Concealed Carry & Home Defense

Gun Test: The Heizer PS1 Pocket Shotgun

Guns and Gear Contributor
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By Will Dabbs, MD, American Handgunner
Photos By Sarah Dabbs

Charlie Heizer was raised in Hungary and is old enough to remember life under Nazi oppression. He trained as an engineer and then escaped the Hungarian revolution in 1956 to arrive in the US with nothing more than a toothbrush and a pair of socks. Charlie learned English and went on to form an aerospace company that built parts for the Boeing 747, the C-130 and the space shuttle. Charlie has seen firsthand what results when an entire population is disarmed and finds itself beneath the boot of a despot. Mr. Heizer’s appreciation of the necessity of an armed populace in a free state is not an abstraction. As a result, Charlie is passionate about the guns he designs.

There is a peculiar anomaly within American firearms law allowing gun manufacturers to sell handguns firing .410 shotgun shells. This bit of serendipity arises from the fact.410 shotshells fit perfectly in .45 Colt chambers. Typically any shotgun with a barrel less than 18″ requires a fairly onerous bit of government red tape and expense to establish a citizen’s worthiness to possess such an article. Considering this .410 version transfers like any other handgun it makes the entire regulatory system seem a bit silly. It also imbues the term “Pocket Shotgun” with a certain sexy conspiratorial flavor.

The Heizer PS1 .410 Pocket Shotgun is a single-barreled handgun purpose-designed for convenient concealed carry. The mechanism is blindingly simple and the materials top-flight. The 31/4″ rifled barrel will accept either 21/2″ .410 shotshells or massive .45 Colt rounds as the spirit leads.

Controls are simple enough for the most inept ape. Push a flush ambidextrous button and the action breaks open for loading. The trigger is a long double action that, fascinatingly enough, rides on ball bearings. It stacks consistently with a clean break. There is no manual safety and the gun is slim and devoid of appendages. Heizer produces a nifty no-slip holster that rides in a pants pocket and keeps the pistol protected until it’s ready to fire. Sights are low, simple, fixed, and likely superfluous. This is the classic point-and-click “Dude, get off me” gun.


As the name implies, it’s shotshells that really set the Heizer Pocket Shotgun apart. When stoked with high-tech Winchester PDX1 .410 defensive rounds the PS1 becomes an inimitable close-range stopper.


The Heizer Pocket Shotgun sits low in the hand to distribute recoil along the shooter’s wrist. While it’s a handful with full-powered loads the gun is still not terribly unpleasant to fire.


Feeding the Monster

Regular .45 Colt ammo will fit and function fine. Several companies produce high-tech expanding personal defensive loads for this classic caliber. Winchester’s .45 LC PDX1 Defender is a mule. Winchester’s PDX1 .410 rounds are variations on the classic buck-and-ball loads dating back to the Revolutionary War. These diabolical little shells sport a handful of plated BB shot along with what Winchester calls Defense Disks. Think little copper-plated death Frisbees and you have the gist. The downrange effect is frankly breathtaking.

The gun is manageable but is a powerful defensive arm. A dozen full-power rounds in a row were enough to peg the funmeter for a single outing. The trigger is nice and smooth and the ejector sticks the empties out far enough to grab. Any gunman deranged enough to want to shoot such a piece for precise accuracy could readily stage the trigger, but that is really not this gun’s mission. Reloads are fast for a single-shot weapon, and a brace of spare .45 Colt rounds stow nicely in the grip. The overall effect is not unlike that of the old WWII-era Liberator pistol on steroids.

All the .45 Colt rounds stayed in a pie plate at seven meters though recoil was sharp. A load of .410 #6 shot would send a water moccasin straight to snake heaven at any intimate serpent engagement distance. Winchester’s PDX1 Defender loads in .410 mimic military high explosive rounds. Regardless of the target medium the effects were apocalyptic.


The Heizer PS1 Pocket Shotgun uses a simple extractor to manage empty case extraction chores.


Winchester PDX1 personal defense ammunition in .410 combined with the Heizer PS1 Pocket Shotgun make short work of frozen surgical gloves filled with water. The energy imparted by this diminutive handgun is nothing short of ferocious.


The Heizer pocket shotgun is a remarkably versatile personal-defense tool. This little single-barrel pistol will fire .410 shotshells, slugs and purpose-designed anti-personnel loads as well as various .45 Colt cartridges with equal alacrity.


Bottom Line

The personal-defense market is crowded these days and carry options can seem overwhelming. With the Pocket Shotgun you only get one chance without a reload and it’s fairly expensive. However, the gun is discreet and exquisitely well-made, while packing a massive punch. When stoked with some proper defensive ammo I just cannot fathom an attacker continuing his malfeasance after meeting the Pocket Shotgun in an awkward social encounter.
Additionally, the barrel punches out with a single pin and the frame lists “multi-cal” on the side. A chat with the good folks from Heizer at the last SHOT Show illuminated some of the most fascinating prospects for future chamberings.

If you subscribe to the Glock then carry a Glock. If a .22 LR micro revolver floats your boat then drop one in your pocket and go. However, if a pint-sized portable grenade launcher is more to your liking then you might want to look into the new PS1 pocket shotgun. It’s a surprisingly manageable fistful of dynamite.


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