Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Smith & Wesson Model 22A

Now that my BAG Day purchase has arrived, and I've had a chance to play with it a bit, I figure it's about time to get a post up on it.


Smith & Wesson Model 22A .22 Caliber Semi-Automatic Pistol.

I ordered the model with the 7" barrel. A full length sight rail is standard, along with target sights. There are not very many cross slots machined in the sight rail, so mounting a red dot sight may require having one additional slot machined in the rail. I machined the slot with a milling machine, then re-blackened the aluminum with Brownell's Aluma-black, which did the job and kept it from looking like a "Bubba Job."

The barrel is removable with the push of a button, almost exactly the same as on the later push button take-down High Standards. It works well.


Barrel removal push button.

The slide and barrel are steel, and the frame appears to be an aluminum casting. The model 22S is very similar to the 22A, but the frame is stainless steel, rather than aluminum. The rubber grip feels a little boxy in your hand, but not bad at all. The adjustable rear target sight is better than average.

Field stripping the 22A is easy, so regular cleaning doesn't require a lot of fooling around to get it back together. To strip it, you remove the magazine, lock the slide back and verify the chamber is empty, push the barrel retention button, lift the front of the barrel a few inches, and lift it off the frame. The slide and spring can then be lifted off, and you are ready for cleaning. Reassembly is also straight-forward. Reinstall the slide and spring. There is a small hook on the bottom rear of the sight rail that engages the top of the frame near the rear of the slide. Hook that into place, then lower the barrel down, push in the barrel retention button, and lower the barrel the rest of the way onto the frame. If it's fully seated, the barrel retention button should be back out to it's normal position. Release the slide and let it drop against the barrel a couple of times to be sure everything is seated, and you're finished!


Magazine release button in the front of the grip.

The magazine release location is somewhat unusual. It's in the front of the grip, the same as on the Models 622, 422, and 22S. Once I got used to the location, I really started to like it, as it's easy to find with the tip of your middle finger, and you can push the button without releasing much of your grip. When you push in a magazine, it pushes against a spring loaded pin that allows the disconnector to engage the sear. When the magazine is out of the gun, this makes it unable to fire. A side benefit of this is that when you push the mag release, the spring loaded pin launches the magazine out of the frame very nicely.

One of the first things I did was take it apart, look inside, and see what I could do to improve it. Mass produced products in the lower price ranges often don't have the fit and finish one would expect from a more expensive product, but that doesn't keep you from doing a little polishing and fitting yourself. Sometimes the results can be amazing from just a little attention to detail, making a pistol have a completely different nature and feel.

A rough (pun intended) rule of thumb is that there isn't much inside a pistol that works better rough rather than smooth, particularly with parts that slide against each other. There are places where sharp edges are important, such as the hammer and sear, so don't go rounding stuff off unless you know what you are doing. In fact, if you aren't pretty sure of what you are doing, talk to a gunsmith before doing anything. You should also keep in mind that any polishing you do may, and probably will, void any warrantee, and the factory will probably refuse to work on it if it needs repair.

While I had the 22A apart I smoothed up a lot of sliding contact areas. I also did a bit of trigger work to get the trigger pull down a bit. The hammer, hammer strut, and hammer strut spring can be a pain to re-install unless you have some sort of a strut spring compressor tool. I would recommend not removing those parts unless absolutely necessary.

After I got it all reassembled, I headed to the range to see how it shoots. The 22A has a reputation for being picky as to ammo, so I brought a good assortment of brands to try. I discovered that 22A's do not like hollow points, or more specifically, any squared off bullet nose, as it will catch in the little square holes in the front of the magazine where the magazine retention button engages the magazine, and the bullet will not come up past that point. It usually seemed to happen most often when you start with a full magazine, and after the first round was fired, the stack would fail to feed from there. If you load only eight or nine rounds, it seemed to feed OK, but would still jam once in a while. I tried it with five different magazines and they all had the same problem.

More rounded nose bullets, such as CCI Blazers, Mini-Mags, and CCI Standard Velocity all worked well, with the Mini-Mags and CCI Standard Velocity ammo working the best of what I tested.


Magazine retention button engagement holes in the magazine.

As you can see in the picture, the more squared off bullets like the two on the left gave most of the feeding problems. The one on the right gave no problem at all. Ideally you want a long taper on the nose of the bullet with a small diameter radius on the tip.

Regular jamming in the magazine with the two on the left.

Once I figured out the ammo, I could get down to some shooting. The stock trigger wasn't all that bad, but it did respond to a little bit of a trigger job. Accuracy was decent, and far better than just about all of the shooters out there. In close to 500 rounds of ammo fired, there was not a single stove-pipe. If it chambered it, it fired it, and it ejected the casing without problem.

The Smith & Wesson Model 22A is a very reasonably priced .22 pistol, and it gives you a lot for your money. A little investment of time and gunsmithing expertise can make it noticeably better, without having to by any aftermarket parts. The red dot scope makes a nice addition, particularly for those of us without eyes like eagles, and the feel and balance with the red dot in place is good.

With the exception of the hollow point magazine feeding problem, I was very satisfied with the 22A, and would recommend it as a good plinker/club level match pistol for anyone. It is one of the least expensive .22 auto pistols on the market, and gives you a lot of value for the money.

If you are looking for a reasonably priced .22 pistol, you should definitely give the 22A a hard look. It might be just what you're looking for......

Labels:

48 Comments:

At Thursday, April 19, 2007 12:32:00 PM, Blogger Rivrdog said...

Fine looking pistol.

Too bad you uglied up it's lines with that gizmo on top.

The feeding problems can probably be worked out by removing a tiny bit of metal off the magazine catch.

 
At Thursday, April 19, 2007 9:19:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great review, and excellent notes on the smithing, and your observations about the round nose bullets. I'd be interested to see how your 22a handles Federal Match rounds that are also of the non hollowpoint, rounded shape. Those jam up in mine, whereas the Minimags don't.
Thanks
Mark

 
At Friday, April 20, 2007 7:12:00 PM, Anonymous Darrell said...

I tried one on, didn't care at all for how the grip felt in my hand. YMMV.

 
At Saturday, April 21, 2007 5:00:00 PM, Blogger The Conservative UAW Guy said...

She's real purty, Mr. C!

 
At Sunday, April 22, 2007 8:48:00 AM, Blogger Gary said...

Nice review. I found a similar feeding problem with my Walther P22. It didn't like the Winchester Wildcat ammo one bit. One the other hand, it ate up the PMC 40gr round nose that neither my 10/22 or Marlin 25 liked one bit.

 
At Tuesday, April 24, 2007 4:08:00 PM, Blogger Keith said...

Good review, I was searching for solutions to the jamming that I was having with this gun and I think you've got it right! I'm fairly new to shooting so I didn't notice that the hollow-points were the reason for my jamming. Can't wait to get back out there and try with one you suggested! Thanks!

 
At Thursday, May 31, 2007 7:53:00 PM, Anonymous redleg said...

Bought a 5.5" barrel 22A about 18 months ago. Haven't had the feeding problem with hp's. Since added a 7" barrel. Mine likes 40 gr solid SV rounds best. I get considerable scatter with high velocity hollow points. The only scatter I get with CCI SV has something to do with the shooter.

 
At Thursday, December 18, 2008 6:37:00 PM, Anonymous Tim M said...

I've had my 22A for two months now. Shooting bullseye 900 match. my scores are creeping toward 800 (more shooter than gun) Bench shooting I get 5 rounds touching each other at 25 yds. I did buy the wood target grips and added an Ultra-dot. The only problem is that it doesn't like "hot" rounds. Great with CCI Standard and Federal gold match. Anything hotter makes the magazine drop on the first round? Don't know what that would be about. Overall very happy and becoming competitive.

 
At Tuesday, January 27, 2009 11:39:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

RE: "I'd be interested to see how your 22a handles Federal Match rounds that are also of the non hollowpoint, rounded shape."


--Ive fired about 650 rounds of federal match through my pistol to sight in the 2x scope i just mounted on my 22a. To be honest, i wasnt all that impressed. they were no more accurate than mini-mags or winchester xpert, which no one seems to like. I think over the past 5,000 rounds, ive only had about ten failures, and those were due to a bad primer i think. in any case, i only shoot hp's in mine, and they never jam. the point i was trying to make was that the federal match rounds really arent worth the extra $ to me. the gun is great though! with the scope, i have 9 out of 10 rounds touching each other at 25 yds.

 
At Sunday, November 01, 2009 8:53:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey what kind of scope is good to go with this gun. i don't want to spend too much money. but want something descent

 
At Monday, November 16, 2009 9:05:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just got mine about two weeks ago and have put about 500+ rounds through it. I'm shooting federal round nose in the blue box (not sure of a model) but I haven't had one misfire, jam, or failure to eject. the only problem I have had is when I have 10 rounds in the magazine and "sling shot" the slide the 2nd round fails to load everytime. If I have the slide locked open and put in a full magazine (10 rounds),release the slide all rounds load fine. weird?! will try 8 rounds next time. other than that this is a great little plinker and very accurate as well.

 
At Wednesday, November 25, 2009 1:17:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a new 22A on the way. Thanks for all the insight. No pun intended "Forewarned is Forearmed". At my club here in Canada the use of any scope red-dot or otherwise is disallowed in competition. Also plinking in Canada with a pistol on ones own forested property(mine is 20 acres)carries the same penalty as murder. Rediculous you say! I agree. There are hunters back there discharging cannons at deer with impunity. Mr. D.J. in Canada eh!

 
At Friday, January 01, 2010 2:00:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Call me brain-dead if you wish, it's okay. I spent almost the same amount of money on a Ruger MK 1 as I did on a brand new Smith and Wesson Model 22A. The 22A is unbelievably accurate and will chew up any type of ammo, SV, HV, or SSV, hollow point, round nose you name it. Never jams. If it chambers the round it fires the round. Mr. D.J. in Canada eh!

 
At Saturday, March 20, 2010 12:33:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello,

Good report!

Do you have any pics or instructions on the trigger-job or any other procedures you performed on it?

 
At Saturday, March 20, 2010 10:48:00 AM, Blogger Mr. Completely said...

Didn't take any pictures or make any notes, but a good polishing of all the sliding parts smoothed up the action quite a bit. I may have either shortened the sear spring, or possibly used a slightly softer one, I don't remember for sure. It did make quite a bit of difference, though.

Mr. C.

 
At Thursday, March 25, 2010 6:34:00 AM, Blogger joestef said...

I bought a 22A used today. It looks to be in excelent condition. I put CCI SV 40Gr thru it tonight everything was fine for around 30 rounds then it started having a problem ejecting the case sometimes the slide would catch the case end to end and sometimes it would crush the case sideways. It fed the next round fine but would not function due to the lack of ejection. Any suggestions? And could you outline how to dissaemble the slide components and triger assemb.I cant find that info anywhere.

 
At Monday, April 19, 2010 4:04:00 AM, Blogger astroresearch said...

God article, do you have any pics of your gunsmithing work, or any procedure on detail-stripping the pistol?

Steve

 
At Tuesday, April 20, 2010 4:49:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just bought a 22a with a 4" barrel. I like the balance in my hand for household defense but I will buy a 7" for target shooting. At about 15 yards, I can put all the shots in a 10 inch circle. No misfires with 100 rounds of CCI minimag hollowpoints.
Thanks for a great review.

 
At Thursday, April 22, 2010 11:02:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just left the previous review 2 days ago. Since then I tried firing Federal hollow points, I had here for my rifle. I had nothing but trouble with the federal. The feed jammed 25% of the time. Spent cases either would not pull out of the bore or would hang up the bolt as it tried to feed the next round. NO MORE FEDERAL AMMO through this gun for me. Next I will try some of the less expense round bullet ammo suggested earlier, to see if I have better luck. As I said in my review of two days ago the CCI minimags and stingers both work great in my 22A.

 
At Saturday, April 24, 2010 4:00:00 PM, Blogger fragzero said...

I am wondering if anyone has tried to lighten the barrel by shortening the rail mount, it is machined to match the barrel curve and I am looking at losing about 3 inches off it and leaving the rear two screws in place to hold it.

 
At Friday, July 09, 2010 12:06:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i got my 22a 3 days ago i was looking for more clips on the net and found this http://www.smith-wesson.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Category4_750001_750051_757979_-1_757978_757978_image i was a little scared to shoot it after finding this but had to try it. shot 1 winchester h/p (cheap) in it and it jamed. shot 1 cci mini mag h/p and no problem. was alot louder with the cci.

 
At Sunday, July 11, 2010 4:39:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I shoot both the 22A1 and the 22S1 a 5.5" barrel and a 7" barrel...

either will outshoot for accuracy my Ruger MKIII, Browning Buckmark...

I have one scoped Weaver 2-8x32 and one a TruGlo 2x Red Dot, I shoot mostly 25yd some 50yd....

I think the SW 22A is the most under-rated 22 on the market today.

I have owned and used SWM41 and HS Victor, SW22A is equal in my opinion...

Chas

 
At Sunday, September 05, 2010 12:49:00 PM, Blogger "B" said...

I just took my new 22a to the range for the first time. It fed 5 different brands 100%. It just shoots very high for me. I started shooting with "point of aim" (german) sights. These, like most american guns, I think are "6 oclock", which i dont like. I tried to drop the rear sight as far down as it would go, but i was still about 3" high at 25 yards. Can the sight go down far enough to almost touch the rail? Mine still had a pretty big gap.

 
At Sunday, October 24, 2010 9:17:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

you can always fix a smith and wesson!!

 
At Wednesday, October 27, 2010 6:01:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was having great success at the range with my 22A-1 scores around 93 out of 100 at 20 yards but now even after a thorough cleaning it's still shooting helter skelter. I'm using a red dot scope. Open sights same problem. I thought cleaning the barrell, the breech with no improvement. Help. Boomer in Canada. God Bless America.

 
At Monday, November 08, 2010 2:06:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Make sure the rib is tight, I had same problem. The rib works loose after a few hundred rounds.

 
At Tuesday, November 09, 2010 7:29:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

whats the differents between a smith & wesson 22a and a 22a-1

 
At Friday, November 12, 2010 3:33:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

S & W advised the difference between the 22A and the 22A-1 is:
The only thing that was changed was the hook on the bridge of the gun. Which means what?
Boomer in Canada eh!
God Bless America

 
At Saturday, February 26, 2011 9:45:00 AM, Anonymous mrhill said...

I think most of your feeding problems are coming from the magazine. The catch on the front can be bent in. I just tapped a screw driver to adjust mine. It has stopped all of my ftf. I shoot hollow points thru mine without anymore problems. Also you may want to try a lower speed around 1050 fps to 1260 fps. That has really helped my accuracy. Thank you for all you tips that you share.

 
At Monday, April 04, 2011 7:47:00 PM, Anonymous Alex Galletti said...

Wow, that looks like a fine deal you got there, and that sight rail looks smokin'! It also made me recall how my friend deals with his newly bought firearm, in which he checks every nook and cranny while field stripping it then assembling it back, in which it was pretty amazing to see, since his love for those guns is pretty much unmatched.

 
At Sunday, May 15, 2011 4:09:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This Canadian needs your help. I have two 22A's that are very reliable. I am looking at at a Model 41 .22 calibre. Is their any merits to buying this firearm[$1100+] or should I stick with my 22A's. Desperately need some input from guys/girls that are far more knowledgeable than this rookie shooter. Again Thanks Eh.

 
At Thursday, June 02, 2011 6:22:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wouldn't throw $1100 at the 41 unless I could try it first. I haven't but would say the big difference would be the trigger & grip. A nice replacement wood grip can be had for the 22A for $70. The trigger however is the problem. My 22A's trigger is heavy, way to much creep, gritty. Pretty unacceptable for target shooting.
If you're just a plinker, save your noney. If you're serious about target shooting and have lots of money, the 41 would be the gun to get. It'll re-sell well too.

 
At Friday, June 03, 2011 4:21:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good solid information and much appreciated. I fired the Model 41 at the range one week ago and the trigger pull is phenomenal and my groups were tighter. Very solid pistol. Thanks for the info. Dave

 
At Wednesday, August 24, 2011 7:15:00 AM, Blogger Roy D. Slater said...

This is a great looking .22 pistol. Even with the scope it would fit perfectly in my aluminum gun case. Thanks for posting.

 
At Friday, September 09, 2011 8:20:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sold my SW41 and regreted it ever since. A few years later, I purchased a SW22A with both 4" and 7" barrels and a red dot sight and it is almost as good in every application except competition.

The SW22A is a great field gun which I like much better than the Rugers and Brownings I have used in both the field and competition.

All I want now is an affordable and reliable crosshair scope for it.

Any suggestions???

 
At Wednesday, October 05, 2011 12:27:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent review, presented in detail a beginner can follow.

Just bought the 22A and am considering an in expensive laser sight. I want a little help with accuracy, but I am not thinking scope at this time.

Any comment or suggestions will be most welcome.

Thanks

 
At Tuesday, November 08, 2011 9:26:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey- I have the same gun and red dot combo that I put together in about '07. Nice to see you're enjoying it too.

I've found winchester feeds well for me but not remington so much. Now at about 3000 rounds I have had some failure to fire--the pin mark is there, but no go on 1/10 rounds. Could be ammo. But we throw the round in a browning later and usually it fires.

So I pulled and cleaned the firing pin and spring, but frankly they weren't that dirty. Before testing again, I'm wondering about the hammer and its spring. It sits cocked for long periods, and with the firing pin pretty clean I've begun to wonder whether that spring has lost just enough force to fail on some rounds.

What are your thoughts and do you know anything about the spec weight of that spring, how to test/get a new one?

thanks

 
At Saturday, December 31, 2011 5:20:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great tips. Just got a 22a-1 with 5.5 inch round barrel and red dot.

 
At Friday, March 09, 2012 6:04:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My 2 yr old 22a has a Nikon Buckmaster scope 4-14X40, BDC, and use this combination for SB Metallic Silhouette. Longest target distance is 77 meters shooting at the Rams. I also have the wood pistol grip which makes a huge difference in comfort level. A rifle club member friend of mine who works at Gander Mountain, suggested the 22a and I would be very happy with it. He also knew I shot competition SB Rifle Metallic Silhouette at our club. I have found that my 22a is most accurate with CCI SV. I have not tried Wolf Match or SK Std + to see if any improvement.

 
At Wednesday, April 11, 2012 6:12:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Springs (generally) do not lose their "force" through being compressed for long durations. They become weak through use; compression and release over many uses.

 
At Monday, April 23, 2012 11:23:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

FYI: I just bought a gently used 22A-1 and took it to the range during lunch. I put about 250 rounds of Federal Champion copper plated hollow points through it and didn't have a single misfire, FTF or stovepipe. I used both of the clips that came with the gun, too. Just thought I'd pass it along.

 
At Wednesday, May 23, 2012 6:23:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just bought an M22A which is the deluxe model of the 22A. Wood/composite grips with stainless steel fluted barrel. Love it. Anybody familiar with the Sightmark Reflex Optics. I'm thinking of putting the Mini-Shot Reflex sight on this one. Put three out of 10 rounds in a 1/2" diameter bullseye at 20 yards at our club the other night. Not bad I guess.

 
At Monday, May 28, 2012 5:23:00 AM, Blogger JohnB said...

Don't dry fire the gun! It messes up the bullet seating in the chamber because it divots the metal there! If you have the divot it can be rubbed out. None of my other 22's have this problem. It's a bit of a design flaw in this model I think.

 
At Friday, June 15, 2012 12:21:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for such a detailed, informative post on the smith and wesson 22a.
People like you make this a better place! I would not have the experience or have access to different clips or gunsmithing to have know which is the most reliable ammunition in the S&W 22a.
Thank you again

 
At Tuesday, September 11, 2012 12:29:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks to everyone who's commented! You helped me make a decision between the MK-III and the 22A.

I went with the 22A! Wow what a great gun!

I've put 100 rounds of Remmington Hollow Point Golden Bullets (36 gr. / 1280 fps) through it with only 1 FTF (the second round in the gun so it may have been me?) It seems from the comments that most of the FTF's were earlier 2007 & 2008? Maybe S&W got the problem resolved. Mine is a 2012 model.

Very happy with my purchase and would highly reccomend!

 
At Wednesday, October 10, 2012 10:13:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looking for GRIPS, rubber for my 22A. Please write if you have a set you want to sell

thanks stan1956@yahoo.com

 
At Saturday, December 29, 2012 9:35:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just rebuilt the extractor, firing pin and buffer spring mechanism on my 10+ year old 22A.

Was a piece of cake with the schematics and parts available from Numrich and Brownells along with some You Tube videos.

Used to by parts direct from S&W, but their shipping was dependent on whether or not the parts were in stock. If they weren't I had to wait for the next production run which sometimes weeks or months off.

Bottom line is between the two distributors mentioned above, you can get virtually anything you need to keep your pistol running in a few days.

Granted you pay a little more, but the time savings is well worth it.

YMMV

 
At Monday, January 07, 2013 5:51:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love my S&W 22A. I got some CCI ammo and it didn't fit in the clips correctly and the ones that did fit didn't cycle correctly. I got some hallow point ammo from my brother in law and the gun fired not problem. I had not jams, no misfires, no problems.

 

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