- Henry Deringer (1786-1868) was a successful manufacturer of squirrel rifles in Philadelphia, the city in which he was born. The rifles worked so well that the demand for them became nationwide. Deringer then turned his talents to the manufacturing of a shortbarreled, wide-bore pocket pistol, with a grip shaped like the head of a bird. It was a single-shot, muzzle-loading percussion pistol that could easily be carried by politicians in a vest pocket or, during the Gay Nineties, concealed by chorus girls in their bosom or other handy place in their clothing. The pistols became exceedingly popular as weapons of defense.The demand for the gun was so great that the competitors tried all kinds of tricks to duplicate it. One manufacturer even changed the name to derringer (with two r's) in an effort to avoid infringement of patent and copyright laws. And it was the spelling of this wildcat version that stuck.
Dictionary of eponyms. Morton S. Freeman. 2013.