Magnet Fisherman Finds Derringer At The Bottom Of A San Francisco Lake

While browsing Reddit over my morning coffee I came across a post that caught my attention. Apparently, u/worldofjorts was magnet fishing in a San Francisco lake and retrieved a derringer from the bottom. I didn’t know that magnet fishing was a thing previously and imagine that it would be reasonably dull, but I guess to each their own. I expect them to find lots of trash and very little interesting or useful stuff normally. But to find a derringer? That makes things interesting.

This find is definitely out of the ordinary seeing as most magnet fisherman report old fishing hooks, spoons, and the odd comical food can. When he pulled the derringer up, u/worldofjorts contacted his local police department and handed the firearm over in case it had been used in a crime or reported stolen. Since California has some of the most stringent gun laws in the United States that was probably the right move, as much as I am proponent of gun ownership, I do like to follow the law as well.

As best I can tell the manufacturer of the derringer, American Derringer, is still building guns but does not have any stocking dealers. A quick phone call to the headquarters in Waco, TX confirmed that they build each gun for a specific order and ship it out to the dealer of your choice. You can learn more about American Derringer on their website or see the full post on Reddit here.

Patrick R

Patrick is a Senior Writer for The Firearm Blog and TFBTV Host. He likes guns and has liked shooting guns for as long as he can remember. You can follow Patrick on Instagram @tfbpatrick, Facebook, or contact him by email at

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


  • datimes

    Unless that water was very deep and cold I would expect to find some marine growth on it.

    • hikerguy

      It looks in good shape considering it has spent some time underwater. I guess it being either nickel or stainless helped.

  • TVOrZ6dw

    Was in a lake, so no salt water I suspect. But still doesn’t seem like it was in the water too long. I guess stainless steel does in fact stain less.

    • Peter Nissen

      Apparently…. the site was last updated 2011!!! But strives for a 70’s feel. I hope sales are going….. well, maybe!?!

      • billdeserthills

        American Derringer Co. doesn’t believe in liability insurance, as a result the company has no stocking dealers. There derringer is my favorite due to the spring-loaded safety function, which makes this a very fast gun to use

  • Wang Chung Tonight
    • Major Tom

      Pretty much.

    • Dr. Longfellow Buchenrad

      Thats a serious Dilemma for me. If I find an MP40 on the bottom of the water do I report it or hide it away forever? I dont know if I could seriously say I would turn it in. I dont think I have that much will.

      Unless it was rusted beyond usefulness then It wouldnt be a huge deal.

      • Beju

        *Demilled via rust.

  • catfish

    I’d be embarrassed if that was my website

  • Beju

    Strange, not a Hi-Point, Jennings, Bryco, or a Lorcin.

    • Giolli Joker

      Maybe it just fell out of a pocket instead of being thrown there.

    • DunnaForgetLaddie

      You forgot Raven and Phoenix.

    • Cymond

      Do magnets attract pot metal?

      • Beju

        Now you’ve sent me down the rabbit hole of researching zamak.

    • Andrew Dubya

      *COUGH*It`s stolen*COUGH*

  • Harry’s Holsters

    I do wonder if some guy dropped his gun while showing it to buddies fishing or if it was a throwaway.

  • Jeff

    Can’t find any news here…

  • TheNotoriousIUD

    Say what you will about CA gun laws but Mr. $20 Bottom of the Lake Derringer was most likely NOT used for sporting purposes.

    • jamezb

      IUD, that’s not a $20 low end derringer, it’s a high end $325-$500 USED derringer.

      • TheNotoriousIUD

        I don’t see what makes one better than another. They’re all useless unless you get into a gunfight in a phone booth.

        • Don Ward

          I wouldn’t doubt that this weapon did go for “$20” at a certain point in its lifespan based on the fact that it was probably stolen – as a guess – and entered the black market where its real market value is considerably less.

  • Jason Wimbiscus

    Dragging magnets through an urban water body. I don’t even want to think of all the syringes they must get.

    • Suppressed

      There isn’t enough metal in your typical IV syringe/needle to support the rig being lifted up in free air, let alone trying to pull it through all the water’s resistance.

      • Norm Glitz

        That, and most of the metal is non- or low magnetic stainless steel.

  • Russ Kell

    I need to go ‘magnet fish’ in that lake everyone keeps having ‘tragic boating accidents’ in. 🙂

    • Don Ward

      Now here’s the smart guy in the crowd. Plus uno.

  • .45

    We have a large number of shady characters from a certain crime filled city living in my area, so if I actually got something like this I would head right to the police. Anything I could fish out of the local lake probably hasn’t seen legal hands in a while…

  • Twilight sparkle

    I live near Waco… I can assure you that everything that leaves American derringer is a pos of lorcin and Jennings quality

  • Wolfgar

    Back in the 70’s, a friend of mine found an old Winchester lever action in the walls of an old dilapidated cabin in the woods of Montana with a metal detector. It was rusted beyond use but would love to know the history with that rifle. Same with the derringer.

  • Brasstard

    I fired a colt 1911a1 made in 1943 with matching numbers that a guys father had found in early 80s in the desert on a military base. It had some pitting on top and in front of the slide and a brown patina all over. The inside was in great shape like it must have had lots grease or oil. It worked perfectly. I wanted to buy it so bad but the guy wouldn’t do it even though he wasn’t into guns and a few years later I heard he traded it for drugs 🙁

  • Don Ward

    To quote George Jones, that weapon is hotter than a two dollar pistol and is most was stolen or tossed into the lake to avoid unnecessary entanglements with law enforcement.

    • Hoosier Steve

      Damn straight that thing has a body on it and that it why it was sent for a swim.

  • Cymond

    I thought American Derringer was defunct, considering their website hasn’t been updated in over a decade.

    I only possessed 2 handguns in CA due to their registration and “assault weapon” laws. (For example, my Ruger Mk 3 is illegal in CA.) I considered disposing of them when I left, and one of them is a half broken junk Cobra derringer that I can’t imagine any legitimate gun owner wanting. Hence, I strongly considered chucking it off the Bay bridge in pieces.

    • Nathan Alred

      Oh no. I have a 5-gallon paint bucket of crap guns, guns parts, and things that might be parts of guns in alternate universes. And I’m waiting for the next “buy back.” Spray paint that sucker black and it’s a $200 “assault derringer.”

      • Cymond

        It would be perfect for that, but I’ve never found a “buyback” happening in my area. I think they’ve mostly gone out of style.

  • DunRanull

    Ive got something similar. Got it as part of a trade decades ago.. not all .38 cartridges fit it so it’s pretty much good for wadcutters and (my preference) snake shot cartridges.

    • Norm Glitz

      Might be 38 S&W, a shorter predecessor of 38 S&W Special.

  • Mr. Privilege

    When they drained the lake in Demorest, Georgia behind Piedmont College back in the early 90’s, me and a friend of mine found a shotgun, a lever-action 30-30, and a revolver. They were all pretty far away from each other, so this led us to believe they were thrown in on different occasions by different nefarious characters. Demorest is in the NE corner of the state near where they filmed ‘Deliverance’ and bootlegging used to rampant in this area. There was one town here that was a lot like the town from the old film ‘Walking Tall’ – lots of corrupt police, gambling, prostitution, and drugs. The old bit Jerry Clower did about the guy going into the bar with a chainsaw was based on something that actually happened here. We were kids and excited to have found them just lying in the crusted up mud, but my friends mother made us turn them in to the local PD.

  • Mr. Privilege

    Not sure if the barrel would be salvageable, but that thing looks like it could be operable after a 3-day soak in a bathtub filled with apple cider vinegar and about 8 hours of scrubbing with a series of wire brushes. I have cleaned up old knives and ax heads that looked much worse than the rust on that thing.

    • Cal.Bar

      LOL, you haven’t shot 15 hundred round a minute from those rusty old knives either. BIG difference here.

      • Mr. Privilege

        Seriously, duh! Rust renders guns totally inoperable. That’s why all Afghan insurgents clean their Enfields and AK’s daily with Hoppe’s No.9 and then lube with the patented technology of Fireclean!

    • Phillip Cooper

      I was party to cleaning up an Olds Rocket V8 that had set under a lean-to for 30 years. It looked like a muddy ball of crap (literally), but ended up being quite serviceable afterwards.

      Vinegar is wonderful stuff for this sort of work. Need not be apple cider, either. Get the cheapest stuff you can find, and lots of it.

      • Mr. Privilege

        I am currently working on an old WWII USMC Ka-Bar that I found in a pawn for five bucks. The blade had very minor surface rust but the stacked leather washer handle had been damaged and allowed moisture to seep in between the washers and the tang, causing rust to form that expanded outward and crack the washers. I removed the washers and soaked the knife in vinegar for a few days and then went over it with steel wool. The blade looks new now – as if it were issued and never even sharpened. The tang had layers of rust that flaked right off, leaving some deep pitting in places but that will not be visible underneath the new leather handle I am preparing to install.

        The MG42 pictured above dug out of that field in France could be made operable again after the same treatment followed by a coat of black Rustoleum spray paint (just to prevent any further rust) and minimal parts replacement. I’m no “master gunsmith”, but in my humble opinion the only parts that would need replacing would be springs too thin to make it though the vinegar bath without disintegrating. The MP40 pulled from the creek might be shot but the one that was buried could work again.

    • Butch Nowak

      And don’t tell anyone…………LOL

  • DanGoodShot

    It would be great if you could do a follow up on this story and see how it turns out.

  • Dchil

    Makes me think of the stories I was told by Ex-diggers (Aussie soldiers) that out on a particular training ground there is a long history of people putting something down, turning around and it’s gone.

    Everything from a compass to a SLR (FN FAL) or F88 Steyr to a full set of web gear.

    I heard of a pair of diggers well into the years of the F88 coming across a loaded SLR leaning against a tree. I personally found a F88 mag full of blanks in another training ground (Forgot the names, might be the same one).

  • Jamie Clemons

    I am not sure I would turn that derringer in. Finders keepers.