What makes the perfect learning pistol?
One that builds confidence with a low amount of felt recoil.
Enter…Smith & Wesson’s SW22 Victory ($369).
I’ve been testing firearms for years and have been shooting them for even longer. The first gun I ever fired was a single-shot 12 gauge at just 10 years old.
But it wasn’t until I joined the US Marines where I qualified with an M16A2, an M9, and a 240G that my love for firearms truly blossomed.
This time, I’ll walk you through why I love the S&W Victory 22.
Table of Contents
Who Is It For?
Let me paint a small picture of who this gun is for…
Chances are excellent that you weren’t handed a set of keys to a dump truck before you learned how to drive a car. That truck is something that you should work up to…and not jump in right away.
Could you jump in and start driving a massive truck before learning on a car?
Much in the same way, you wouldn’t want to pick up a.44 magnum revolver for your first handgun when there is a much better alternative to learn on.
Once you master the basics, moving on is much easier.
Learning on a S&W Victory, or anything chambered in .22LR for that matter, helps to build confidence. Where does the .22LR stand compared to other calibers…check out our Caliber Guide.
As I told you a minute ago, my first gun was a 12 gauge shotgun. I’ll spare you the details, but my first experience shooting it was so bad that I lost all confidence in my ability to hold it properly for years.
But if I had started on something more appropriate, it wouldn’t have taken me so long to become an accurate shooter. The problem, as I’d later find out, was that I was afraid of holding it too close to my face.
Remember, I was only 10.
Shooting mechanics, otherwise known as the way you hold a gun, stand, breathe, line up the sights, press the trigger, etc., is all important for accurate shooting.
Learning on a .22LR, like the Victory, helps teach these things for a couple reasons:
- It’s low-recoiling and therefore builds confidence because it’s easily controlled and easier to get on target. This means people will want to shoot it more. And practice makes progress.
- Because it’s a small, relatively quiet round (compared to others), it isn’t as scary. They’ll continue to shoot it until the basics are mastered.
Then, at some point, once the basics are mastered, the shooter can begin looking into something more satisfactory for self-defense (Best Handgun for Self-Defense).
Fit & Feel
The S&W Victory isn’t just good for beginners.
It comes with a match-grade barrel that it is very accurate right out of the box. The green, fiber optic sights and low felt recoil helped me acquire targets in quick fashion.
Because it’s so accurate, it’s a great pistol to shoot in competitions where a .22LR pistol is permitted, like the NSSF Rimfire Challenge, NRA Bullseye Pistol, or the Steel Challenge.
The 22 Victory is a single action pistol that comes with tools, a Picatinny rail, and two 10-round magazines. It’s comprised of stainless steel with a textured, polymer grip and removable side panels for customization.
The firearm feels great in hand even with my gorilla sized mitts, and the controls are within reach.
Speaking of the controls (thumb safety and magazine release), as of this writing, this pistol only comes in right-handed form.
Still with me?
Let’s move onto the most important question…
How Does It Shoot?
The S&W Victory performed at nearly flawless levels while at the range, and I’m happy to report that after several hundreds of rounds down range, I experienced only a few dud rounds, attributed to the bulk ammo I was using.
The ammo in question was Federal Ammunition’s Auto Match 40 grain .22 LR, 325 round boxes and some Winchester Red Box.
While the 22 Victory is great at the range for target shooting and competitions, or teaching newer folks, this isn’t something you’d want to use for concealed carry for a couple of reasons:
- First, while still deadly with correct shot placement, the .22 LR is under-powered as a self-defense cartridge (even though it could work in a pinch).
- Second, this pistol is much too large with its 5.5 inch barrel, overall length of 9.2 inches, and 36 ounce weight.
In fact, if I had to come up with a complaint, it is that it might be much too heavy for some people to shoot for extended periods of time. While it was fine for me to shoot, someone else may find a problem with its weight.
Most of this weight is in the barrel, which is fine because it’s not only designed to be accurate, but also helps reduce recoil on an already low recoiling gun.
It doesn’t feel unbalanced when in hand, just heavy.
In fact, I have some full-size 1911s in my collection that weigh less (empty) than this S&W.
This pistol is likely far more accurate than I am, and can say that I placed a target at 25 yards and was able to hit it more often than not in the off-hand (standing) position.
During a different range trip, I placed targets at various distances from 5 to 25 yards and performed different shooting sequences. Overall, I’m happy with this $409 pistol (base MSRP) and its performance to date.
In my humble opinion, the Victory is more aesthetically pleasing than its main competition, manufactured by Ruger.
As a side note, the Ruger MK II and III have been the most popular .22LR pistols on the market for years even though they are not easily disassembled. The MK IV is set to compete with the Victory’s easy take-down with a push button, and even has ambidextrous controls.*
The Victory also has the added bonus of being customizable, which sweetens the deal even more.
That’s pretty sweet…
The fully-adjustable rear sight can be removed and replaced with a Picatinny rail/optic. Side grip panels, barrel, trigger, and muzzle devices can be easily swapped.
You can even add a “Halo” rear charging ring for super fast loading.
The above picture is fully modded from Tandemkross, which also has a bunch of other stuff for .22LR pistols/rifles.
They have also released their new HiveGrip that adds a cool hex-pattern and extra-grippiness.
Now back to the barrel…getting to it is incredibly easy with the removal of a single Allen-head screw.
Removing the screw with the provided tool was easy. From there, pull the two pieces apart.
Next, pull the bolt out, and then remove the barrel screw.
On my second time performing this take down, I timed myself at 91 seconds.
Not bad, considering that this was only my second time doing it. Oh, and that time also includes me putting it back together again.
There is one extra step, if you’d like to pull the recoil spring out, simply push on it with the Allen wrench and it’ll come right out for your inspection and cleaning purposes.
Finally, when you’re done cleaning your little plinking pistol, it goes back together as easily as it came apart.
Model: SW22 VICTORY®
Caliber: .22 LR
Safety: Thumb Safety
Barrel Length: 5.5″ / 14 cm
Overall Length: 9.2″
Front Sight: Green Fiber Optic
Rear Sight: Adjustable Fiber Optic
Action: Single Action
Weight: 36.0 oz / 1,020.6g
Barrel Material: Stainless Steel
Slide Material: Stainless Steel
Frame Material: Stainless Steel
Slide Finish: Stainless Steel
Frame Finish: Satin
By The Numbers
No failures due to the gun in the several hundred rounds I shot. Only fails were from dud rounds…but that’s the way it is with .22 LR sometimes.
It’ll do its part with the match quality barrel.
It’s pretty long and heavy…even for me. For smaller shooters it might get cumbersome after a while.
I think it looks better than the Rugers.
A pretty good aftermarket selection of upgrades for a relatively new gun.
Bang for the Buck: 4.5/5
Awesome value for around $369. Magazines could be cheaper at $25 though.
Overall Rating: 4/5
Overall, I recommend this gun for anyone looking to learn, or teach someone else, how to shoot.
Or, if you’re in the market for a match gun, the SW22 ($369) is also a viable option. With a great price, good ergonomics, the option to customize, along with incredible reliability, this is a great buy.
23 Leave a Reply
Too many issues with the Victory. S&W doesn't seem to fix known long standing issues like the terrible ejector on the Victory. The ejector on mine came a millimeter off and until I was able to figure this out, (since its not something very noticeable) the gun would not eject and stove piped everything I fed through it. For it to come from the factory like this is UNACCEPTABLE! Once a friend of mine looked on a forum, he told me alot of others have this same issue and a small adjustment fixed the problem, but the time, trouble and aggravation S&W caused by not checking or shooting these guns before they leave the factory is TERRIBLE!
Concur with your assessment of the S&W Victory; having same problem w/ejecting and stove piping. Tried several ammunition types w/same problem! One p.o.
buyer of a piece of sh-t......................! If you would tell me about the small adjustment to fix the problem, would be much obliged!
I am strongly considering a Victory. Some of these come with a threaded barrel. What are the advantages of getting one with a threaded barrel and how important is it?
i have been shooting 22s since 1959& shot about all the 22 autos made & owned most of them.they all bring something to the table.all the target guns basically shoot better then the person shooting the gun.as for ease of take down if that is a problem then maybe you shouldnt be shooting any gun since u dont want to take the time to learn to take it apart & put it back together with out complaining about it. all of you should quit nit picking
What's a good .22 pistol for small game hunting,without breaking the bank?
It makes no difference how good it is. The fact is it's just plain butt ugly! Looks like it's hacked together from pieces from 4 different unrelated guns. There are other guns that are great shooters that are much more aesthetically pleasing as well......you get the best of both worlds.
Don't buy the SW22 VICTORY. OUT OF THE BOX I HAD JAMMING AND FAILURE TO EXTRACT PROBLEMS I SENT IT TO SMITH ANF WESSON ANF THEY SAID THEY COULD NOT FIND ANY PROBLEMS . I BOUGHT A VALQUARTSON EXTRACTOR AND HAD A GUN SMITH INSTALL IT . THAT STILL DID NOT FIX THE PROBLEM . THIS GUN IS A PIECE OF JUNK !!! . BIY THE RUGER MARK IV .OR THE BROWNING BUCKMARK PRO TARGET INSTEAD.
Smith and Wesson has a life time guarantee. Put it back in the box and ship it to the factory. Said and done. The only issue I have ever seen is low grade .22 bulk ammo, or bending the ejector when performing maintenance.
If you have ever tried to do normal gun maintenance on the others, you will curse the day you bought them. They take hours, are insanely hard and complicated even for knowledgeable gun handlers. I had an ugly slant six that ran for a quarter million miles. And a beauty blown V-8 that barely got to 100,000 despite weekly maintenance.
Awesome accurate pistol. The Tandemkross trigger and their "Thunder Hammer" drop in parts are inexpensive and transform this pistol into a truly unbelievable firearm. The "Hive" grip is also a must have item. The mods are cheap and make any other .22LR pistol I've shot feel substandard in comparison. Many people (including myself)bend the ejector during cleaning or assembly/disassembly of the gun. This was my only source of any/all malfunctions with the gun. Easy to take down and clean....One of my favorite pistols period.
Hi Les, I am looking for my first gun and figured that a .22 pistol would be a good place to start for target practice. This gun is on my list, but I am a little concerned about your comment regarding bending the ejector during cleaning. Any comment you have would be greatly appreciated as I am trying to figure this out on my own.
I've put a couple thousand rounds through mine over the past year, cleaned it several times, and haven't had any issues with the ejector while cleaning. Just take your time while cleaning.
I bought the Victory and right out of the box had problems. It was basically a single shot. Shoot it and dig out the spent round.
Its being sent back to S&W for repair.
Disappointed to say the least.
Will see what happens when I get it back.
I've had my Victory about a year now and love it. Had several FTF (out of about 1000 rounds) but these same rounds would not fire from a SW 22 compact either (duds). Have a Volquartsen barrel I switch on and off as well as the Tandemkross trigger and hive grip. Nice out of the box but can be improved for a few more dollars. Great buy.
Since I own a Performance Center Shield and a 5" M&P m2.0, I purchased the Victory. I like how it shoots when it doesn't malfunction. I've spent several trips to the range with 5 different types of ammo over the last 2 weeks. I'm having the same issue as many others; it wont feed more than 1 or 2 rounds without stove pipes, double feed, or failure to feed. I'm now stuck with having to ship it back and was told by Smith & Wesson that it would be 4 weeks before I would receive my pistol back due to staffing being cut in half.
After having this issue, I found this is pretty well documented. I don't know if this is a quality issue or what but shame on you Smith & Wesson!
Wish I went with the Ruger MK IV.
I have a Victory and have had opposite experience. Have shot hundreds of rounds with NO issues. I often use Aguila ammo, but have used numerous other brands.
Good article . I went to a shooting range , having never shot a gun before. They recommend i try the victory since it was small and i was afraid. I liked shooting it , i did not feel as afraid after shooting a few rounds . I tried a larger caliber but did not feel as comfortable . I will be purchasing this gun tomorrow . It’s not as Loud as the other , and their is almost no kickback .
Mine didn’t work out of the box. Pull the trigger and nothing - hammer falls but there’s no ‘boom’. I’m assuming the striker pin is either broken or missing. Unfortunately I didn’t dry fire it before hand (it’s a rim fire 22,right) although the trigger / hammer works so not sure what I could have done. Just assumed a new 22 would work out of the box - how hard would it be for SW to get it right? Apparently, in my case, it was difficult. Had a gunsmith look at it and he said “send it back under warranty” as it’s going to be a lot of work - he figured the pin is broken. Asking SW now for a RMA. Unfortunately I did NOT buy from Davidson’s - I bought from SafeFire in WA, they do not offer a money back guarantee (frankly they are worthless) so they’ve seen the last of my money on my next gun. Going to take several weeks for SW to fix - hoping it comes back working... buy something else. The below review summarizes the hassle - wish I would have seen Pathfinders write up. My Ruger will see more action and I may just sell the SW as ‘like new’ and lick my wounds.
Thanks for sharing your experience...hopefully they make it right for you!
Well -it's been almost a year since I wrote the above. And the pistol is still crap. SW fixed the broken firing pin on the first return. Only the tip was broken off - so it wasn't obvious. Got it back and it still wouldn't fire more than 5-7 rounds before stove piping / misfire. So I returned to SW a second time. Second return they replaced the barrel. Seemed to work better - could get about 8-10 shots before it acted up. With ALL different brands of ammo. Some ammo worked OK (8-10 shots), others couldn't get two shots off before jamming. Had another gunsmith look at it - he couldn't figure it out. Suggested I send it back to SW again - but I figured I'd try fixing it on my own. I picked up a Tandemkross barrel and numerous other spring / trigger / firing pin modifications. NOTHING change the performance - couldn't get more than 4 or 5 shots before jamming. Measured the slide and it's even. There is no ammo that has the power to throw the slide back far enough to eject the spend sleeve. So I threw it in the gun safe and gave up - until today. Took it out and decided I'd try again. Cleaned it, put it back to 100% factory parts and brought it to the range. Fired about 200 rounds but never got more than 5 shots off before jamming or misfire. So - the gun is worthless. Don't know what else to do. I've got a $400 SW 22 with about $400 aftermarket barrel, triggers and other item - as well as a on of assorted ammo. (I've tried every brand and every grain size). I really wanted this gun for the wife to use before moving on to 9mm or other. But that never happened and she's now so opposed to ANY gun now that I'm dumping most of my collection - so sad as I had hoped (as you wrote), this would be an entry gun for her.
Review of S&W SW22 Victory Pistol with threaded barrel
This gun has been a disappointment. Fortunately, this was the first gun I purchased through Davidson's Gallery of Guns with it strong guarantee to replace it if something went wrong with it. The original gun had ejector problems from the beginning. Upon research on the Internet I learned that this was a problem a number of people had encountered. The fix was to bend the ejector pin 1/2 to 1 mm toward the center of the slide. This worked.
But when I attached a suppressor, I got unacceptable blowback in my face. None of my other three .22 pistols has blowback, so I'm left thinking that S&W engineers gave a threaded barrel option for a pistol not designed to handle the additional pressures from attaching a suppressor.
Finally, this pistol stopped extracting and I found the extractor had come out along with the plunger and spring, all lost as I was shooting outside. Davidson's replaced the pistol without any hassle.
The second pistol extracted and ejected fine, but once again had the blowback problem when shooting suppressed. And, after shooting a couple of bricks the extractor, plunger, and spring came out again and were again lost. I went back to my local dealer and asked if I could just get the three parts needed. He checked all the S&W sources he knew, and the extractor plungers were not available. So, once again I asked Davidson's for a new guns and once again it responded quickly with no questions.
When the third pistol arrived I decided to remove, clean, polish, and lubricate the extractor plunger and the channel in which it moved. In trying to disassemble the pistol, the take-down screw did not release from the mounting stud, but rather the whole mounting stud came out. No Loctite had been used to secure the stud. After cleaning the threads I used purple Loctite to secure the stud and left it overnight. I've taken the upper off a couple of times with no problems. I did remove, clean, polish, and lubricate the extractor plunger.
I've decide to use only subsonic ammo when shooting suppressed with this pistol, even though my other three .22 pistols work fine with supersonic ammo suppressed. I've also decided to continue to clean and lubricate the extractor plunger at regular intervals. We'll see.
My conclusions: (1) The in-your-face blowback shooting suppressed shows that S&W did not design the Victory for suppression. (2) A small percentage (I assume) of Victory pistols have an ejection problem that can be fixed with minor gunsmithing. (3) The design of the extractor is flawed with 2 of my 3 guns losing the extractor, plunger, and spring. (4) As of May 2018 S&W cannot supply all 3 of those parts to a gunsmith. (5) Having the take-down stud installed with no Loctite suggests a quality control problem. (6) Davidson's Gallery of Guns honored its guarantee with no hassle. (7) I had my Ruger Mark III Hunter threaded and it operates reliably with or without a suppressor. The Browning Buck Mark (threaded) also works great.
We bought a victory as nd after 3 weeks in began to fail to fire and eject every other round. It was sent back snd we received it 3 1/2 weeks later and it failed to fire on the second round. There were manually ejected rounds all over the range. We are stuck with it and will try to put it in the classified ads and put the money to another Ruger or Walther.
I liked the article and love this gun. Just bought one and it shoots as good or better than many so called target pistols. I wish there were a few more places making custom parts for it. TANDEMKROSS and Volquartsen are the only tow I know of. I'm looking for an extended charging handle and don't like the "Halo". Any ideas would be appreciated.