Skip to main content

Smith & Wesson Model 22

Smith & Wesson Model 22

Throughout the last century of military history, .45 caliber guns seem to rate the most respect when it comes to sidearms.

The Model 1911 semiautomatic pistol has endured for almost 100 years now, and looking closely at recent catalogs indicates that old age has everything to do with popularity.

But what about wartime revolvers? At the onset of World War I, we did not have enough guns to supply the men in the trenches. The Model 1911 was, of course, the issue sidearm of choice, but with the war intensifying both government and military officials searched for a stopgap method to either increase production of the semiautomatic or find an additional line of military weaponry.


Smith & Wesson got on top of the situation and, working with Springfield Armory, developed the.45 Ejector Model of 1917 and later the Model 22 made to chamber the .45 ACP. To make matters simple, a half-moon clip was designed to hold the rimless .45 ACP cartridges within the confines of the cylinder.


The Model of 1917 was discontinued in the late 1940s, and Smith & Wesson's .45 caliber revolvers have gone through many changes since then.

Smith & Wesson's current classic series Model 22 looks like any other large N-frame revolver but without all the bells and whistles we are accustomed to. In fact the plain basic nature of the gun makes it perfect as a home defensive weapon, where a finely tuned gun is not needed, or as a trail gun, where your chances of using it target style are pretty slim.

This plain-Jane model has its merits. There are no adjustable sights. A square cut rear notch is machined into a gutter cut right up to the end of the frame. The front sight is basic and comprises a rounded blade, pinned in place much like World War I models.

SMITH & WESSON -- MODEL 22

Manufacturer Smith & Wesson, www.smith-wesson.com, 800-331-0852
Type double-action revolver
Caliber .45 ACP, .45 Auto Rim
Capacity 6
Barrel Length 5 1/2
Overall Length 10 3/4
Weight 38 oz.
Sights fixed
Grips Magna checkered walnut
Finish polished blue
Price $1,000 blue, $1,090 nickel, $1,185 case hardened


While many may consider the system very basic, Smith & Wesson did its homework back then to ensure a swift, positive sight picture. The width of the front blade has enough mass to fit the notch of the rear sight and leave just enough light around it for positive acquisition.

The cylinder release is on the left side of the frame behind the recoil shield. Pushing it forward unlatches the cylinder and allows it to open. The cylinder holds six rounds of ammunition and turns to the left upon cocking the hammer.

Unfortunately, Smith & Wesson's revolvers are not immune to government mandates. An internal lock mechanism is activated by a special key that comes with each gun.


The single-action trigger pull on my test sample is about five pounds and clean, with no slack before the sear released. On the other hand, double action was nothing to write home about, peaking at 11 pounds with pretty typical stacking.

The trigger face is smooth--which helps with deliberate double action shooting--and the hammer is checkered. For those who like to tinker with the trigger pull, the strain screw is exposed on the inside of the grip frame and can be adjusted within limits.

In keeping with the classic theme, the gun comes with Magna grips. Each panel has been handsomely checkered with a diamond around the grip screw. A border enhances the point pattern, and the familiar company logo is inletted at the top of each panel. On the bottom of the grip frame a lanyard has been installed.

The Model 22 classic is equipped with a 51â'„2-inch barrel, with the familiar 1950 style taper at the juncture of the frame. Like other guns of its ilk, there is no ejector rod shroud, and the gun is highly polished and blued. In addition, t

his model is also available in nickel or color case hardened. A traditional four-screw sideplate completes the package.

I took both .45 ACP and .45 Auto Rim ammunition to the range with me. I consider full moon clips a bother to load and unload, and they make an unsightly bulge in your pocket. The .45 Auto Rim case is easier to use, highly reloadable and will eject from the gun without clips--something I applaud.

With ACP rounds, the extractor will ride over the rebated rim of the cartridge, leaving you to either punch the spent rounds out with a pencil or try to shake them out--neither of which is particularly convenient.

Firing the gun was a pleasure, and the weight of the pistol combined with the mild recoiling qualities of the .45 ACP/.45 AR made for a fun morning putting the Model 22 through its paces.

Dealing with fixed sights was not too much of a problem. All you have to do is find a load that will hit the target with the right sight picture and you're in business.

Accuracy was acceptable, especially for a classic combat/defensive type revolver. Off a benchrest at 15 yards the loads I tried grouped in the three- to four-inch range.

For those who can't afford a highly sought-after collectible Smith & Wesson, this recent entry into the classic line is a good choice and lots of fun to shoot.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Compact Carry Pistols Are Effective With Practice

Compact Carry Pistols Are Effective With Practice

Small, compact semi-auto pistols are popular with concealed-carry firearm buyers, and these two models – the KelTec PF9 9mm and the Ruger LCP II .22LR – are no exceptions. They are effective for personal protection but only if you put in the time to practice.

Dealing with Subcompacts

Dealing with Subcompacts

Jim and Rich cover the benefits and the challenges presented by very small pistols.

Dan Wesson Kodiak 1911 10mm

Dan Wesson Kodiak 1911 10mm

The Kodiak is a long slide 1911-style semi-auto complete with 6-inch bull barrels and chambered in 10mm.

Ruger Security 9 Compact

Ruger Security 9 Compact

This handgun lives up to what Ruger wanted to build: a solid, dependable, easy-racking carry/home defense pistol at a better-than-reasonable price.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

As you will learn in this detailed review, the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield EZ 380 (manufacturer SKU # 180023) is an easy-racking, soft-shooting pistol.Smith & Wesson M&P Shield EZ 380 Review Compact

Smith & Wesson M&P Shield EZ 380 Review

James Tarr - November 06, 2018

As you will learn in this detailed review, the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield EZ 380 (manufacturer...

The Ruger SR1911 is offered in two versions, an all-stainless in .45 ACP (model # 6762) and a two-tone aluminum-framed model in 9mm (model # 6758). This review by James Tarr will focus on the 9mm.Ruger SR1911 Officer-Style 9mm Review 1911

Ruger SR1911 Officer-Style 9mm Review

James Tarr - May 01, 2019

The Ruger SR1911 is offered in two versions, an all-stainless in .45 ACP (model # 6762) and a...

According to a recent report from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), a lawsuit againstJudge Postpones Oral Arguments to Stop California Microstamping Law 2nd Amendment

Judge Postpones Oral Arguments to Stop California Microstamping Law

Handguns Online Staff - May 07, 2014

According to a recent report from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), a lawsuit...

One of the newest in the Micro 9 series, the Kimber Micro 9 Nightfall is a serious pistol designed for personal defense.Kimber Micro 9 Nightfall Review Compact

Kimber Micro 9 Nightfall Review

Jeff Chudwin - January 29, 2019

One of the newest in the Micro 9 series, the Kimber Micro 9 Nightfall is a serious pistol...

See More Trending Articles

More Revolvers

The new Wrangler is built on the legacy of the Ruger Single-Six revolver.Ruger Announces New Wrangler .22 LR Single-Action Revolver Revolvers

Ruger Announces New Wrangler .22 LR Single-Action Revolver

Handguns Digital Staff - April 19, 2019

The new Wrangler is built on the legacy of the Ruger Single-Six revolver.

With the help of a group of friends and fellow dreamers I now have my dream revolver.A Custom Revolver - Sometimes Dreams Come True Revolvers

A Custom Revolver - Sometimes Dreams Come True

Ed Head - March 04, 2019

With the help of a group of friends and fellow dreamers I now have my dream revolver.

For those who simply want the best in a concealment weapon, it's hard to beat this one.Handgun Beauties: Kimber K6S Classic Engraved Revolvers

Handgun Beauties: Kimber K6S Classic Engraved

Stan Trzoniec - February 01, 2019

For those who simply want the best in a concealment weapon, it's hard to beat this one.

The Heritage Rough Rider revolver is the perfect vehicle for teaching, small game hunting and, of course, plinking.Heritage Rough Rider American Flag Revolver – Beauty Shot Revolvers

Heritage Rough Rider American Flag Revolver – Beauty Shot

Stan Trzoniec - March 24, 2020

The Heritage Rough Rider revolver is the perfect vehicle for teaching, small game hunting and,...

See More Revolvers

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Handguns App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Handguns subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now