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Smith & Wesson M&P22 Review

by Joel Hutchcroft   |  June 5th, 2012 50

SW-MP22_001Smith & Wesson’s M&P22 is, according to the company, built for recreational shooting, personal protection, home protection, and professional training. I don’t much buy into the idea of using a .22 LR for personal or home protection, but I have just spent the good part of an extended weekend shooting and handling the new model, and I see the M&P22 being useful for training and recreational shooting.

First off, the M&P22, which was announced in 2011, looks almost exactly like S&W’s 4.25-inch-barreled centerfire M&P, and it feels really good in my medium-sized hand. It weighs 24 ounces, unloaded, and it comes with a 4.1-inch, fixed barrel. Unlike its bigger-caliber brothers (9mm, .357 SIG, .40 S&W, or .45 ACP), the M&P22 does not have interchangeable backstraps; however, the .22 pistol does compare favorably ergonomically to the standard, 4.25-inch-barreled M&Ps in other aspects. Overall lengths are virtually the same. Widths are the same. Heights are the same. And empty weight is the same as for the 9mm 4.25-inch-barreled M&P.

Features
The M&P22 is made for Smith & Wesson by Carl Walther, GmbH, and the gun carries many of the familiar operating features of S&W’s centerfire M&P duty pistols; as such, it makes a pretty good “understudy” (as one writer put it) to the bigger-bored pistols. The front sight is a white-dot, drift-adjustable post very much like the centerfire model’s front sight. The rear sight is a fully adjustable, plain black, low-profile sight.

The M&P22’s frame is polymer with metal internal inserts, and like the centerfire model’s frame, it incorporates an integral Picatinny-style accessories rail. The rimfire’s slide is aluminum alloy, whereas the centerfire’s slide is steel.

The operating controls—the ambidextrous slide stop release, the magazine release, and the takedown lever—are exactly like the centerfire’s controls. By the way, the M&P22’s magazine release is reversible just like the centerfire model’s magazine release. The M&P22 comes with an ambidextrous thumb safety similar to that on some versions of the bigger-bore models. All versions have an articulated trigger, a magazine disconnect that prevents the pistol from firing when the magazine is removed, and a loaded chamber indicator.

The really big difference between the rimfire and centerfire models is the firing mechanism. The single-action, blowback-operated rimfire pistol uses a hammer-fired mechanism, with an internal hammer. The double-action centerfire model is a striker-fired mechanism. For those of you who don’t know the difference, the hammer-fired mechanism, as its name implies, uses a spring-tensioned hammer that pivots on a pin to strike the firing pin. A striker-fired mechanism uses, in simple terms, a spring-loaded firing pin that travels in line with the cartridge, thereby eliminating the separate hammer.

SW-MP22_002

The M&P22 realy shines as a training tool. Engaging steel targets at various ranges was a snap.

Performance
The real joy in any new-gun review comes with getting the gun out on the range for some shooting. I put the new M&P22 through its paces by shooting 10 different .22 LR loads, ranging in bullet weight and style from 31-grain plated hollowpoints to the age-old classic 40-grain lead solids. Also included were lead hollowpoints and plated roundnoses. I shot standard-velocity target ammo, subsonic loads, high-velocity rounds, and hypervelocity ammo. In all, I put close to 350 rounds through the M&P22, and it didn’t miss a beat.

As for accuracy, well, the results on paper weren’t exactly stellar. I have to admit that the single white-dot front sight and the plain black rear sight isn’t the ideal combination for me for shooting at small bullseye targets. At 25 yards the front sight completely obscured a 3-inch bullseye. With my poor eyes being what they are, I just couldn’t get any loads to group better than 2.00 inches. Most loads were in the 3.0- to 4.0-inch range at that distance. In the interest of full disclosure, in addition to my poor eyesight, I also had to contend with winds gusting to 30 miles per hour while shooting the new M&P22. Make of that what you will.

A more satisfying part of the shooting session came when it was time to shoot the M&P22 on my swinging steel target. In my view the primary function of this pistol is training, and so I was pleased to see the pistol shine in this type of shooting. Engaging my 4-inch-wide steel gong at various distances (from 3 yards to 10 yards), from every angle I could conceive of and on the move, was a real blast—pardon the pun. I just plastered the white dot front sight on the gong and let the shots go. Double-taps were tremendously effective, what with the nonexistent recoil of the rimfire round. Not having to deal with a lot of recoil and muzzle jump makes concentrating on trigger squeeze and sight placement a lot easier. I know that this type of shooting is important for training purposes and should be taken seriously, but you have to admit, shooting rapidly on a reactive target is a lot of fun, too.

I think the new M&P22 makes a lot of sense for anyone who shoots a centerfire M&P pistol for duty or for personal protection. It’s been said that for an action to become instinctive to a human being, the action must be performed at least 3,000 times. Considering that the cost of the cheapest .22 LR ammo at my local Wal-Mart is 3.6 cents a round and the cheapest 9mm ammo goes for 20 cents per round, the cost savings of firing 3,000 training shots of .22 LR as opposed to 9mm is $492. And with that in mind, the M&P22 looks pretty good.

  • Wolvie

    Joel, thanks for this article. I really like the M&P platform and I'm happy to see that this .22 model shows promise.

    I do have a few questions after reading your article…

    I confirmed on the S&W website that this gun is the same weight as the 9mm counterpart. My question is, how did they pull that off? This model has an alloy slide while the standard M&P has a steel slide. I can't, for the life of me, figure out how they weigh the same.

    Second, you mention the rear sight is "fully adjustable". What do you mean by this? When I hear "fully adjustable", I'm thinking windage & elevation. From the looks of it in the pictures, it appears to be like the standard M&P sight that can be drifted for windage but not for elevation. Could you clarify?

    Finally, since it has a fixed barrel, does it field strip like the center fire M&P's, of do you require other tools (like some of the 1911 rimfire guns out there)?

    Thanks again!

    • Chris

      The fully adjustable rear sight has a screw that will adjust the elevation. As for windage, the front sight is driftable. As for the breakdown, no it does not field strip like the other M&P's it is unique to this .22 design.

      • Wolvie

        Ah, thanks for the info.

    • Guest

      Some of the weight is in the barrel of the .22…not as big a hole as the 9mm.

      • Wolvie

        Oh, I figured that…

        But I still don't see how that could make up the difference between the alloy and steel slide.

        Very strange how they got them to the same weight.

  • Mike Jensen

    The email from ST called this a centerfire. I haven't figured that one out yet.

    • Ben_OBrien

      It was a mistake on our part. Be sure, we all know the difference, it was an editing error. Thanks for reading!

      Ben O'Brien
      Online Managing Editor

  • Dick

    I bought one last week and have put 300 rds. thru it. I sighted it in on paper at 10 yrds. Back sights are adjustable for elevation and windage. It comes with a small allen wrench to adjust the sights. I use CCI Stinger 22LR 32 grain rated at 1640 fps. This stuff is great. We were shooting this stuff this morning at a 100yrd gong, and hit around 85% with a cross wind at about 10 -15 mph. We are about 6300 ft. here in Cortez Co. You just can`t go wrong with this fun gun. Don`t pay over $ 410.00 with tax, or you are paying to much.

  • Randy

    how many rounds does the clip hold

    • Chris

      10

    • Alan_T

      Randy , I'm sorry to see that you got a lot of " thumbs down " . Calling a magazine a clip is a hot button for a lot of us gun affectionados ( myself included ) , but you had a legitimate question and I don't think it deserved all the " thumbs down " just because you didn't use the correct term . I gave you a " thumbs up " , continue to ask questions …. it's how WE ALL learn , Randy .

      • Wolvie

        So it does have a 10 shot cylinder after all?

        (I almost made it through typing that with a straight face…)

        • Alan_T

          Yes Wolvie it has a 10 shot cylinder , but it comes shipped with a California complient 1 shot cylinder that's had the charge hole pluged . All you have to do is FIND the cylinder crane and swap the cylinders out . If you get one of the . 22 LR centerfire M&P22's , let me know how that works out for you Wolvie .
          HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
          Say , I know this is off topic ( heaven forbid , I'm starting to sound like Jeepers ! ) but have you ever noticed that Eric Holder looks like one of those 3 toed tree sloths from the Amazon ?

    • coburnaburna

      its called a magazine not a clip

  • mike

    It's a magazine!

  • Rick

    Does S&W also offer this model with a threaded barrel?

    • Alan_T

      I don't know Rick , but it seems highly unlikely . If it's a deal breaker for you , a good gunsmith could do the job for you .

    • Gun Guy

      I just purchased onr today. I havent been to the range with it but was kind of disapointed it came with only 1 magazine. The barrel has a sleve over to add some weight and has a threaded end cap to hold the barrel and sleeve in place. I am in a free state and mine (model 222000) is a 12 round magazine.

      here is link to a site I found with the breakdown showing the barrel and sleve. http://www.gunsumerreports.com/review_smith_wesso…

      I purchased mine for 349.99 out the door with all fees

    • Brian

      Yes, the barrel is threaded and has a cap that screws on. If you remove this cap you can purchase a thread adapter and fix a suppressor…which can take a good amount of time to acquire for obvious reasons.

    • Jim

      As long as your state allows it, you can purchase one with a threaded barrel. Unfortunately, here in Caliphonia, we can't have that or a magazine that holds more than 10 rounds.

  • Alan_T

    I'm not knocking the M&P22 but as I stated with my reply on M&P Sheild review , I think not including the interchangable backstraps is a big mistake . I wouldn't mind owning one of the M&P22's but if I can't configure it the same way as my M&P .45 acp , I don't think that for me there would be much point in adding another .22 to my collection .

    • Wolvie

      Alan,

      I have both the 45 &the 9.

      The 45 is a much bigger frame and slide. So, the way you configure the 45 is not necessarily an indication of how you would configure the 9/40 frame.

      Example: I use the small backstrap on the 45, but the medium one on the 9.

      You really have to put hands on the gun in person to see if the medium/default blackstrap works for you on the 9/40 frame.

      Besides…it is impossible to have too many .22's!

      • Alan_T

        ( Mutter , mutter , mumble , mumble , mumble ) ……. Ok Wolvie ….. you're right .
        But I still think S&W made a mistake not to include the backstraps into the M&P22's engineering .

  • mike

    Do they have it for California?

    • Wolvie

      Yes…

      But is has a solid barrel with no bore, no firing pin and it is colored yellow, pink and baby blue so it doesn't look scary and won't offend anyone.

      However, you are still required to transport it in a locked safe (weighing a minimum of 2 tons) inside of an APC and then, only after receiving written permission from the Chief of Police, the Pope, the UN & Rosie O'Donnell.

      Actually, I really don't know but it's been a long day and I couldn't resist!

      • Alan_T

        HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA you left out Eric Holder and Chairman ooooooops , I MEAN , President Obama , Wolvie .

    • Rob

      It was added to the DOJ list in mid-May. Special version, model number ends in a 2.

  • KCOG

    Bought one yesterday. Good very good reviews from the locals that purchased it. $405 out the door from the LGS. I know that's too much but like to keep the locals in business.

  • BSE

    I have a question. Why is a 22 not considered a personal protection weapon? I'm new to this but am I wrong in thinking that if one learns how to handle this gun, wouldn't it protect you too? I bought this model this weekend and practised at the Range yesterday. I loved it! I'm feeling that if I can learn to be accurate no matter the circumstance with this model, it should be all I need. Hence, my question above. Thanks in advance for the education and feedback!

    • Rick Covert

      I have the same question; has anyone answered your question yet?

    • Brian

      BSE: A .22 caliber pistol/rifle can still be just as effective as a 9mm round if you place your shots in kill zones. The most common weapon used for assassinations is a .22 round. I have a .45 ACP and also have the M&P .22 and I would feel just as comfortable putting a .22 round into a "threat" as I would my .45, that said…I am confident in my shooting abilities :)

    • Manda

      First off sorry for any spelling errors, but truely I believe if you empty the mag into someone if they are attacking you then it can be used for personal safety. If some big guy is coming at me and I feel treatened and just saying stop or I will shoot ddoes not stop himand I then shoot 10 rds into his chest, I am bound to hit somethong vital. Then he will go down, no matter how big or burley he may be.

    • Suringo Joe

      The problem with a .22 Cal. for personal protection is that it lacks the penetration potential and knock down power of its bigger bore cousins. As such, a standard velocity .22 round fired into a large assailant with thick muscle is likely to penetrate no further than the muscle or if it does, will likely not penetrate past the bone. Back in the 80's I came across a big fellow who had been shot in the back with a .22 Cal. pistol by a jealous girlfriend. He survived the bullet penetrating his heart because the bullet got stuck in his back muscles. Also, a motivated assailant hopped up on drugs, even if the round did penetrate into vital areas is still just as dangerous to your safety as a similar assailant in which your shot missed entirely. This was proven time and time again around the turn of the 19th century during the Phillipine insurrection when our Marines/Soldiers had been issued a .38 special in place of the former standard issue .45 Colt. What happened was that these jungle Phillipinos hopped up on drugs and armed with a large bolo knife were still getting through and hacking to death our Marines/Soldiers even though they had emptied their .38 Spcl revolvers into them.

      As for bullet placement, very few people shoot as well under duress as they do under controlled or competitive situations. For the .22 Cal. about your only guaranteed one shot drop bullet placement is going to be into an eyeball, through the eye socket and into the brain, but this is a target that is no larger than around the diameter of a U.S. Quarter Dollar. So imagine being under duress, with adrenaline coursing through your body, elevating your heart rate and making your hands shake while trying to aim and place a tiny bullet within such a small target area that is probably moving. No matter how confident you are of your shot placement in a controlled environment, this would be the ultimate of low percentage shots.

      For anyone who wants to use a handgun for personal protection, I offer this advice… When facing down an assailant with your handgun you should want to use a cartridge that has the highest percentage for a one shot stop of the bad guy. Determining this will in part depend on the make and model of handgun you select as your personal defensive firearm. Once you've decided on a particular handgun make/model, you should then select for it to be chambered in the most powerful cartridge caliber available in that handgun model that you can personally handle (e.g. recoil-wise and accuracy). One of the last things you want to have happen is to still have an assailant chasing you after you've emptied an entire 10-15 round .22 Cal. magazine into him. If your assailant is also armed, and even if he (or she) is mortally wounded by your little .22 Cal. slugs, another thing you want to entirely avoid is for him (or her) to be able to continue to function enough to use his/her weapon on you or your loved ones before he/she finally kicks the bucket.

      A large caliber, high-power cartridge all but guarantees that the bad guy will either be stopped in his tracks or functionally disabled by a vitals area point of impact. One reason for this is the massive difference between how hard the bullet from a big bore high-powered cartridge will impact or hit the body compared to that of the small bore .22 cal. cartridge. There is no comparison between the two with regards to the physiological and psychological impact that a heavy, hard hitting bullet has over a light, not-so-hard-hitting bullet.

      Last but not least, battlefield studies performed throughout the 20th century revealed that weapons that soldiers universally feared the most were those which were the loudest, regardless of whether another somewhat quieter weapon was actually more destructive and lethal. The point being that a very loud large bore caliber handgun will always create more of a fear factor in your assailant than comparatively much less noisy .22 cal. cartridge. Case in point is when we are at the shooting range in a lane next to someone with say a .454 Casull, it is almost impossible for us not to flinch from the massive sound and heavy percussion when this cartridge is fired.

      All in all, while others might disagree with some or all of the above, my goal for a defensive, personal protection handgun is to be able to end any threat to the well being of my family, friends and myself with one "point and shoot" shot that eliminates the threat right there, right then. As for all of my .22 cal. handguns, I would use them if it was the only weapon readily available, but would otherwise prefer to relegate them for fun and training.

      • fastasu

        My woman is an ER nurse. More people from a .22 bullet than any other. They have to xray a single shot because it ricochets throughout the body and rarely exits. The fps is more than adequate to penetrate. There is no such thing as a knockdown round save for the shotgun at close range.

        • Doug76

          Yeah there is.. it's called a .500S&W.

    • Jeremiah Justesen

      The 22lr is a potent enough around for self defense. I think people get hung up on wanting a round with one shot stopping power. As James Yeager would say, there is a difference in between lethality and incompacitation. While incompacitation is possible with 22, 9, 45, 40, 357, etc… It is not garaunteed. Incompacitation is also not a garaunteed with a long gun. Most will opt for a larger caliber as the weight of said calibers has more energy, which is also believed to have more incapacitation ability. Shots to center mass would likely not be as effective as larger calibers. Center mass is the easiest target to focus upon when the devil jumps up to greet you. Bottom line if this is what you are comfortable with as a defense weapon, then carry it. I would also recommend that you carry at least one extra magazine if not two. Never will you hear from anyone who has been in a gunfight say that they wished for less ammo. Would also recommend taking some courses. A lot of good trainers out there. Hope this helps.

    • R25

      I think most people are missing the point. The .22lr is better than nothing. For experienced shooters, the 9mm, .40, or .45 would be the ticket for self defense and they wouldn’t prefer a .22lr. The experienced shooter is used to the recoil and enjoys practicing with his/her firearm. However, for inexperienced shooters who don’t go to the range or shoot often, the .22lr may be prefered due to the lack of recoil and report. The inexperiencd shooter would be more inclined to practice if the ammo was affordable and they weren’t afraid to shoot the gun. I am a police officer and a firearms instructor. I have seen people with handguns in their home for defense, who never shoot or practice with their gun, whch is unfortunate. As posted above, a well placed .22 is better than a poorly placed shot with a larger caliber. A missed .40 is never as good as a .22lr hit. Granted, the .22lr is not a prefered self defense round But if if comes down to defending yourself wih a telephone or a .22lr, the .22 may be the better choice. At either rate, practice, practice, practice.

  • Elmer Fudd

    How manybullets does a clip hold?

  • Bubba

    I love poppin caps !!

  • Joe

    It would protect you. The gun nutz that derive the majority of the masculinity from the guns they own want you to believe that only a .45acp or 12 gauge will protect you. I'd like to shoot them a few times in the head with a .22 and see how much fight they have left.

    • Doug76

      That's a bit harsh Joe. They just don't trust the smaller and weaker .22 as opposed to a larger and stronger round. And the point is in a situation your shooting may not be good enough for head shots, but it will be for for center of mass, and the larger round is sounder option for stopping the assailant.
      Your "gun nutz" and "masculinity" comments make you sound like a liberal troll, and you don't want that do you?

  • Dudley

    Cheaper than dirt has the M&P22 Mags.

  • Veteran Shooter

    Tired of this macho syndrome with big calibers. Straight logic.
    .22lr is efficient for training/survival. For the buck you can train x2, x3 more.

    Yes the bullet is bigger, but you are paying with more recoil. And remember you won't have your earplugs during a "threat" Less chance of flinching with .22. So unless you've burned a lot of $ and shot thousands of rounds of the large caliber handgun, out of the box you are probable to shoot the .22 with more accuracy.

    Accuracy = death. You don't have to shoot someone in the head to get a kill. With more accuracy you have more chance of multiple hits. This also isn't a war zone, more penetration plays on the battlefield where bullets whizz by and go through walls and cars. Also your "threat" most likely won't have body armor.

    Now if you have shot a .22 and mastered it. Definitely move up if you have the cash. That's why I own both a 22/45 and a Glock 19 for carry. Never looked down at the .22. Macho idiots who usually can't shoot straight will foolishly overlook/look down upon the .22.

    • Doug76

      Your comments for the most part have great validity, but for most it isn't about macho, it's just plain ignorance. The insults are not necessary.

  • Dudley Young

    I agree!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • PyroJohn

    Start with a .22, shoot for fun and to become comfortable with a pistol. In the future you can move up to a .380 or higher, and you will be better served in defensive situations, period. Rather than engage in banter with those willing to expound how lethal 10 shots from a .22 might be….I offer another reason as to why to prefer a centerfire cartridge for important tasks – Reliability. Centerfire cartridges go bang more reliably due to a hot , centrally located primer, and suffer from less moisture intrusion due to the method of bullet retention in the case. To argue in contradiction is statistical folly.

    • Eric

      I agree 100% that reliability is the key here. When shooting a .22, whether in a pistol or a rifle, I very frequenly experience misfires. While shooting a few hundred rounds of a .22, I almost always encounter a couple dud rounds and a couple failures to eject or feed. I have never had any center fire cartridge fail to fire, and any other failures are extremely rare.

    • Veteran Shooter

      I partially agree. There is no argument on reliability. 22LR can be a dirty ammo, which can cause issues over time if the firearm is not cleaned. Also as mentioned that it is a rimfire cartridge.

      However, if you use a reliable .22lr pistol, like a 22/45 with a higher quality choice of ammo (CCI vs Federal Bulk) the statistical failure to fire is almost a non factor. Also your defensive pistol would/should be cleaned when carried.

      Now, I'd much rather keep a Glock on me vs. a 22/45, no arguments at all. But realistically, I get as much failures on my Glock as my 22/45, almost none.

      Also, most of the posts were to point out that the .22lr is indeed lethal and a realistic choice to defend with, whereas it is usually the other side that argues against. Let's not create a fallacy that a .22lr pistol is unreliable, as if you asked several experience shooters who actually own .22lr pistols could vouch otherwise. Again I don't think anyone is trying to argue the .22lr is the best choice, just that it is a viable solid choice for non-experienced, economically challenged shooters.

  • rkillion

    Illtell yiyou why I love the .22 for defence. I have four small children who have sensitive ears. I don't want to for my pistol in the house, or store and have them go deaf. And I'm not carrying around anything with a suppressor attached to it, just too much. It's fun for squirrel hunting, but other than that, your asking for an issue. So sound is my number one.

    Number two is the same reason that the army uses a bigger clone of it. The m-16 family to include the m-4 carbine uses 5.56. The same diameter head as a .22, just elongated and a sharper tip along with a bigger casing for more propellant to assist with penetrating armor. It is made though for a few reasons, and I know this from using an m-4 in combat plenty of times. It is light weight with a light recoil. It penetrates and then bounces around tearing internal organs apart. It leaves a cavity (even .22lr does the same thing with high velocity hp) roughly the
    same size as a .40s&w. Check online videos showing the cavity production in ballistic gel.

    For personal protection in common every day life, a .22 is a great caliber. Likely if you need to use your pistol for protection, it will be on a street with buildings around you, or indoors. With the low recoil, it is easy to be confident with, with the quiet report, it is best to protect your hearing with.

    Just make sure o use a good quality high velocity hollow point round. If you wouldn't use it to hunt for a meal to save your life, don't use it to save your life.

  • 308

    Always believed a well placed 22 is better than a misplaced 45. Just got mt M&P22 yeaterday. It was a dream. next up M&P9. Love my 22′s.

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