Monday, March 12, 2012

Beasties in the Night - the Bond Snake Slayer

If you are confronted with a deadly beast just kill it. Don't appoint a National Beast Czar and wait to see what happens. - Brigid

I spend a fair amount of time outdoors (by choice, not restraining order as Red Green would say). Often I have a choice of where I am. Other times I do not. I've been on the side of a mountain or two, more jungle than I like, thank you, and the"Island of the Giant Spiders in My Hotel Bed". The humidity, bad water, and those bugs the size of Volkswagens are one thing. Throw in some bio hazards and locals from other lands that occassional want to shoot at you and the fun meter drops rapidly.

But that is not the reason I wear really stout, high boots. For it's the small snakes in the grass that will do you the most harm.

I remember one work site that was in the Everglades. To this day I remember the sound as we walked down into the sawgrass towards the scene, the slithering rustle of what sounded like hundreds of snakes getting the heck out of Dodge. I about wet myself when I reached into my lunch bag later and touched the rope of black licorice I had forgotten about.

The one I've run into most often is the coral snake of which, world wide, there are over 65 recognized species.They really are not all that large as snakes go, tending to be very secretive fossorial snakes, happy to stay buried in the ground or the leaf litter of a rain forest until ready to meet your foot or your ankle, which they do with fangs that are also considered small, fixed to the front jaw and normally only if they feel you are a real threat.

Due to the time it takes for the venom take effect, coral snakes have a tendency to hold on to a victim when biting, unlike larger and more obvious vipers which have retractable fangs and tend to prefer to strike and let go immediately.

Despite their relatively small size, and a reputation for not being historically aggressive, their venom is a powerful neurotoxin.

In the far corners of the world, death awaits, and it often waits in colorfully deceptive form.

Which is why I was happy to try out a firearm known as the Snake Slayer.

A colleague purchased one to add to his collection and let me go try it out. The Snake Slayer IV. It was small, but heavy with a crossbar safety, as well as being single-action. Assuming you have some basics in firearm handling, the risk of accidental discharge on this is reduced to about nil by the engineers that designed it.

What ammo to take? There's an assortment around here. The Snake Slayer has interchangeable barrels and can take the .410 shotgun shells, but for that day it was going to be chambered for .45 Long Colt. Good thing there's some of that around. The rest of the ammo was going to be left home.
The 45 Colt originally was a blackpowder cartridge, but modern loadings use smokeless powder. The original blackpowder loads called for 28 to 40 grains of blackpowder behind a 255-grain lead bullet. These loads developed muzzle velocities of up to 1000 feet per second (1).

Because of this power and its excellent accuracy the .45 Colt was the most-used cartridge of its time, succeeding the .44 WCF (also known as the .44-40 Winchester). It was said that the cartridge was powerful enough to knock a man to the ground in a single shot and net lore has it that the US Army apparently asked Colt to go back to the drawing board and produce a less-powerful version of the cartridge for Army use as there were complaints from professional soldiers about it's "hard hitting" even firing it out of 7-1/2" barrels from a full-sized Colt Single Action Army revolver.

But even with today's less powerful modern factory loads, this little Snake Slayer had almost no barrel at all (3 1/2 inches) and none of the mass of the Colt to absorb the recoil. Weak wrists need not apply. Bang OW! Bang OW!

There was a young man next to me at the range who was giving the gun and me, the eye. I'm not surprised he looked over, the noise got his attention. He had some .45 acp for something in his bag and was shooting a Glock 9 mm. He looked at the Bond and said "oh it's so tiny!? (snort). "Does that hurt your widdle hand" (snort).

Rather than get defensive for his attitude, I batted my big green eyes, smiled sweetly and said "do you want to try it?" giving it to him, safety on, and a couple rounds chambered.

He was so eager to show me how the big boys shoot he didn't notice how big the bore of the barrels were.Bang OW! Son of a Bitch!! Bang OW!

Once the little bit of smoke cleared, he grinned at me and said "Awesome! ! Where'd you get that?"

I know. I'm bad.

I checked for accuracy. Nothing close to a bullseye but I didn't expect that with a derringer. I do not know if this unique to just this model but the trigger actually pulls back and down. When I pulled it straight back the trigger pull was a lot more, around 10 pounds I'd guess. But if I pulled down and back in the same motion the trigger pull dropped to what felt like less than half that. With the short barrel, that helped from keeping the barrel from being pulled down and lowering the shot. Good to know. In any case, the accuracy was decent. In up front self defense, it would definitely hurt someone. Just the psychological effect of the noise and the smoke would be such that if you discharged it on some dark street, any felon in the area would be half way to the nearest bus station before you fired again. That's if he wasn't your target and was still walking after the wound cavity a short distance .45 LC is going to give out of that barrel.

It's not a gun for the very first time shooter or the weak of hand. Let's face it, this baby lets you know you've fired it. But you are using it for up close self defense, not an afternoon of plinking. It was pretty heavy for its small size, bulky but not too much, and they have some good holsters available for it on their website. It is built by Bond Arms, a well known, dependable and trusted American company, something I like to see. The quality and care that goes into the manufacture of this firearm definitely shows. In all, I was really glad I got a chance to try it out. It was a nifty little gun, discrete with attitude, likely able to take care of any "beasts in the night" you might meet quick, close up and personal.

(1) John Taffin (July 2001). "The Custom Loading .45 Colt". Guns Magazine.


  1. Oh, I bet you are quite the vixen at the range! Good on you, and a fantastic review of the handgun and cartridges.

    I was going to make a blog post out of all the Airweights floating around (oh wait I did).

    Range protocol and such is really interesting. You find out real soon who is who. Professional decorum prevents me from saying a lot, but here is an overheard conversation from yesterday at the range (I will not post on my Blog).

    "Hey here is my new SuperBlaster X 1911, just one of the expensive hobbies I have, just got it, what do you think?" Someone peers into the box and says: "Is gun, will go bang".


  2. Obviously, the finest Derringers come from Texas - Bond, from Granbury; and American Derringer, from Waco.

  3. Those Bonds are as finely built peace of machinery as I have seen. Got one for a 70 year old friend with health issues for self defense in his Prevost bus. Perfect for him - replaced a Taurus Judge he no longer had the strength to handle. Also easy for him to carry on his Arizona desert excursions.

  4. I've an American Derringer M4 Alaskan Survival in .45/70, .45 Long Colt/.410

    It is brutal. But it will draw a few looks at the range.

  5. Velox?? You named that poor lost Velociraptor after a Frence cycling rim tape?? Hehehe...

    Love the range story too. Isn't it fun, not being what the range clowns expect out there?


  6. Bang,OW! Sometimes the young only seem to learn through pain. I'm not a fan of the huge .45/.410 revolvers with court of law related names Supreme Court Justice, Eric Holder, etc.; but I've always liked the idea of derringers in the same calibers. I've a mind to get a Bond loaded with .410's carried crossdraw for quick access when behind the wheel. I would still have my IWB pistol at all times ready once I've exited the vehicle.

  7. I had a friend that stepped off his porch one night to kill a rattlesnake but ended up getting bitten. It wasn't fatal but made him very sick. One night about six months later, he spied another snake but elected to stay on the porch and emptied his revolver into it. The next morning he asked his wife to go out on the porch and see if she could see the dead snake. She replied, "No, I don't see a dead snake but someone has shot the hell out of our water hose!"

  8. My previous pair of leather hiking boots sported a pair of slits near the inside ball of the right foot, roughly 3/4" apart and about a 1/4" in length. Thankfully, it didn't reach my flesh. Sadly, I never knew when it happened.

  9. Neat gun. I have a derringer in 38 special I am sure the 45 has a good kick. The interchangeable barrels is a good idea.

  10. "It was a nifty little gun, discrete with attitude, likely able to take care of any "beasts in the night" you might meet quick, close up and personal."

    Yea, snake slayer, indeed. For that blindsided moment when you thought you were safe, but weren't.

    You're a great sales-lady, Brigid.

  11. Red and yella, kill a fella.

    or a broad. if I was a snake, I'd just bite the women.

    or maybe just lick them.

    hey, maybe that was the whole point of that 'Eve' thing. maybe eating the apple wasn't actually the 'original' sin, it was cunning... conair... whatever.

    man, did I wander off the reservation on THAT one. Good thing I used my inner voice.


  12. Not a big fan of derringers, HOWEVER, they are better than a pointy stick against velociraptors!

  13. Any gun that is "handy" enough to fit in your pocket whenever you go out is better than one that you don't take with you...(and then end up in situation/circumstances where you wish you had ANY gun). Derringers have their purpose and place.

  14. Red and yellow deadly fellow
    Red and black friend of Jack

    There is one advantage of cold winters,
    not many poisonous snakes in our neck of the woods.

  15. "Bang OW! Son of a Bitch!! Bang OW!"


    At my age, I'm thinking .38 cal would be a bit easier on my growing fragile finger bones.

    Reminds the the first time I shot a .44 magnum:

    "Bang OW! Son of a Bitch!! Bang OW!"


  16. Mrs. S:

    The way I heard it was:
    Red on yellow kills a fellow
    Red on black venom lack.

    Brigid: The guy deserved it.
    Personally I'd prefer a pocket 9, and I'm a guy. (I'd love a full sized revolver in .45 LC though).

  17. Yeah, that one certainly does not look like a fun one to shoot but could come in pretty handy. My parents have a creek in front of their house and I remember the terror growing up when the weather was really hot. I guess the water get too hot for the water moccasins or something and they will come up into the lawn. Definitely terrifying.

  18. Bang OW! Son of a Bitch!! Bang OW!
    "Awesome! ! Where'd you get that?"

    I wonder if it's on the California Pap List, Peon-Approved-Pistols?
    Illegal, immoral, fattening, or banned in California. Banned in Boston has nothing on the Sunshine, Granola, Flakes and Fruits crowd!

  19. I was reading gas meters one day in Port Aransas. I was walking through some tall grass and felt something kind of squishy roll under my boot as I set it down- and at the same time I felt something hit below my ankle.

    I said "CHIT- I just got bit by a snake!"

    Then I looked down and it was one of those curved heater-core hoses someone had dropped.

  20. The "down" trigger pull is a general trait with the Bond derringers I believe. I have read that in reviews and my son has one in 357. Until we figured that out, trigger pull was horrendous. Believe it or not, we could ring steel at 25 yards with the little guy with 38 loads - vicious to shoot with 357 though. Built like a bank vault but weighs almost as much as a snubby 5 shot 38. By the way, they sell extra barrels for them and you can get blemished ones for half price.

  21. while .44 special is my caliber of choice, i did roll up some .45 colt snake shot with some Speer shot capsules and some #7 shot from some old shotgun hulls. the copper heads are pretty bad in Lower AL and these are just the medicine for them. much less recoil, too.


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