Firearms

Diamondback Sidekick .22 LR Revolver – Perfect Companion for Fun

Diamondback Sidekick in a brown leather holster next to a set of spurs

When it comes to new guns being introduced, firearms writers are often in the loop early on. That fact being said, there are a lot of new guns I don’t get too excited about — especially when it’s just one manufacturer trying to keep up with, or outdo, another gun maker in one of the classes such as carry guns, duty guns, or competition models. I’ve got those categories covered with guns that work fine, so adding another to the rotation doesn’t get me all that excited. However, the Diamondback Sidekick wears none of those monikers.

What does ring my bell are fun guns. A fun gun that I bought over 60 years ago is still a favorite to take out of the safe and go shooting. Diamondback has just recreated that fun gun and made it better. To say I got excited when I saw the first announcement of the Diamondback Sidekick is an understatement.

Diamondback Sidekick left profile
Even from the left side where the variation in cylinder opening and renewal are most prominent, these features do not detract from the cowboy gun flavor.

I put my family on notice. Any promises I might have made to not buy any more guns this year was hereby null and void. Come November 22, when the Sidekick is reported to become available, I want one. Then, life bestowed upon me something very special in the form of an invite to a writer’s conference in which Diamondback was one of the presenters.

The conference was in early October, more than a month before the scheduled release date for the Sidekick. I got to shoot it, and it was everything I hoped it would be. I asked for a review gun whenever it became available, and I was scarcely home before one showed up at my FFL for transfer.

When I opened the box, it seemed like a jump back in time to the day I walked into a hardware store in Oxford, Mississippi, plunked $52.50 down on the counter and walked out with my first-ever revolver — a Hi Standard Double-Nine .22 revolver.

That $52.50 would be $472 in today’s dollars. The Double-Nine is a pretty unique .22 revolver in that it looks like a single-action cowboy gun but has a swing out cylinder for loading, and a double-action trigger system that allows it to be used like a single or double-action. The Sidekick has those features, too.

How the Sidekick Came About

I asked Adam Walker, vice president of engineering and quality at Diamondback America, how they came to develop the Sidekick. I wondered whether the Double-Nine had been an influence. Adam told me, as they began conceptualizing Diamondback’s first-ever revolver product, they wanted it to be a fun .22 plinker that would be easy to use by people of all ages and levels of experience.

Hi Standard Nine top and Diamondback sidekick bottom left profile
The Sidekick (below) with its inspiration, the Hi Standard Double-Nine (above) from days gone by.

Adam said most of the folks at Diamondback had grown up spending time with their families shooting and that much of the shooting had been done with rimfire guns. As they discussed their various experiences, a common theme arose. More than half the people in the room had owned a Hi Standard Double-Nine. Almost in unison, there was an “aha moment” when they realized that this particular revolver model had everything they were looking to create. Everyone was brimming with nostalgia and immediately excited about the project. They were in disbelief that this specific type of product had been out of production for so many years without anyone having picked up the torch.

There are many rimfire revolvers currently in production, but none fit the bill of the quintessential “plinking” rimfire revolver as closely as the Hi Standard Double-Nine. Diamondback’s objective became clear — recreate the classic Double-Nine revolver using modern manufacturing techniques to ensure a high level of quality and consistency. Then, reintroduce this product to the world as the Diamondback Sidekick. Diamondback is proud to continue the tradition of encouraging families and friends to spend time together through shooting and outdoor activities. As they say — life’s better with a sidekick.

I’d say Diamondback has met its objective. I may not represent the typical shooter, but I have Ruger and Heritage .22 revolvers, plus a plethora of semi-auto .22 handguns. I know without a doubt, the Sidekick will be the one I pick up most often to go shooting just for fun.

Diamondback Sidekick pistol with the loaded cylinder open
Easy loading and unloading of nine-rounds simply adds to your plinkin’ pleasure.

Gun Details

Diamondback built the Sidekick with swing out cylinders in both .22 LR and .22 Magnum, but it is definitely a sho ‘nuff cowboy gun to look at and handle. Although it has revived the Hi Standard Double-Nine in spirit, Diamondback has made the Sidekick even better with the exchangeable cylinders and a repurposed ejector latch to facilitate opening the cylinder for loading and unloading.

The Diamondback Sidekick also has counter-bored cylinder chambers which allow the gun to be dry fired without injury to the cylinders or the firing pin. All in all, with modern manufacturing techniques and materials, it’s a better gun. Although the Sidekick has a shorter barrel — 4.5 inches compared to the Double-Nine’s 5.5-inch barrel — at 2 pounds, it slightly outweighs the Double-Nine. The heftier feel, to me, indicates it’s built with stronger materials.

The gun is black-anodized aluminum with black checkered grips. It has fluted cylinders where the Double-Nine did not. The Sidekick’s single-action trigger breaks at 3 pounds, while the trigger on the Double-Nine is a little over 4 pounds. Double-action pull on both guns exceed the 12-pound limit on my Lyman trigger pull gauge, but it’s not difficult on either gun.

Diamondback Sidekick revolver with the cylinder open and a .22 WMR cylinder next to it
The Sidekick has both .22 and .22 WMR cylinders.

Sometimes, I just roll off 9 double-action shots, one after the other, to see how close I can keep them grouped. It’s not difficult to do, and if I were to encounter a rattlesnake in the woods, that’s probably exactly what I would do! Not that I wouldn’t have killed him with the first shot, you understand, but it’s fun to chop a rattlesnake into pieces with a firearm — and to make good and sure he’s dead.

At the writer’s conference, I watched the Diamondback rep swap the cylinders. He showed us how to take a punch and depress the link pivot pin through a hole in the lower front of the frame. It looked easy. When I tried it on my gun, it was easy. It was so easy, I should have — but didn’t — read the instructions ahead of time.

Had I read the instructions, I would have learned about the spring and how it would launch the pivot pin if you weren’t careful. It launched when I wasn’t looking. When trying to put in the other cylinder, I found myself turning to the instructions. An unattached spring behind the cylinder latch pin? Oops! I keep a magnet with an extended collapsible handle around for such occasions as this.

I backed my wheelchair up, surveyed the room, saw something on the rug that looked out of place, extended my magnet toward it, and found my missing part. Had I been in the field when first attempting this cylinder swap, I’d have found myself with a functionless firearm through no fault of the gun or the manufacturer — just my own propensity to do stuff without first reading the directions. It’s not an issue if you know the spring and pin aren’t attached and to watch for them. In fact, it’s a piece of cake — with a little know how.

Outdoor Fun

For my first shooting outing with my new Sidekick, I wasn’t thinking about paper targets. I thought about aluminum drink cans. I filled a bucket, from the family recycle bin, and headed for the woods. Shooting cans is so much fun because they scoot across the ground when hit and present target after target.

Mixture of old corroded .22 LR and .22 Short ammunition
The Sidekick easily digested .22 ammo of all varieties including some old, corroded nose .22 shorts and longs.

Sometimes, they spin around so just the bottom is facing you, making a perfect 2-inch bullseye. The only reason I get tired of that kind of shooting is because I’m old and I get tired doing anything. I was by myself on this outing, but had I been with sons and grandsons, we’d have come up with some competitive scenarios to make it even more fun.

Range Time

The next day, I went to the range to create holes in paper targets and shoot the Sidekick alongside my trusted Double-Nine. I wasn’t particularly motivated to determine 15 or 25-yard accuracy, because that’s not what these guns are about. I wanted to, more or less, just practice shooting them to see how well I could do. Since neither gun has target sights, the biggest challenge I faced was tilting my head at the right angle for my progressive trifocals to allow me to focus on the front sight.

I started my session by shooting 90 rounds of .22 Magnum using two different brands — Remington and CCI Maxi Mag. Then, I switched cylinders and shot another couple hundred rounds from each gun. New ammunition consisted of SK Standard, SK Flatnose Match, and Winchester Super X Hollow Points. I didn’t notice much difference in performance between the different loads.

Diamondback Sidekick revolver atop a paper target a box of Flatnose .22 Long Rifle ammunition
Although the author didn’t shoot the Sidekick from a benchrest for accuracy, this is a typical target fired with .22 LR cartridges offhand at 7 yards.

Next, I did something that only revolvers let me do. I went through an old box containing a mixture of shorts, longs, and long rifle cartridges with that nasty ,white corrosion that gets on lead bullets with age. The revolvers didn’t care.

Shooting the shorts is almost like shooting a gun with a silencer; they’re so quiet. I got some targets worth taking pictures of and had a great time with my double-action, swing-out cylinder cowboy .22s. I’m betting at an MSRP of only $320, you’re going to want a Sidekick for your own shooting pleasure.

It’s hard to have more fun with a handgun than plinking with a .22 caliber revolver such as the Diamondback Sidekick. What’s your favorite plinking gun? Share your answer in the comment section.

  • Aluminum cans next to a log on the ground after being shot by a .22 LR handgun
  • Diamondback Sidekick pistol with the loaded cylinder open
  • Diamondback Sidekick left profile
  • Hi Standard Nine top and Diamondback sidekick bottom left profile
  • Diamondback Sidekick right profile
  • Diamondback Sidekick in a brown leather holster next to a set of spurs
  • Author holding the Diamondback Sidekick with the cylinder open
  • Diamondback Sidekick revolver with the cylinder open and a .22 WMR cylinder next to it
  • Diamondback Sidekick revolver atop a paper target a box of Flatnose .22 Long Rifle ammunition
  • Mixture of old corroded .22 LR and .22 Short ammunition
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Comments (12)

  1. Where can I see and maybe purchase the Diamondback? So far, I have not found any retailer in my area of the USA who carries this revolver. It would appear that the firearm, for some reason , is not widely available. I live in Prince George, VA. Please advise. Thanks.

  2. I’m liking this as a plinking/fishing pistol. What is the chance of a longer (say 6″) barrel coming down the pike? .22 mag is a bit sharp in the shorter barrel. Asking for a friend…

  3. I’m liking this as a plinking/fishing pistol. What is the chance of a longer (say 6″) barrel in the offing? .22 mag is a bit sharp in the shorter barrel. Asking for a friend…

  4. I have purchased 4, 2 to shoot, 2 to keep, when I was young we had the high standard double nine, not sure where in the family it has gone now, I hope the sidekick fills it’s shoes. My father in law found a double nine in a pawn shop locality in good shape no box, man he’s lucky

  5. Any news about possible making a speed loader for the the above gun (22 sidekick 9shot revolver)

  6. i had a high standard double 9 as a kid, it was my favorite pistol to shoot very accurate, unfortunately i lost it i have been looking for a reasonable priced replacement for many years, this is a pistol i will be buying i can’t wait

  7. HR 949 9 shot that I bought used in 1974.
    Load it with Rat/snake shot for smaller pest around the barn and property and 22 LR for plinking when my son and grandkids come out to the farm. I also like to buy the cheapest soda in the store so can set them on rail and watch them spew out contents often while spinning like a sprinkler from a well-placed shot.
    And while not designed for competitive target shooting it is accurate enough to hit whatever I’ve aimed at.
    Other than cleaning, only maintenance was to replace the hammer spring after the nylon tipped original broke from old age and use. Considering its age and how well it functions it will become my sons one day and maybe grandson’s after that.

  8. I grew up shooting an H&R 999 Sportsman top break 9 shot revolver. It lasted about 6 years of heavy use and even though I didn’t have a speed loader I shot many rounds through that gun constantly growing up. It eventually would not lock up tightly which caused leading, cylinder lock and accuracy issues. I traded it rather than try to fix it but I moved on to other guns and I wished the new Heritage models would have added a windage adjustable rear blade like the High Standard. I won’t buy anything without adjustable windage.

  9. Once again, an “obsolete” design has been renewed by a smart company. I own several “obsolete” guns, and the only thing “wrong” with those guns is that they are no longer made. THANKS Diamondback for realizing that an “obsolete” design can be updated with new manufacturing technology, and can even be better than the “original”. P.S. – I would like to see a “new” SAVAGE model 99, only scaled down to either a 5.56/.300 Blackout size, or a similar size. Only change would be to either use AR platform magazines, or to use a 33% Glass Filled NYLON 6/6 rotary feed. If and when such a gun would be available in .350 LEGEND, I would place my order.

  10. Nice article, and I can share in the excitement. The “first” gun I ever fired, back in the let’s say 50’s, I believe may have been a Ruger Bearcat, single action, which resulted in a life long love for cowboy guns. I love the concept of the swing-out/double action, high capacity cowboy, and as most 22 revolver fans know, when the ammo shelves are empty, and for whatever reason, when they start to replenish, it seems they always START with stuff like, short, long, quiet (whatever that is), which these revolvers can digest easily in any order, AND without EVER jamming, and then finally the LR high velocity stuff the semi-autos REQUIRE, and can ONLY use. And the plus of being able to use 22 WRM just adds more flexibility. It should be noted that because the sights and the barrel are solid (as in NOT on a slide), these are MUCH more accurate than given credit for, and for me, ALL the more reason to ALWAYS offer an adjustable sight option, which I feel is a requirement for taking game, when the opportunity arises. It should be noted; NEVER FAN THE HAMMER ON A REVOLVER! It can result in timing issues, cylinder alignment to barrel, resulting in blowing large amounts of lead out the cylinder gap, and potentially severely damaging the revolver, or worse.

  11. My favorite plinker is a 1960s H&R 949 cowboy gun that ho;ds 9 rounds. My dad had one when I was a kid and I gave it to my son after my Dad passed. I found one for me at a pawn shop. It’s double action which I love but does not feature a swing out cylinder. I absolutely love using that gun. Love it.

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