Were sleeve derringers ever a thing?

In movies you’ll occasionally see someone with a small gun stowed up their sleeve in a rig that would make it pop out into their hand (I presume when they twist their wrist). Is this purely a movie invention or did anyone ever use them?

I’ve seen a lot of tiny, easily concealable guns that were used in the old west, including one that was worn as a ring (didn’t look like it would be very effective or powerful). I’ve never seen one that popped out like the typical movie type, though, at least not in the old west.

I have actually heard of a real-world pop-out type sleeve gun, though. It was used by the British during WWII, and it was designed as an assassination weapon. I don’t know if they ever actually used it or not.

Well, no, it seems to me to be SO impractical to wear … if it worked at all in any way usefully, it would be “the done thing”.

Sleeve holsters have been made, but for the non-shooting arm … you use your shooting hand to grab the pistol out… hence the release mechanism isn’t spring loaded, and its only going to let go when the human hand is working it. Its not going to be dropped while pouring a drink… :slight_smile:

You talkin’ to me?

That explains all those bullet holes in doors back then.

A funny movie scene from Andrew Dice Clay’s “Adventures of Ford Fairlane”, has Clay using one of those; it popped out and threw the gun to the criminal!

I did a little poking around on the net and found this page about the British sleeve gun I mentioned in my first post.


Pictures and more info on the web page.

As an aside, I love how matter of fact that user manual is. Not for the SOE euphemisms about “kinetic operations”; no, they’re issued with a “short length, silent murder weapon”. Quite refreshing :).

A long way from the 007 image.

Dr. King Schultz used one quite well.

We do like our innocent fun.

IIRC from a book I read many years ago, that gun had basically a bungee cord attached to the lanyard ring at its rear. After firing, the user had only to release his grip and the cord retracted the gun up his sleeve.Getting the gun In the firing position initially was still a two-handed task. The Brits and their American understudies in the OSS came up with all kinds of James Bondish weapons during the war. My guess is that the guys in the field preferred and used more conventional weapons. Colt 1903 and 1908 pocket hammerless autoloaders were widely issued to loak and dagger sorts. The Welrod pistol and De Lisle carbine were exceptionally quiet silenced weapons known to have seen use. The more fanciful the weapon gets, the more likely it was developed but never used. The single shot guns disguised as tobacco pipes and cigarette lighters come to mind.


Wouldn’t the barrel be awfully hot?

Not from a single shot, which is all it held. The whole idea of the gun retracting up the sleeve strikes me as fairly ridiculous. Better to wear gloves and just drop the gun by the body after having made the shot.

I never thought of the sleeve Derringer as an assassin’s weapon. Of course my image of it comes only from Westerns where the user activates the mechanism only when already in danger, not even firing it if it’s emergence is enough to halt the threat. It probably had an accuracy best measured in inches, I’d think an assassin would opt for a longer range weapon. He might as well use a knife for that close-up scenario, which would also be quieter and odor-free.

When I was a kid, I must have seen James West do it once a week.

Had to be true.

I actually owned the “Wild, Wild West” toy that did this. If you bent your arm just right it popped the derringer into your hand. Lots of fun until you did it just a little bit off and it bent. :frowning:

When we were kids my brother had a belt buckle gun. There was a derringer embedded in a fancy belt buckle. It was locked in place, but there was a small release lever. Then if you expanded your stomach, the gun would swing out on a hinge and shoot a plastic bullet. Of course it tended to shoot before the gun swung to a full 90 degrees so it was pretty hit or miss (mostly the latter). You could also simply remove the gun from the buckle if you wished.

I wonder if anything like that ever was really used. I know there were belt buckles with derringers in them that you could remove, but I don’t know if there were any which had this particular shooting method.

Nazi buckle gun.

Don’t forget to take the cannoli.