large animals, the Mini Master would be a great choice. For human sized predators, any of these guns should be a pretty good deterrent to bad behavior.

The more I work with North American Arms products, the more I like them. I know from personal experience that once you own one, soon you'll be providing that little gun some company!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for doing the work and posting this information. I got similar info from the NAA site but there is a difference and I believe that your info is more accurate. I was disappointed that you didn't test the Remington Premier Magnum ammo as I have some and would like to know what it does in my 1 5/8 barrel. I suspect that the energy in the 2 in. Pug is similar to the 1&5/8 in. barrel.