by T. Logan Metesh, Firearms Specialist, NRA Museums - Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Remington’s two-shot Double Derringer was introduced in 1866. During its production run spanning over the course of 69 years, more than 150,000 were produced. The pistol was favorable during its time and was a popular concealed carry option.
Even though this model identifies most with the Wild West and was still being made when Franklin D. Roosevelt was President, the history of this particular example takes place halfway around the world in the same year the public was introduced to Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts gang.
When the Korean War began in 1950, Remington’s Double Derringer pocket pistol had been out of production for a decade and a half. Despite this, the guns were still quite popular for personal protection purposes.
Bryce Poe II of the United States Air Force thought the gun would be a good choice for some last-ditch protection during the Korean War. As he progressed in his career, Poe became a four-star Air Force General in 1978 and flew a total of 90 combat missions in 1950-51, including the first Air Force jet reconnaissance sortie. Throughout it all, he had his own Remington Double Derring strapped to his wrist in a special-made holster.
Poe’s pistol is what collectors call a “Type II” or “Model 3” based on the barrel rib information. This variety was made between 1888 and 1911. With 80,000 made during that timeframe, they are the most common variety of the design. Because they were stamped with batch numbers instead of serial numbers, the exact year Poe’s pistol was made cannot be determined.
Chambered for the .41 rimfire cartridge, the Double Derringer has a shifting firing pin, which enables it to fire one barrel and then the other while only having one trigger. The right side of the frame has a lever that rotates forward, unlocking the barrels. Hinged to the top strap, the barrels swing up enabling the shooter to use the manual extractor to remove the spent cartridges and reload with fresh ones.
History holds many examples of soldiers carrying non-issued firearms as an extra form of “insurance.” Poe’s Double Derringer is just one of the many stories that can be told about a wide variety of firearms used as extra protection by our Armed Forces throughout the centuries.
Check out this segment from Curator's Corner featuring Remington’s Double Derringer:
Check out this unique piece and others in person at the National Firearms Museum in Fairfax, Virginia. You can also tune into Curator's Corner on NRATV airing Thursdays at 3:35pm ET for more segments on historical firearms!