Pat Cascio’s Product Review: Double Tap Defense Derringer

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Back in early 1974, I worked as a plain clothes store detective for a chain called Wieboldt’s Department Stores. If I recall correctly, they had about 16 stores in and around the Chicago area. Sadly, they went out of business in 1986. I was moved around, several times, from one store to another, and ultimately I ended-up on the tactical team. We traveled around to different stores, mostly working on employee thefts, because the employees didn’t know who we were. Prior to this, I was the assistant security manager, which again was a plain clothes, armed store detective, at a suburban store in Lombard, IL. At that time, it was a fairly well-to-do suburb. I have no idea if it is still like that. It was a VERY boring store to work at, because the rich just didn’t shoplift.

While working at the Wieboldt’s store in Lombard, IL one of the duties I had was taking daily bank deposits to the bank at the end of the mall parking lot, where the store was located. The company was too cheap to pay for armored car service, to haul a bag of money and checks from the store to the end of the parking lot. On Monday mornings, I could be carrying as much as $50,000 or $60,000 in cash for the deposit. The money was in a bank bag, and it was stuffed inside of a store labeled paper bag, supposedly so no one would know what I was carrying. The walk wasn’t that far, maybe a couple hundred yards. It was quicker to walk to the bank than it was to get in my car and drive there and back, so I always walked to the bank.

At the time, I carried a S&W Model 15 nickel-plated snub-nose revolver in a shoulder holster. I never cared for inside the waist holsters, and I still don’t! While making the daily deposits for the store, sans Sundays, I carried a little two-shot .22 LR derringer in my right front jacket pocket, and I kept my hand on that little derringer while walking to the bank. I surmised back then that I could at least get off one or maybe both shots from that little handgun, if someone was attempting to rob me of the bank deposit and then I’d have time to reach for my main handgun to further engage the attacker. Luckily, no one ever tried to relieve me of the money I was carrying. That was my first experience at carrying a two-shot handgun.

Over the years, that little two-shot derringer found a new home. My mother borrowed it for her business, and where it ended up, I have no idea. My mother and aunt ran a hand-blown glass business, in a rather tough neighborhood in Chicago, and I guess they felt protected by that little two-shot handgun. I’ve since owned a couple more two-shot derringers, as well as a couple single shot handguns, and I guess you could call them “derringers” as well. Never were they my first-line of defense, though.

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Enter the Double Tap Defense two-shot derringer. I don’t have all the details as to why this little handgun was so long in coming on the market, but it was a couple years late in coming out. The PR firm that was handling all the advertising for this company kept promising “next week” or “next month” for a sample. After more than a year of waiting, I asked to have my name removed from the gun writer’s list of those who requested a sample. At some point, a little over a year ago, the local gun shop that I haunt received a couple of the Double Tap handguns, and they were priced at $499! OUCH!!! I passed!

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Recently, my local gun shop scored a fantastic deal on Double Tap handguns, in 9mm or .45ACP. They were (still are) selling them for $269 each. While sitting there, waiting on UPS to bring me another gun sample that day for an article, I got to playing around with the .45ACP Double Tap, and I was impressed as to how well it was made. It’s not your typical two-shot derringer, where you have to cock the external hammer for each shot. Instead, the Double Tap is fired by simply pulling the trigger twice to fire both barrels. While the trigger pull is rather long, it is smooth. Kudos go to Double Tap on that aspect of the gun. The front sight is attached to the barrel, while the rear sight is part of the frame of the gun. To my aged eyes, I could not see either the front or rear sights without my reading glasses on.

At present, Double Tap Defense is offering their little gun, which fits nicely in your hand or a pocket, in two calibers– 9mm or .45ACP– with the promise of other calibers to come. Also, you can easily swap barrels so you can fire either caliber; it takes all of 30-seconds to push out a pin, remove the barrel, put on another barrel, replace the pin, and you’re ready to go. I purchased the .45ACP that day at the gun shop! The 9mm barrel was selling for $99.00 at the shop. Ihave more on this later.

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The Double Tap has a 3″ Bbl, and that’s about as short as you can get it, without sacrificing any more velocity than you’re already going to lose from a .45ACP or 9mm round. There is also an ambidextrous thumb release for easy opening of the barrels, one stacked on top of the other. The gun is not made out of stampings; it’s CNC machined and made in the USA! No plastic parts are to be found on the gun, either. The finish is standard Mil-Spec gray and durable! You can also get an optional ported barrel, at a bit more money if you want that feature. You can have your Double Tap in Aluminum or Titanium; the Ti model is quite a bit more. The gun weights in at 15-oz for the Aluminum-framed version. I purchased the Aluminum version. All-in-all, the gun is very well made.

In the grip of the Double Tap, there is a hidden compartment with room for two additional rounds that are placed on a two-round speed strip, so they don’t rattle around and are fast and easy to get to for a fairly fast reload, believe it or not. I thought the little gun would be slow to reload two more rounds, after firing the first two rounds. Nope! The speed strip makes it fast and easy! You also get another speed strip that holds six more additional rounds that you can carry in a purse or pocket. All things considered, I couldn’t really find anything to fault with the little Double Tap, that is, until I fired it.

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I’m here to tell you that I’ve fired some light-weight .44 Mag revolvers with +P loads before, and while they caught my attention they didn’t hurt my hand. The Double Tap hurt the web of my hand, and it hurt for several days! I had some Black Hills Ammunition 230-gr FMJ and 230-gr JHP loads on hand to test in the Double Tap. From Buffalo Bore Ammunition I had their 160-gr low-recoil, standard velocity 160-gr Barnes TAC XP, all copper hollow point loads. To be sure, Double Tap states that you should NEVER fire +P rounds in their little guns. That’s understood!!! Good!!!

Right after I fired the first round from the Double Tap, I honestly thought that the gun might have blown-up in my hand. It hurt that much. Now, I’m no little wimp of a guy, to be sure. However, my hand hurt, and it hurt a lot. I fired the second barrel; it too hurt the web of my hand, a LOT! I fired several more rounds, using the speed loader, and it really does making reloading fast and easy. However, no matter what ammo I used, it hurt my hand. A young man who works at the gun shop told me I was a wimp. Well, he had the opportunity to fire the Double Tap at my digs, and he didn’t want to fire the second barrel, but I chided him into do so. Now, he is about 6′ 6″ tall and easily weighs in at 300-lbs; he’s strong, real strong. Yet, the Double Tap was too much for him. His father, who is also that big, didn’t find any joy in firing the Double Tap either.

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I purchased the 9mm dual barrel at the gun shop, hoping it wouldn’t hurt as much as the .45ACP version did. Now, while the 9mm was more comfortable to shoot, it still stung the web of my hand. It didn’t hurt like the .45ACP did, but it stung pretty good, too! I used some Black Hills 9mm ammo for testing out the 9mm barrels, and these were only their 115-gr FMJ loads, not hot-stepping +P loads. Still, the gun stung my hand.

I carried the little Double Tap in my right rear pocket of my cargo pants in a pocket holster from Blackhawk Products, www.blackhawk.com, and the Double tap rode nicely in this holster. It’s the only way to carry a gun in your pocket. You must use a holster designed for pocket carry. Don’t ever just carry a handgun loosely in your pocket, like I did many years ago.

Here’s my thoughts on the Double Tap. First of all, I would never carry the Double Tap as my one and only self-defense handgun. Two shots just aren’t very comforting. Secondly, from my point of view, this gun is best reserved for up-close and personal self-defense. I could hit a target at 15-feet with the lower barrel, which is zeroed for the sights. However, using the second barrel, I could completely miss the target, because there was no such thing as a “group” when firing the Double Tap. The Double Tap is NOT a gun you want to go out and practice with on a regular basis. It will either hurt the web of your hand in .45ACP, or it will surely sting your hand in 9mm, period! This wasn’t just me; others who fired the gun said the same thing.

The Double Tap is best reserved as a back-up handgun to whatever your main handgun is you carry for self-defense. In my case, it would be a back-up to my back-up, which is a Ruger LCP .380 ACP that I carry on my ankle. However, I don’t see myself actually needing a main handgun and two back-up handguns. I honestly wouldn’t recommend the Double Tap to a woman; it just hurts too much to shoot, period! I know, some will say “any handgun is better than no gun at all.” Well, maybe that’s true and maybe not! If you are recoil shy or sensitive when you fire the Double Tap in practice, you may completely miss your target in real-life because you will be anticipating the hurt that the Double Tap delivers on both ends. The Double Tap is a handgun you buy, take out and fire half a dozen rounds through it, and then carry it, take it out six months later to fire again, and carry it. Believe me, it will not give you much pleasure to shoot a box of ammo through this gun in one shooting session or, for that matter, over several shooting sessions.

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One last thing that I wanted to mention is that the front of the trigger guard on the Double Tap has serrations on it for placement of the index finger of your off-hand when firing the gun two-handed. Well, don’t!!! I mean, don’t place your finger there! It is too close to the lower barrel, and I can see someone getting their finger in front of the barrel when firing in a hurry and completely blowing that finger off.

I was really hoping the Double Tap was going to be a handgun I would like to carry as a back-up gun only, never as a main gun for self-defense. However, the recoil and hurt was enough for me to just get rid of the gun in very short order. Was it well made? You betcha! Double Tap has done an outstanding job. It’s probably the best made two-shot derringer I’ve ever seen, and I like the double-action trigger pull, too. I would like to see this gun in .380ACP for a more enjoyable shooting session, one that wouldn’t hurt my hand so much. Double Tap has said they are coming out with more calibers. For me, the .45ACP was too painful to shoot. Six rounds was my absolute max pain threshhold; the 9mm was better, but it still stung. Once again, it wasn’t just me complaining about the Double Tap hurting the hand when fired. Maybe others are more manly than me and my friends, but we just didn’t get a lot of pleasure at all out of shooting the Double Tap.

– Senior Product Review Editor, Pat Cascio

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