November 09, 2021
By Stan Trzoniec
For the paper puncher looking for one of the top-rated .22 guns, the Smith & Wesson Model 41 is the place to start. I had a Model 41 in my collection with all the four accessory barrels but sold it to an up-and-coming target shooter in his pursuit of the sport. Fortunately, the gun remains in production.
The gun made its debut in 1957 and quickly became a favorite among accuracy buffs. Three models are cataloged today: one with a 5.5-inch barrel, one with a longer 7-inch barrel and the newest version from the Performance Center. This gun, the sample you see here, comes with a 5.5-inch barrel that is slightly wider and features a Picatinny rail. The rear sight is of the micrometer target type, and the rakish front sight is removable if you opt for a red dot or scope.
Unique to the Model 41 is the ability to switch barrels depending on the shooting you have in mind. Barrels are available as a separate accessory in both 5.5- (regular or Performance Center model) or 7-inch versions via a simple motion of the trigger guard. First, remove the magazine, pull back on the slide to make sure the gun is unloaded, then pull the trigger guard down and lift off the barrel. The slide may also be removed at this time.
All rifles are button-rifled for accuracy, and you can fine-tune the trigger stop via an adjustment screw located in the trigger guard—but only when it is in the down position. I found my gun not needing this adjustment. With the trigger factory arriving at 2.8 pounds of pull, it was ready to go right out of the box.
There is a single slide stop on the left side of the gun. The steel thumb safety lever is right behind with the magazine release behind the trigger, 1911 style. The gun has a magazine disconnect safety and will not fire unless a mag is installed.
While not equipped with those optional and stylish Goncalo Alves grips of the past, the laminated panels forming the checkered target grips are perfect for me, filling my hand comfortably while allowing for an extended magazine well at the base for easy loading.
The carbon steel slide and the frame were polished with a bright satin glow. The sights were perfect in the details of windage and elevation. The front sight filled the rear notch with just the right amount of space showing through the rear blade.
Looking back on what I paid for my gun in 1968, the price has increased about 125 percent over the past 52 years. But factoring in everything, to me if you want a precision handgun just made for accuracy, the Model 41 is still the one to pick.