Smith & Wesson 22A .22LR Pistol Review

Published by the LearnAboutGuns.com Author on October 4, 2009 at 12:01 am
LearnAboutGuns.com > Gun and Accessory Reviews > Smith & Wesson 22A .22LR Pistol Review

Below is my review of the Smith & Wesson 22A, a pistol chambered for .22 long rifle.

Smith & Wesson 22a
Purchase the Smith & Wesson 22A Online

Basics

The Smith & Wesson 22A is a polymer and aluminum alloy framed, blowback operated .22 caliber pistol.  Its brother, the 22S, has a steel frame.  Barrel lengths between 4″ and 7″ are available, including a 5.5″ bull barrel.  A variety of grip options are also offered, including the rather nice “soft touch” grips.  My 22A, which comes with a 5.5″ bull barrel and soft touch grips, has an empty weight of 39 ounces. With a cost of under $250 for the pistol, and coming chambered for the least expensive ammo in the world, the 22A is quite affordable to purchase and fire.  Newer models of the 22A include a magazine safety, which prevents the pistol from firing unless a magazine is inserted.  I’m not a fan of magazine safety devices, since I expect my guns to fire when a round is in the chamber and the trigger is pulled, regardless of whether a magazine is in place. That ability to fire with the magazine ejected could mean the difference between life and death in a self defense situation.  However, since I would never want to rely upon a .22 pistol for self defense in the first place, I am not too concerned about this particular pistol having a magazine safety.  As expected, the 22A’s recoil is virtually non-existent.

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Build Quality & Reliability

The 22A seems well built, especially given its low price.  To be sure, I can tell that it is not a $1,000 pistol, but I don’t really have any major complaints.  As far as reliability, I have two comments about the 22A.  Firstly, .22 LR ammo just isn’t as reliable as good centerfire ammo.  On the first day I took my 22A to the range, I had 2 failures to fire, which appear to be the fault of the ammo I was using.  I’ve tried a bunch of different .22 ammo brands over the last few years, and found that regardless of the brand and the gun, about 1 out of 200 won’t fire.  So, the failures to fire really aren’t the fault of the gun, and since .22 ammo is so cheap anyway, I really don’t get bent out of shape about it.  Secondly, relating to the 22A, I found that the recoil spring is rather fragile.  In the process of cleaning it, I managed to bend the end of the spring so that it wouldn’t fit back in the gun.  I was able to fix it with a pair of pliers, but I would caution 22A owners to be very gentle with this spring.  It is certainly smaller and more fragile than the recoil springs in larger caliber pistols, which I suppose should be expected.  On the plus side, the spring costs about $5 and can be replaced very easily.

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Ergonomics

The Smith & Wesson 22A is quite comfortable to hold, and I’m a fan of the “soft touch” grips.  I find the pistol to be well balanced too.  One thing I don’t really like is that the magazine release is on the front of the grip, which seems like it could lead to unintentional ejection of the magazine.  However neither I nor my fiancé managed have to eject the magazine by accident thus far.  Chambering a round, which just requires pulling back the rear part of the slide, is quite easy, since the small spring for this blowback operated pistol provided very little resistance.  I would estimate that chambering a round on my Springfield XD requires 4x the effort.  Loading the magazine is also extremely easy, since that spring is also rather small, and an external follower on the side of the magazine can be lowered by hand, further reducing the effort needed to push a round into the magazine.  The ease of chambering a round and loading the magazine don’t really matter to me, but it occurs to me that those with arthritis might find this pistol easier to use.  Disassembly is also rather easy.  The barrel comes off with the push of a button, and reassembly is straight forward. Having such a small recoil spring also makes reassembly require little physical effort.

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Sighting Options

The 22A comes with an integral rail along the top, so that the user can mount the sighting options of their choosing.  However there are not many slots on the rail, which prevents some scope from fitting properly.  I haven’t yet tried to mount a scope on my 22A, but I have heard that some 22A owners needed to have an extra slot milled in to the pistol before their preferred scope would fit.

Conclusion
All in all, the Smith & Wesson 22A is a nice pistol at a great price.  I wouldn’t count on this pistol (or any .22 LR firearm) for self defense, but it is great for target practice and introducing new shooters to pistol shooting.  There are few other guns that cost so little and fire such inexpensive ammo, while the lack of recoil and ease of use/disassembly/reassembly also make this pistol a good choice for those who can’t comfortably handle other pistols.

Purchase the Smith & Wesson 22A Online

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  • American Heretic

    There is a peculiar problem with the 22A in that it is a picky eater. For some ammo, the bolt passes over the round in the magazine without picking it up. I have noticed that it is usually the second round in the mag that fails to feed. So far, pulling the bolt back manually and releasing has always resulted in a positive feed. However, the empty click when pulling the trigger is annoying.

    In addition, discussions groups indicate that some 22As have a problem with the magazine popping. However, this has not been a problem for my new gun.

  • Mom on the Range

    Buy it for your wife or girlfriend or anyone just getting into shooting. This gun is so much fun and quite inexpensive to shoot. I just shot it for the first time and was impressed with it's accuracy, easy trigger pull, non-existent recoil and not one mis-fire. I have the 5.5 inch barrel with the soft grip. I'm a small women with small hands so I would like to try the wood target grips which appear smaller. The magazine release is on the front of the grip and I did have it fall out once because I gripped it so tight. The only ammo I tried is Remington thunderbolt with no mis-fires. At 3 cents a piece it's cheap fun.
    I also own a Smith and Wesson M&P 9mm and a 38 special. This 22A is a lot more fun to shoot.

    • SRQ2

      The wood target grips actually have a bit more girth than the rubber. Walther P22 might be worth checking out if a smaller grip is preferable.

  • pubicdefender

    I just bought a S & W 22A strictley for target shooting. I would like to buy an inexpensive top mount laser sight to see if I like shooting with it and if it improves my accuracy……I am open to all comments, suggestions and recommendations….thank you !

    • Clem Lacy

      dicks sporting goods sells one for about $25.00. it has a cable switch that you can put on the back of the handle and activate the light with your hand or a butten for on and off.

    • Brad

      I mounted a red dot sight on my 22a its awesome, no misses. I tried a lazer first but you cant see it in the bright daylight. The tasco red dot is at walmart for like 35 bucks. Its great you wont be disappointed.

  • Clem Lacy

    I have owned a 22a for less than a year, its a nice gun but does have one major flaw.. the frame on mine has broke in half twice, yes I have had two of them break in half while shooting. Smith & wesson had the gun for over a month the first time and over two months the second time, when trying to find out what was giong on with the gun Smith was not very helpful. they offered a couple of ball caps for my boys which they sent and a couple of extera mags which i have not seen, over all not very happy with Smith & wesson

  • keith

    i just bought mine and had the trigger break inside of it but cabelas replaced the gun on the spot even though they r not suposed to exchange new guns or ammo ill see how the new one works maybe its just a fluke

  • TONY S.

    IM THE OWNER OF A 22A SPORT SMITH AND WESSON LONGE RIFLE PISTOL. AND I LOVE IT HARDLY ANY RECOIL WHEN I FIRE AND I HAVE HOLLOW TIPS FOR HER N SHES A BEAUTY. ALL BLACK WITH THE PLASTIC RUBBER GRIP. GOD BLESSED ME

  • KEN

    LESS THAN 200 ROUNDS OUT OF THE BOX NEW, AND THE FRAME CRACKED IN HALF. IF THIS IS A PROBLEM, HAS S&W NOT DONE ANYTHING ABOUT IT? i HAVE READ THE NIGHTMARES ABOUT SENDING IT BACK TO THE FACTORY, GUESS I'M FIXIN' TO GO TO SLEEP. WILL PROBABLY GO BACK TO THE TRIED, AND TRUE RUGER

  • james

    I just bought one of these .22 handguns, very pleased with accuracy. I see once again comments on this is not a self defence weapon. People who say this has never ben shot with one. I took a .22 round in the chest believe me i stopped dropped and rolled!

  • thinkaboutit

    Hey man don’t knock the self defense attributes of a .22 caliber. This round is responsible for more deaths in the US than any other caliber. The .22 is an excellent self defense round if you think about it, excellent accuracy, easy follow up shots, little recoil, little noise. Don’t be a snob.

  • Lance Wilson

    Is it picky on what type bullets you shoot?