Smith & Wesson SW22 Victory Pistol Review and test. (Please also read our more recent review of the Smith & Wesson SW22 Victory Pistol with the threaded barrel here.)
USA – -(Ammoland.com)- One of the new handguns introduced for 2016 is the Smith & Wesson Sw22 Victory Pistol in 22LR.
Smith-Wesson was nice enough to send me one to review and range test, so I want to share with you what I discovered.
The Victory has several features that are very handy for range use, small game, and/or a competition target gun, so I want to field test it, check its accuracy and reliability, evaluate it against my “10 criteria”, and give you my opinions and whether or not I recommend it. I was very interested to learn if it is easy and quick to disassemble and reassemble.
There are 3 models of the SW22 Victory, with mostly cosmetic differences: (1) Standard Victory, Model #108490, which has no threaded barrel, MSRP=$409.; (2) Threaded barrel, Model #10201, MSRP=$429.; and (3) Kryptek Highlander Camo, Model #10297, MSRP=$459. With all models the bolt is charged from the back, bolt operation is very smooth and easy, mags drop free easily, and the specifications are very similar among the models. The guns are very similar to Ruger’s Mark I, II, and III Series, the 22-45, and the Browning Buckmark pistols I own.
One nagging problem with several of these .22LR rimfire pistols is their time-consuming takedown and their steep learning curves. So I am anxious to disassemble and reassemble the Victory and decide for myself.
The Smith & Wesson SW22 Victory Pistol appears to be a very solid and quality gun at a very affordable price. So I want to field test it at the range with 4 or 5 different .22LR ammo brands and see how it performs and give you my opinions. Here are some of the features I discovered, like, and want to share.
Smith & Wesson SW22 Victory Pistol Selected FEATURES:
Here are the Smith & Wesson SW22 Victory Pistol SPECIFICATIONS:
When I examined, analyzed, shot, and reviewed the Victory, my top three criteria below were most important to me. I was considering the Smith & Wesson SW22 Victory Pistol for the instructors to use while teaching our NRA Basic Pistol and handgun skills classes. 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 to build their confidence. Now our students shoot the Ruger Mark III 22-45, Browning Buckmark, Beretta Neos, and Colt 1911 .22LR pistols. I wanted to primarily compare accuracy, reliability, trigger press, and ergonomics. I was anxious to discover for myself if it was easy to takedown.
Smith & Wesson SW22 Victory Pistol Review: Criteria and Considerations
Below are My 10 Criteria for evaluating the Smith & Wesson SW22 Victory Pistol and I will apply them for use with my handgun class students and general range and target-use purposes. My criteria that follow are the main gun attributes, features, and results I want in a pistol for these purposes. There are other subjective features that may be appealing for some, like customizing opportunities, switchable barrels, suppressor capable, a certain style, action, caliber, appearance, more mags included, different sights, more aggressive grip texture, included extras like a holster and pouch, lock, 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 maxiumum 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.
Remember, there are a lot of attributes, pros and cons, and criteria to include and consider and you make your own tradeoffs according to your priorities, preferences, and defined needs and use.
Field Test Of The Smith & Wesson SW22 Victory Pistol
After shooting and handling the new Smith & Wesson SW22 Victory Pistol in .22LR and considering its specifications, below is what I discovered and my point evaluations. You should know that I am not being paid to say these things, am not on Smith-Wesson’s payroll, and what follows are genuinely my truthful thoughts and opinions. Also, know that I am not a top expert shooter by any means and I only shot about 50 rounds of each of the ammo brands pictured (about 200 rounds) through the new Victory, so it really is not fully broken in. I shot a variety of ammo in the SW22 including: American Eagle, Aguila, CCI Mini-Mags, and Remington Golden Bullets.
I have students shoot in class (and I shoot) various .22LR pistols, including the Ruger Mark III 22-45, the Browning Buckmark, the Beretta Neos, and the Colt 1911 in .22LR calibers. The SW22 handled very well with very manageable, low recoil. It was comparable to the Ruger Mark III and the Browning Buckmark, but with some other nice features. The smooth and crisp trigger with short travel distance was very good, with a 3.5 pound press. The fit and finish of the gun was very good and it felt very solid in my hand. I experienced only 1 malfunction, a “stovepipe” failure to eject only in the first 50 rounds fired, probably due to me getting adjusted to the grip. It was not ammo related. For the next 150 rounds, there were no failures to fire or failures to feed; no failures to lockback; and no misfires. It was very fun to shoot and was smooth shooting. It fit my medium-sized hands very well, as well as my wife’s smaller hands. She loved shooting it. Overall, the performance of the Smith & Wesson SW22 Victory Pistol was excellent for the 200 rounds we shot with it. It impressed me as a high quality, smooth shooting, very accurate out-of-the-box .22LR pistol.
(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. My groups were better, of course, at distances of 7 and 12 yards, but at all of the distances they were between 2-3 inches or so for the first time this old geezer with failing eyesight ever fired the gun. 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. Remember, it is a new pistol with no break-in. The press was short, smooth, and crisp. It sort of reminded me of my 1911 press, but not quite, of course. I believe after it is broken in with more range time and with smoothing and lubrication, the press will get even better than it is now… 9.
(3) The Trigger had a short travel distance with a very identifiable reset. It was very smooth and crisp. I got off quick follow-up shots easily. I could count on the same trigger performance each time and it was consistent. We enjoyed shooting it and the trigger was excellent… 10.
(4) The 5.5-inch Barrel handled very well and combined with the heavy weight of the pistol and the fiber-optic sights, it helped accuracy. The long sight radius helped 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 would have preferred a larger front sight and maybe a slightly smaller rear sight, but still they were very good and easily identifiable. 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. It felt so good and solid in my hand that I did not even think about the weight. Both my wife and I could easily handle it… 9.
(7) The .22LR Caliber in the Smith & Wesson SW22 Victory Pistol was pleasant to shoot, made recoil very manageable, and my accuracy with it was very good. I shot 4 different brands of .22LR ammo with it and had only 1 stovepipe malfunction, probably my fault. Otherwise, it cycled reliably and the gun digested various brands well without any problems. I do want to shoot more subsonic, hollowpoints, & standard rounds through it to finalize my opinion… 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. SW uses proprietary mags, so no other current model mags will work with it (not model 41)… 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. We could each easily reach all the controls and the bolt was very easy and smooth to operate. The grip angle of the SW22 is steeper than my 1911s and is comparable to the Glock’s steeper grip angle. So, my wife with her very small hands had to turn the gun slightly to adjust her grip. Even with her small and short (but beautiful) fingers and hands, she could handle the gun well… 9.
(10) Miscellaneous. I easily and quickly (in 30 seconds) disassembled and then later re-assembled and cleaned the Victory using the one screw and hex wrench provided. Without a doubt it was much easier and quicker than all but one of my .22LR pistols. As with the SW22, the Beretta Neos also has a one screw takedown which is easy and quick to do. There was not a steep learning curve to learn how to disassemble and reassemble the Smith & Wesson SW22 Victory Pistol, like with another very nice .22LR we are all familiar with. I will not shoot this gun in bullseye target competitions because I mostly shoot IDPA. It would be nice to have a hard case or nice rug included with the Victory, but I understand the tradeoffs. For ONLY the first time I disassembled the Smith & Wesson SW22 Victory Pistol, 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 solid workmanship certainly impressed me with the SW22 Victory in .22LR.
It felt good in my hands and was a joy to shoot. Without any doubt whatsoever, I RECOMMEND the Smith & Wesson SW22 Victory Pistol for a target, competition, and as a 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. I believe it would make a very nice addition to anyone’s handgun inventory. You might want to check some of my other handgun and shooting tips, techniques, and drills and my top 21 handguns in my book. I hope this review of the SW22 has helped you gain some information you did not previously have. Consider that this is just my point of view with limited live-range fire and using only 200 rounds of ammo.
Like always, I recommend that you shoot any handgun yourself with standard performance drills 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 an 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 [email protected].
About Col Ben Findley
“Col Ben” is retired with 30 years service in the U.S. Air Force, with joint services Special Ops duty and training, and is Air Force qualified as “Expert” in small arms. Ben is an experienced NRA-Certified Pistol Instructor, NRA Range Safety Officer, and FL Concealed Carry License Instructor.
Ben recently wrote the book Concealed Carry and Handgun Essentials for Personal Protection with 57 comprehensive Chapters about concealed carry and handgun principles, techniques, and tips for both experienced and new shooters. His book is endorsed by several organizations and is available on his website at www.FloridaHandgunsTraining.com. Contact him at [email protected].