Smith and Wesson’s M&P .22 Pistol – Half Cocked?

Two nights ago, RF blogged the announcement of Smith and Wesson’s entry into the .22lr “clone” pistol market; the “new” M&P. One comment surfaced; why in the hell is there a giant 1911-esque thumb safety stuck on this thing?

Speaking with Paul Pluff, Director of Marketing Services, the answer became apparent: it’s another product rushed to market in attempts to ride a wave. In this case, it’s the wave of .22 pistols styled after their full-sized cousins. Smith and Wesson’s turn-around time from idea to production falls at approximately the two-year mark for most of their work. The M&P .22? barely one.

Visually and functionally, the M&P.22 is nearly identical to the rest of the M&P line. The primary alteration? S&W has opted for internal hammer-fire versus duplicating the striker-fire system found in other M&P’s. Why the change? In testing, they found the striker-fire system to be problematic with the .22lr cartridge, and moved to solve the problem before it presented itself. Kudos to them.

The M&P.22 comes to us from across the pond, manufactured on the Walther assembly lines and imported from Germany. Here, my friends, is your answer to the ugly thumb safety question.

Smith’s manufacturing base in the US wasn’t tooled up fast enough to bring this pistol for immediate release, so they’ve settled for abiding by firearms import restrictions and incorporating the thumb safety.

I queried on the plans to move manufacturing to the US – the short answer “who knows.” Are there plans to release the “cleaner” version at SHOT? – “[Smith and Wesson is a leading manufacturer in the industry, and brings several new products to market each year at SHOT, expect to see new and exciting things from Smith and Wesson at SHOT.]” This blogger’s interpretation of that statement – “We’ll get to it when we get to it, but not likely before SHOT.” That thumb safety? It’s here to stay for at least the next year.

The M&P22 enters the market with an MSRP of $419, a cool 150 bones lower than that of it’s full sized counterpart. Still, $419? for a .22? Especially if you’re exploiting an existing manufacturing process to bring your product to market ASAP? What gives?

Granted, you get drift-adjustable sights up front, click adjustable to the rear, Picatinny-Style rail and a reversible magazine release (who could forget that ambidextrous thumb safety!); but what do you lose?

For anyone with paws outside of the standard grip size, you lose the interchangeable back-straps which make the M&P series so mass-marketable. The draw of swappable back-straps attracted me to the series when I purchased my M&P9 a few years ago; I was looking for the same thing in the .22. If the .22lr “clones” allow us to practice with a cheaper caliber while maintaining functionality, handling and style – then ditching a major ergonomic feature seems ill-advised.

 

Bringing a new horse to the show is always a good idea; the firearms industry loves new toys. But let’s be honest here, Smith and Wesson is a wee bit late to the game with their February release of the M&P.22, and they’re still trying to bring production levels in line with demand. Additionally, they’ve ditched one of the features I considered key the the success of their existing line: the back-straps. We’ve had clone guns for a good while now – and much like the .380 craze the industry is just now recovering from, there’s a limit to how dead the .22 clone horse can get.

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About Benjamin T. Shotzberger

Ben is an aspiring gun-writer caught up in the pursuit of playing with firearms for a living. He spends his days grinding his way up the corporate ladder and wishing for 5pm. His nights.. well the details of how he spends those are private.. His childhood dreams of chasing "bad guys" for a living met the unfortunate reality of student loans, bills, and promotion potential. Ben resides in the Northern Virginia area and enjoys long walks.. to the range. Ben is always on the lookout for new article ideas. Have a firearm you want reviewed? A product tested? Your suggestions are welcome!

33 Responses to Smith and Wesson’s M&P .22 Pistol – Half Cocked?

  1. avatarJohn Fritz says:

    If you really want a nice .22 pistol, you have one of these in your gun safe.

    • avatarRecoveringAtheist says:

      Agreed. Love mine, and will be passed to my son when he wants it.

      • avatarJohn Dyer says:

        Easily best 22 pistol out there. By the way, the giant 1911 style safety is not giant at all. This gun has handled any kind of ammo I can find, American Eagle, Aguila, Blazer, Remington Thunderbolts and much more. CCI stingers are my favorite to shoot because of the increased recoil.

  2. avatarGAKoenig says:

    None of you at TTAG noticed that the centerfire calibers of the M&P are available with optional “giant, 1911 style” thumb safeties?

    If you want to know the reason why, it has to do with the canceled joint service pistol contract. The military was talking of procuring a new, .45 caliber pistol for mass issue to replace the M9. Given the Army’s fetish for weapons with thumb safties (while most of the world has transitioned to DA/SA or striker fired weapons without them), nearly everyone who tooled something up for the contract did a variant with a thumb safety. Most of the JSPC derived weapons were evolutions of current weapons, most of them with either modular grip panels or reduced size grips (trying to meet the contract’s ergonomic requirements to fit 95% of the military population, something the M9 does VERY poorly).

    It was this competition that brought a huge lineup of new .45 caliber pistols to the market – the M&P 45, the Sig P220 Combat, the FNP 45 Tactical, the Glock 21SF and (indirectly) the HK45 and HK45 Compact.

    • avatarBen Shotzberger says:

      Howdy GAKoenig,

      Yes, I noticed the thumb safety on the “big brother” models. My gripe is that this .22 has been advertised not just for plinking, but as a tactical trainer. If it’s going to be a tactical trainer, it should function as closely to it’s full-size counterpart as possible, meaning that the line should include the various options available for the centerfire pistols. Ditching the backstraps, and only catering to roughly 1/2 the crowd (those with thumb safeties) seems rushed to me.

  3. avatarjay says:

    the gun is designed for plinking not self defense who cares about the safety its not in the way.

  4. avatarRalph says:

    $419 list (store price will be less) is outside the price range of the Walther or Sig .22s. I’ll pass.

    • avatarMorgan says:

      Yuck.
      You DON’T want a Sig .22. I read review after review and decided to get one because it seemed to be so polarized. I reasoned that the ones who hated it and complained were likely not cleaning it after each firing. So, I bought one.
      In error.
      I cleaned and oiled after each use. 3-400 rounds later, I was getting malfunctions every third shot. It was RIDICULOUS and unacceptable. Even took it to a well known gunsmith in the area to no avail.
      Traded it in and went with the M&P .22. So far, not a single malfunction 6-800 rounds into it. Time will tell.

      • avatarchuck says:

        what I did find out is the sig mosquito only fires mini mags correctly. It stalls when you try and fire standard LR rounds. It states that is the manual. Just bought a M&P 22 for my wife and she has smaller hands than most and she can grip it just fine. Loves the gun But and prefers my Beretta PX4 storm. But the M&P should have the back straps. The M&P22 does not restrict the ammo to cci mini mags. at 6.50 per 100 rds. Thanks

  5. avatarJim says:

    Got mine for $379 at a gun shop. Really fits my hand nicely.

  6. avatarDave says:

    Got mine in late Oct at a local gun shop in Mi for $389 + tax. Shopped several local gun shops, most of which had no idea that this model was available before I was finally able to locate one. It was purchased with the idea that I would get some cheap practice, gain a certain level of proficiency and familiarity before moving forward with the purchase of either a M&P9 or M&P40. So far, I have fired 400 rounds of CCI Mini Mag LR without issue and without cleaning. I like it a lot! As far as I know, extra magazines are still not yet available and I am waiting hear back from S&W on my inquiry.

    • avatarPaul J. Self says:

      Check with 44Mag.com. I am expecting my extra magazines this week! By the way did yours come with only 1 magazine ? I have the 222000 12 round model.

  7. avatarMarc says:

    I picked mine up yesterday and put about 500 rounds through it (nice to be able to say that, without spending $150-$200!). My impression of it is very favorable. Like everyone else, I wish it had the exchangeable back strap and was compatible with the Crimson Trace grip I have on my carry gun. The safety may be a bit annoying if you’re used to Stryker fire, but… I have to say that I don’t think muscle memory for thumbing the safety off is a bad thing – especially if you ever think you’ll have to fire a gun that has a safety, like a 1911.I carry an M&P9c, and while the M&P 22 is not an exact match, it is a very good training tool for a fraction of the ammunition cost. In fact, that was my primary motivation for buying it (I actually ended up winning one in a local PPC match, but that was gravy on top!).I used the Winchester M-22 ammo (40 grain), as well as the CCI Tactical (40grain), and CCI mini mag (40 grain) in the initial shooting. In all of that, I had one (probably) hard primer, and it was the M-22 ammo. All of them shot equally well – the variation in the groups at 10 yards was less than an inch – and probably my fault.One semi-serious problem I had was that the thumb assist on the left side of the magazine consistently caught on the frame during mag reload. Admittedly, it make me more precise when changing mags, but it is quite annoying. I can’t tell if anyone else has had that problem, or if there is anything to be done about it. By the way, S&W does have mags – 4,000 in stock they told me – and you can order them here (10 rounds, sorry):http://www.smith-wesson.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Product4_750001_750051_801048_-1_758017_757846_757837_ProductDisplayErrorView_N. THey’re not easy to find, even on the S&W website. They told me gun stores should be able ot get them without any problems.There is definitely a sight picture difference (I have the Trijicon HD sights on my carry 9c) as well as a trigger difference (I have the Apex Duty trigger job), but I found these differences to be acceptable.I did find a difference when shooting two rounds, changing targets between rounds, in the dot drill. On the 2nd shot with the 22, I was consistently low and left (jerking the trigger), but with the 9c, I was low right (tightening grip when firing). I couldn’t tell what I was doing different, and I have to think it is the trigger.All in all, I like the 22 – it is not an exact stand-in, but it is good for what it is – a lower-cost way to practice and get some trigger therapy.I like it.

  8. avatarChris says:

    The safety on the centerfire guns can be removed rather easily. Remove a roll pin, pull the fire control unit out, remove thumb safety. Smith will send you a plug for the hole left by removing the safety. Any idea if you can do this with the 22?

  9. We recently picked one of these S&W M&P 22cal pistols and use it on the range for novice students. So far we have put about 600rds through it with no troubles. Normally just cheap bulk packed cci ammo.
    My only complaint is no spare mag comes with the gun. I will buy another one of these guns when they start to put an extra mag with it. We are now seeing how a ruger lcr 22 cal pistol holds up that we just bought, so far its as good as the smith and it does come with an extra mag. The ruger gets the nod as the next 22 only because of it being shipped with an extra mag.

  10. avatarJacob says:

    this is the best smith&wesson .22 handgun i ever shot i just bought it yesterday 4/20/12 at shoot straight and this gun is amazing, this gun never jammed on me the first time i bought it and the trigger pull is real easy on it, also it is easy to pull back the slide, i love this gun.

  11. avatarCarla says:

    The S&W M&P 22 is the first pistol I’ve bought for target practice and defense. I like the light feel, the serious S&W “big brother” look of it, and yes, I like that big-ol’ thumb safety and the big beavertail. I know when I thumb that safety down into firing position that I’m shooting for a reason. I’m no big burly-armed guy, I need a pistol that I’m confident isn’t going to buck in my hand and mess up my aim if I’m caught unawares and have to shoot one-handed. Taking it to the range tomorrow for the first time. I anticipate lots of plinking fun that’ll improve my aim and confidence.

  12. avatarSteven says:

    Hello, I have been reading about Ruger’ new SR-22 pistol. Has anybody tried the SR-22 and compare with MP-22 ? I can’t make up my mind which to buy.
    Thanks

  13. avatarSteven says:

    Hello, I have been reading about Ruger’ new SR-22 pistol. Has anybody tried the SR-22 and compare with MP-22 ? I can’t make up my mind which to buy.
    Thanks.

    • avatarPaul J. Self says:

      The Ruger is a great “little” gun. It was too small for my hand. If you can find both of them in a local gun shop, pick them up & see which one fits your grip. I love Rugers & have a number of them, but like I mentioned, it is too small for me. I believe the Ruger comes with 2 magazines, the Smith (unless they have changed) only comes with one magazine like the Sig Mosquito does.

  14. avatarEric D says:

    I bought one (M&P22) around a week ago and as a former Law Enforcement Officer I carried a M&P40 for several years. I also am a big fan of glock and often tell peolpe that ask me about purchasing a handgun that they can’t go wrong with ether. I was looking for a handgun that I could pull out of the safe to shoot that I wouldn’t feel the kick in my wallet. I looked at several target pistols from many different companies and in my research I found the Ruger SR22 but still wasn’t sure. When I thought i’d made up my mind I went to my local firearms dealer to purchase the Ruger thats when I saw the M&P22 for the first time I knew I had to make it mind. I’ve shot it as much as I could and can say I made the right decision so I can tell you that you won’t go wrong with the M&P22

  15. avatarWill says:

    The Ruger SR22 was going to be my first choice, with two mags and the ability to eat up almost anything you fed it. That was until I dug deeper. Excluding one person who fed it ammo Ruger explicitly did not recommend (and thus blew his up), I’ve heard of just enough reports of the take-down lever failing with the gun then flying apart.

    After some more looking the M&P 22, similarly priced (but about $20 higher in MSRP) looks more favorable. So far I’ve not heard of any serious failures on the part of the M&P 22. If anyone has, I’d be interested in hearing.

    The .22 is a great size for playing around on a range (of course, not horseplay… hitting targets.) and doing so pretty cheaply. Plus, is better than nothing in a pinch.

  16. avatarJohn Rabenius says:

    I purchased the M&P22 last weekend on 7/14/2012, and took it to the range the following day. I shot 550 rounds of Winchester Super X (in the 555 box) without any issues. Accuracy is very good. 5 – shot, sub 1 inch groups at 10 yards and 100+ rounds into a 1 1/2 inch hole. The trigger is EXCELLENT for an out of the box .22 pistol. I have a Ruger 22/45, and a Browning Buckmark, and I see both of them gathering dust in the safe – the M&P is a hoot to shoot! I paid $349 at the local sporting goods store. Yes, it only comes with 1 magazine – WHO CARES? buy one.

  17. avatarBob M says:

    My wife has artificial knuckles and one thumb is fused. Only a 22 will due because of possible damage from recoil. I purchased a Ruger LCR 22, had Crinsom Trace grips installed and a trigger job done but she still could not safely pull the trigger. Our local dealer traded the M&P 22 including a lazer for the LCR. While she cannot rack in a round she can shoot the M&P with no problem and hits the target very well. With the right ammo and the lazer I feel this will be the best solution for home defense considering her handicap. I carry a M&P 9 and like it a lot.

  18. avatarShooter says:

    Do I need to have a license to buy this gun

    • avatarTory Webb says:

      No, you do not need a license to buy a gun. You have to get a background check that the dealer performs for you.

    • avatarTim Gordon says:

      The truth is, it depends entirely where you live. Some places permit a handgun to be sold by an FFL dealer to anyone over the age of 21 who correctly fills out the BATFE Form 4473 and is subsequently cleared by the NICS check when the dealer calls it in. Other places have procedures that are considerably more strict. My state requires that you present either a Permit to Acquire Pistols or Revolvers or a Permit To Carry Weapons, neither of which is difficult or costly to get through the county sheriff’s office. Regulations are mostly at the state level, so you need to investigate what the rules are in the state you live in.

  19. avatarFitch says:

    I read the review and thought it was rather superficial. I only needed to be told about the safety once, not over and over and over. I’m more interested in breadth and depth of facts about the gun than your opinion of just the safety.

    I looked at the gun at the dealer yesterday. If I’m not mistaken, it can be loaded, unloaded, and cleared with the safety on. Just like a SIG P238. The trigger has a nice short reset on it and a crisp break (used dealer furnished snap cap). It felt good in the hand, has a nice easy slide to manipulate, loading 6 snap caps into the magazine was painless. They all fed through it racking the slide very nicely. The fit and finish was excellent.

    It has a rail on it so those who might want to use it as a home defense gun, not the cartridge I’d recommend but people might anyway, can put a rail light on it. In my opinion, the light, modulated with a support thumb is a huge feature on a home defense gun.

    I’d have liked some information about how it shoots, accuracy, reliability, and so forth in place of some of the whole article ranting about a safety and lack of interchangable grip back straps. But I suppose that would be asking too much.

    Remarkably uninformative review in my opinion.

  20. avatarAndy says:

    I’m shopping for a cheap-to-shoot practice pistol, and the Ruger pistol looks great – very high quality. As others have mentioned, it is a tad small in my hand. Also, I don’t like the Ruger’s trigger – the pull is too long for me. And I just don’t see a justification for a barrel that short in my .22. Still, it would be a good choice if these things don’t bother you. However, I’ve decided the M&P is the currently the best fit for me. As for the safety…. really? It’s not in the way, so who cares? The the big issue with .22 pistols is their traditional problems with feeding and jamming, which the M&P (and the Ruger too) seems to have solved. As I see it, the number one consideration with any weapon should be reliability, followed by accuracy and quality/longevity (since we would expect to put a lot of rounds through a .22). This “review” addressed none of that, presenting a basically negative tone toward the pistol for what I would view as nonsense reasons. I wonder if the author even shot the pistol.

    • avatarKybele Greywolf says:

      I own both the Smith & Wesson M&P 22LR PISTOL and the Ruger SR22 LR. I love both of these guns. I like the way my Smith shoots better than the Ruger because of the single action trigger. I like the Ruger because it is ambidextious everything, and it fits in my hand perfectly. Despite the fact the Smith is full sized and is basically too big for my small hands, I actually shoot more accurately with it. Love them both. Highly recommend because they are both very reliable. Only paid $366.00 online for my Smith.

  21. avatarRandel says:

    As far as the review, it was poor at best, several aspects of the firearm were not included and to much chatter about the safety. The information about the firing pin/striker was informative and needed as most of us know that .22cal pistols are problematic in this area.

    As for the question of which .22 auto to buy an why!! As with most I am an avid shooter and also a trainer with over 30 exp. and I have purchased several different types of firearms to use and train with, so for what it’s worth here’s my 2cents.

    Ruger LCP is to small for me but is a good trainer for some guys and most gals, with very little trouble in functionablity, and will take most ammo, the 22/45 is heavy and is more particullar in ammo and has a weaker sighting picture with the front blade, but is very accurate if you can get the blade issue under control.Price on both are fair. around $275

    The Sig Mosquito was my favorite ” on paper “, then i got one and have regretted it. The pistol is a little smaller than I like but still felt good in my hands and my students loved it’s size, but thats where it stoped, the safety is not easy to manipulate and this firearm hates every type of ammo that I have tried to feed into it, it only comes with 1mag and a second is $35 and lists for over $325. Not worth it………

    The new S&W M&P22 is fantastic thus far, I love the safety plus the full size feel and look, the shootability is great,very accurate and with over 1200 rounds through it, I have yet to have a malfunction in feeding, 3 misfires,( seemed to be a week hit on primer,could be ammo issue) the sight picture and adjustability are perfect. Yes a second mag included would have been great,but i do love the 12rnd mag included. My only issue is that the mag release is not ambidextrus as I use my right index finger to release the mag.I have never been a fan of the S&W trigger but this one works just fine and double taps are easy to do. This firearm gets 4.5 stars from this trainer/shooter. I do not have a full size M&P to compair to, I shoot and carry a Springfield XDM, but I am very impressed with the feel and reliability. I picked this one up for $299 plus tax. Well worth the price. Hope this helped some of ya.
    Be safe and shoot straight.

  22. avatarjoe tria says:

    I think it is a great gun. Reasonably priced and very cheap to shoot……for now.

  23. avatarTim Gordon says:

    I’ve handled one M&P22. My perception was that it didn’t feel quite as solid as my M&P40, but that it did weigh somewhat less. If I could compare them directly at the same time, it wouldn’t surprise me if I’m wrong on this…sometimes you can’t trust everything you think! When this model was announced, it struck me as one of the first new guns in a long time I’d actually be interested in purchasing someday. Being a fan of ‘old iron’, that’s really saying something about a new model that comes out. Unfortunately, unless you’ve got A LOT of .22 rimfire around that you have no qualms about ‘burning up’, this pistol is currently a moot point. Most of the centerfire cartridges are available again, but the few times a handful of .22 boxes show up, they leave the shelf as soon as they’re stocked. The last time I saw any for sale in quantity, it was some 80′s vintage stuff by S&B or someone in Europe that had been scrounged up and it was ultimately recalled for numerous misfires or some other quality or safety issue. Maybe in another year or two things will straighten out and getting one of these will make some sense.

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