If you’ve ever fired a North American Arms revolver then you probably came to the same conclusions as me, those little suckers can shoot! In previous testing I found the Ranger II to be astonishingly consistent, but the point of impact needed to be straightened out a bit. Also to further prove that you can never satisfy a gun writer, after years of screaming “make it smaller,” a full day on the range left me saying, “now make it bigger.” For those like myself who are looking for a mini revolver that doesn’t feel “mini,” I give you the Black Widow. This upsized version of the design that put North American Arms on the map boasts real sights and a grip that is the company’s most comfortable yet.
The Black Widow comes in two different finishes with two different sight options. For the finish, you have your choice of stainless steel or a stealthy all-black PVD coating. As for sights you have the option of fixed or adjustable, both made by Marble Arms, and both constructed of solid steel. The defined sights play a major role in the pistol’s accuracy increase, as does the longer 2” barrel. This pistol comes standard chambered in .22 Magnum but for just $35 more (or 3 boxes of Magnum ammo) you can purchase the .22LR conversion cylinder. Do yourself a favor; get it–because this thing is fun to shoot.
During my range day, I gave the gun a good once over and appreciated the fine craftsmanship that went into this little pistol. The ribbed and vented frame added a touch of flair and at the same time aid in cooling and glare reduction. What I appreciated most though was the elongated and enlarged rubber grip with the signature black widow hourglass medallion embedded into it. While the finger grooves suggest a two-finger hold, if you choke up enough you can almost get all three of your fingers wrapped around it. This makes the heavier defensive-style trigger far easier to control, and helps to ensure that your rounds land exactly where they should go.
For our test firing, we initially set up some paper and a Birchwood Casey 66% IPSC target out at 10 yards. Most would argue that this is too far for a micro pistol but with good sights and a cozy grip, I begged to differ. We had an assortment of CCI test fodder to send downrange which consisted of the new .22LR Stangers and .22LR Poly-coated Clean 22. Aside from the Long Rifle offerings we also brought out CCI’s VNT .22 Magnum load.
We found that the Black Widow wasn’t very picky and produced one-inch accuracy with all three types of ammo; many groups even approached the half-inch mark. Then again, I’d expect no less from CCI rimfire ammo. The function was fine and shooting it was a dream as it had that full-gun feeling to it. We found the sights to fit together nearly lock-and-key, leaving very little room for windage error due to sight picture. They were also dead-on for the distances that we tested to, and we had no problem putting a full cylinder onto the head of our 66% IPSC from as far back as 15 yards. These came pre-adjusted at the factory, but if needed, a single screw is all that needs to be loosened to drift-adjust the rear sight within the dovetail notch.
The North American Arms Black Widow is a hoot to work with, but I wasn’t a fan of the slow reloading process, namely because I wanted to shoot this thing all day long! The process starts with twisting the cylinder pin lock so that you can remove the cylinder pin. Then the cylinder can be removed from the frame, unloaded, reloaded, and replaced. This system also doesn’t allow for an ejector rod, so you need to use the pin to knock out the fired cases.
On the plus side unfired cases flop right out, so you’ll save a little time there if you didn’t finish the entire cylinder. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not a deal-breaker, it just means you’ll send fewer rounds downrange when you’re practicing….which in today’s ammo market might not be considered a bad thing. For more information visit northamericanarms.com