S&W M&P 22c

Smith & Wesson M&P 22C pistol

A guest post written by Lori Winstead.

As someone who spends a large percentage of my range time coaching shooters who are usually still quite new to firearms and are recoil/sound sensitive, I’m always on the lookout for any tool or technique that will make that time more productive and fun for everyone involved. My latest find, one I’m especially excited about, is the Smith & Wesson M&P 22 Compact (22c). The 22c fills a niche Smith & Wesson really had no good offering for. The 22c feels totally different from the larger M&P 22 made by Walther and is a true American-made tactical 22 handgun that is an appropriate addition to the M&P family of pistols.

Slide locked back on a S&W M&P 22C
My particular gun is suppressor ready from the factory with an attachment at the muzzle end of the barrel.

My particular gun is suppressor ready from the factory with an attachment at the muzzle end of the barrel. The gun came with two 10-round magazines (multiple magazines are a definite bonus at the range), a tool for removing the thread adaptor and the usual factory test fire casing and safety lock. The safety and instruction manual gives clear instructions, as well as pictures, on how to disassemble and reassemble the gun as well, while the supplemental instructions for installing a sound suppressor remind us to never fire the gun without the adapter installed.

The impression the M&P 22c gives is that of a scaled-down M&P, which is precisely what it is. The ergonomics will be very familiar to anyone comfortable with the centerfire versions, making for a fairly easy transition to the rimfire version.

The immediate difference is the thickness of the grip, or lack of, in this case. The 22c is noticeably slimmer than the double stack and is reminiscent of the S&W Shield, making it an ideal training gun for that platform. The 22c does not come with the interchangeable backstraps that the centerfire guns come with, making it not as easy to customize to individual shooters. The 22c also differs from the original M&P line in that it has a magazine disconnect as a standard feature, making it difficult to practice some training drills that require firing with a dropped magazine.

Smith & Wesson M&P 22C pistol
The impression the M&P 22c gives is that of a scaled-down M&P, which is precisely what it is.

Features include a large ambidextrous manual safety (which unfortunately lacks the common red mark of some kind to denote the gun is ready to fire), Picatinny accessory rail (perfect for setting up your training gun as an 87% scale version of your home/personal defense gun with lights/lasers/anything that sports the Picatinny bracket) and a magazine release that can be switched from right hand to left hand operation.

The real measure of any firearm is how it handles while at the range. Ergonomically, the 22c doesn’t disappoint. Shooters with larger hands may feel uncomfortable with the size of the gun, but it fits a smaller hand beautifully. Controls are easy to operate with one hand and the sights are clear and well marked. The gun is likely more accurate than the average shooter. Both sights are dovetailed for ease of changing the sights out in the future and the rear sights are adjustable for both windage and elevation. Changing the front sight to a different color could improve how quickly the shooter acquires the proper sight picture.

Felt recoil is almost nothing, even with an old wrist injury that shooting other firearms aggravates, however shooting the M&P 22c is a pleasure. This low felt recoil makes practicing follow up shots fast and easy and can be a phenomenal way to help retrain shooters out of bad habits. A flinch when firing is a very common issue for many shooters. A winter spent with far more teaching then shooting gave me a really bad flinch that was slowly improving using drills with a different .22 LR pistol. After running multiple magazines through the 22c, I saw a huge jump in progress and had the best targets I’ve had all year. The trigger is fairly good without being mushy with a nice short reset.

Close up of white three dot sights on S&W M&P 22C
Both sights are dovetailed for ease of changing the sights out in the future and the rear sights are adjustable for both windage and elevation.

Both magazines functioned flawlessly with two different brands of hollow point 22 LR ammo.” href=”” target=”_blank”>.22 LR ammo. I was not able to run any lead round nose through it, but have no doubt the gun would function just as well as long as higher velocity ammunition is used. There were no experienced malfunctions of any type even with several hundred rounds put down range without any type of cleaning or maintenance. Simply put, the gun is a shooter and darn good at its job.

Close up of the manual safety on a S&W M&P 22C handgun
Features includes a manual safety, Picatinny rail and ambidextrous magazine release.

Disassembly is extremely easy. The only special consideration for a suppressor-ready model is to keep in mind that the slide cannot be removed while the thread adaptor is still attached to the barrel. As the directions in the instruction manual and supplemental instruction explain, the provided tool is used to remove the adaptor before starting to disassemble the rest of the gun. Once that is done, disassembly is quick and easy following the directions provided and will likely be detailed in any number of YouTube videos within a matter of months. Lock the slide to the rear, flip down the take down lever on the left hand side of the gun and then gently pull the slide backwards and up slightly at the rear slide scallops. You should hear a small click and the slide should then slide freely forward and off the gun. From there it’s a simple matter to remove the guide rod (with captured spring) and you’re done fieldstripping. This is one area the 22c wins hands down over its bigger M&P cousins. Takedown is quicker, easier and requires no tools.

Even though it is a new addition to the training pistol world, there are already several options available for holsters designed for the 22c. Drawing from a holster is an important part of training for defensive pistol use. Being able to draw and fire from a holster at a lower cost per round (thank you lowly .22 LR) while also enjoying the benefits of less recoil and noise is a fantastic opportunity for any serious shooter.

I especially see this particular gun as invaluable for shooters who suffer from arthritis or other hand strength issues or who are recoil or noise sensitive and want the feel of a larger gun. With an MSRP of just a touch over $400 for the suppressor-ready model—and noticeably lower for the non-suppressor model—the 22c has a viable place in the gun safe of every serious shooter and trainer.

Do you train with a rimfire version of your larger carry gun? If so, which one? Tell us the benefits you have found by doing this in the comment section.

Lori Winstead is the co-owner and an instructor for Equality Arms LLC, based in Fishers, IN. She is active in her local Friends of the NRA and The Well Armed Woman chapter. Lori is also an NRA Certified Range Safety Officer and Recruiter. 

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Comments (13)

  1. I realize I’m posting comment to a relatively old thread, but wanted to add to the discussion and give my thoughts.
    I totally agree with the value of practicing with what you carry and certainly know there’s a difference between learning with your EDC’s center fire recoil and a practically non existent .22 recoil.. But the way I look at it is shoot your center fire all you can afford and then any practice above that with the .22 is still practice. In other word, treat the .22 trainer as additional shooting practice and don’t let it be a substitute for any rounds you’d normally put through your EDC. For exanple -If you can only financially afford and WILL ONLY shoot 200 rounds of center fire per range trip now you can add 200 rounds of 22.
    Any additional trigger time is productive practice as long as it’s additional and not a substitution.

  2. I dumped my Ruger SR22, which felt like a toy in my hands, and bought a Smith M&P 22 compact and never looked back. It’s built better than the Ruger, shoots and looks great and has a good trigger and sights. I was fortunate to find one on sale for $249. It was one of the best gun buys I ever made. Thanks for the review!

  3. Nothing against the M&P Compact (I’m sure it’s a well-made gun) it’s just I prefer a “mirror” like training model if that’s the intention (why would I want an 87% scale model thereof–that’s why I don’t like Browning’s 1911-22 and instead go with the SIG/GSG or even RIA…). I get it for those that due to arthritis, age etc. need such an option.

    1. I agree. I plan on using it as a stand in for the Shield. It’s the same idea as the Sig Mosquito though. Slightly scaled down rim fire version of a centerfire gun for training purposes.

  4. “Takedown is quicker, easier and requires no tools.”

    What about the included tool to remove the thread protector?

    Also – you can easily disassemble a centerfire M&P pistol without tools. Use of a tool just lets you do it without trigger manipulation.

    1. Yes the suppressor ready model needs a tool. The non suppressor ready model does not. The centerfire version has a tool located in the grip of the gun (right behind the magazine) that is used to move the sear pin so you can remove the slide. Thank you for reading.

  5. You know, I like my S&W M&P M-4. In fact it’s my favorite one of the 3 I currently own, although I’ve never owned one of their M&P handguns. So, I’m sure it is a great gun.

    But I just don’t get that excited over .22s. I have a Ruger 22/45 Bull Barrel that my wife uses to warm up with at the range before switching to her Beretta, and I just can’t see the value of owning another .22 pistol.

    I get the author’s message of practicing fast follow-up shots, but if you are used to the recoil of a .22 when going for that follow-up shot, and you are in a real situation using your 9mm, .40, .45ACP or whatever . . . you’re going to miss that shot. Train with the gun you carry or are going to use in the dark of the night when some slimeball kicks his way into your home.

    No matter how similar the controls or grip angle are, you have to be used to the feel and recoil of the gun you are going to use in a life or death situation. Think about it, do you see the army or police practicing extensively with .22s and calling that good before sending the troops out with their service weapons?

    Don’t make this gun out to be something it’s not. It’s plinker or a gun to use to teach new shooters and children, and I’m sure it’s a good one. But it is not something people should use as a substitute for their EDC. Having said that, if it’s a matter of not having the cash for ammo to practice, then yes, use what you have and can afford. But for us, we shoot our EDCs at the range.

    1. I shoot my edc at the range too. But I also have a lot of newer shooters who aren’t comfortable shooting something larger. 22 is what they’re comfortable with. They deserve to be able to practice the same drills others practice with larger calibers rather then just punching paper.

    2. Exactly what I am saying. Train the new shooters, the children, and those who can’t afford more with the inexpensive .22’s. Make it as realistic as possible., Teach them grip and trigger control and sight alignment with whatever they can handle.

      But do not delay the movement to larger calibers that are effective for self defense. Take then to USPCA competitions where they have to move and shoot a gun with genuine recoil. .22’s are great for a first experience.

      I spent hour and hours with .22 bolt action target rifles at Boy Scout camp back when I was a kid, but as soon as possible they need to graduate to a handgun, or rifle, that they can actually effectively use for self defense.

      All I am saying is that people should not fool themselves into thinking that practice with a zero recoil .22 will prepare them to use an actual self-defense caliber weapon in a real life or death situation. And before anyone flames me for being an armchair commando, let me qualify this with 2 1/2 years in Iraq and multiple trips into Afghanistan, the West back and other garden spots.I do not speak from range and theoretical experience alone.

    3. I agree with you. I always encourage them to move on to a larger caliber. I purchased this gun for those who aren’t at that point yet. It’s an easy gun to shoot and gives them confidence to move up.

  6. It is a real good idea to train and practice often with your primary defense gun, or, in this case, one that operates very similarly. Practice with the 22 and carry a bigger caliber for defense. This gun and its bigger brothers allow this. Practice more and be a better, safer gun handler. It is a great addition tho the S&W M&P family. For new or inexperienced shooters I ALWAYS recommend a 22 for practice and to develop basic proficiency and a larger caliber more suitable firearm for self defense.

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