When I first put my hands on one during the S&W range day at SHOT 2010 I knew the M&P22 pistol would be a hit. I walked out of the indoor range, went straight up to my contact from Smith & Wesson and asked to be put on the waiting list. "It will be a few months before the production guns arrive." I was told.
Well, like many things in life. Sometimes you have to wait a bit longer than anticipated. In the case of the M&P22 pistol is was a couple of years. The big question, however, is "was it worth the wait?" Let's take a look.
S&W M&P22 Pistol
The M&P22 (bottom) compared to its siblings the M&P9 and M&P9C.
The new S&W M&P22 looks to be a big seller for the Massachusetts based gun maker.
As the name would indicate, the M&P22 is a .22LR rimfire pistol. The gun is actually manufactured in Germany by Walther. Most readers will be aware of the fact that S&W and Walther are owned by the same company and that many firearms offered in the S&W catalog are brought in from Germany.
Regarding mechanical specifications, the new M&P22 pistol has a 4.1 inch barrel and overall length of 7.6 inches. The empty weight is 24 ounces. Construction consists of an aluminum alloy slide, polymer grip and a "metal" frame. The guns are finished in black. Both ten and twelve round magazine versions are available. Front and rears sights are adjustable to a certain extent, though they are not "target sights" by any stretch.
When you get down to it, the M&P22 is a near identical replica of the M&P9. Laying the .22 version on a table next to the M&P9 and M&P9 Compact the family resemblance is striking. During my review of the guns I meant to pick up the 9mm version but instead grabbed the M&P22 and didn't realize it until I brought the gun up to look at it. They both feel the same in your hands.
Kids and Guns
A young 4H shooter is ready to bang some steel with the new M&P22 pistol.
During the 2012 4H Shooting Education Camp I finally had the chance to see the M&P22 in action. Smith & Wesson graciously donated a number of the new .22 LR autopistols to the camp.
Each summer since 1998 Canter's Cave 4H Camp has hosted the Ohio 4H Shooting Sports camp. The program has been such as success that in 2009 they had to add an addition camp to the schedule to accommodate all of the young people who wanted to attend.
Action Pistol, a shooting program that introduces young shooters to steel targets, has been a part of the Shooting Ed. Camp for the last three summers. The new M&P22 was a natural addition to the Action Pistol program.
On the second day of the camp I spoke at length with one of the senior pistol instructors, Mike Briski. "The kids just love these new guns." Mike said of the M&P22. "They were a bit stiff, like brand new guns tend to be, but after a couple of magazines they smoothed up considerably." Mr. Briski continued. "We've been shooting hundreds of rounds of the Remington plated .22 ammo through each gun and we haven't had any trouble with them."
Not wanting to let the kids have all the fun, I blocked out a couple of hours one afternoon with Mike and my oldest son, Jarrad, in attendance. We opened up a fresh box of 500 rounds of .22 fodder and started to heat the new S&W pistols up.
Being a full-sized pistol, the recoil was naturally very mild. Transitioning from one steel target to the next was simple enough. I found that the sights on the pistol I was using were right on from the factory. Steel plates strung out from seven to twenty yards were rung time and again with the new S&W pistol.
A feature that was very impressive was the 12 round magazines that came with the gun. Magazines and feeding issues have notoriously been the Achilles' heel of rimfire autoloaders. A great amount of attention to detail must have gone into the design of the magazine for the M&P22. There are cut-outs on the left and right of the upper portion of the magazine allowing the rimfire rounds to stagger ever so slightly before they are chambered. This characteristic worked very well in practice.
I had a couple of days to work with the M&P22 and put somewhere in the neighborhood of two to three hundred rounds through the gun. Everyone I spoke to who used the M&P22 pistol was impressed. By the end of camp all of the pistol instructors, and many of the 4H campers, were raving about the guns.
Are the guns available and what are they going for? Before putting this review to bed I jumped over to Cheaper the Dirt and found them in stock and priced at $343.20. While that might seem to be a bit high for a .22 pistol, the M&P22 is a fantastic training tool for shooters who need to work up to a centerfire pistol. It can also be used as a less expensive alternative to get in more range time. For more information visit www.smith-wesson.com