Smith and Wesson’s Victory .22 has garnered a lot of interest since its introduction a few months ago. The Victory .22 is intended to compete with similar .22 calibers handguns such as the Browning Buckmark and Ruger Standard Model. As such the Victory will have to have good features, good reliability, and acceptable accuracy. The price point is also important. Smith and Wesson’s previous .22 caliber self loaders were not in the class with this pistol and the hopes Smith and Wesson has pinned on this pistol are not without justification.
The Victory is a modern .22 with good features and excellent performance. The SW22 is a winner and a fun gun as well. Smith and Wesson calls the SW22 Victory a modern classic target pistol. The pistol fits the bill in the sense of a handgun intended for informal target practice, marksmanship training and small game hunting. It isn’t a Smith and Wesson Model 41 but then what is?
The pistol is a single action trigger blowback action design. The pistol operates with high velocity .22 Long Rifle ammunition. The monolithic receiver remains stationary on firing and the bolt recoils out the rear of the receiver. The barrel may be changed with a simple turn of the Allen wrench if desired. A rail is supplied for mounting a red dot sight or scope. Innovation and maximum application of modern technology is evident in the design. The frame, barrel and other parts are stainless steel for durability and corrosion resistance. The pistol features fully-adjustable rear sights and a changeable front post. Both front and rear sights feature fiber optic inserts. The two-dot rear and single dot front sight provided excellent visibility at the firing range and were among the most appreciated features of the pistol. The sights offer excellent hit probability in rapid shooting and precision accuracy in deliberate fire.
The controls are simple enough with a push button magazine release, slide lock and frame-mounted thumb activated safety. The controls were easily manipulated with one hand. The trigger action is lovely. This is an uncommon trait among factory pistols. The trigger breaks at a perfect three pounds. As I examined the pistol, I knew accuracy potential should be high. A final touch is a set of well designed hard plastic grips. The standard model tested features a 5.5-inch barrel with a 1:15 rifling twist. The pistol is hefty at 37 ounces. This gives the trained shooter excellent control. The pistol has good balance and sits low in the hand. The width is 1.3 inches. The pistol is the ideal size for target use.
I was more excited to fire this handgun than most of the pieces I test. This isn’t a personal defense handgun but a recreational handgun, and we just do not get enough fun shooting around the homestead. I collected an assortment of .22 caliber ammunition. These included a number of bargain basement RNL loads from Federal Cartridge, CCI’s Stinger and Velocitor, and Winchester M22. The Federal load represents what we find on sale with a RNL bullet. The CCI loads are hunting loads, and the M22 was designed for reliable function in the AR 15/.22.
The bolt was well lubricated and magazines loaded with the Federal RNL load first. The magazines are tight with strong springs but not too difficult to load. In firing the first few magazines, there were several failures to fully close the bolt—perhaps one to two per magazine. This disappeared after the first 40 rounds. Overall, the pistol proved reliable with all loads tested.
Yes, this is a fun gun. The majority of the loads fired were expended off hand. I have taken quite a few squirrels and bedded rabbit with the .22 pistol. This handgun would be well suited to that pursuit, more so than anything I have previously used. I prefer a bit more power for the raccoon and possum class, but the .22 has served in that regard.
25 Yards – Solid Bench Rest
|Ammunition||Three 5-shot Group Average|
|CCI Velocitor||1.5 inches|
|CCI Stinger||1.9 inches|
|WW Super X Hollow point||1.25 inches|
|Winchester M22||2.0 inches|
As for targets, the pistol was so much fun to shoot and gave such good results, I suspect most will take the gun out of the box, fire it as often as possible, and deem it good. I settled into the bench to properly sight the pistol in. It was firing high out of the box at 15 yards. I quickly accounted for that and kept firing. The sights were adjusted after taking a solid bench rest firing position. The handgun is more accurate than I can shoot; no question there. Just the same, the groups fired at a long 25 yards were excellent. Handfit, sights, and a superb trigger all added to the experience. The SW22 Victory is affordable and capable, all we may ask.
.22s are great for practice and plain ol’ plinking. What’s your favorite plinker? Share your answers in the comment section.
Bob Campbell is a former peace officer and published author with over 40 years combined shooting and police and security experience. Bob holds a degree in Criminal Justice. Bob is the author of the books, The Handgun in Personal Defense, Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry, The 1911 Automatic Pistol, The Gun Digest Book of Personal Protection and Home Defense, The Shooters Guide to the 1911, The Hunter and the Hunted, and The Complete Illustrated Manual of Handgun Skills. His latest book is Dealing with the Great Ammo Shortage. He is also a regular contributor to Gun Tests, American Gunsmith, Small Arms Review, Gun Digest, Concealed Carry Magazine, Knife World, Women and Guns, Handloader and other publications. Bob is well-known for his firearm testing.
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