Handguns

First Look: Diamondback Sidekick .22 Revolver

Diamondback Sidekick Revolver left profile

The Diamondback Sidekick .22 is far from a new concept. In fact, the design is steeped in history. The original High Standard Manufacturing Company offered several interesting firearms. The Sentinel was an aluminum-frame double-action revolver with a swing-out cylinder. The Sentinel held nine shots and was a popular firearm beginning in the 1950s.

An interesting variation on the Sentinel was the Double Nine. It is by far my favorite High Standard revolver. The Double Nine features cowboy-type styling. These handguns were redesigned from the Sentinel to resemble a single-action revolver.

K frame Smith & Wesson revolver top and Diamondback Sidekick revolver bottom
The Sidekick is about the same size as a K-Frame Smith & Wesson but lighter.

The large plow-handled butt resembles the SAA, and the hammer is a large SAA type. A fake ejector rod housing completes the picture. These handguns were useful, affordable, reliable, and accurate.

I have seen a few with a stuck sear or broken springs but no more than any other revolver of the era and less than some. In other words, the design was solid. High Standard is long out of business. A modern company with the High Standard name offers some of the .22 caliber automatics and a quality 1911 .45 ACP.

Diamondback Sidekick Features

Diamondback Firearms recently introduced its Sidekick. The Sidekick is a modern version of the Double Nine — in appearance — but benefits from modern materials and design.

The Sidekick has a 9-round capacity in either .22 LR or .22 Magnum. The cylinders are held in place by a spring-loaded plunger that is easily punched into the frame to release the cylinder. This would not be possible without close tolerances. Single-action revolvers using a base pin are often offered with an interchangeable cylinder. Double-action revolvers are much more difficult to get right, and until recently, largely unsuccessful, or terribly expensive.

The Diamondback Sidekick cylinder is easily changed and locks tightly without the need to adjust headspace. It is something of a modern wonder. To swing the cylinder out of the frame, simply pull the ejector rod forward to release the cylinder. Load the chambers, snap the cylinder back in place, and you are ready to address targets once again.

top sights on the Diamondback Sidekick Revolver
The integrated read sight and fixed from sight were well regulated on the author’s test pistol.

The option of shooting either .22 LR or .22 Magnum gives you the ability to enjoy a firearm that is great for target shooting and training, and also for small game hunting or pest control.

The revolver weighs but 32.5 ounces with a 4.5-inch barrel. The six-groove barrel features a standard 1 in 16-inch barrel twist. The overall length is 9.8 inches. This is a nicely-sized package with good balance.

The revolver action is smooth enough. The double-action trigger is manageable and best used by stacking the action. That is, the double-action trigger is pressed until the hammer is to the rear and almost breaking the shot. Hesitate, take aim, and then press completely to the rear to break the trigger.

Diamondback Sidekick revolver with additional cylinder, takedown tool, and plastic chamber insert
The Diamondback Sidekick is supplied with two cylinders, one in .22 Long Rifle and the other in .22 Magnum. The little plastic chamber insert is to allow dry fire without damaging the chamber.

Most of us will fire the revolver in the single-action mode. Cock the hammer and press the trigger. The single-action trigger press demonstrates a very crisp consistent 4.0 pounds. With any .22 rimfire, never dry fire — you may damage the firing pin and chamber.

A plastic cover is supplied to fit into the cylinder and each individual chamber for dry fire. The sights are a simple front sight and a groove in the top of the receiver. The sights are well regulated for the six o’clock hold at 10 yards.

Remington .22 Thunderbolt and hornady Critical Defense .22 WMR ammunition boxes
The ability to shoot .22 LR or .22 Magnum loads offers the versatility of cost savings or additional performance.

The cylinder is opened by pulling forward on the cylinder rod. Pull the ejector rod forward and swing the cylinder out for loading. After firing, the ejector rod is given one smart slap and all spent cases are ejected. The fake ejector rod attached to the barrel simply gives the revolver a ‘cowboy gun’ appearance, it isn’t a functional ejector housing.

Ammunition Testing

15 yards, 3-Shot Group,Shooting Rest

LoadVelocity (FPS)Group (Inches)
Remington .22 Short 29 grain6503.0
Remington .22 Long Rifle 40-grain Thunderbolt9672.0
Fiocchi .22 Long Rifle 40-grain RN9882.0
Fiocchi .22 Long Rifle 38-grain Plated Hollow Point9921.8
CCI Mini Mag .22 Long Rifle 40-grain Thunderbolt9672.0
Winchester .22 Long Rifle 37-grain Hollow Point9872.1

.22 Magnum Results

LoadVelocityGroup
CCI 30-grain TNT1,4013.0
CCI 40-grain FMJ1,2902.0
Hornady 45-grain Critical Defense1,1501.8

The finish is a dull matte blue, probably Cerakote. The revolver uses a modern transfer bar safety system. This means the piece may be carried loaded without fear of a discharge if the revolver is dropped or the hammer rapped.

As a bonus, the revolver fits holsters designed for single-action revolvers. I used a very useful belt slide, the 1791 Gunleather Universal Fit Belt slide during the test.

I collected a wide selection of ammunition and headed to the range. The Diamondback Sidekick turned out to be a joy to fire and use. Recoil is nonexistent.

The revolver is easy to load and easy to fire. This is a good handgun to practice double-action revolver shooting on the cheap. At 7 yards, it wasn’t difficult to keep all of my hits in the X-ring.

Moving to single-action fire, I was able to strike the X with every hit at 10 yards. I also settled into a solid benchrest firing position at 15 yards. Taking my time and firing from a solid rest, I was able to fire several 2.0-inch 15-yard groups.

The Diamondback Sidekick .22 is a useful, and affordable, revolver with much to recommend. Retail should be around $320 — possibly less once they are in the supply chain. The one handgun you must have is a quality .22 caliber revolver. This handgun fills that bill nicely.

Whether practicing for cowboy action shooting or just having a little fun plinking on the range, the Diamondback Sidekick is hard to beat. How would you use the Sidekick?

  • Hand pulling trigger in double action with the hammer back about to fire
  • Remington .22 Thunderbolt and hornady Critical Defense .22 WMR ammunition boxes
  • K frame Smith & Wesson revolver top and Diamondback Sidekick revolver bottom
  • 1791 Gunleather belt slide holster with Diamondback Sidekick revolver inserted
  • Diamondback Sidekick revolver with additional cylinder, takedown tool, and plastic chamber insert
  • Diamondback Sidekick revolver with the cylinder removed and the a hand holding the takedown tool
  • Close up of the trigger and trigger guard of a revolver
  • top sights on the Diamondback Sidekick Revolver
  • Diamondback Sidekick Revolver left profile

About the Author:

Wilburn Roberts

When Wilburn Roberts was a young peace officer, he adopted his present pen name at the suggestion of his chief, as some of the brass was leery of what he might write. This was also adopted out of respect for families of both victims and criminals. The pen name is the same and the man remains an outspoken proponent of using enough gun for the job.

He has been on the hit list of a well-known hate group, traveled in a dozen countries and written on many subjects, including investigating hate crimes and adopting the patrol carbine. He graduated second in his class with a degree in Police Science. It took him 20 years to work himself from Lieutenant to Sergeant and he calls it as he sees it.
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (13)

  1. First day. Accurate but all the brass sticks in cylinder like glue. Had to use a punch. Cleaned and lubed. Changed ammo brand. All stuck again. Ejector works but can’t budge the empty brass. Steel punch rubber mallet. I’ll call Diamondback Monday.

  2. A response to Terry L Gray’s inquiry about this revolver for self defense: Most people probably wouldn’t recommend a 22 magnum for self defense. Both 22lr and 22wmr are going to be really light recoiling so either way that shouldn’t be a problem for an inexperienced shooter, and 22 magnum being higher velocity lends itself to better hollow point expansion in self defense loads, but the diameter is small and the extra velocity to my knowledge isn’t enough to overcome that in a 22 magnum like it would be in a rifle with similar bullet diameter like 5.56 nato. Conventional wisdom would say that for something you’re going to depend on to defend your life or home that you’d want a higher caliber bullet even if the projectile speed isn’t as high. Of course something larger is going to come with more recoil and thus be harder for a new shooter to tame. Rimfire cartridges (a cartridge where the firing mechanism strikes the rim of the cartridge) also come with the caveat of being inherently less reliable than centerfire (a cartridge where a centrally placed primer is hit to begin ignition), and while it may be a very small number of cartridges that don’t go bang in inexpensive high round count boxes it also increases the risk that if you need it you pull the trigger and nothing happens, in this case that just means pulling again because it’s double action, but it’s not a problem you want to have.

    If you prefer the idea of a revolver you could seek something in 38 special (or the larger 357 magnum as 38 special rounds can be shot from a 357 magnum revolver, but NOT the other way around), it’s relatively light as far as revolver cartridges go, and is more or less the standard choice for a self defense revolver for good reason. If it makes little difference to you whether you get an autoloading pistol or revolver 380 acp is the starting point for most and makes for a relatively low recoil option with a larger diameter than .22wmr (though this does depend on the size of the pistol and many 380 acp pistols tend to the smaller side which increases felt recoil), the problem with 380 being cost of ammunition tends to be higher than its more powerful counterpart 9×19 (9mm). All of these calibers have pistols in the $200-350 price range if budget is an issue and 9×19 is going to typically be your best cost for ammunition in what many would call a “serious” caliber.

    Of course all that being said, 22 magnum beats the heck out of a pointy stick. The best gun is the one you have when you need it and if that’s this one, it is what it is. Another point in favor of this revolver is the “there’s no replacement for shot placement” argument as a 500 round box of 22lr will come in at a similar price most places (in my area at least) as a 100 round box of 9mm, so you can get 5x as much practice for your money, and it would be very elitist at the very least to answer with an outright “no” without mentioning any of the other variables at play. I personally wouldn’t carry it, but that’s coming from someone who’s been shooting since they were a kid and is used to something with a bit more punch at this point, but I have taken new (adult) shooters out with a 9mm and they’ve had relatively little issue dealing with the increased recoil, for whatever that sentiment is worth. If you have a range around you that will let you rent different guns to try you might want to at least try a 9mm or 38 special before jumping in on a .22.

  3. I’m 58 and looking to buy my first gun ever. I like the features of this gun; however, as someone interested in only self-defense and not “plinking” (except to initially get used to the firearm and learn what I’m doing), how would this gun measure up if the magnum option were used (LR for that initial learning phase)? Thanks.

  4. My first revolver was a Sentinel with a 3″ barrel and I wish I still had it, never failed to fire.
    I had a High Standard pistol I used for competition but low military pay and child support required my selling that pistol, another I wish I still had.
    This looks to be an excellent entry to fun shooting.

  5. No interest. Cowboy, ha! Fake ejectors, ha. All hat and no cattle. If they make a modern-appearance version, then I’m all-in. Beef up the gun so Magnums can’t break it (talking to you, Heritage), then I’m all-in. But 32 oz is just too heavy.

  6. Years ago, bought a High Standard .22 Auto, Quality was outstanding. The High Standard revolvers were equally as good. IF the quality of the new Diamondback .22 is anywhere as good as the High Standard of old, then they have a winner. Look out RUGER.

  7. You might check the manual on dry-frying this gun. Unlike most rimfire firearms, Diamondback has engineered this one to allow dry-firying without use the plastic insert. Last sentence, page 8 of the manual: “Because cylinder chambers are counterbored, the revolver may be ‘dry-fired’ without injury to cylinder.”

    Great review, great gun. I have Double-Nine and couldn’t wait to get my hands on a Sidekick. It’s a joy to shoot and will be for a long, long time.

  8. Yea I have a heritage 22/22mag I wish it would shot a double and single like the diamond does but all in all it’s a sweet little gun

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