In order to participate in the GunBroker Member forums, you must be logged in with your account. Click the sign-in button at the top right of the forums page to get connected.

It Was A Number Of Years Ago, 4 shot derringer

blyeooblyeoo Member Posts: 31 ✭✭
edited October 2010 in Ask the Experts
Hello Everyone:

It was back in the early/mid 80's and I had acquired "the latest and greatest", 4 shot, 4 barreled, stainless steel, .357 Derringer. I'll refrain from mentioning the brand name (or manufacturer) because presently there are a couple of them on the auction board.

Anyway to continue the story and get to my question: One day I was out plinking with my dad, when I pulled this .357 derringer out of my pocket. He asked about it, so I told him of its attributes. I asked him if he'd like to shoot it when he gave me the ole hex sign and kinda gruffly said, "it sure doesn't look like it'd be much fun to shoot".

So with him watching, I popped off a series of shots with the 110 grainers, it shot just fine. Then I loaded it up with four factory 158 grain jacketed .357's.........I squeezed off a round........bang........a little more recoil than the 110 grain slugs, but it wasn't really that bad at all......matter of fact, it was kinda fun. Then I squeezed of a second 158 grain bullet and KABOOM! Hot Damn, it felt about like I'd imagine holding onto an exploding stick of dynamite would feel.

When I realized what had occurred, I was shocked (to say the least). I had just experienced a multiple discharge. The thing had simultaneously fired off the three remaining rounds and blew open the breech.

Ouch, ouch, ouch.................

As I was dancing around and shaking my hand, dad didn't neglect the humor in the situation. He was giggling a bit under his breath as he inquired if I was alright. After I assured him that I was Ok, he quietly repeated himself saying, "Yep, sure didn't look like much fun to shoot" which point he roared with laughter..........and to this day, we both chuckle about the irony of that episode.

Ok, here's my question. What caused this multiple discharge?

Personally if I recall correctly, I think it occurred because the derringer had inertia firing pins. I could shake the piece and the pins would rattle back & forth. I suspect that the second 158 grainer had sufficient recoil to cause the firing pins to impact the primers of the remaining cartridges hard enough to make them fire.

BTW, hot reloads weren't to blame......I was shooting factory ammo at the time (this was prior to my reloading days).

Has anybody else heard of, or experienced anything similar?

Best Regards,

blye (without "flinchitis")


  • rufe-snowrufe-snow Member Posts: 18,649 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Luckily the feds didn't get wind of your little malfunction. Their definition of a machine gun is a firearm that will discharge multiple bullets, with just one pull of the trigger. You might have had a 5:00 AM wake up call from the JBT's, if your malfunction had become common knowledge. Your old man would have really laughed his a*s off at you then.
  • perry shooterperry shooter Member Posts: 17,390
    edited November -1
    I don't know how your piatol works but most guns of this design have a Rotating hammer face to either set off one round at a time directly if they are in RIMFIRE or if centerfire a very small button type fireing pin that is hit by the hammer Look on GUNPARTS and get a parts breakdown picture. Sounds more like High Primers in the loaded ammo but if it is the brand I think it is more likely the machining or lack thereof left BURRS on the breach face.
  • dfletcherdfletcher Member Posts: 8,154 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    I had one of those. Damndest thing, although it had four barrels it never fired more than 3 shots in a row. I've no problem with recoil and enjoy the Bond Derringer in 10 mm and 45 ACP every once in a while. I think the other gun's design used a rotating striker and firing pin behind each chamber but I suppose could be mistaken.
  • blyeooblyeoo Member Posts: 31 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    Hi Perry Shooter:

    Thanks for mentioning the Gunparts website. I've bookmarked it.

    I couldn't find a diagram, but listen to this: "The XXX has an intersting and unusual firing mechanism. The weapon has an internal hammer and the pistol has one firing pin for each barrel. As the trigger is pulled, an internal ratchet is actuated that lines up to a cocking hammer and one of the four firing pins. After the trigger has traveled to the end of its stroke, the internal hammer is released, exerting force on the ratchet which in turn pushes one of the firing pins forward, igniting the primer, and firing the bullet. Each subsequent pull of the trigger causes the ratchet to line up with the next firing pin in the sequence and firing the bullet in that chamber, until the gun is out of ammunition or the shooter stops pulling the trigger."

    Indeed, I remember that it had four distinct firing pins and they would rattle if I shook the piece back & forth. I don't recall any machining irregularities in the firing pin area..........I'm detail oriented and would have noticed something such as that.

    BTW, after it blew the breech open, it didn't want to close properly.

    Thanks for your input.
  • blyeooblyeoo Member Posts: 31 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    Hello rufe-snow;

    Fortunately, each projectile had it's own barrel for its exit hole or I may have lost part of my hand.

    It wasn't like a full auto firing 1,2, was one big thundering boom and three cartridges went off simultaneously.

    However, by pure definition you are was a multiple discharge.

  • jeffb1911jeffb1911 Member Posts: 2,110 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    i had one years ago also, and fired it with lots of 38's, but not many 357's. There was a load that had something like 6 small bullets in it stacked together in 38, and 8 or so in 357 IIRC, but at 38 pressure levels. It was not that bad to shoot. 3 at one time might hurt though!

    i never had any problem out of mine however. i did fire some very hot cor bon loads out of it, but not many.
  • BigLoop22BigLoop22 Member Posts: 619 ✭✭
    edited November -1

    That must have been so very unfunny, that if it happened to me, I do not know if I could have genuinely laughed with MY father for quite awhile.[:0][V][;)] However, I am glad that you are alright.[:)]

    I have heard of one of those guns purposely being modified to shoot 2 barrels at once. Of course, it is still a RUMOR, but if you Google your brand of derringer, and include the title of a Harrison Ford movie, from 1982, then you may read of that RUMOR. The sequence, showing this RUMORED double discharge, is contained within the first 5 minutes of the movie.
  • nunnnunn Forums Admins, Member, Moderator Posts: 35,711 ******
    edited November -1
    IIRC, that gun was only in production a short time. When a manufacturer makes a new gun, and then stops making it a short time later, there is usually a reason.
  • EVILDR235EVILDR235 Member Posts: 4,847
    edited November -1
    Sounds like the COP.

  • blyeooblyeoo Member Posts: 31 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    I agree with you whole heartedly BigLoop22. The situation of the gun firing multiple barrels simultaneously and blowing the breech open, was not funny unto itself........and I'm certain that wasn't the cause of dads laughter. The humor was (and still remains) in the irony of dad's old geezer experience and wisdom reflected in his immediate caution in shooting that piece. Then me, the young buck (at the time) not heeding his caution, but going on to brag about its attributes. Next thing ya know, I'm dancing around shaking my hand..........I probably even uttered some bad language.

    I hope nobody misunderstands and thinks that I'm making lite of a potentially catastrophic failure. Indeed, a mechanical failure such as that is no laughing matter.

    Obviously, I was being watched over that day and I was able to dance away without injury (save a stinging hand)............except maybe my young buck pride.

    But ya know, my Guardian Angel probably got a chuckle out of that one too.

    BTW, dad is now 87 and can still hit what he aims at......<smile>......guess I'm no longer a young buck......LOL
  • blyeooblyeoo Member Posts: 31 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    You are so right Nunn.
Sign In or Register to comment.