Range Report: Smith and Wesson Victory .22 Pistol

SW Victory 22 pistol with Winchester M-22 ammunition yesterday

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.

Smith and Wesson Victory pistol right profile
The SW Victory .22 is a great value in a quality .22 caliber pistol.

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.

Smith and Wesson Victory 22 pistol with slide locked back and two magazines
With good quality, excellent accuracy and a modest price tag the SW Victory 22 is going to prove to be a popular pistol.

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.

Accuracy Results

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.

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About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
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 (22)

  1. I see you got good groups out of velocitor and stinger rounds. Everywhere I have read I hear about problems with stingers and high velocity rounds in this firearm and not to use them. Would you agree? Did they cycle properly or did they present miss feeds or ejects? Other jams? Is the problem from the higher pressures and it’s an issue of wearing out the pistol?

  2. I really have fallen in love with my Victory, I’v had Rugers and fine guns they are. I have a Sight Mark reflex on mine and it is fantastically accurate. I just can’t help liking this pistol. Just my opinion to be sure.

  3. It’s good to see S&W producing this style of 22. The more choices in this category, the better As for me, I’ll stick with my Buckmark and 22/45…..just my personal favorites.

  4. one ugly lump…extend the slide length forward to get rid of the gap from slide end to along barrel to the end of the pistol frame…some ugly design failure…gap serves no function and makes the old Colt Woodsman and the Ruger pistol into marvels of form and function….

  5. I do a lot of basic handgun classes, where we shoot a .22, a 9mm and a .38 revolver. The Victory is now my favorite gun for beginners, even over the Ruger. Just easier to shoot and clean, and the 3-dot sights are great for beginners. S&W definitely have a winner here.

  6. I already own a multitude of .22 revolvers and pistols including a 1911 and Ruger .22-45. I have owned a S&W Model 22 but found I liked the Ruger better and sold it. The point about the price is well-taken. Also what was S&W thinking when they used a set screw to change barrels? Obviously they hoped aftermarket would offer better, longer and heavier barrels than they could in the name of better accuracy, hoping it would be come the 10-22 of .22 pistols. I’ll pass on this one, even though most of my safe is filled with S&W revolvers and semi’s.

  7. I own both a Ruger 22/45 and a Victory 22. I modified the Ruger magazine disconnect to make cleaning a little easier but it is still a pain. I like to clean and inspect my guns on a regular basis and thus mostly shoot the Victory while the Ruger stays home. I looked at the Ruger MarkIV but it still has the finger pincher bolt. I am a big Ruger fan, own 7 Rugers but the Mark IV is not for me. I love the Victory for its overall design and fun Range shooting.

  8. While at present I own neither the S&W or the Ruger Mark IV I have fired both with around 5-750 rnds each with multiple brands of ammo, all 40 grn coated , the Ruger MK IV Hunter is to be my next purchase.
    While Ruger is several bucks more expensive, IMNSHO, as both plinker/target or small game getter, along with asthetic appeal there is no 22 cal pistol under $1500 that can touch it.
    in 1967 after returning from a running red green land my wife bought me a standard Ruger semi auto and that pistol now in her cousins hands still functions and is as accurate today as back then.
    I fired it 50 rnds or more almost every day for months before regulating it to only head shots on western grouse, rabbits, wild pigeons, coyotes, garbage dump rats and embarrassing buddies expensive toys.
    For the lesser bucks you get a lesser weapon with the S&W than if one were to buy a used bull barrel Ruger target.
    Victory over what?

  9. Had to read the comments to find out the price point. I would second Doug’s comment. I think MSRP is an important benchmark for any gun review. Ease of take down and cleaning is also an important benchmark. Some firearms are just great, but then I read the MSRP and realize unless it is marked down 85% it is out of my price range.

  10. I love my Victory and have fired well over a thousand rounds. It is fun to fire and very accurate. The problems I have had are jamming caused by the screw loosening that holds the barrel in place.(use lock tite) and the bolt not staying open after the mag is empty. I sent my Victory back to S+W for analysis and solutions.

  11. I purchased one of these guns. As soon as I got home the first thing I did was try to disassemble it. The take-down allen screw was so tight I stripped three different allen wrenches trying to loosen it. Eventually I stripped the allen screw in the gun. I took the gun back to the store, told them of the problem and they sent it back to S&W for repair. When the got the gun back from S&W, before leaving the store I tried to loosen the allen screw to make sure the repair was done properly. The screw was still tight but I was able to loosen it. Other than this problem this gun is a great shooter. It fires any type of ammo I feed it (both cheap and expensive) without any failures to feed or eject. It’s now easy to disassemble and clean. The gun is accurate and I am now totally satisfied with it. There are also several aftermarket accessories available for the Victory. There are different barrels , grips and a better trigger than the factory trigger. One of the downfalls of the Victory is that after firing 100 rounds or so the allen screws the holds the barrel to the frame tends to loosen a little, so be sure to occasionally grab the gun by the grip and barrel and wiggle the barrel it to see if it became loose. Always have the allen wrench with you to tighten it if necessary. At one time I owned a S&W Model 41 but had to sell it for financial reasons. I could kick myself now for selling it and the difference between what I originally paid for it and what I received for it when I sold it, at the present day the Model 41 is too expensive to replace. Regardless, I’m happy with the results with the S&W Victory. Buy one. You won’t be disappointed.

    1. I had the same issue with the overly tight screw. A young buck at the gun store finally popped it loose. As for the screw coming loose, I have found that a small o-ring works like a charm. Better than lock-tite.

    2. Experienced the same problem with the Victory that I purchased. Stripped out the allen wrench that came with the pistol trying to disassemble it. Too it back to the LGS where three guys behind the counter tried to loosen the screw without any luck. They exchanged the pistol for another one, no questions asked. No problems with the second one — shoots great and take down is a breeze. I think S & W needs to work a little harder on their QC.

  12. I have the threaded barrel model , it is awesome! extremely reliable and easy to clean!
    Only one problem that I experienced was that the darn safety is set too close to the top of my grip and it kept getting engaged. Other than this it beat’s the heck out of every Ruger or Browning Buckmark I’ve ever had for cleaning!

  13. I bought my S&W Victory .22 last year when they were new in the stores. I paid about $350 on sale from $370. I have seen them advertised online for around $330 recently. Mine is very accurate. Take down is also very easy. That was one of the big selling points for me (this was before the Ruger Mark IV came out). Trigger is good, price is decent, accuracy excellent, sights are great but I went with a red dot. Just not much to dislike. The only thing I would tell you is the barrel allen screw can loosen up from shooting, so use lock tight or just tighten really well.

  14. Favorite plinker and small game gun is my S&W K frame revolver chambered in 22 with a six inch barrel and a luepold 1x 4 scope. Squirrels don’t have a chance.

  15. I too like th victory and find it as accurate as the Ruger 22/45. Out of the box mine shot a little high but was quickly sighted in. Take down is one screw. The new Ruger Mark IV is th only 22lr with a truly quick takedown in this price range. One button push take down is amazing. Will I sell my SW22 Victory? Nope, love this pistol as well,

  16. Bob, you don’t mention breakdown and cleaning nor MSRP. I know some target 22’s that really missed the mark with ease of cleaning, how does this model stack up? How does S&W price compare with other target 22’s?

  17. I like my SW Victory, but it is not as accurate as my sons 22/45 Ruger 22. The removable barrel may allow you to change barrels, but then it dos not help accuracy.

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