Range Review: Bond Arms Cyclops in .45-70 Govt

I have always been an easy mark when it comes to bigger-bore handguns and rifles, so it got my attention when Bond Arms announced it was releasing a single-shot derringer chambered in .45-70. I watched a few test-fire videos of it and read the description on their web page. However, I decided not to actively pursue getting one as I was hard-pressed to come up with a use for such a gun. I also figured it was unlikely I would run across one at my local gun store, so I promptly forgot about it.

But, lo and behold, the owner of my local gun store asked if I’d like to see “something.” With those innocent words, out came the Bond Cyclops in .45-70 and I was walking out with one more gun than anticipated.

Unboxing the Cyclops
The Bond Arms .45-70 Cyclops was excited to go home with me and looked great coming out of the box.

Reflection on Derringers

Derringers (small palm-sized pistols that are neither semi-automatics nor revolvers) originally served an important job as deeply concealable firearms. Though still an important part of the history of firearms and defensive carrying in the U.S., derringers have less clear practical uses today. In the role of easily concealable smaller back-up firearms, many semi-automatic and revolver firearms are similar in size to a derringer with a larger capacity on the market today. So, what is the practical use of a single-shot derringer chambered in a high-powered rifle round? Likely not much.

In the end, I like derringers due to their history and connection to our past. I do not propose that the Cyclops is a practical gun with a clear defensive purpose today. But it is an interesting idea, a cool range toy, and something friends will want to shoot at least once.

The Technical Details

The Bond Arms Cyclops is a single-action, single-shot Derringer chambered in the impressive .45-70 Government cartridge. The barrel length is 4.25 inches, which sounds generous for a handgun until you realize the average .45-70 Govt round is 2.5 inches long. The overall length is 6.75″, and it is 4.27″ tall with a width of 1.25″ at its widest. It weighs 29 oz. loaded with a single round and has a listed trigger pull of 7 pounds with a hammer-blocking safety. A Lyman trigger gauge measured the trigger pull closer to 5.5 pounds. Though crisp, the trigger pull is harder than most other single-action revolvers.

Ballistics Tests

I shot multiple rounds of Hornady LEVERevolution 325-grain FTX cartridges through the Bond Cyclops using a LabRadar Chronograph. These rounds averaged 970 fps. Calculating the single-shot power factor came to 679, which is impressive compared to a 9mm (339) or even a 10mm (528) shot from a similar-length barrel. However, this is much less impressive than the same round from a rifle.

Putting the Bond Arms Cyclops to the Ballistic Test
As soon as it was out of the box, it was time to shoot the new gun. Ballistic data was collected using a LabRadar chronograph.

This does beg the comparison if we look at its usefulness with a similar-sized semi-automatic handgun. The Glock 29 chambered in 10mm is .22″ longer, .26″ taller, .13″ wider, and 3.63 oz. heavier when fully loaded. However, its 10mm round has a similar power factor (528 to 679) and has a capacity of 10+1. From this comparison alone, it is hard to make a case for the functional use of the Bond Cyclops, even more so if we looked at smaller, lighter guns that also have a much greater capacity and would quickly exceed the one-shot power factor of the mightily Cyclops as multiple rounds are fired.

So, what is the Bond Arms Cyclops good for?

I came into this testing looking at a higher velocity round designed for self-defense / large predator protection. As such, my range time used the Hornady 325gr FTX from which the ballistic data is drawn. Proper grip is definitely needed when shooting the Cyclops, and I found that my support hand was not doing much as the recoil tended to pop my support hand free. I also found more control, holding the grip slightly lower with a one-handed pistol grip. The accuracy was solid, but the recoil was expectedly rough. I would suggest working with lower velocity rounds to discover the best grip and for anyone worried about recoil. Was the recoil manageable? Yes. Was this a ‘fun’ gun to shoot? No, not really.

Taking a shot with the .45-70 Cyclops
The recoil, especially with higher velocity rounds, on the .45-70 cyclops is as impressive as the muzzle flash.

After the ballistic tests, I shot some lower velocity .45-70 through the gun, and the recoil was much more manageable. The end result is that I can’t see many practical uses beyond offering this gun up for others to shoot on the range. However, there will always be people wanting to give it a try, and I am sure the .45-70 Cyclops will actually end up seeing a fair amount of use in this capacity. One especially cool point is the design on the end of the barrel – the design is such that the cylinder hole forms an “eye,” and there is a designed expression of a growling cyclops created around the eye.

Parting Shots

Bond Arms has made sure the Cyclops looks great, from the .45-70 etched on the left side barrel to the Cyclops logo on the right to the Cyclops face on the front of the slide. The specially designed B6 resin grips do provide a somewhat larger surface area for a better grip against recoil. Unfortunately, using lower velocity rounds still does not make this a pleasant gun to shoot, and the resulting drop in power brings the ballistics to less than a 10mm round. Getting the one-shot power needed to potentially justify its practical use results in a fairly unpleasant shooting experience.

Overall, the .45-70 Cyclops is a good-looking gun chambered in a very impressive, hard-hitting round. Though it may be hard to come up with a practical reason to purchase this gun, there are plenty of fun reasons to add one to your collection.

Joel Nadler is the Training Director at Indy Arms Company in Indianapolis and co-owner of Tactical Training Associates.  He writes for several gun-focused publications and is an avid supporter of the right to self-sufficiency, including self-defense. Formerly a full professor, he has a Ph.D. in Psychology and now works as a senior consultant living on a horse ranch in rural Indiana.  Feel free to follow him on Instagram @TacticalPhD.

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