I decided I wanted a .22lr semi-automatic pistol, shooting my Beretta PX4 .40 was just getting too costly. I learned to shoot with .22's, and they're my absolute favorite to plink and target shoot with. After some research on several different .22's I chose the Smith & Wesson 22A. Why?: It was only $251 from Bud's Gunshop on-line, It has a 7" Barrel , and it is made in the good ole' USA. And let's face it...it looks wicked. It only took a day and a half to arrive at my FFL dealer, I really have to say that Bud's is awesome when it comes to price and fast, free shipping. I like to support local gunshops but none of them had this particular model, so I went with Bud's. This, by the way, was the first time I ever ordered a gun on-line.
Now let's get to the gun. It has an aluminum alloy frame, all steel 7" barrel with an attached full length Weaver type rail, stainless steel slide, soft-touch rubber target grips with a thumb rest. 11" overall length, weighs in at 42 oz. Hard-wood target grips are available for about $70. It has an external thumb safety and magazine safety, the gun will not fire with the magazine removed. The rear sight is fully adjustable with a front partridge sight. Like most semi-automatics it locks open on the last round. It came with 2-10 round magazines, 2 extra recoil spacers, cable lock, and a fired casing. One thing I've heard some complaints about is the location of the magazine release button, it's recessed into the front of the grip. I have no problem with it, in fact I rather like it. I can use the middle finger of my right hand to eject a magazine, and it's really hard to accidentally activate it.
Pictured above: Magazine release button.
Another thing is that you have to make sure you get the magazine seated correctly, if it doesn't go click, it's not locked in. I use my thumb to push up on it to make sure.
Field Stripping the 22A
Above: This photo is after I put a red dot scope on it.
The 22A is really easy to field strip, First remove the magazine, lock the slide back, and push the large take-down button in front of the trigger group to release the barrel assembly.
Above: 22A Take-down button
You then lift the front of the barrel gently until in clears the frame, a hook on the rear of the assembly catches on the back of the aluminum frame block, so you have to detach it by pushing it rearward. You also have to slip an index finger in over the slide assembly or....sproing!...your slide and recoil assembly might go flying. Next with a little downward pressure on the slide assembly unlock it and ease it forward, lift up to remove, the remove the recoil rod and spring. You'll notice the plastic piece attached to the rear of the recoil rod, this is the recoil spacer. S&W says it's good for at least 1000 rounds, but I found that your mileage may vary. Good thing they usually include a few extra with the gun, and if you give them a call you may get them to send you a few for free.
Above is the recoil assembly with the spacer attached, and a new spacer below it.
Just reverse this process to reassemble the gun, make sure the hook on the barrel assembly catches on the rear block, hold in the take-down button,then lower the front of the barrel until it locks.
First of all this is an inexpensive gun, and yes, I did have problems with it. It had failure to fire (FTF) in every other round, and sometimes would fail to eject (FTE). I was also getting light primer strikes. Part of the problem was the ammo I was using. The 22A is a complete diva when it comes to the type of ammo it wants to eat. I first used Remington Golden Bullet bulk, it hates it, I'll never use it again. CCI Blazer bulk worked decent, but still had some FTF and FTE problems due to build up of lubricant and lead from the bullet. I put all this down to ammo and the pistol not being broken in yet. After 400-500 rounds, I called S&W , let me say that they have excellent customer service, you'd be hard pressed to find better. They will send you a pre-paid shipping label to send it back to them. They will either fix it or replace it as long as it is under warranty and/or it is a defect in the gun it's self. I chose not to send it in. Instead I did what I do to all my semi-auto pistols, accelerated wear. I used ultra fine steel wool sprayed with Rem Oil to polish the feed ramp, rails, and slide grooves. I also used it to remove the powder coat from the slide face and breech face. Do not attempt this if you don't know what you're doing, I cannot stress this enough, it only takes one slip up and your gun may be ruined and your warranty may be voided. Be smart, send it to S&W and let them fix it!
So after the polishing job, I applied a thin coat of GunSlick graphite grease to the slide and rails. It fired reasonably well, I also replaced the recoil buffer with a new one. You can usually tell when it needs to be replaced because it looks flattened ,beat up, and you start having misfires. I had no problems in 40 rounds using the CCI Blazers after this. I like the CCI's but I don't like the build up they leave. I read reviews of ammo for the 22A and found that a lot of owners used Federal bulk ammo with great success, so I bought a box. My 22A absolutely loves it, several hundred down the pipe...no hiccups at all and they burn really clean.
This is a quote from the 22A owner's manual: " Smith & Wesson has found wide variations in primer sensitivity between some brands of .22LR ammunition. Smith & Wesson recommends that before you put your .22LR handgun into regular use, that you fire several boxes of your brand of ammo through it to determine reliability of ignition. If failure to fire occurs, try different types or brands of ammo until a reliable loading is found."
After getting all the kinks worked out of my 22A, I headed to the range. I really like the trigger on this pistol, very little creep, nice and crisp. I'd say it has a 3 to 5lb pull. I wasn't a real fan of the black on black sights, some people are, I am not. So I glued an orange fiber-optic dot on the front sight, problem solved. I used the Federal "Value Pack" bulk ammo. 36 grain, copper plated, hollow points for the following range test.
This picture is a sight-in target I shot 20 rounds at 25 yards from a bench rest. The yellow circled shots are windage adjustments, the red is elevation adjustment, and the green is just where I wanted it to hit, a little high at 25yds.
So I put an inexpensive Tasco Red Dot scope on it, it was a perfect fit on the integral rail.
After using a laser bore sighter to sight in the red dot, I hit the range again.
This is a 2" circle, I shot 10 rounds at 25yds from a bench rest, I like this red dot scope!
This is another 2" circle, I shot 10 rounds at 50yds from a bench rest, I really like this red dot scope!
I decided to shoot at some standard sized playing cards from a standing position, using the crook of my left arm for a rest. These shots were made at 15yds, 10 shots per card.
Didn't miss once! Not bad at all.
I would like to get a 2-4 power pistol scope for my 22A so I can reach out even farther, but for now the red dot is right on at short to medium range. I'm hoping to make some 100yd+ shots in the future.
In closing, despite the problems I had with this gun early on, it really just needed the right ammo and a proper break in period. It was a bonus for me to do the work I did on it, because I enjoy working on guns. Now that it's running like a well oiled machine, I love it. I cannot believe how accurate it is, it's hard to beat this gun for the price I paid.