If the .22WMR is the classic Mighty Mouse magnum, the S&W M&P .22 Magnum pistol is the mousetrap that puts it in its place.
As a full-sized pistol with a human-sized grip that weighs about the same as an empty Glock 19, the Smith makes the next closest competitor in its class, the Keltec PMR30, feel like a toy. At .22 oz., the S&W M&P .22 Magnum pistol is substantial in the hand. The frame uses the same polymer and build quality of other M&P duty pistols. The slide, manufactured from stainless steel, hides the fact that it is a .22-caliber pistol. It’s not until you shoot the S&W M&P .22 Magnum and prepare for the recoil of a full-sized pistol that you realize it actually is tame enough to be a trainer.
The size and weight contribute greatly to the lack of recoil. So much so that even shooters with compromised or weaker hand strength can not only shoot this pistol, but enjoy it. The .22WMR has about twice the muzzle energy of its smaller sibling, the .22LR. To tame the firing impulse S&W uses a barrel gas system as its secret sauce. It doesn’t need a heavy recoil spring, so it doesn’t have one … and with its light, crisp trigger just about anyone should be able to shoot this pistol comfortably.
Out of the box, the M&P .22 Magnum pistol slide comes cut for adding an optic. This is almost standard fare in today’s list of must-have pistol features. The M&P .22 Magnum pistol is capable of natively mounting any micro optics that use the Shield RMS pattern, like the fantastic Vortex Defender CCW.
Unfortunately, in my opinion, S&W missed a great opportunity on the factory sights. Don’t get me wrong; the front is a fiber optic and combined with the blacked-out rear, you get factory “iron sights” that pop and are easy to use. That is until you mount an optic, even though you do not need an adapter plate so the optic is as low as it can get in the slide. The sights are nowhere near co-witnessing and depending on your chosen optic it can actually block the sights. Taller sights would fix this, but it seems like S&W did not fully think about the sights and optics working together. It may not seem like a big deal, until the optic’s battery dies and you need to revert back to the “irons.”
The slide of the M&P .22 Magnum pistol is machined from stainless steel bar stock that is rust resistant on its own. Going a step beyond, each slide is then given an Armornite salt nitriding hardening bath, making it damn near impervious to rust. Even though the slide is a full-sized stainless slide, S&W helps cut down on the weight by using a lightweight firing pin chassis that holds all of the slide internals. The ejection port is massive and shows off the barrel on both sides. It is so large that it almost looks like the pistol can eject from both directions.
On the frame all of the controls are ambidextrous, great news for those left-handed shooters. Both the thumb safety and slide release are full-time ambidextrous controls. This brings up another nitpick of mine: It seems like the S&W designers didn’t include a full time ambidextrous magazine release? Instead, S&W requires you to use a tool to flip the mag release from side to side.
I absolutely love the micro texturing on the frame—dare I say it reminds me of my Springfield Hellcat? The texturing is seems smooth until you get a good proper grip on the frame. The texture locks into your skin. (Don’t worry; the recoil on this pistol is not enough that the texture will wear your skin raw.)
All of the M&P .22 Magnum pistols come with two 30-round magazines. Yes, I said that right—it’s a 30+1 capacity. That puts it on par with its closest competitor, the Keltec PMR30. On paper 62 rounds sounds like a lot, but the M&P .22 Magnum is so fun to shoot that you’ll have it devouring ammo like a fat kid with cake. Even a quick range trip with this pistol means hundreds of rounds down range.
All that said, remember this is still a .22 rimfire gun, so it will be picky with ammo. (S&W includes a list of approved ammo on the website.) In the manual S&W says the pistol needs cleaning every 500 rounds at the minimum. If you have ever shot a suppressed rimfire, you know why frequent cleaning is required. Baffles get caked up in no time and require constant attention.
The M&P .22 Magnum pistol’s unique gas-operated, locked-breech TEMPO barrel system (barrel doesn’t cam open until bullet passes gas port) gets the same treatment as suppressor internals. All of that dirty gas and carbon is used to unlock the barrel from the barrel shroud like a piston. The downside is that same gas and carbon is deposited in between each, building up with each shot.
Overall this gun is fantastic, and with a few nitpicky exceptions, S&W hit this one out of the park. The size and weight make its competitors seem like toys in comparison. The lack of recoil and ease of use means this pistol can serve as a training or just fun plinking pistol. The power and distance potential of the .22WMR also means that it can easily serve as a portable varmint gun.
Remember that even though the M&P .22 Magnum pistol feels like a full-sized gun, it is still a rimfire pistol. You are not supposed to dry-fire a rimfire firearm as the firing pin can break. Another important safety note is to NEVER use this (or any other .22WMR firearm) with .22LR ammo. It is not safe—you may have gotten away with it in the past, but the lead will build up at the start of the barrel grooves. This increased pressure can cause catastrophic kabooms.
The S&W M&P .22 Magnum has an MSRP of 649.00 and you can find more information at:
—James Nicholas Mr. UnPewFessional Himself
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