Smith & Wesson SW22 Victory 22lr Pistol Review

SW22 Victory 22lr Pistol by Smith & Wesson Review The Smith & Wesson SW22 Victory is the replacement in their lineup for the long running Model 22A (1997-2015).  While the […]

SW22 Victory 22lr Pistol by Smith & Wesson Review

The Smith & Wesson SW22 Victory is the replacement in their lineup for the long running Model 22A (1997-2015).  While the core functionality is the same, there have been a number of changes between the 22A and the SW22 Victory.

SW22 Victory specs

Brand Smith & Wesson
Model # Tested 108490
Finish/Stock Stainless Steel
Barrel Length 5.5” / 14 cm
Caliber .22 LR
MSRP 409.00

SW22 Victory 22lr Pistol by Smith & Wesson Review

Figure 1. Thanks to NRA’s American Rifleman for this image.

SW 22A pistol

Out with the old – SW 22A

Evolution of the S&W 22lr pistol

  • The first change I’d like to point out, and possibly the biggest change, is that the barrel is now secured with a 1/8” hex wrench. On the 22A, there was a plunger system to remove the barrel.
  • The next change, and probably the first you notice when looking at the pistol, is that Smith & Wesson got rid of the full length rail (which had built in target sights) along the top of the 22A and replaced it with target sights on the shroud that covers the bolt. This target sight can be changed out by removing one screw and switching in a short plastic rail (held in place by that same single screw and a tab at the front of the rail). Unfortunately this means you have to choose between your optic and iron sights. If your optic fails, your iron sights need to be re-zeroed after installation. The reason for the shroud is probably to keep the sight/bore alignment consistent when the barrel is removed for cleaning. Of course, this also results in cleaner lines and a hidden bolt.
  • The third change is that they moved the magazine release from the front of the grip frame below the trigger guard to a push thru version located where the trigger guard meets the grip frame (like can be found on most modern semi-auto pistols).
  • The fourth change is in the magazine design. They went from a prominent, if thin, stud to a thicker, but flat stud on the magazines. This, of course, has resulted the need to buy all new magazines for use with this pistol. Unfortunately, it has also resulted in compatibility issues with most magazine loading tools (not the finger savers, but rather the ones where you push the magazine in and pop it out 5 seconds later completely loaded).
  • Finally, S&W has been pretty vocal about their ‘Textured Grip Panels with Finger Cuts for Easy Magazine Removal’. They even give it a bullet point on their web page in the features list. I have to wonder why. In my testing, pushing the magazine release resulted in the magazine falling free without the need for me to dig up into the gun for a grip. Maybe (probably) these cutouts really help make sure the magazine gets all the way seated? In any case, the main difference between the 22A’s grips and the Victory’s grips is a semi-circular cutout at the bottom of the grip panel.

SW22 Victory 22lr Pistol by Smith & Wesson Review - on HMMWVWhat didn’t change

Unfortunately, S&W still seems married to the idea that .22LR target/plinking pistols should have a magazine safety for some reason. Apparently it is REALLY important for your pistol to not fire if your magazine isn’t completely seated! The good news here is that a simple google search will provide many sets of directions on how to disable this feature. I’m sure every one of them will violate your warranty though. So, do so at your own risk!


S&W has been really pushing the ‘modularity’ of the SW22 Victory. The main apparent effort towards modularity in is the inclusion of a plastic rail which can be switched in to replace the target sights. They have partnered with Volquartsen Custom and Altamont to have a number of aftermarket accessories introduced which will let those of us who want to spend money customize the heck out of the Victory pistols.

Other brands like TANDEMKROSS (link) offer a wide variety of SW22 parts. In fact, the pistol used in this review will receive a performance oriented makeover shortly, courtesy of TANDEMKROSS.

SW22 Victory 22lr Pistol by Smith & Wesson Review - on HMMWV dashTesting

I first did some quick accuracy testing at 50 feet with the Victory. Accuracy was as expected from a quality semi-auto target pistol. While it may be an entry level target pistol at it’s price point, it ran reliably and could put 10 shots into a dime at 50 feet from a sandbag rest. As a stock pistol, this is probably better accuracy than most shooters are capable of attaining and is exactly what I expect out of a solidly put together 22LR semi-auto target pistol.

Of course, it’s also a ton of fun to shoot steel with a 22LR pistol. So, I next switched in the included sight rail (which took about 5 seconds) and installed TruGlo’s new Tru-Tec™ 20mm Red Dot Sight. Of course, at this point I decided that having the sight roughly an inch above the bore was kind of silly so I dug round in the box for the ‘low’ base and switched it in for the ‘high’ base that was on the sight when it arrived. This combo was a real winner!

Next I ran a variety of speed drills on my spinner target and my 8” steel target. Except for the LONG time reloading (speed loaders spoil you SO much!), sending about 200 rounds down range in a variety of drills vs steel was tremendous fun. I didn’t experience any failures or issues and as a result would be willing to recommend this gun as part of your 2-Gun stable as soon as Ultimate Cliploader introduces a variant of their loader that works with the magazines.

Sadly, I misplaced the pictures from these testing sessions. So, you’ll have to settle for some pictures and video of Jeff shooting the SW22.


S&W did well with the modular SW22 Victory. At an MSRP of $409 pricing on the SW22 Victory ($370 at Brownell’s) is in line with or less than what a comparable pistol from Browning or Ruger would cost and at least as accurate out of the box. The only accessories I would consider is a ‘better’ scope mount (metal with an integral target sight would be my preference) and possibly some aftermarket grips. I wish they had stayed with the plunger to release the barrel instead of going to a hex wrench, but that’s just me being picky!

Gears Rating:

Gear Score
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The corporate headquarters are based in Springfield, Massachusetts. Founded in 1852, Smith & Wesson’s pistols and revolvers have become standard issue to police and armed forces throughout the world, in addition to their popularity among sport shooters.

About Chris

The Gear Report team has more than our share of practical experience built over decades of shooting, hunting and spending time outdoors. We even have a bit of formal training here and there. However, we are thrilled to formally bring Chris of Three Pillars Shooting, LLC (firearms and archery training services) into the Gear Report ranks. Chris’s impressive resume includes various NRA instructor certifications, Boy Scouts of America firearms and archery certifications, as well as being a US Army veteran. While Chris’s credentials are impressive, more impressive is how he chooses to invest his time. Chris has been a Boy Scout leader for years, volunteering countless hours supporting the local Cub Scout pack before moving up to adult leadership roles with the local, district and council as his son’s advance through Boy Scouts. Chris founded a Boy Scout Venture Crew that focuses on shooting sports and is passionate about teaching our youth firearms safety and effectiveness. All of the Gear Report team are good people who make positive impacts in their communities. So, Chris is a natural fit on the team.