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.