Buy one on GunsAmerica: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=smith%2022A-1
Welcome to another edition of The Used Market. This is our spin off from The Shooting History series that focuses on some great guns that are not quite classics, but deserve more attention. These may not be highly collected but they are still great guns and can be bargains. Check out our other articles in the Shooting History and The Used Market by following these links.
The Smith and Wesson 22A
The Smith and Wesson 22A has not been out of production for all that long. Actually it was right about a year ago the Smith officially mothballed this gun, although they didn’t appear to be building them for some time before the announcement. It is possible there might still be a few of these floating around local gun shops that are new, but the vast majority of them will be used. Smith has since replaced this model with the New Victory and the two pistols do have some similarities. They are both .22 semi-blowback pistols made by Smith and Wesson after all.
One of the nicest features of the 22A is how it takes down for easy cleaning and maintenance. All you have to do it push in the lever/button on the front of the trigger guard and the barrel will lift off and then the slide can be removed. This also makes for fast and easy barrel swaps. It really is incredibly simple and easy to field strip one of these pistols. It will seem even easier if you have ever taken down some other 22 pistols. Reassembling a 22A also does not involve having to put the ear protection on the kids so they do not hear you say things that are rather colorful. I am looking at you Ruger.
Smith and Wesson has made several different models of the 22A. The common barrel lengths for these pistols are 4″, 5.5″ and 7″. Most of these pistols are made with an alloy aluminum frame with a blued steel barrel and slide, but there was also a stainless steel version made that was marked 22S. Here are some numbers that apply to most of these pistols. The length and weight is based off of a pistol with a 5.5″ barrel.
- Weight: 2.1 pounds empty with magazine
- Length: 9.5″
- 10 Round Magazine
- Integrated Weaver Style Rail on Barrel
- Partridge Style Front Sight
- Rear Sight Adjustable for Windage and Elevation
- Blowback Operated
- .22 Long Rifle
There is one odd feature on these guns and that is the location of the magazine release. The button is on the front of the grip where your fingers wrap around. Rumor has it that a shooter can accidentally drop the magazine while firing this gun, but we didn’t have that happen. Shooters with small hands may be especially prone to this since their fingers may align with the release. Some hypothesize that this design is why the 22A did not see much use in competitive shooting, although it was more than capable in function and accuracy.
The other thing that really set this pistol apart from its competitors was the Weaver style rail on the barrel. This of course makes for fast and easy mounting of optics or other sights.
The Review Gun
The gun that we used for this review has been around the block a few times. Take a look at the pictures to see what I mean. It is safe to say that this was no safe queen. This one sports a 5.5″ barrel and standard sights.
When I received this Smith 22A it was on the dirty side of clean with a badly leaded barrel. The first trip to the range, I wanted to see how this pistol functioned in its current state. Functionally, there were no issues. Every round fired cycled as they should. Accuracy was a bit off for what I felt this pistol was capable of. It wasn’t bad, but these guns have a reputation for being tack drivers and since testing any gun for accuracy with a visibly leaded up barrel isn’t exactly fair it received a good scrubbing, brushing and oiling before a return trip to the range.
On the second trip to the range the Smith and Wesson 22A once again preformed flawlessly. I also noticed that the ejected brass was thrown a bit further than it was before. Remember folks, clean and correctly lubricated firearms work better.
Now that the barrel was not slick with lead, the groups tightened up considerably going from about 1.75″ from 25 yards down to under an inch. This is more in line with what one of these pistols should be able to do. Most of the rounds fired were CCI Green Tag and Mini Mags. I did run some random Federals, Remington and others just to see if the 22A was a picky eater. It was not.
The trigger on the review gun is nice. It is smooth, crisp and breaks at just a bit over 4 lbs. That is after it was cleaned. Before being cleaned and lubricated, the trigger was still good, but there was a bit of grit and it was about a half pound heavier. Recoil is exactly what you would expect from a 22 pistol.
If you are in the market for a tight shooting 22 pistol, the Smith and Wesson 22A should meet your needs. That is assuming you are wanting a plinking or even small game gun. The magazine release placement is a drawback for using this pistol as a competition piece even though it would make a good one. Back to the small game use. With a nice red dot mounted to the rail, this pistol would make a nice squirrel gun–a good one to carry when you are deer hunting but have a shot at something small. Taking a squirrel with a .22 leaves more useful parts than taking it with your deer rifle. Don’t ask me how I know this.
There is a safety recall on some of 22As. If you have one, or may be buying one, check out this link for more info.
Read More about the New Victory: https://www.gunsamerica.com/blog/we-shoot-the-new-smith-wesson-victory-22-lr-pistol/
Buy a New Victory: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=smith%20victory