Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Remington Double Derringer .41 Rimfire



I love owning and reading about old guns.
James Rummel’s blog has a number of entries, some old and some new, regarding derringers and other unique concept handguns. If you love old guns, click here to visit Flayderman’s website; buy a copy of their latest Guide to Antique American Firearms if you are a real addict. Click here and here to read about Borepatch bringing his great-great-grandfather’s muzzle loader home to a place of honor.

There are more old pocket revolvers and
derringers chambered for the black powder .41 rimfire cartridge than I could ever hope to cover in one blog entry. Perhaps the most famous of the .41 rimfire handguns is the Remington Double Derringer. I bought one several years ago for no reason other than sentiment; the price was right, the pivot hinge wasn’t cracked, and the barrel pitting wasn’t too severe. It is a low end collectable.

Remington manufactured the William H. Elliot designed double derringer from 1866 until 1935; total production was around 150,000. The gun in the above photo is a post Wild West era Type 3 (aka Model 4) made sometime between 1912 and 1935. On these pistols, the serial numbers don’t mean much since they were reused in different production batches. Sometimes this pistol is known as the “model 95,” the “double derringer,” the “1866 derringer,” or the “over and under derringer.” TV and big screen westerns made the Remington Double the most recognized of all the derringers; John Wayne carried one in “Big Jake,” Richard Boone carried one in “Have Gun, Will Travel.” It was the cowboy’s backup gun, the gambler’s sneaky gun, the lady’s purse or garter gun. The 130-grain lead bullet leaves the muzzle at a modest 425 fps, generating only about 50 ft-lbs of energy, low by today’s pocket gun standards but in the early post Civil War years the .41 rimfire was an impressive innovation.

One of the most common misconceptions held by folks unfamiliar with guns is the belief that both barrels of the double derringer fire simultaneously. Nope, each barrel fires separately, the firing pin toggles between the upper and lower chambers each time you cock the hammer.

National Arms made the .41 rimfire for their derringer in 1863; other makers were quick to follow, chambering the new load in guns of their own designs. Well into the smokeless powder era, the .41 rimfire fell from favor and production ended sometime in the 1940s. Navy Arms sponsored a small run of the ammo back in the 1990s. The .41 rimfire cartridge is not currently made by anyone. This blog entry will likely generate at least a few inquiries from readers looking to find .41 rimfire ammunition for sale. First, let me warn that the following link may not have .41 rimfire available forever, and what they have listed as of the date of this blog entry is very expensive; they also limit how many rounds you can buy. If you are willing to pay no less than $4.95 per cartridge (7/15/2009 price), CLICK HERE. Please understand that I have no desire to sell the ammo that I have; please don’t ask. Unless Navy Arms or other benefactor fronts another run of the ammo, the dwindling amount currently left on the market is all there ever will be. If you are in the market to buy any derringer or revolver chambered for the .41 rimfire, you are buying an obsolete relic, a collector’s item, a novelty that someday likely will have no ammunition available for it. Even if you can find ammo, there is no guarantee that it will fire.

If you inherited a Remington double derringer and need something for self-defense, you may be able to
sell the derringer for the money needed to buy a modern handgun. Naturally, the condition of the piece will determine how much money you will be offered. If you do fire your .41 rimfire handgun, clean it promptly and thoroughly; black powder is corrosive and pits the metal.

Click here for a schematic of the Remington Double Derringer


41 comments:

Hammer said...

Awesome! I've always wanted one of those but whenever I found one price and or condition were not in sync.

The cheap modern copies are for crap. I wish a big name would pick up this line and give it a serious effort.

James A. Zachary Jr. said...

Thank you kind Sir! It isn't in the best of shape; it's functional but blemished.

I owned a pot-metal Davis .22 Derringer for a while ... broke after 10 shots. Davis fixed it and I never fired it again. I dumped it.

I have a fairly well made American Derringer Model 1 (.45 Colt and .410 shotshell). Sweet Mother, the .45 loads sure do hurt!

David Sessoms said...

James, Thanks for the article. Ironically I was putting my Remington Derringer in the local paper and decided to look on line first and found the article about John Dellinger Derringer selling for $96000..Wow..And for the first time, I decided to shoot mine..I shot it twice and it worked perfectly...I was impressed..Here is some pictures as info...Thanks,,,David@DavidSessoms.com
http://www.visualtour.com/shownp.asp?sk=29&t=1956263

James A. Zachary Jr. said...

Hey David, thanks for stopping in. That's a nice looking double you have. That wad of ammo should command some attention.

These are great old guns... even if ours won't sell for $96,000 ;)

tom said...

I have a excellant over and under Remington Derringer 41 rim fire, and about 15 of the orginal 41 shells and 15 of spent casing after shooting. This gun was carried by my grandfater, a cop in Kansas City Mo.. Not sure when produced, but my father was born in 1919 and my grandfather died when my dad was 6. So I can assume my grandfater got this gun just after the turn of the century. The box the shells are in, read 50 cartridges 41 short rim fire Remington arms company inc. Bridgeport conn.. This gun has to be at least 100 old, and looks new, and fires, and everything works. I guess, one of the stories, my grandfater was involved in a fight on duty, the guy grabed his gun, my grandfater pulled out the 41 out of his service belt, and a gut shot took place. Just thought I would share this with you.. Its a fine gun. Tom

James A. Zachary Jr. said...

Hey Tom, that is a great story. You have quite a treasure there, a true family heirloom. Those cartridges (and the box) are probably worth something to collectors.

Thanks for visiting!

Zack

Anonymous said...

The Remington .41 rimfire derringer can still be purcased at the gun shows , but prices are sky high even for relatively beatup models $500 and up even with the cracked hinge , I purchased one several years ago for around $250 and got a box of .41 rimfire ammo , recent made Navy arms ammo , shot the little gun and it did have a good punch to it ! Ammo right now for the .41 rimfire is very difficult to obtain and expensive $40-$50 a box and original .41 rimfire ammo are collectors items worth too much to shoot !If you do buy a .41 remington and want to shoot it , try contacting Navy Arms and ask them to produce another lot of their ammo ! It is a fun gun to shoot ! As a side note I once seen an individual not too long ago who actually carried an original .41 Remington derriner as his self-defence weapon !!!

Anonymous said...

I remember seeing .41 rimfire ammo a few years ago for sale at a gun store in central Phoenix Arizona on 19th ave. (near the Metro Center) at that time the price was about $35 a box of fifty rounds , I did shoot a few rounds of ammo from my Remington derringer and I was surprised that it really isn't a bad short range cartridge for self-defence as that 130 grain lead bullet could cause a very nasty wound and back in the 1800's could have been fatal if a person did not get first aid in a hurry ! To try and locate newly made .41 rimfire ammo , check ammo sources on the internet , there was a company in Brazil(Navy Arms) that produced .41 rimfire , if they get enough requests for this ammo they may start producing another lot ! It is worth the try !

Anonymous said...

I read a storey once about a Detroit policeman long time ago right after WWI who carried a Remington over and under .41 derringer as a backup weapon to his regular service revolver , during one of Detroit's very cold winters this policeman was forced to use his backup gun the .41 derringer on a criminal , seems when he shot the individual , the bullet did not even penetrate thru the thick clothing that the criminal was wearing ! The criminal had only a slight bruise on his skin from the .41 rimfire bullet ! I guess after that the policeman got a better pocket backup pistol ! Probably a Browning or Colt .25 automatic !

Anonymous said...

Just purchased a Type II Model #3, $450.00. Nickel w/pearl grips one of which is chipped. I checked the hinges carefully, didn't see any cracks. Upon detail cleaning I observed that the hinge had been very skillfully and artfully brazed. Disappointed? A bit but happy to know these can be repaired. I never intend to shoot anyway. Any thoughts about replacing the pearl grips with others that might be more correct? My example has been carried and shot, ie, used but not abused.
Thanks,
John

James A. Zachary Jr. said...

It is possible that the pearl grips are factory original if the nickel finish is factory original.

Sound like a good find. Congrats!

Anonymous said...

just came acroos a remmington over & under .41. interester in what it might be worth.

Anonymous said...

I was at a large gun store in central Phoenix Arizona last week , the one on 19th Ave. and I asked the sales person there if he still had any of the .41 rimfire ammo for sale as he once had , he told me he had one box of .41 rimfire ammo , for $100 !!! It definately has gone up in price ! I asked him if Navy Arms had any plans about selling the .41 ammo again , and I was told that the company that makes the ammo which is in Brazil has to get an order for atleast 2 million rounds before they will start manufacturing that ammo again ! So that is the storey why .41 rimfire ammo is expensive and now hard to get !

Doug said...

I have one also that I inherited from my father who inherited it from his uncle Louie. Louie, my father told me was a WW1 vet and diamond salesman in K.C. KS. The finish is in pretty rough condition but otherwise it looks in good shape. If the other pistol I inherited second hand is any indication of its shape, I should be able to shoot it if ammo were available. I got curious about the piece and found this site. Thanks for the info about it. Oh, forgot. It has pearl grips also.

James A. Zachary Jr. said...

Sounds like a great heirloom; I love guns with a history. Thanks for stopping by, Doug.

Kovy said...

Just pulled out a hand gun that my Great Grandfather had in a case on his wall 15 years ago before he died. It's a .41 rimfire Remington Derringer in pretty great condition. It reads "Remington Arms Co Ilion N.Y." on the top. Handle is kind of a dark copper color and the blueing on the barrel is in great condition. The only thing is that the pistol grips are missing and the inside of the barrel is a little rusted. Other than that it is in great shape! How do I tell if I have type 1,2,or 3? Why does mine have a different inscription on top than all the others that I have seen?

Anonymous said...

What is the difference between .41 rim fire Remington Derringer models with "Remington Arms Co. Ilion, N.Y." stamped on top and the ones with, "REMINGTON ARMS-U.M.C. CO. ILION, N.Y" on top?

James A. Zachary Jr. said...

Kovy, I believe it is a Type II AKA Model 3, made between 1888 - 1911. About 80,000 of this type were made.

Remington changed the inscriptions over the years, which gives us the clues as to when these pistols were made.

The pitting in the barrel is because of the corrosive black powder used in the .41 rimfire cartridges.

I have no idea what the market value is of your pistol is, but it sounds like you have a great family heirloom. Congratulations.

James A. Zachary Jr. said...

Anonymous, the ones marked REMINGTON ARMS-U.M.C. CO. ILION, N.Y are Type 3 AKA Model4, made between 1912 - 1935. About 55,000 of this type were made.

Anonymous said...

Zach it seems you know quite a bit about the Model 95 Double Derringer. I personally just inherited one from my father and it reads Remington Arms Co. ILION.N.Y. There is no serial number on the gun except the number 55 when you open the barrel. Do you know anything that can help me out? What it could potentially be worth?

James A. Zachary Jr. said...

Anon,thanks for stopping by.

I believe it is a Type II AKA Model 3, made between 1888 - 1911. About 80,000 of this type were made. The serial numbers were re-used in batches; for the most part, they are meaningless.

As to the value, I don't hazard making guesses anymore. Condition is very important when it comes to the value of old guns, as is the market demand; I don't know that there is any great demand for the Model 95. There are some online auction sites that may have some Model 95s up for bid... give a look and see what they bring there. Since it was your Dad's gun you have quite an heirloom.

Take care.

Zack

Anonymous said...

The reason those old derringers and other low powered pistols were deadly back then was infection. That era was before there were anti-bacterial medicines, or before doctors even knew about micro-organisms causing deadly gangrene. If the bullet penetrated the abdominal cavity, or in many cases almost anywhere on the body where the bacteria wouldn't bleed out, the resulting infection would usually kill the victim within a few days after a lot of severe pain and suffering, especially from a gut shot. I think just knowing that being shot with even a very puny little gun probably meant a slow agonizing death was often enough to deter an attacker.

John said...

I totally agree. We forget how difficult it was back in those days to find decent medical attention, and even the best surgeons of that time only had what would now be considered "rudimentary" skill in medicine. Back then, every store had ammo for sale and most stores sold weapons of some kind, while on the other hand there were very few who had any knowledge of how to treat gunshot wounds. Yeah, I'd say it was disease and infection that killed most back then.

Mike said...

Back in the summer of '61 I found a box of blackpowder .41 rimfire bullets in an old abandoned farm house. There are 31 Remington and 6 Peters in the box. The lead is oxided over, but other than that, they look pretty good for their age. They've just been sitting on my reloading bench for almost 50 years.

James A. Zachary Jr. said...

Heh! Each of those old cartridges can command a premium price.

Thanks for stopping by, Mike.

William Potter said...

Awesome old pistols!
A good friend has a Remington O/U that belonged to his G-Grandfather and a handful of .41 cartridges.
I imagine the Remington Double Derringer was pretty much the N.A.A. Mini Revolver equiv of the last century.

BCox3@Juno.com said...

I have a friend that wants to sell her Remington Double Derrnger. It is in top notch shape. Nickle w/ no scratching; has original box but a bit beatup; some shells in original box. Pearl and black grips. I need help locating the means to help her sell the gun.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone ever seen an antique over under novelty pocket pistol that looks like a lady's slipper?

Anonymous said...

How do I find out what year my Remington Derringer pistol was made? The only numbers on it is 641.

Tom S. said...

I have a Remington .41 RF Double Derringer (s/n L99836) and two partial boxes of Remington Kleanbore .41 Short RF cartridges ("U" stamped), 36 rnds excellent condition, 28 rnds with some lead crusting, all inherited from my father who carried it in NYC back in the 40's. I also have two full boxes of Navy Arms .41 Short RF. Do I dare use any of the ammo?

James A. Zachary Jr. said...

Wear the usual eye and ear protection for shooting; you and the derringer should be fine.

1) Always remember to clean the bores immediately after shooting; the residue is corrosive.

2) The market price of that ammo (nobody makes it anymore) is probably NO LESS THAN $10 PER ROUND.

Anonymous said...

I had and have many of these derringers. I'm interested in finding pics of the 41 short rimfire boxes of the ammo with dates of mfg. I have many boxes of it from black powder to navy. Have contacted Rem with no success and a couple of old ammo dealers. I'm after all co.'s who made the stuff and when they made it. Old guy here but I know how to and can scan the 6 or so different boxes of it that I have.

Bedrock said...

I bought one of these derringers a couple of years ago. It has the 2-line address on top of the barrel, and has the black grips. There is no finish left, but all surfaces are clean with no rust, and the bores are good. The hinge is unbroken. I have 2 boxes of ammo that were made by Navy Arms. I have always liked these little guns. I would shoot mine a little, but I am afraid of breaking the hinge. I have never read a definitive article on whether the hinges broke from misuse, such as flipping the barrels up, or whether the hinge breaks from shooting the gun. A couple of years ago a book was written about these derringers. I bought one of the leather-bound collectors editions, limited to 50 copies. Maybe someday it will be worth something.

Anonymous said...

Having owned about 3 dozen of these over the past 30 years I would strongly advise people to not shoot the Navy arms stuff in it. Busted a hinge doing that, to powerful for gun unless hinge looks extra thick at screw hole. Yes, I have found a difference in the thickness of the various types and have owned all of them. I'm the guy looking for Pic of Peters and prior boxes of the 41 ammo. I have a couple of never opened black powder Peters, 1 in a red box and 1 in a red tin and of course Remington "dog bone" and Peters in a yellow & blue box. If any others I'd appreciate pics.

Anonymous said...

I fired some of the Navy stuff in an O.A. Smith .41 RF stud trigger revolver, a stronger gun than the Remington derringer. I shot about 15 rounds and the gun took it fine. Not a bad group either, about 4" at about 50 feet. However, the stuff is definitely hotter than the ballistics published for the original cartridge. It went through 950 pages of a Yellow pages.

I recall reading that even in the old days the "word" was to shoot these Remingtons twice to make sure they worked and then keep them silent unless needed. They had a bad rep for durability even back then. I wouldn't shoot the Navy stuff in the Remington derringer, but it's probably OK in stronger guns.

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed all of the write up's about the 41RF Derringer. I have one very clean with a serial number 225. It is the one from Ilion NY. I have shot it twice a long time ago but would not do so again, don't want to damage it or me. Every thing is in place like the handles, etc. It was my Great grandfathers. I am 80 now so it goes back quite a way/

Don said...

I have a Remington .41 double barrel Derringer with Remington Arms Co. Ilion, NY on the top of the barrel and the number 74 on the bottom of the barrel. Any idea when this would have been manufactured? It is in good shape (no pitting) & hinge is good. Thanks for any info.

Anonymous said...

Can Anyone tell me what a very ggod condition Type I model 2 is worth...plus I have two new boxes of Navy arms ammo.

maverickjohn said...

My wife had a Remington .41 rim fire, nickel finish, very good shape. And 3 box of cartridges. It fired great. Her Dad told her it came from a LARGE lady who worked in a salon at a mining camp, State line Nevada. She kept it between her breasts. explains why the finish was so good. Her Dad just kept locked up. We checked the price of ammo. And it was so high, she told me to trade it for a modern, useable firearm. So I did, and all parties were happy. The story of where it came from? Who knows, fun to think about, and wonder

Squatch said...

Wow!What a lot of info! I just took a mod95 in trade. It's my only hope of breaking even, LOL! It's a nickel W/pearl grips W/8rnds. of ammo, in pretty fair condition cosmetically, and mechanically, other than a piece of the hinge on left side is missing. It don't seem to effect operation any. I'll soon be listing this on GunBroker.com and it looks like some of the auction prices will save me. Thanks everyone for the help. I don't see anywhere to leave a picture, or I would.

Anonymous said...

Does anybody know if there was a difference in the steel quality between the early models and the late models that where made after 1900? when the smokeless powder replaced the black powder.
There was a cartridge called the 41 long and 41 extra long is it possible to load that type of cartridge in the derringer and fire it safely?
The most common problem with the derringer is the weak hinge did the hinges break because people where careless when they opened and closed the gun or was caused when firing the gun with the 41 short cartridge.
Thes are my questions
best regards from mikael