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HJS lone star derringer.

In the July 1982 issue of Guns & Ammo, I tested a unique little handgun that combined the classic looks and function of the 19th century Sharps four-barreled "Pepperbox" derringer with today's modern stainless steel and nylon. This was HJS Industries' Frontier Four .22 Derringer, and I found it to be a pretty nifty pocket pistol.

Recently, HJS introduced another version of the old Sharps handgun called the Lone Star Derringer. This newer firearm utilizes the same stainless steel in its overall construction and the same black nylon grip panels found on their Frontier Four model. This handgun differs, however, in the fact that it is a single-shot derringer, chambered for the .38 Smith & Wesson centerfire cartridge.

When I reviewed the Frontier Four Derringer, I found that, although the gun functioned flawlessly, the brushed look of its stainless steel left something to be desired. The folks at HJS Industries told me that they were improving the cosmetic appearance of their handguns (I was working with an early production piece), and future HJS products would be more professionally finished. I am pleased to report that, based on the looks of this Lone Star .38 S&W Derringer, HJS has done just that. This gun has a smaooth, brushed finish that bespeaks of a quality manufacturer. It is still a "plain-Jane" derringer, but sporting a finish much-improved from the previous arms I handled from this Texas firm.

Like the Frontier Four, the Lone Star Derringer is equipped with a 2-inch barrel that slides forward for loading or unloading when the button under the frame is pressed. Also, like its .22 caliber brother, the Lone Star .38 S&W utilizes an inertia-type firing pin that is struck by a rotating hammer. The face of this hammer has two triangular-shaped projections on either side of the milled-out hammer face that, when lined up with the inertia firing pin, strike it on both sides of the receiver face and ignite the cartridge. On alternate cockings of the hammer, these projections are in line with an elevated face incorporated into the design of the gun's receiver. In this manner, once the gun is fired, it must be set at half-cock position in order to extract the empty casing.

As the hammer is pulled back into this position, it rotates to the "safe" area of the receiver face. As the pistol is loaded and the hammer is again lowered, it is done so in the nonfiring mode. With this system, the little handgun can be loaded and safely carried without fear of the firing pin resting on a cartridge's primer. I like this method. During my testing, I found the system worked well. Another feature I liked was that the position of the hammer can be readily seen.

Because this gun is a derringer-type pistol, it is intended for close-range shooting. Its very design and size harks back to the days of smoke-filled saloons, riverboat gambling parlors and high-stakes card games when disputes were often settled with pocket pistols of this breed. During my shooting sessions, I limited my firing to ranges of 10 feet or less, although a few shots were fired at longer distances--with predictably poor results. But at its intended ranges, the Lone Star can sure hold its own against the competition.

I was joined at the Angeles Shooting Range, in Little Tujunga Canyon, by top pistoleer Thell Reed. Thell, as many of you will recall, is one of the most capable Single Action shooters today. In the 1960s, his expertise placed him in the pages of Guns & Ammo often. During that time, he broke many old records and set new ones--all with a Colt SAA! Being an avid handgunner, Thell was anxious to try out this derringer, and together, we gave it a thorough wringing out. From a sitting position at about 10 feet, and using a two-hand, off-hand hold, both Thell and I fired several three-shot groups with the Lone Star. Most groups stayed in the black and hovered around 3 to 4 inches in size. Our best group of the day measured a neat 2-1/2 inches in the black. Both of us found that this handgun had a tendency to shoot about 4 inches high, but we both agreed that this would pose no problem with a man-sized target in a defensive situation. Incidentally, I think this is pretty darned impressive accuracy from a gun with a 2-inch barrel--especially when you consider that the barrel includes the chamber. This only leaves about 3/4 inch of rifling!

Thsi diminutive handgun not only puts 'em where it counts, but it packs a pretty fair wallop, too. when shot into a telephone directory from about 6 feet, it tore through about 450 pages, partially deforming the bullets. Their impact was evident for around 815 pages in each instance. Both Thell and I considered the .38 S&W to be a somewhat underpowered round. When shot from this Lone Star derringer, though, it certainly packed enough power to be considered a lethal and viable defensive cartridge. The one drawback we found to the Lone Star is that in order to extract an empty casing, a pencil or other similar boject is needed to push the empty case out. Occasionally, some would drop out of their own accord when the fired gun was opened and themuzzle raised. Incidentally, a short, wood "ejector rod" is supplied with each gun. As a matter of safety, I'd like to point out that whenever loading this handgun, make certain to depress the barrel stud and slide the barrel forward and back into position (after loading). Also, keep your hand to the side of the pistol--away from the muzzle! Due to its small size, it is easy to place your hand in a dangerous position, and care must be taken to avoid handling it in this manner.

Both Thell and I were impressed with this pocket-sized handgun, as was the rest of the Guns & Ammo staff. It has a certain rakish look about it. It's well finished and performs as its type should. Recoil is evident but not at all uncomfortable. Trigger pull is clean and crisp at about 7 pounds--but because of its small size, it doesn't feel that heavy. In general, the HJS Lone Star Derringer is a well-made, handy pistol and well worth consideration for anyone in the market for this type of arm. It combines the best of both worlds, with its nostalgic lines and modern practicality. Retailing for around $137, it's a lot of gun in a small package! For further information, contact HJS Industries, Inc., Dept. GA, P.O. Box 4351, Brownsville, TX 78520.
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Title Annotation:evaluation
Author:Spangenberger, Phil
Publication:Guns & Ammo
Date:Sep 1, 1985
Previous Article:Dillon's new RL550.
Next Article:Springfield armory M1A.

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