Bond Snake Slayer Derringer

By Dr. Jim and Mary Clary

Bond Snake Slayer Derringer
Illustration courtesy of Bond Arms, Inc.

We are obviously not talking about James Bond's Walther PPK, but Gordon Bond's Snake Slayer that has more power and stopping power than the former. We want to point out that, even though the Bond gun is a derringer built in the classic Remington O/U style, we prefer the descriptive term "hand cannon," which it is.

Bond Arms builds exclusively in the U.S.A. and uses American made parts for all of their handguns. Even the grips and holsters are made in America. The Bond motto is, "Made in Texas, by Texans."

The Snake Slayer is available in .45 Colt/.410 shot shell or .38 Special/.357 Magnum. It is the most popular model in the extensive Bond Arms derringer line.

The Bond frame is machined from a solid block of high grade stainless steel, unlike cheap double-barrel pistols on the market whose frames are made from alloys of unknown origin. Secondly, the Bond gun is unique in that the barrels are interchangeable. You have a choice of 36 different barrels and 14 different calibers. You read correctly, one frame and you can fit barrels with 14 different calibers to it, depending upon your circumstances, conditions and personal preferences.

The Bond pistol is CAD designed for optimum configuration. However, more importantly, the frames and barrels are machined using Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) equipment. This allows them to maintain tolerances of 0.001 of an inch. This is what allows the Bond pistol to accept different barrels for various cartridges without custom fitting by a gunsmith.

Changing barrels requires only a 1/8 inch Allen wrench. The patented locking lever (which is also the rapid reloading lever) precisely locks the barrel to the frame for a perfect fit. To our knowledge, this is the only derringer on the market with user interchangeable barrels/calibers.

To change barrels:

  1. Push the locking lever handle down and swing the barrel away from the frame. Make sure the barrels are unloaded.
  2. Take a standard 1/8 inch allen wrench and remove the barrel hinge screw.
  3. With the screw removed, you can now remove the barrels from the frame.
  4. Align the new barrels into the frame, insert the barrel hinge screw and tighten.

Like most cartridge firing, over/under derringers, but unlike ordinary O/U guns, the Snake Slayer's barrels tip upward for loading and unloading. The hinge pin is above the breech and a square notch machined into the hinge forms the rear sight.

The Snake Slayer is a single action derringer that automatically switches from one barrel to the other each time the hammer is cocked. When cocking the hammer you will see a separate piece of metal on the left hand side, which is the hammer head. There is a cam that moves the hammer head up and down each time the hammer is cocked. When you cock the hammer, if the hammer head stays up this means that the top barrel will fire next. If the hammer head drops this means the bottom barrel will fire next.

You can pre-select the chamber you wish to fire by doing the following:

  1. Swing the barrel away from the frame to the unload position.
  2. Unload the pistol.
  3. Push the safety to the off (fire) position.
  4. Depress the trigger and push the hammer forward onto the firing pins.
  5. Look at the breech face where the firing pin protrudes and see which firing pin is visible. If you see the top firing pin, you will know that the next time the hammer is cocked the bottom chamber will fire.

Most of the competitive shooters that use the Bond derringer set the pistol to shoot the bottom chamber first. By selecting the bottom chamber first, the pistol recoils straight back with practically no muzzle flip, allowing a faster recovery time for the second shot.


  • Model: BASS
  • Calibers: .45 Long Colt/.410 or .38 Special/.357 Magnum
  • Barrel and frame material: Stainless steel
  • Barrel length: 3.5 in.
  • Sights: Front blade and fixed rear
  • Grips: Extended Rosewood
  • Overall length: 5.5 in.
  • Weight: 22 oz.
  • Country of origin: USA (Granbury, Texas)
  • 2017 MSRP: $568

They added a lot of extra features to this gun not found on other pocket pistols. For example, there is a stainless steel cross-bolt safety, rebounding hammer, retracting firing pins, automatic spent casing extractor (for rimmed cases) and a key entry internal Safety Locking Device (SLD) that is an effective child safety device.

The easy open locking lever is located on the left side of the frame just above and behind the trigger. Press the lever down to unlock and flip open the barrels for loading or unloading.

The chambers are honed to provide for smooth extraction of spent cases. For rimless cartridges, such as the 9mm Luger and .45 ACP, there is a cutout at the breech end of the barrel to permit their removal with a fingernail. (A good reason to stick with rimmed cartridges, such as .45 Colt and .38 Special. -Editor)

The trigger guard is removable, by means of an Allen wrench, for those who want a more conventional derringer look. We prefer the guard, as it makes it easier to hold and fire the pistol with both hands.

You do not incorporate all of these features in a firearm, unless your aim is to produce the best in its class. In our opinion, Bond Arms has succeeded in that goal.

How does this derringer shoot and is the recoil manageable? To find out, we headed to the Zia Rifle and Pistol Club outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico with several boxes of SIG SAUER Elite Ammunition.

The nice folks at SIG SAUER were kind enough to provide us with both .45 Colt and .38 Special cartridges (the calibers of our two interchangeable barrel sets) for this review. Our previous tests of SIG Elite Ammunition confirmed that it is as good as it gets and if you are going to test a firearm for accuracy, you want to use high quality ammunition.

We set Hoppe's bullseye pistol targets at 15 yards. Given the short barrels of the Snake Slayer, it is unlikely that we would ever try to shoot it at more than 15 yards. We used a Caldwell Tack Driver rest for stability. Multiple five shot groups were fired for record.

  • .45 Colt, 230 grain V-Crown @ 850 fps (JHP) at 15 yards: Smallest group: 1.75 in., Largest group: 4.25 in., Mean average group size: 2.25 in.
  • .38 Special, 125 grain V-Crown @ 965 fps (JHP) at 15 yards: Smallest group: 1.5 in., Largest group: 3.75 in., Mean average group size: 2.0 in.

As you can see from the results above, the Bond is a good shooting little gun. Regular jacketed ammunition, FMJ or JHP, shot very well in the Snake Slayer. However, we DO NOT recommend shooting any of the new copper-polymer matrix bullets. Matrix bullets are too light to stabilize in a short barreled derringer. They tumble and will print a keyhole on the target, if you manage to hit it. While these bullets perform adequately in most semi-automatic pistols and revolvers, they are not acceptable for use in derringers.

In case you are wondering, we are not the ones who shot the above groups for record. We enlisted the assistance of Dr. Donny MacDougall, DVM, who is a champion shooter in the CMSA venues. We determined that if there was anyone who could do justice to the accuracy potential of the Snake Slayer it would be Dr. Donny, and we were right.

The recoil from the .45 Long Colt is quite stout. It is definitely not a caliber you would want to shoot for fun in a pocket pistol. Fortunately, the extended grip is just long enough length to allow three fingers to hold onto the butt.

However, changing to the .38 Special barrel, the Bond became a pleasant gun to shoot, as well as lethal. It is not a target pistol, but it is capable of respectable groups. (The .38 Special Snake Slayer barrels can also handle .357 Magnum cartridges, but shooting Magnums in a derringer should be avoided like the plague. -Editor)

The bottom barrel is lined up with the sights and the top barrel may tend to shoot slightly high. To compensate for the top barrel shooting high, aim slightly lower until you find the right position.

The Snake Slayer has a very heavy trigger, averaging six to seven pounds. You can blame this on litigious liberals, who will sue firearms companies at the drop of a hat. Companies who put out guns with light triggers are their favorite targets. Bond Arms suggests the following as the preferred manner to fire their guns and remain on target:

"With the hammer in the full cock position, grasp the grip with your shooting hand making sure that your hand is not touching the cocked hammer. Any amount of pressure applied to the cocked hammer by your hand will increase the trigger pull substantially."

"Make contact with the trigger using the pad of your trigger finger. Avoid pulling the trigger with the bend of your first knuckle."

Pull the trigger down, instead of straight back. That ameliorates the heavy trigger problem for most folks, including us.

Bond offers an Action Upgrade to lighten the hammer and trigger (make them easier to cock and pull). The Action Upgrade includes a new hammer, trigger and spring and requires returning the pistol to Bond Arms. The Action Upgrade costs $150 and typically takes approximately three to four weeks.

Incidentally, Bond Arms says It is okay to dry fire the Snake Slayer with fired casings in place of live ammo. Snap caps are not recommended. Do not dry fire with the cross-bolt safety in the "safe" position. According to Bond Arms, the cross-bolt safety should be used as an emergency device to keep the gun from firing unintentionally. It can be harmful to the gun to repeatedly snap the hammer on the cross-bolt safety.

All in all, this is a nice gun for concealed carry. However, one still needs to consider a holster that will fit this uniquely designed piece. We bought each of the following Bond holsters:

    In the Waistband Holster, #BAJ: This leather holster comes with a stout metal belt clip and is made for concealed carry in the small of your back, cross draw, or with a strong hand presentation.

    Western Holster, #BWB: This is the Bond premium leather western style holster, intended for open carry. It comes with a hammer spur strap and belt loops for belts up to 1-1/2 inches wide and two bullet loops for either .357/.38 or .45/.410.

These holsters are made in Texas from high quality leather materials. The #BAJ costs $62, while the #BWB runs $73. They are not cheap, but quality rarely is. You can check them out at the Bond Arms website:

What you get with a Bond is a well made firearm with a Lifetime Warranty. However, a word of warning: After you buy a Bond derringer, you will definitely want to buy a second, or at least additional barrels. At the 2017 SHOT, Gordon Bond showed us what will be our next acquisition, the Bond Texan with a six inch barrel in .45 Colt/.410 calibers.

WARNING - Do not use COP (copper only projectiles) in your Bond Arms Handgun! They are high pressure loads with oversize projectiles that could seriously damage your Bond Arms handgun or cause bodily injury.

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Copyright 2017 by Dr. Jim and Mary Clary and/or All rights reserved.