Missouri-based Heizer Defense makes a selection of unusual derringers that can fit the bill for a range of specialized needs, while having stylized appeal and serious power.
The company is family-owned and operated, and grew from humble beginnings. The family of Charlie Heizer, now 83, escaped Hungary during World War II and relocated to the Midwestern U.S. An engineer and inventor at heart, Heizer became educated as an aerospace engineer. Among his many inventions are a series of derringers — with looks and features entirely unlike others on the market.
On a recent range outing, I had the opportunity to handle and fire two Heizer pistols with rifle-caliber chambering. Who’d have ever thought you could fire a .223 (PAR1) or 7.62 x .39 (PAK1) cartridge from a palm-size pistol? The company also makes a .45 LC/.410 model. The barrels can be interchanged with either the PAK1 or PAR1.
The little guns have a single-shot, break-open action, operated by a zero-profile sliding lever on the left side of the frame. Loading is similar to a shotgun of the same style. The 45 LC model can store two extra rounds in the grip.
Construction is entirely of U.S.-made stainless steel.
“This is the same steel C-130 landing gear is made of,” said Heizer Defense’s Hedy Heizer.
The trigger is a patented roller-bearing design, with a long, eight-pound pull as a safety feature. (Though I’ll add, safe carry method and finger disciplines are the best safety features.) The molded, non-adjustable sights are small and plain, but usable.
These guns are thin and pancake-like, with a squared profile but rounded edges. The shape is conducive to discreet pocket carry. Overall dimensions are 3 7/8 inches in height, .7 inches in width and 6 3/8 inches in length for both the pocket AR and AK. Weight is 23 ounces. Muzzle velocity for the AK is 1,200 fps and 1,400 fps for the AR.
Heizer guns’ durable construction is made more so by the hammer and other action components contained in the frame. There’s nothing to gather dirt or catch on clothing.
The 7.62 x 39 has a ported barrel for recoil reduction. It’s still snappy. According to Heizer reps, the porting only sacrifices 110 feet per second of muzzle velocity. The .223 recoil is very manageable and would compare to a small frame 45 ACP.
Currently, there’s no holster customized for Heizer guns. Brand representatives were sporting Sticky brand holsters, which seemed to work well. I’m otherwise familiar with this brand, and they are pocket- and waistband-friendly. In essence, the Heizer Derringer is comparable to carrying today’s iPhone.
The PAK1 and PAR1 have the advantages of being light and packable or concealable, while having the truly unique advantage of being able to fire a high power cartridge from a tiny package. Powerful as they are, they’re still manageable to shoot. The Heizer Company recommends not using lacquer-covered ammunition for these guns.
On the downside is the single-shot capacity. If you care to look at it from a weight-to-capacity ratio, it’s a bit heavy. Cost is reasonable at $449 for the PAK1 and $399 for the PAR1.
Personally, I see these little guns as a great last ditch carry gun, or one you can throw in a pack with a bit of ammo for any potential survival circumstance.
Have you shot a Heizer PAK1 or PAR1? What is your favorite pocket pistol? Share your thoughts in the section below: