Smith-Wesson has introduced the SW22 Victory .22LR pistol in the last two months and sent me one to review and range test. I want to give you my opinions about it and help you decide if you should get one. I want to give you its specifications, special features, and my evaluation of it compared to my ten criteria. I especially want to learn how easy it is to take apart and then to reassemble it. In the past, the takedown process for some .22LR pistols have really challenged me and taken more time than I thought necessary.
At first the SW22 appeared to be very similar to Ruger’s Mark III Series 22-45 and the Browning Buckmark pistols I own. But, I discovered there are some key differences among them and want to point out the special features of the SW22 Victory pistol. I reviewed and tested the Standard Victory model, but there are 3 models of the SW22 Victory pistol:
- Standard Victory, Model #108490 which has no threaded barrel, MSRP=$409.;
- Threaded Barrel, Model #10201, MSRP=$429.; and
- Kryptek Highlander Camo, Model #10297, MSRP=$459.
All models charge the bolt from the back, the bolt’s operation is very smooth and easy, and the specifications are very similar among the models. I am anxious to field test the Victory with various .22LR ammo brands, since several .22LR pistols are finicky with ammo. Here are the SW22 Victory .22LR pistol specifications.
The purpose and use of your handgun is important, so I considered the SW22 for use by students in my handgun skills classes, for target competition, and general-fun range use. In testing the gun, my top three criteria below were most important to me. Accuracy, reliability, and the trigger. I wanted to know if it met these 3 criteria and if it would be one of the best introductory pistols for our instructors to use when teaching our NRA Basic Pistol and handgun skills classes. To build student confidence initially and for accuracy with minimal low-caliber recoil and movement, I believe it is always best to start new students or those who have not shot in awhile with a low-recoiling and easy-to-handle .22LR pistol. Would it meet and exceed expected standards? I wanted to experience the ease or difficulty and time necessary for the takedown process for myself. Also, I wanted to see how effective the fiber optic front and rear sights were for my declining eyesight.
Criteria and Considerations
My 10 Criteria that follow are the main gun attributes, features, and results I want in a pistol for my intended purposes. There are subjective features that some may want, like the ease of customizing it, switchable barrels, suppressor capability, a certain action, caliber, grip, different sights, and included extras like a holster, mag pouch, lock, hard case, customer service, etc. So, I combined these into the last Miscellaneous criterion. I assigned a total possible point score of 10 points for each of my 10 criteria for a total possible score of 100 points. You can certainly add your own additional criteria and preferences or subtract any of mine. Here are mine for a .22LR pistol:
1. Accuracy and Reliability – Performs well without reoccurring malfunctions and stoppages and results in accurate target hits with a maximum of a 3″ inch hit group at 7-15 yards and do that consistently;
2. Trigger Press maximum of about 4.0-4.5 pounds for a single-action pistol- lessens force applied for less movement & better accuracy- and press that is crisp and identifiable;
3. Trigger with short travel distance (a short travel distance increases the speed the trigger can be fired) and easily identifiable and short reset point; Trigger with a smooth consistent press for every shot (less need to transition between presses & make adjustments);
4. Barrel length of 5.0″-6.0″ (primarily for Target Shooting);
5. Sights that are basic & simple (easy to use & see–I like Fiber Optic fronts); fast target acquisition; for my purposes– rear- adjustable for windage; Night Sights for personal protection and low-light situations;
6. Proper Gun Weight to minimize recoil (I prefer 30 oz. or more for target shooting);
7. Caliber match to my needs, characteristics & abilities (consider medical & physical limitations); 9mm is my overall preference for home defense & concealed carry– .22LR for target shooting;
8. Capacity – adequate for use and feature tradeoffs- usually want at least 8-9 in the magazine;
9. Ergonomics – Hand Comfort and Grip Fit, controls easy to work and easily accessible; and
10. Miscellaneous – Finish, fit, & quality appearance; ease of disassembly-assembly; number mags included; customer service with friendly & helpful representatives; Hard Case; Extras (like holster & pouch), etc.
Because there are so many considerations and different attributes and criteria to include and tradeoff among, you should establish your own criteria, priorities, and preferences for your specific needs, desires, and use.
FIELD TEST OF THE Victory .22
Below is what I learned about the Victory after shooting it at the range, reviewing it, and applying my point evaluations to each of my criteria. Recognize that I am not on Smith-Wesson’s payroll and these are my genuine beliefs and opinions. Also, understand that I am not an expert shooter and that I only shot about 250 rounds of each of 4 different ammo brands with the new Victory, so it is not fully broken in. I shot this .22LR ammo in the SW22: American Eagle, Aguila, CCI Mini-Mags, and Remington Golden Bullets.
Our students shoot various .22LR pistols, including the Ruger Mark III 22-45, the Browning Buckmark, the Beretta Neos, and the Colt 1911 in .22LR calibers. They really liked the gun and were acurate with it. The SW22 was comparable to the Ruger Mark III and the Browning Buckmark, but had some other nice features. The light, smooth, crisp, and consistent trigger with short travel distance was very good. I measured the trigger press with my Lyman Trigger Pull Gauge and found it to be a 3.5 pound press over 4 trials. The fit and finish of the gun was very good and it felt very solid in my hand. I had no problem or malfunctions with it and there were no failures to feed or eject with the various ammo used. It fit my medium-sized hands very well, as well as my wife’s smaller hands.
SW22 VICTORY FEATURES:
There are several special features that stood out for me with this pistol, after I reviewed and field tested it. That is was readily customizable with different barrels stood out. There are at least two premium barrels that can easily be added with just one screw and the included hex wrench. Just remove the one screw and the barrel and receiver are off the frame. You can add the quality Volquartsen custom 6.75″ threaded carbon-fiber bull barrel or the 6″ fluted match-grade bull barrel to reduce weight or a suppressor. Start buying your AFT Tax Stamp now through your Trust. It comes standard with a nice match-grade bull barrel. Another interesting feature was that you can easily swap out with one screw the rear sight for a picatinny rail to add optics. Get your Red Dot ready. The Bright Green Front Fiber Optic Sight paired with the Light Green Rear Sight offered a nice contrast for my aging eyes. The rear sight was adjustable for wind and elevation. The grips felt good, similar to my Buck Mark. A very important feature for me was the very easy takedown for cleaning and maintenance. My wife and I could each disassemble it quickly in about a half a minute and re-assemble in the same time. We were very impressed with the design for this… only one screw and a hex wrench. These will easily sell, though not just for that one key factor.
EVALUATION OF EACH CRITERION FOR THE SW22:
1. The Accuracy of the SW22 was excellent out of the box for me at distances of 7, 12, and 15 yards. The gun did most of the work and with the low recoil, light press, fiber optic sights, and built-in accuracy, I could have shot it all day. It was fun to shoot. I used my standing Modified-Isosceles Stance, a two-handed grip, and shot various ammo, including hollow points… 10.
2. The Trigger Press out of the box averaged about 3.5 pounds, with 4 readings with my Lyman Electronic Trigger Pull Gauge. The press was short, smooth, and crisp… 9.
3. The Trigger had a short travel distance with a very identifiable reset. I could count on the same trigger performance each time & it was reliable & consistent. We enjoyed shooting it and the trigger was excellent… 10.
4. The 5.5-inch Barrel handled very well and it combined with the heavy weight of the pistol, the fiber-optic sights, and the long sight radius to help accuracy… 10.
5. The green fiber-optic front and rear sights were very nice. The bright green front sight and the light-green rear sights helped with the contrast. I liked that the rear sight was adjustable for both windage and elevation. Various other sights are available for customizing and easily mounted… 9.
6. The frame combined with the standard barrel and magazine for the 36 ounce Weight met my criteria for a target or small game pistol. Both my wife and I could easily handle it… 9.
7. The .22LR Caliber in the SW22 Victory was pleasant to shoot, made recoil very manageable, and my accuracy with it was very good. I shot 4 different brands of .22LR ammo and it cycled reliably and the gun digested various brands well without any problems… 9.
8. The 10-round Capacity of the Victory mag was acceptable and is standard for almost all .22LR pistols. Two 10-round mags are included… 9.
9. The Egonomics of the Victory were very good for my medium-sized hands and my wife’s small hands. It felt very comfortable and fit both of our hands. The grip angle of the SW22 is steeper than my 1911s and is comparable to the Glock’s steeper grip angle… 9.
10. Miscellaneous. Using the one screw takedown, I easily and quickly (in 30 seconds) disassembled and then later re-assembled and cleaned the Victory. Without a doubt it was much easier and quicker than almost all of my other .22LR pistols. I really like this easy and quick takedown. The Victory was delivered in a box rather than a hard case, but there are tradeoffs and the case is not all that important to me. For just the first time I disassembled the SW22, the takedown screw was locked extremely tight and it was very difficult to break without applying some oil. Customer service was helpful… 9.
Total Points = 93 out of 100 Possible.
The excellent accuracy, smooth and crisp trigger, light press, fiber optic sights, easy customization possibilities, and quality workmanship impressed me with the SW22 Victory. It felt good in my hands and was a joy to shoot. I definitely RECOMMEND this handgun for a target, competition, and fun range plinking pistol. This is just my personal opinion, so you need to use some drills and fire your own rounds down range with it to decide for yourself. You might check some of my other handgun and shooting tips, techniques, and drills and my top 21 handguns in my new book. I hope this review of the SW22 has helped you gain some information you did not previously have. While this is just my opinion based on firing only 250 rounds of ammo, I recommend that you shoot any handgun yourself with standard performance drills and 500 rounds before you purchase it. Decide on your criteria, how you will primarily use the gun, how it fits your particular hand and fingers, and what features are important to you ahead of your range time. Then critically evaluate the gun YOURSELF per your criteria and purpose, with standard drills, with various ammo types and brands, over the extended break-in period of at least 500 rounds to determine reliability and dependability.
Photos by Author and Smith-Wesson.
Contact: Smith-Wesson Holding Company, Springfield, MA; (800) 331-0852; www.Smith-Wesson.com.
* This personal opinion article is meant for general information & educational purposes only and the author strongly recommends that you seek counsel from an attorney for legal advice and your own personal certified weapons trainer for proper guidance about shooting & using YOUR firearms, self-defense and concealed carry. It should not be relied upon as accurate for all shooters & the author assumes no responsibility for anyone’s use of the information and shall not be liable for any improper or incorrect use of the information or any damages or injuries incurred whatsoever.
© 2016 Col Benjamin Findley. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reprinted or reproduced in whole or in part by mechanical means, photocopying, electronic reproduction, scanning, or any other means without prior written permission. For copyright information, contact Col Ben Findley at ColBFF@gmail.com.