THE POCKET PISTOL CONCEPT began with a single shot—literally one barrel and one round. Among American armsmakers who made pocket carry possible was Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, gunmaker Henry Deringer. His famous single-shot pistols (many small enough to fit in the palm of one’s hand) first appeared around 1825, and by 1841 the Deringer, now with a caplock action, had become one of the most popular small handguns in America. Not long after, other gunmakers (some even in Philadelphia) began copying the design.
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Some competitors even went so far as to call their guns Deringer pistols, or, as became common, “derringer” with a double “R,” the spelling ironically used in Webster’s Dictionary! Both the single- and double-barrel derringer-style pistol, the latter perfected by E. Remington and Sons in the late 1860s, remain among the easiest handguns for concealed carry use today. Modern versions offer plenty of defensive capability with calibers up to .45 ACP. The derringer is one of three distinct categories that make up the top-12 list for 2014, along with revolvers and semi-autos.