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Saturday, September 21, 2013

DoubleTap Tactical Pocket Pistol 45 ACP - Full Review


Last month I introduced you to the DoubleTap Tactical Pocket Pistol from DoubleTap Defense.  On the day I took delivery I posted some teaser pictures and wrote up a short blog post about how I discovered the pistol and how long I had been tracking the development of this innovative new pistol.  You might not think innovative is a fitting description for this two shot derringer-like pistol, but I immediately fell in love with the concept of a concealed hammer pocket pistol in .45 Auto that was just over half an inch thick (.665").  Unlike other Derringers, the DoubleTap makes use of all available space and features an ammunition storage compartment in the grip frame that securely holds 2 rounds on a speed strip.  Fully loaded with 4 rounds of 230 grain ammunition, the total package weighs about a pound.  For me that's an ideal weight for a front pocket carry pistol.

In the video below I do a deep dive unboxing of the pistol that covers overall build quality, how to break down the pistol for cleaning, discuss the trigger pull and give my overall impressions.  I was really excited and anxious to get the pistol out on the range and see how it felt when firing. 


On my first trip to the range I ran a total of 6 rounds through the pistol.  It was just enough to answer the questions I had about the pistol that were not answered in the manual.  I wanted to know if both barrels shot to the same point of aim and if it was possible to always have the pistol shoot the bottom barrel first.  Unfortunately, the barrels are not regulated with the top barrel sending shots approximately 5" higher than the bottom barrel.  Since I wasn't shooting from a rest the spread was estimated based on measuring several pairs.  Contrary to what I had previously read, I discovered that it was possible to keep the pistol set to fire the bottom barrel first.  This is important because firing the bottom barrel has less perceived recoil than firing the top barrel.  Since the bottom barrel sits lower in your hand there is less muzzle flip than firing the top barrel.

Prior to hitting the range the first time, I had procured a set of lightly padded gloves.  I had been hearing stories of people using high pressure ammunition in their DoubleTap pistols and experiencing double ignitions and injuries to the web of their shooting hand.  I was sensitive to that, so I stopped the range action frequently to check on the witness marks left on the primer that wasn't fired.  I didn't like how deep they were on some of the shots so I called it quits until I could reach DoubleTap technical support and see if this was normal behavior.  My initial range video is below along with the photos I sent to DoubleTap Support on the witness marks.



Ray Kohout, the inventor of the DoubleTap, was monitoring his mailbox when I sent through the witness mark pictures and he assured me that this was normal and I wouldn't have a problem as long as I followed the ammunition recommendations and used only standard pressure loads.  With this newly inspired confidence, I was back out on the range the following day to do some terminal testing with the DoubleTap.  I shot another 7 rounds through the pistol as part of terminal testing and then I noticed some issues with the pistol.  The barrel release had come out of the track it rides in and the ball bearing detents on the lower barrel where no longer spring loaded.  At this point I had 13 total rounds through the DoubleTap.  After another email to Ray, we agreed that the pistol needed to be returned to DoubleTap.  He made the process easy by sending a pre-paid shipping label for the return. 


Two weeks later, I had a brand new DoubleTap 45 waiting for me at my dealer.  This one had a serial number 7000+ later than my first.  When I inquired about the root cause of the failure of my first DoubleTap, I was told that the frame was not machined properly and that caused the binding of the detent ball bearings and also the problem with the barrel release.  That sounded reasonable to me and I was confident that the new pistol would be good to go.

I went back out to the range with every intention of wrapping up the review with an extended shooting session.  My plans included velocity benchmarking vs. a 1911 with 3" barrel, doing some velocity testing with 185 grain ammunition, and checking the witness marks with the new pistol.  I also planned to ditch the gloves and do some draw and fire drills.  The velocity testing went well.  I've included a listing of all velocity test measurements I captured in the spreadsheet below.   


For the velocity benchmarking vs. a 3" 1911, I had 772 fps average with the 1911 and a 702 average with the DoubleTap when tested with the 230 Grain Remington UMC 230 grain JHP.  That 702 average seemed very slow to me, but wasn't too far off the velocity I saw with Federal 230 grain HST when it was chronographed in the original DoubleTap pistol I had. 

I liked the data I was seeing with the 185 grain loads. The self defense load was running about 100 feet per second faster than the FMJ practice load.  As long as both loads shot to the same point of aim, I thought this would be an acceptable combo for practice and carry.  It was finally time to drop the gloves and head over to the standing target for some serious practice.

Stepping up to the target, I backed off to 7 yards and started putting rounds on paper.  Just like the first DoubleTap, the lower barrel shot to point of aim and the upper barrel shot about 5" higher.  I was really starting to get a handle on recoil control and removed the glove from my strong hand in preparation for some draw and fire practice.  I also switched over to the grip I use when firing snub nose revolvers.  Shooting the DoubleTap was becoming more comfortable for me now after 25 total rounds through the original (13) and replacement (12).

I was convinced that 185 grain ammunition was going to be the best bullet weight for me so I loaded up a pair of Hornday Z-max 185 grain that I had chronographed a few minutes earlier.  I've become a fan of Hornady Critical Defense in short barrel pistols.  Unfortunately, the 45 Critical Defense has been very hard to find, but I did track down some Z-max.  Hornady rates both Z-max and Critical Defense at 900 feet per second when shot through a 3" barrel.  That's almost exactly the performance I saw when I chronographed the load.

And then the pistol doubled.  Earlier in the review I mentioned that I had heard about the DoubleTap experiencing double ignitions from other folks, but I'm always skeptical of second hand reports.  Even when folks send me pictures, I question what ammunition they were using when they had their problem.  I'd rather test things for myself and form my own opinions.  I didn't ignore the reports, which is why I used gloves for this review until I thought I was safe from double ignitions.

The photos below actually captured the flames coming out of both barrels as well as the violent recoil that sent the muzzle nearly vertical.  I don't think I've ever had a pistol strip my strong hand from my support hand, but this one did.  The high speed camera caught it all as it happened.


I saved all my brass, as I usually do, and I would be hard pressed to pick which one of the 4 rounds was the one that fired due to recoil.  My guess is the third from the left, but that's just a guess.

        
I did contact Ray Kohout again and sent him the two range pictures above.  Again, he requested that the DoubleTap be returned so they could evaluate why the pistol doubled with standard pressure ammunition.  For me the most perplexing thing is why it didn't double when I was chronograph testing, but did double the second time I shot a pair of the Z-max ammunition.

I wish Ray and DoubleTap Defense all the best with their pistol, but I'm done with the DoubleTap.  I still love the concept of a modernized Derringer, but I can see myself ever shooting one again after my doubling experience.  Regardless of the diagnosis of the returned pistol, I'm requesting a refund from DoubleTap and they can keep the returned pistol. 

I decided to push forward with the review and produce the third review video.  It's been a difficult edit.  The video is raw and full of real physical and emotional response to what happened on the range.  I'm sure this will bury me as a gun reviewer, but at least I've maintained my integrity.  I hope the folks that follow the blog will appreciate that.


I'll post an update once I get everything worked out with the folks at DoubleTap Defense.  As of the time of this posting, they have the 2nd returned DoubleTap in their hands and I'm waiting to hear back from them on their findings.

27 comments:

  1. The witness strike would have stopped me on the spot. The closest I ever came to a double tap was when one of my deputies presented his Colt commander to me at the range. I hit everything he hit with my old 1911 then we switched guns. He fired my old Remington first then I fired his gun. After six rounds of automatic fire from his commander he took it back to the gunsmith who worked on it to get it repaired. I had only heard of full auto 1911s and after that I never want to shoot another one. I can understand your feelings on a double tap from a weapon that size. Scary!

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    1. I wonder if they will have a recall? Kinda nervous of mine now.

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  2. Keep it real, looks like you could save some lives/injuries. Another POS brought to market.

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  3. much appreciated, indeed! keep up the good work! I am hopeful that DoubleTap will value your contribution to the development process. Keeping you in the loop would go a long ways toward product credibility if they get the issues worked out.

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  4. Glad I read this I was looking at a double tap yesterday.

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  5. If the gun is shooting 2 shots at once, I think that is full auto. 10 years min, in jail for just having one. did they not test this thing before market.

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    1. Wouldn't it be a volley gun?

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    2. A volley gun, Is a musket or a cannon not a cartridge shell gun!

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    3. Let's just agree to disagree.

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    4. Agree. But, I would not want to have to fight this with the ATF. Not good for my bank account or my freedom. All kidding aside, I was getting the Double Tap for my wife, but I like her face the way it is. Thanks Bruce for a great job

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    5. i have a double tap, an evrything that ppl posted ot reviewed going wrong.. has gone wrong .. haha but.., sent er back to DT an they fixed er right up but took damn near a month... an as far as the double detenating goes .. ahhhhhh yes it does happen an it di with my 9mm DT if u read the maual it even says it HAS DOUBLE STRIKING CAPABILITIES..... HUH???? wtf hahahahahaha thumb crotch hurts alot .. o well ive put over 100 rounds thru mine sent er bk an now i i us as a secondary carry gun now that i have put it through the ringers

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    6. Double strike capability refers to the handguns ability to reset the firing pin without having to reopen the action. Put another way, should a round fail to ignite you can pull the trigger again for a second try. This is different than striker fired handguns where the action must be cycled to reset the striker/firing pin before pulling the trigger a second time. For clarity, with the DT you have to pull the trigger 2x for restrike on a specific barrel.

      You are are more adventurous person than I. I couldn't run the risk of another double ignition and possibility of injury. I feel blessed and lucky to get away with just a sore hand for a few days.

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  6. "DoubleTap!" No lie...

    P.S. Seriously, I wonder if porting or the slightly heavier Ti frame cuts the recoil/flip, and therefore reduces doubling likelihood. Likewise, do the 9mms double? Would a 4 inch barrel control it better? And honestly, this is one design that really cries out for a firing pin lock. If you're counting on an inertial pin design, at some future point spring fatigue is gonna bite you in the ...

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    1. Those are all very valid questions that I hope someone will answer for you. I'm out of the DoubleTap business after depositing my refund check for the returned pistol. Folks leave comments on the videos so you might check there and see if anyone has reported a doubling with the ported barrels.

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  7. I can appreciate the reviewer's interest in a pocket-able, two-shot .45 ACP. It's a shame this product is not working out, and I hope he did not suffer any permanent damage to his hand. This reviewer deserves kudos for keeping it real. But if folks are interested in the idea of a modern derringer, then take a look at the Bond Arms derringers at http://bondarms.com/. They have done everything right. All stainless steel construction, three grip sizes, four barrel lengths, and caliber conversion barrels from .22 LR to .45 Colt/ .410. Rebounding hammer safety, cross bolt safety, and an internal safety to prevent the barrel from opening during fire. The guns are built like a tank! They are a little heavier and thicker than this one, but the rounded birds head grip makes the recoil tolerable and they have a smaller foot print in some cases (short barrels). And its easy and safe to pick which barrel you want to shoot first. I shot at least a half dozen different barrels on a few different frames with zero problems. Even with the hardest hitting, hand numbing .410 shot shell (Winchester 3" PDX1 with 410-grains of lead disks and pellets) I have never, NEVER seen a witness mark on any primer ever. If you are going to own a double barrel pistol, buy a Bond Arms. Bruce, give them a ring and I bet they will be happy to set you up with a test gun (once your hand is feeling better).

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    1. The review took an unexpected turn, but one of my review points was going to be comparing the DoubleTap with other available Derringer type arms. Bond was the one I was going to compare against since price points for the base models were close, but the action types are different. Hand is doing well and I'm back in the saddle shooting micro 9mm again even with +P ammo.

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    2. I have seen the Double Tap and the NAA, Bond Derringers in gun shops. No comparison in my eyes, the traditional derringers beat the crap out of this new, flat piece of crap. And I am a thoroughly modern Gun Owner!

      Regarding the Double Tap, my vote is "not quite ready for Prime Time"

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  8. Aw man, I wish I had found this blog post two days ago. I JUST ordered my DoubleTap after seeing many "good" reviews and few "bad" reviews. This is the first time I had seen the issue with the dual fire. Needless to say, I'll be calling the store first thing in the morning to cancel my order if it hasn't been sent yet. If it has? Well... I'll figure something out. I'm sure my locally owned gunstore will understand.

    Thank you for the review and I'm glad there was no serious damage done. I may keep an eye on the DoubleTap for future improvements, but for now, it seems like it's a dangerous weapon to own. Something more reliable needs to be in my pocket, I think.

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  9. I got a DoubleTap for Christmas, and not having seen this article, took it to my local indoor range, yesterday. I used standard Winchester 230 grain ammo. When I fired it -- the one and only time -- both barrels fired. It hurt like hell, and I turned around and told my grown son that he won't be taking a turn with this thing! He said "dad, you're bleeding" and when I looked back saw that blood was pouring from the web of my right hand. He gathered up our other weapons -- conventional .45 Kimbers we had already fired -- while I went to the restroom, washed off the blood and applied paper towels to stop the bleeding until we got to an ER. My son unloaded the DoubleTap and noticed that both rounds had fired! The cut in the web of my hand was over an inch long and deeper than 1/2 inch. After a couple dozen stiches, and a prescription for an antibiotic, I was out the door. Fortunately, the ER accepted my Tricare -- I'm a retired Marine -- but I would caution anyone about firing one of these weapons. Despite it's great promise as a concealed sidearm, it's way too dangerous for this Jarhead to carry!

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    1. Thanks for sharing your story Guy, and very sorry to hear that you ended up with a trip to the ER and stitches.

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  10. Know you why they named it DoubleTap & thery're on sale for $285.

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  11. Wow. I just bought one of these this morning. :(

    I went into the store looking for a "pocketable" pistol for self-defense and was thinking of a Ruger LCP .380 or a Ruger LCR .38. I didn't know a thing about the Doubletap until the salesman showed it to me. After comparing all three I loved the Doubletap's weight, thinness, and the way it felt in my pocket and decided to try it.

    Needless to say, it will be going back unfired as soon as the store reopens. Thanks for the integrity, Bruce!

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  12. The double"crap" pistol was given to me as a gift from my father, it had never before been fired. I fired it a few months ago and it hurt! I shot regular .45 target loads through it,remington. Anyways I am currently awaiting an xray as my double tap fired off both barrels, and the barrels popped up. The frame bent and the barrel release appears to be jammed.

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  13. I do not understand why they are still selling these pistols. I found one online, .45 ported Aluminum for $279 and of course, Gander Mountain is selling it for over $400. I love small pocket pistols but I bought a Bond Arms .45 Colt/.410 Backup derringer instead. It weighs only a ounce more ith the 2.5" barrel and is very small so it carries well. On my belt you do not even notice the weight and I can hit COM at 10 yards. Recoil is not bad at all.

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    1. I think it's because some folks just don't want to have to cock the hammer. They want point and click simplicity. Also the Bond is 5 ounces heavier than the Doubletap. 13 oz for the DT and 18 for the BA according to the information published on each manufactures website.

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  14. Why is this still on the market: it has a known dangerous problem and it's still being sold? I guess they'll wait until some poor sap accidentally scrambles his own brain with one of these things before they axe it. It's unethical as Hell and just plain stupid to boot (hello lawsuit).

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