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If you have clicked into this review, I bet you’re thinking one of two things–either you think the idea of a mouse gun firing a .223 round is bad ass, or you’re thinking it is a bad idea. Well we’ve been hammering our hands for two weeks now and are here to settle the score. Is the rocket-in-your-pocket a good idea, or just a gimmick? Some guns are so iconic that they need no contextualization. The 1911, for example, is what it is. I can write a review of one without explaining its taxonomy in graphic detail. But not the Heizer. This one deserves some ink on its origins. Single-shot, break action pistols are nothing new. As long as guns have had break actions, there have been single shot break action pistols. Yet almost all of them are antiquated designs. Not the Heizer. The fundamentals of this gun are different.

This is not a derringer, exactly—though it fits in that idiom. It is a super-flat (.7”) gun that is designed to provide a last-ditch option for those in need of self-defense. The frame is steel, and the gun itself weighs just a bit more than your typical .380 pocket pistol. That’s to be expected from a gun designed to handle the energy of a .223 or a 7.62×39.

The thin design is accomplished by forming the frame in two distinct halves that are then bolted together. The frame can accommodate .45 Colt, .410, 7.62×39 and .223 barrels. Changing barrels is easy–just push out the pin and swap barrels. The additional barrels sell for $159 (for the .410 and .223) and $199 for the 7.62×39 (which only comes in ported) and the ported .223.

Pocket rocket.

Pocket rocket.

 

Buy one on GunsAmerica: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=heizer

 

Heizer PAK1 PAR1 31

 

7.62x39

7.62×39

.223

.223

PAK1

Chambered: 7.62×39
Weight: 23 oz
Height: 3 7/8 inches
Width: .7 inches
Length: 6 3/8 inches
Finish: Black or Silver
MSRP: $449.00 (with porting)
Velocity: 1,200 FPS
USA Aerospace Stainless Steel Frame and Barrel

PAR1

Chambered: .223
Weight: 23 oz
Height: 3 7/8 inches
Width: .7 inches
Length: 6 3/8 inches
Finish: Black or Silver
MSRP: $399.00 (without porting)
Velocity: 1,400 FPS
USA Aerospace Stainless Steel Frame and Barrel

When the rounds were loaded, the gun fired. There was only one type of round that wouldn’t fire, and it was a steel-cased 7.62×39 round that had a hard primer. The indention on the strike was fine, it simply wouldn’t pop. None of that batch would. I’d grabbed a few AK mags from my stash without considering what might be in them, and one particular make wouldn’t fire. No matter how many times the pin struck the primers, they all failed. Every other round worked flawlessly.

Can anyone identify the make of these 7.62x39s? They've got some hard ass primers. Check out the dent in the one on top. They'll pop from an an AK, but not from a PAK1.

Can anyone identify the make of these 7.62x39s? They’ve got some hard-ass primers. Check out the dent in the one on top. They’ll pop from an an AK, but not from a PAK1.

SHOOTING

Shooting the .223 is a breeze. It is as easy, or maybe even softer on the hand than your typical .380. I’d put it right up there with the recoil from a Kel-Tec P3AtT, and below that of the Beretta Pico, which kicks like my first wife.

Easy to aim.

Easy to aim.

Hardly any muzzle rise.

Hardly any muzzle rise.

The 7.62×39, though, isn’t fun. I did my part for science and pulled the trigger on 30 or more of these. And I hated every pull. I’m going to say that’s it akin to shooting a steel framed .44 Magnum. It pops and stings. The recoil hit the web of my hand and lingered in that swell of muscle below my thumb. Sam, who also helped out with this review, felt it in the bones in his palm. About four days after we’d done most of the shooting, he sent me a text asking if I could still feel it. I couldn’t–but he was still sore.

Driving the gun to the target. Like ripping off a bandaid.

Driving the gun to the target. Like ripping off a band-aid.

The recoil drives straight back.

The recoil drives straight back.

So it isn’t fun. So what?! This isn’t a rimfire. It isn’t a gun you’d used to teach someone how to shoot. It is meant to serve one purpose. And when your adrenaline is pumping, as it would be when you would use a PAK1 for self-defense, I doubt you’ll even notice the kick.

ACCURACY

So how well did we do with these monsters? As the section above might imply, shooting the .223 was easier than shooting the 7.62×39. When you are flinching like a mad man becasue all you can focus on is the hand-shock that’s about to come, your shot placement suffers. But the PAK1 is still easy to aim and hits were consistent.

7.62x39 in the black. Mostly.

7.62×39 in the black. Mostly.

Don't shoot the gun like this if you don't have to. The porting directs gasses up and out.

Don’t shoot the gun like this if you don’t have to. The porting directs gasses up and out.

Shooting from about 5 feet from the target.

Shooting about 5 feet from the target.

I found myself pulling from the pocket and punching the gun out. At the end of this extension, I’d squeeze the whole gun in my fist. At contact distances, that would be devastating. From 5 feet, and 10 feet, and even 15 feet I could get effective placement on a torso sized target. And, as I’m about to show, precise placement is possible–if you can get over the anticipation of recoil.

One dead-on shot from 15 yards.

One dead-on shot from 15 yards.

From 10 feet.

From 10 feet.

Sam's shot from 10 feet with the PAR1, aimed at the #2.

Sam’s shot from 10 feet with the PAR1, aimed at the #2.

The PAR1, which was easy to shoot, grouped incredibly well fro such a small gun. Check out these images.

After I’d done all of the realistic testing, I backed out to 15 yards and took a coupe of shots. I was most pleased. I’d expected erratic shot placement at best, but the PAR1 is spot-on. I wish all of the pocket guns I shoot were this easy to make pin-point hits with.

FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO REALLY WANT TO GEEK OUT…

Let’s talk numbers. The barrels on these two measure in at 3.75”. That’s measured in the typical manner of closing the barrel, running a post to the breech face, and measuring how far in it extends.

3.75” barrel…. That’s measuring how you would measure an automatic, or a rifle or shotgun. A good bit of that distance is taken up by the rounds themselves. A typical .223 comes in at 2.26”. The baseline for 7.62×39 is 2.2” So you can do the math as well as I can—maybe better. Assuming the rifling starts somewhere around where the bullet lines up with the barrel, this gives you about 1.49” of good rifling with the .223, and 1.55 with the 7.62×39.

The rifling on the PAK1.

The rifling on the PAK1.

The PAR1's rifling is a bit deeper.

The PAR1’s rifling is a bit deeper.

These barrels aren’t that short, of course—the official 3.75 measurement still holds—but you don’t have much rifling to stabilize the round. What this means is that you’ll see a decrease in accuracy at distance (which completely misses the point of these guns). It also means that the rounds may tumble. We saw some wicked keyholes from the 55 grain .223s. Those bullets were punching paper sideways. That’s good news for terminal ballistics, as it will leave a more jagged wound and dump more energy in the intended target.

The PAR1 clocked in close to 1,100 FPS.

The PAR1 clocked in close to 1,100 FPS.

And while we’re on the subject… let’s talk velocity. The .223 is effective—or most effective, rather—when traveling fast. Fast, in this case, is a relative term. The 7.62×39 is also a fast round, though it sacrifices some serious speed for its extra mass.

From an 16” .223 barrel, you can expect speeds near the 3,000 FPS mark. Heavier rounds will be slower, and lighter rounds more zippy. The Heizer spits out 55 grain .223 bullets at close to 1,100 FPS. That’s a serious decline, but the result could still be effective.

Let’s do a bit of comparison.

  • A 55 gr .223 traveling 3,000 FPS has 1,099 foot-pounds of energy.
  • A 55 gr .223 traveling at 1,100 FPS has 148 foot-pounds.
  • From a 16” AK, the 123 grain 7.62×39 should hit somewhere near 2,300 FPS. That’s 1,445 foot-pounds.
  • From the PAK1, that same 123 grain projectile was traveling closer to 900 FPS. 221 foot-pounds.
  • A 40 gr Eley Match .22 LR fired from a 5” Smith & Wesson clocks near 950 FPS. That’s 80 foot-pounds.
  • A 115 grain 9mm fired from a 3” barrel (1075 FPS) has 295 foot-pounds of energy.
  • A 185 grain .45 ACP fired from a 3” barrel (900 FPS) has 333 foot-pounds of energy.
  • A 90 grain .380 fired from a 3” barrel (1,000 FPS) has 200 foot-pounds of energy.

Foot-Pounds of energy are just one measurement we can look at. They serve to help show how the variables (in this case bullet weight and muzzle velocity) combine to determine the efficacy of a given caliber in a given design. How the bullet performs once it hits the target is also crucial. There are numerous bullet designs for both the .223 and the 7.62×39, so choose wisely. We’ll be running some gel tests soon and will bring back the results.

CRITICISMS

Did I mention the hand bite? This thing will—if you aren’t prepared—leave you wondering about your life choices. It can hurt. The 7.62 x 39, even with the ported barrel, was not easy to shoot. After more than 100 rounds (mixed .223 and 7.62×39) through the gun, I’m ready to do a few rimfire reviews.

I’d like to note, though, that I would trade some pain in my hand for the protection this gun can provide in a pinch. No questions asked.

The other criticism has more to do with how the gun runs. All of the 7.62×39 ejected fine. When you pulled the latch back, the barrel popped open. At times, I did have to reach in to tug the round from the chamber—but most of the empties were pushed out far enough for me to pull them out. This is a single shot. There’s no easy way to do speed reloads, though that’s hardly the point.

And the .223? Not as easy. The pressure pooched out some primers and the gun would lock up, momentarily. This could be a lubrication issue, as we ran it hard and didn’t bother greasing it up as we went.

Is that a deal breaker? Hardly. This isn’t an automatic. It isn’t a revolver. The round leaving the gun is what’s important. I can’t imagine a scenario that would require a speed-reload (at least not one that would be filled by this gun to begin with).

The porting helps tame recoil.

The porting helps tame recoil.

THINK OF IT LIKE THIS

As I researched this article, I kept finding people on the internet willing to dismiss this design outright. The Pocket AR and Pocket AK are, they said, novelties. That’s it. There’s never a practical purpose for a gun like this.

Bogus.

Is it s a novelty? Yes. I know this because I picked it up at my FFL, an old fashioned gun store, where several people took turns holding it and fiddling with the controls. At the range, the Heizer received the same attention. People like to play with it. The idea of running a rifle round through a pistol makes some folks curious.

But I see something more. This is a great backup. I typically carry a compact 9mm, one with an ample supply of ammunition in its magazine (and the spare I also carry). There is no way that this would replace that. But there are times that I can’t carry a double-stack 9mm. I typically rely on a single-stack .380. This gun would fit nicely in the same pockets that one does. It would also be a great truck gun. This would fit easily in the console of any car. So when you sit down on your holstered carry gun, you still have something within reach.

The Liberator.

The Liberator.

And I think the Heizer is the modern equivalent of The Liberator. The iconic pressed metal guns were dropped behind the lines for the French Resistance and anyone else who needed a gun. The idea was you use the cheap gun in an improvisational fashion to get another gun. One well equipped Kraut could fall to a Liberator, and his guns could be used to stay in the fight.

Having one of these in .223 and 7.62×39 (the two most common military calibers in the world we live in) could be a solid option for the survival minded, too. The Heizer isn’t really meant to be used to to get another gun, but it offer a fighting chance in a made-for-television scenario.

However you look at it, the gun makes an impression. The Heizer is loud. It also has a tendency to spit fire. Between the assault on the senses provided by the deafening crack, and the potentially blinding flash of powder, and the impact of the round itself hitting home–the gun is much more than a novelty.

Prices start just north of $400. I’d highly suggest one frame and all of the barrels. We’ll get to ballistic testing soon, and I hope to get the .410 barrel in there, too, to see what it can do.

That front sight is just a nubbin.

That front sight is just a nubbin.

The sight radius is pushed to the limit.

The sight radius is pushed to the limit.

The frame of the Heizer accepts barrels in multiple calibers.

The frame of the Heizer accepts barrels in multiple calibers.

Break action.

Break action.

The pocket pistol has mass. 23 ounces, empty.

The pocket pistol has mass. 23 ounces, empty.

Heizer.

Heizer.

The trigger pull is heavy, as it should be for a pocket gun.

The trigger pull is heavy, as it should be for a pocket gun–topping the scale at 10 pounds.

Big round. Little gun. Practical and fun.

Big round. Little gun. Practical and fun.

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