DoubleTap Defense .45ACP Pocket Derringer – New Gun Review
From GunsAmerica.com- by Wayne Lincourt- The DoubleTap Tactical Pocket Pistol is an over/under break action derringer capable of delivering two rounds of 9 mm or .45ACP as fast as you can pull the trigger. It is sold as a simple and rugged option for deep concealment or backup. Make no mistake, this is not a range gun or plinker. It’s designed for one purpose and one purpose only – saving your life. We first saw the DoubleTap almost two years at SHOT Show 2012, but after some hiccups with manufacturing contracts and parts suppliers, the DoubleTap pistol is just now finding its way into the market. Our big question, and yours most likely, is the street practicality of the DoubleTap. The .45ACP is no kitten when it comes to recoil, and even though your followup shots are limited to one in the two shot pistol, an “ouch that hurts” after the first shot wouldn’t be the ideal in a concealed carry pistol. There are a lot of perfectly good pocket pistols on the market, and this gun has several red flags, as well as some outright user discomfort. At an MSRP starting at $499 for a two shot derringer, do we really need the DoubleTap?
Designer and company president, Ray Kohout, set out to build a gun that was small, powerful, and reliable,and when you get right down to it, he has succeeded. This DoubleTap is a true double barrel derringer, and those barrels are made from 17-4 PH stainless steel, a premium steel noted for its strength, corrosion resistance, and mechanical properties. The inside and outside are coated with Mil-Spec Black Nitride coating. All internal parts of the trigger/hammer assembly are stainless steel as are the screws holding it all together. The DoubleTap frame is machined from 7075 aluminum alloy, recognized for its mechanical and fatigue strength, comparable to many steels. The frame is protected from corrosion by a Type III Mil-Spec (Hardcoat) anodize which impregnates the aluminum and provides a very hard ceramic type coating. Fit and finish are excellent.
The DoubleTap is just over 5/8 of an inch wide (.665 inches to be precise), 5.5 inches long and 3.9 inches high, it slips easily into a pocket or inside your waistband. The aluminum frame model with a .45 caliber ported barrel weighed in at 13.4 ounces. Compared to even the smallest semi-autos and revolvers, it is small, narrow, and light with nothing protruding to snag on holster or clothing. The hammers and barrel-select mechanism are internal. The only part of the firing mechanism that is external is the trigger, which is one piece from its face to the back of the trigger guard (nothing can get behind it to prevent its operation). It will fire from inside your pocket, if someone else has their hand around it, and even pressed against an adversary. There are fewer moving parts involved in each cycle of the gun than a revolver.
We used two types of .45ACP for our testing, Remington 230 gr. full metal jacket, and Federal Hydra-shock 230 gr. jacketed hollow points. Both would be considered popular rounds for concealed carry, and firing both of them in the DoubleTap is a memorable experience. (Pain has a way of imprinting deep memories.) The combination of light weight, a hard narrow frame, and .45ACP recoil results in substantial felt recoil, especially in the first joints of your index finger and thumb. Granted, the gun is purpose built. You don’t buy a DoubleTap for a day of comfortable plinking, and it can, from our limited test of 46 rounds, (more on that later) reliably deliver two .45 rounds at short range. Technically this is all you need for self defense in most gunfights, but, though the gun is a good idea in theory, but if the recoil is too unpleasant to practice with (it is), you aren’t going to practice with it. Then, not having shot the gun a lot, you might flinch expecting what you know is uncomfortable recoil. How great a choice is this gun for saving your life in a gunfight? I don’t know about you, but I don’t walk around with shooting gloves on my hands, and I couldn’t shoot more than 46 rounds WITH shooting gloves.
There is no external hammer or safety on the DoubleTap, which means that it relies on a heavy pull as its only means of preventing an accidental discharge. The trigger weight is heavy enough to carry without the need of a safety, just like a double action revolver. My trigger gauge only goes up to 12 pounds and this trigger is closer to 14 pounds. In the adrenaline charged state you’d be in if you had to use a gun in self defense, you probably wouldn’t notice. However, anyone with limited hand strength should try before they buy. This heavy of a trigger pull, with an expectant heavy hit of recoil, is not going to make for accurate shooting from most shooters.
My own accuracy testing was curtailed by a hand that had seen enough pain, but you can see from the targets that at 7 yards the DoubleTap grouped into two distinct groups about 8” apart. They weren’t great groups, mostly because of the recoil and the trigger pull. If you want to say “hey a derringer is a belly gun anyway,” fine. At 4 feet it hits what you aim at, and it didn’t break in our limited tests. The barrels are ported on our purchased gun, and though the ports do seem to reduce some muzzle flip, they most likely kill whatever velocity the gun had that brought it close to true .45ACP ballistics. I hadn’t made it to the chronograph when my hand gave out, but simple common sense will tell you that the velocity of the cartridge will only increase during the first inch or so of travel, then the rest of the powder will burn in the ports section of the barrel, and outside the gun. It gun makes a heck of a big bang and a flash though, it that means anything to you.
The DoubleTap opens just like a classic Remington derringer, by tilting the barrels down on a hinge. An ambidextrous thumb-activated barrel release slides smoothly to the rear to release the barrels, and it is much more of a secure device than the inexpensive derringers that have been in the market for many years. A spring automatically tilts the barrels up for easy access to the chambers. You can either manually insert the two cartridges, or use the loading strip that comes with the gun. These loading strips are also available from the company as an accessory, so you could fill up a pouch with two shot strips to carry with the gun if you so chose. They also make a 6 round strip, and all of these come in both the 9mm and .45ACP versions. The loading strips hold the rounds by the rim, spaced the same as the barrels, to facilitate loading. It’s a soft rubber tab with a tail for gripping and you just slide the rounds home and peel it off. The bottom f the grip also has a compartment for a spare 2 round strip. My preference would be to carry multiples of the 2 round strip than the six round.
To take the gun apart for cleaning, you take out the pin that secures the barrels at the front of the frame. It easily separates into the barrels and the frame. (Even easier if you should have a chopstick handy to push out the pin.) The barrel spring is captured, meaning it doesn’t fly across the room when you remove the barrels. There are no user serviceable parts in the frame and if you open it you void the warranty. Internal parts are lubricated by the factory and no further lubrication is needed. This is really important for you “take aparters” out there who take guns apart before you even fire them. Don’t do this with the DoubleTap. What this says about the gun is that the parts inside are position sensitive, which begs a question on the long term reliability of the gun under heavy use. Just because it isn’t comfortable to shoot the DoubleTap doesn’t mean that you should only expect the gun to be reliable if you don’t. We can get a cheap derringer that is made under those assumptions.
One nice feature is that all four barrel offerings fit the frame so you can change between 9 mm and .45 acp in either a non-ported or ported barrel. Other caliber barrels, including .40S&W, will be introduced over the coming months. The test gun was the aluminum frame version with a .45ACP ported barrel.
Another important note on the DoubleTap is that the manufacturer recommends the use of “standard factory ammunition loaded to U.S. Industry Standards, including ammunition loaded in brass or aluminum cases.” They very definitely do not want you using +P or +P+ ammo. Considering how short the barrels are, it wouldn’t make much difference in performance anyway, because most of the powder burns outside the barrel even in standard loads on a barrel this short. The extra pressure loads could damage your gun, and can possibly cause an injury. I don’t know how loud you can scream STAY AWAY on this gun, but things do seem to be adding up that way. A gun made in the modern era should not be constructed too weak for same caliber ammunition that is on the shelf. The +p designation on old calibers is meant to tell you not to fire it in old guns that were not built with the current technology in metalurgy.
The overall ergonomics on the DoubleTap aren’t terrible outside of the punishing recoil. Even though the frame is hard and fairly smooth, there’s enough texture on the front and sides of the grip to ensure easy controllability. There is some muzzle flip, as you would expect, although it’s not severe. The porting undoubtedly tames it somewhat from what a non-ported barrel would deliver. The trigger travel is about half an inch and is heavy but relatively smooth. It stacks or requires more force to pull just before let-off, then breaks cleanly.
I shot the DoubleTap for accuracy at 7 yards, which is in or under statistically standard gunfight distances. Although the top barrel sits right on top of the bottom barrel, there’s more muzzle flip when firing the top barrel and the rounds grouped about eight inches higher than those from the lower barrel. Practically speaking, you want to fire the bottom barrel first. This would aid in getting back on target faster for a follow-up shot because there’s less muzzle flip. Unfortunately the DoubleTap has no barrel selector. You have to cycle the selector to the bottom barrel, which means the last time you pull the trigger before loading, it should fire the top barrel. To determine which barrel is firing first, load both barrels and fire a shot, then open the breech to see which barrel fired. If the top barrel fired, as happened with the test gun, and you want the lower barrel to fire first, simply unload both barrels, close the action and pull the trigger all the way through once. Now the lower barrel is set to fire next. Oops, that sounds incredibly ridiculous. Maybe try it with snap caps and tissue paper? Whatever.
The patented double hammer sequential firing system is unique to this gun. In a typical double-action revolver, a series of levers cock a single hammer and drop it on the firing pin. There are two hammers inside the DoubleTap frame, one for each barrel. When you pull the trigger, a lever turns a notched wheel like an escarpment on a watch. Cams on either side of the wheel set and release one of the hammers. At the next trigger pull, the other hammer is activated. It’s a simple and rugged setup providing double strike capability on failures to fire. But you’d have to pull the trigger three times to get back to the failed round.
Due to the free floating firing pins, when the first round is fired, the firing pin leaves a small divot mark on the other round, from the firing pin moving back and forth under recoil. Without the weight of the hammer behind it, however, there’s nowhere near enough force to ignite the primer on this second round, theoretically . As you can see from the accompanying photo, it doesn’t dent the primer at all, but then again, neither does an M1A if you bang the muzzle on the ground, yet that gun comes with a whole bunch of warnings not to bang it on the ground, and to be aware that even the bolt coming into battery can sometimes ignite a round. Again, just how loud can a gun scream STAY AWAY?
It would have been nice to have fired a few hundred rounds to prove the dependability first-hand. Few of our reviews involve less than that, and we usually use more than one shooter, but there was no way I would invite a friend to shoot the DoubleTap. My hand still hurts. My pain threshold, topped out at 40 rounds, and I forced myself to shoot 6 more. There were no malfunctions of any kind with the 46 rounds fired. Even though there are no ejectors, most of the spent cartridges dropped free. Out of the 46 rounds, I only had to nudge three cases out with my thumbnail.
Ultimately there is a reason why every gun in the market is made. The DoubleTap is a good idea, but laws of physics work against it from the outset. Recoil is directly proportional to weight, and focusing all of the recoil in a light .45ACP gun back into 5/8ths of an inch of solid aluminum probably wasn’t the best idea. It also seems to be a bit dainty with strict orders from the manufacturer prohibiting the dissasembly of the gun, as well as not being able to handle +p ammo. MSRP is $569 for the aluminum frame, .45 acp ported barrel gun. The non-ported barrel gun is $499. Extra barrels are $199 (non-ported) and $269 (ported). Availability is in somewhat short supply, as it is with most popular guns these days, but they’re out there. There are several new in box (NIB) guns listed on GunsAmerica, and our test gun was purchased from a local dealer. If your intent is to carry a belly gun for only the most limited of face to face gunfights, and you don’t intend to practice with the gun at all, have at it. The DoubleTap is pretty nifty. Otherwise, this is a STAY AWAY.
DoubleTap Derringer in aluminum frame and .45ACP ported barrel. It also comes in 9mm and should be out soon in .40S&W. All of he barrels are interchangeable and can be purchased from the company for $199 each.
Takedown by pushing out the pin at the front of the frame and lifting out the barrels.
The strength of the Doubletap is that it is only 5/8ths of an inch thick. But from a recoil standpoint this is also it’s major weakness. Your trigger finger and palm get a pretty good beating. The pin toward the bottom of the grip is for attaching a lanyard.
This is the company graphic of the DoubleTap. As you can see, it has two separate firing pins with an alternating hammer. One of the original selling points of the gun was that it had very few moving pieces, but that would only be an advantage if you could take it apart and put it back together easily. A gun that you can’t take apart without voiding the warranty is the equivalent of a Swiss watch under the stress of .45ACP recoil, and this throws up all kinds of red flags at a $499 MSRP, in a gun that they makers are asking you to entrust your life to.
Grip compartment cartridge trap with 2 rounds in the included loading device.
Fold the loading device tab forward to close the cartridge trap door.
This is the ported model of the DoubleTap. It has 5 ports per side per barrel. Though this feature probably does reduce muzzle flip to some degree, we were not able to test them side by side (our test gun was purchased not sent to us by the company). We did not chronograph the speed of the bullets leaving the barrel, but these ports should substantially reduce the velocity.
Offhand from 21 feet the barrels formed two separate groups.
When the first round is fired, the floating firing pin in the other chamber leaves a light witness mark on the other primer.
Spring loaded ball bearings in the breech faces facilitate a smooth closing of the action. (ED NOTE: Until they fall out.)
Capture strip and loading device for carrying additional rounds.
You can easily do a visual check to see if the chambers are loaded.
Shot from 4 feet as fast as I could pull the trigger, the two groups were still distinctly apart, but lower barrel grouped in a little more than an inch. As a “belly gun,” thought to be the realm of derringers through the ages, the DoubleTap is just fine in accuracy.