Firearms

Review: Smith & Wesson M&P22 Compact

M&P 22 Compact on White Background

Among the most attractive recent offerings by Smith and Wesson is the M&P22 Compact. This pistol bears a resemblance to the 9mm Shield, but differs in mechanics.

The .22 rimfire version illustrated, is a single-action handgun and a straight blowback-operated pistol.

This compact handgun is manufactured in Springfield, Massachusetts by Smith and Wesson.

Smith and Wesson claims they have made a strong commitment to this line of handguns and that their team is playing close attention to reliability and quality standards.

Their claims are accurate. The pistol features a 7075 TG51 aluminum slide that is hard anodized. The frame is modern polymer.

The result is a nice looking handgun that doesn’t look cheap, although it is affordable. As a result of the pistol’s construction, is weighs a feathery 15.3 ounces.

The fit of the handgun is excellent. Most hand sizes find the Military and Police .22 well-balanced and fast pointing.

The 18-degree grip angle — which means the grip is angled 18 degrees from the bore line — makes for good pointability.

I cannot imagine a compact pistol that feels better.

Target with bullet holes
This is a fun drill — firing at the smaller silhouette on the B27 at 10 yards. The M&P22 is plenty accurate for most chores.

The pistol uses a conventional recoil spring and guide rod. The action, break down and handling are simple enough, and the trigger breaks clean.

The magazines are well-made, ten-round units. I like the magazines better than the general run of polymer or cheap tinny magazines.

Some .22s just look cheap, but not this pistol. The design isn’t a plinker first and foremost, it was designed for personal defense practice.

Just the same, the pistol is plenty accurate for informal target shooting and plinking. It is also accurate enough to have utility in the field.

I have taken small game with less accurate handguns. It will behead a reptile or take a bedded rabbit easily.

Tactical features include an ergonomic, ambidextrous safety and crisp trigger. The rear sights are fully adjustable and the front post is highly visible.

Field Stripped M&P 22 Compact
A take-down lever allows easy field stripping.

Smith and Wesson M&P22 Compact Use

There is a push these days to design handguns that are easily used by shooters with limited hand strength, including the elderly.

A lightweight, .22-caliber handgun certainly fits this design envelope.

As for personal defense, the .22 Long Rifle doesn’t have bullet mass or diameter, but it may have adequate penetration in most situations.

My opinion is that if I cannot deploy at least a .38 Special or 9mm Luger, I would just as soon have a reliable .22. The M&P22 is a reliable .22, and that is a big deal!

Most .22s tie-up sometimes, some more than others. The M&P22 doesn’t tie up with quality ammunition.

Both .22 handguns and .22-caliber ammunition are more reliable than ever.

Not long ago, it was unusual to fire a 500-round brick of .22 LR without experiencing several misfires or a cartridge with the bullet bent sideways in the feed ramp.

Since the .22 isn’t for serious use, it doesn’t matter.

Recently, I was part of a group that fired almost 2,000 .22 LR cartridges without a single misfire or misfeed. That is unusual in my experience.

M&P22 Compact Internals
The Smith and Wesson M&P22 is a hammer-fired handgun.

The M&P magazines are easy to load and make ready. Additionally, the slide of the pistol is easy to rack.

I began firing with the affordable Winchester Wildcat, a 40-grain load with a good reputation. I fired several boxes with good results.

Firing at man-sized targets at five, seven, and ten yards, the little Smith was controllable and came on target quickly.

For practice in personal-defense shooting, this is a good handgun to have. The pistol comes on target accurately and handles well.

It is a fun gun to fire, but also a good learning tool.

For those with a problem handling a hard-kicking handgun, the M&P22 is a good all-around handgun for defense and recreation — save for the caliber, but then, the .22 LR is a useful cartridge.

As for use as a field gun, the M&P22 is easier to use well and more accurate than most kit-gun type revolvers.

If you are using a .22 for personal defense, a ten-shot, self-loader is leagues ahead of a rimfire revolver.

M&P 22 Compact Magazine
Smith and Wesson’s 10-round magazines are reliable and easy to load.

Next, I tested the pistol for absolute accuracy. Firing from a solid, standing barricade position, I fired several five-shot groups at 15 yards.

I used the Winchester Wildcat and also the Winchester Super X 37-grain hollowpoint. A 16-ounce handgun isn’t the easiest to hold steady, but the pistol gave good results.

Most five-shot groups were inside of two inches or less. With the pistols fully-adjustable rear sight, the M&P22 is a great field gun.

I test many modern handguns. While I sometimes think modern handguns are getting better, there are also a lot of guns made as cheaply as possible, and others that make we wonder what the designer was thinking.

The Smith and Wesson M&P is among the well-thought and useful handguns.

Whether for use as a primary handgun, or for practice or field use, the new Smith and Wesson is a great addition to anyone’s gun safe.

Winchester .22 LR Ammo
Winchester ammunition provided good results.

Carrying the M&P22 and Accessories

I have used the TruGlo combat light with good results. It fits the rail and offers good performance for the money.

The Wright Leather Works paddle holster I use for the GLOCK 19 accepts the M&P22 decently.

I don’t recommend using a handgun in a holster other than the one it is designed for, but in this case, close enough works fine for a field gun.

M&P 22 Compact in Holster
Wright Leather Works offers a first-class paddle holster with good utility as a range and field holster.

What’s your favorite rimfire handgun? Have you tried the M&P22 Compact? Let us know in the comments section below!

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 (16)

  1. I have a S&W Model 22A-1 that I like and a sweet shooting handgun. How does the M&P22 compare with it, Please?

  2. I have a .22 cal rimfire SW Victory which handles very well. It is a heavy piece, not meant for conceal carry but it is extremely accurate. I am sure I could become proficient with it with more use.
    This new .22 seems excellent also and one to be considered.
    Thanks.

  3. Im a S&W fan and I have a M&P 9mil and a 380 EZ. I’ve been interested in another 22 since I have a Hi Standard Trophy, yes a Hi Standard. But its too heavy for me due to the weakness I Have. The Walther P 22 looks nice, light and inexpensive, Im on the fence about keeping or selling the Trophy, but I will get another 22………….what do you think of the Walther?

    Thanks
    Dario

  4. I found this article and gave
    it a read through to see if the compact model has the same issue with the sights as the full size m&p .22lr? I bought 2 of the full-size variants for my wife and I to train. They are flawless guns with the exception of the sight not being able to adjust far enough to zero the pistol. The guns both stack great groups at 10 yards but are constantly placing those groups 6-10 inches high and the farther away the more extreme that gets.any answers or ideas on how to overcome this issue or others that have had similar problems? I know they are ( budget) minded training guns but I’m not keen on spending almost as much as the pistol for new sights that work!! Any help much appreciated and great article

  5. I have close to 10,000 rounds thru my M&P-22 and concur with pretty much all that is written. I have found that the cheap or budget ammo tends to cause misfire situations. I did find that much of the ammo I used including CCI had a wax like coating that gums up the cartridges. What I found is that the Cartridge to this model is SUPER EASY to break down, clean and then reassemble and it is very effective in reducing misfire occurance.

  6. Hi I have a version of the MP that is made by Walther for S&W, I have not seen many of them but this is my fav gun for camping , hunting small game and general house safety . I also briefly had a M&P 9 mm but found that the gun was cheaply made and the grips sucked…fortunately they seem to be popular so I was able to sell it. One question, can my 22 shoot a “22 short” round as a single shot?
    I would use it for squirrels. Thanks, Dan
    I am a Ruger and Walther fan, strictly middle class old outer at 71 years old. I shot my first deer with a Mossberg bolt .410 shotgun. 🙂

  7. I love my M&P 22 Compact. I have never had a failure to feed or failure to eject with a large variety of ammo. I only shoot copper plated 40 gr ammo.
    I do have one major problem with the M&P 22 Compact—-I don’t want to stop shooting it at the range. It is a fun to shoot plinker. I can’t even say there is any felt recoil. It’s easy to break down and re-assemble. Racking the slide is easy. My EDC is a Kimber Micro 9, which is also a great little gun, but you can’t beat the fun of shooting a .22.

  8. I have followed your company for years, and would love to buy from you, but I live in CA. With all the legislation and constant changes here, how can I purchase from you?

    1. Stay tuned to our social media channels and when we have an update, we’ll share it! Thanks for reading.

      – Daniel

  9. I’ve the Ruger which appears to be nearly identical. It’s solid plinker. Big fan of Ruger I think these two look identical.

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