Diamondback Sidekick 22 revolver
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The last few years have seen the introduction of a number of interesting .22 caliber revolvers. Among them are the Ruger Wrangler and the Heritage Barkeep. These affordable wheel guns are well suited to general carry and recreational use.

Diamondback Sidekick 22 revolver rimfire double action

The latest entrant in the affordable .22 revolver race is slightly more expensive, but this one is a double action revolver with an interchangeable swing out cylinder.

Diamondback Sidekick 22 revolver rimfire double action
The Sidekick’s cylinder release is incorporated into the ejection rod.

The Diamondback Sidekick was announced in August. It appears to be a clone of the High Standard Double Nine. It will probably also remind many of the old H&R 929 Sidekick.

When I was growing up it seemed almost everyone including my grandfather owned a Double Nine. When you wanted protection, but didn’t want a center fire with its greater expense and recoil, the High Standard Double Nine was a popular choice.

Diamondback Sidekick 22 revolver rimfire double action
The Diamondback Sidekick (top) and the Ruger Single Six

Designed to look like a traditional single action or cowboy gun with its plow handle grip and large trigger spur, the Double Nine was a double action revolver with a swing out cylinder. It was immensely popular and missed by old time shooters.

Diamondback Sidekick 22 revolver rimfire double action

Today we have an alternative that may be a better gun. Modern manufacturing has given us an improved .22 revolver with much to recommend it.

Diamondback Sidekick 22 revolver rimfire double action

The Diamondback Sidekick may be a clone, but it stands strong on its own merits. The revolver features a swing out cylinder with nine chambers. The cylinder release doubles as the ejector rod. Pull the ejector rod forward to release the cylinder. Load, close the cylinder, and you are ready to fire.

Diamondback Sidekick 22 revolver rimfire double action

The double action revolver may be fired double action with a simple pull of the trigger or in single action by cocking the hammer and applying a light trigger press.

The Sidekick is smooth enough in double action for an economy revolver. The best means of managing the double action pull is to stage he trigger; press until the hammer almost falls, pause to get a solid sight picture, and then fire.

The single action trigger pull breaks at a very clean, crisp four pounds. That invites single action shooting and most shots fired with a Sidekick will probably be while plinking or informal target practice. The double action trigger is pleasant enough to make for good double action training.

Diamondback Sidekick 22 revolver rimfire double action

The traditional plow handled grip with GFN checkered scales fits most hands well. There is no step in the handle required to stabilize the hand for double action fire with the .22’s modest recoil. The hammer spur allows for easy thumb cocking.

The barrel is 4.5 inches long, but expect other options to be offered down the road. The sights are the usual post front blade and grooved rear sight as you’d expect on a six nine shooter like this. The sights are well regulated for the six o’clock hold at ten yards. The finish is Cerakote.

A great option the Sidekick gives you is the use of interchangeable cylinders, one in .22 long rifle and one in .22 Magnum. Both will ship with the revolver. This isn’t something that’s been offered often with double action revolvers as fitting the crane is more difficult than simply using a base pin in a single action revolver.

The bolt holding the cylinder crane is spring-loaded. I used an old pen shaft to depress the latch and pull the cylinder away. Depress the shaft again and snap the other cylinder in place. The system is simple. After changing the cylinders headspace remains tight.

A simple groove in the top strap and a post front sight may not makes for gilt edged accuracy, but the sights are properly regulated for 40 grain loads. I used a mix of various makers 40 grain RNL loads to test the wheel gun. Five Remington Thunderbolts produced a 2.0-inch group at 15 yards. The Sidekick is more than accurate enough for informal target practice, plinking, and small game hunting.

The .22 Magnum cylinder offers a crackerjack option for larger pests. I wont get into the .22 Magnum for personal defense debate, but if you want a rimfire for easy critter control at a relatively low expense, the Sidekick is as good as any.

A natural comparison most will make here is the Ruger Wrangler, but the comparison isn’t really fair. The Wrangler and the Sidekick are about equally accurate. The Ruger, however, doesn’t have a .22 Magnum option. It’s also a single action gun with a six shot cylinder that loads via a loading gate.

The question then becomes, are those difference worth the extra outlay for the Diamondback revolver. I would gladly pay the difference for the Sidekick. They won’t hit retailers until next week, but I think Diamondback has a winner in this revolver.

Specifications: Diamondback Sidekick

Caliber: .22 LR/.22 Mag convertible
Action: Single/Double
Grips: Checkered, glass-filled polymer
Capacity: 9 rounds
Front Sight: Blade
Rear Sight: Integral
Overall Barrel Length: 4.5 inches
Overall Length: 9.875 inches
Frame & Handle Finish: Black Cerakote
Overall Weight: 32.5 ounces
MSRP: $320 (expect about $290 retail)

Ratings (out of five stars):

Ergonomics * * * * *
The heft and balance are excellent. This classic revolver handles well and the grip is comfortable. There’s a reason the Colt SAA has been so popular for the last century and a half.

Accuracy * * * * *
For the price and compared to the Ruger Wrangler and Heritage Rough Rider the Sidekick is quite accurate. Soda cans and milk jugs should be afraid. Very afraid.

Reliability * * * * *
The Sidekick never failed to crack off 240 .22 Long Rifle cartridges and 27 .22 Magnum. The only problem you may have in terms of reliability with this gun will be due to the rimfire ammo that goes into it.

Value * * * * ½
There are less expensive similar guns that are also fine for plinking and taking small game. But they don’t have all the features of the Sidekick. You pays your money and takes your choice.

Overall * * * * *
I love the Sidekick. It’s a fun gun that will take game and guard the homestead quite well and it’s very high on the fun-to-shoot scale.

 

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52 COMMENTS

      • I want one too, even though I may already have an NEF R92 (9 shot DA 22), a Heritage Rough Rider, a Ruger SR22, and a Mark III 22/45.

        It’s ok to have five 22lr handguns right?

        I may or may not already have five .22lr rifles to go with them. We don’t want that fifth rifle to be lonely.

      • As a proud (/s) owner of a DB380 won in a raffle, I agree. I wouldn’t buy anything that’s got “Diamond Back” on it. I will say that while it’s got the ugliest bore I’ve ever seen, that pistol is ~accurate~. I have no idea how, but it’s a tackdriver. Unfortunately you never know when it’ll actually fire.

  1. With the record Diamondback’s have in handguns I’d wait n see how they hold up. I would get a Diamondback AR or variant…

    • “With the record Diamondback’s have in handguns I’d wait n see how they hold up.”

      Well, it’s a zinc-alloy, not steel as the High Standard 9s were back in the day, so caution is prudent…

        • the rough rider i purchased came built in all steel—i am also leery of their 9 shot if not steel–it’s to bad the descriptions provided no longer mention the material used in the frame –i have only seen the total weight of the item—

      • I understand that zinc alloys can be useful in some applications, but in my world, the phrase “pot metal” is often spoken with contempt, and is sometimes said in conjunction with spitting. I saw that 9 shot cylinder and “double action” and thought thought “hmmm.” Then zinc alloy came into view. Not at the current price point.

  2. Was never a fan of the High Standard version, but it had 9 shots compared to 6 in my S&W model 35 kit gun.

    This version is not as nice looking as the High Standard. I hate cerakote.

    That said, it would a good starter gun for a new shooter. Maybe a bit confusing with a swing out cylinder plus an ejector rod.

    More options are good and may encourage some company to bring back more fun nostalgia guns. Like the original Colt Woodsman.

    I can dream…….

    • pops told me to buy a woodsman. i should get around to that.
      any more .22 revolvers will for sure be steel frames.
      9rds would be nice.

  3. Suggesting that gunm is similar to a High Standard double nine is an insult to High Standard.
    Looks more like an RG done on the cheap.

  4. “The sights are well regulated for the six o’clock hold at ten yards.”

    I tip my hat to the author for the proper use of “well-regulated”.

    The more we can do that, the better…

  5. So- I take it the frame is either plastic or some form of “pot metal”?

    And what is that under barrel ejector rod used for?

    Other than that, I’ll reserve judgement until I pick one up, but I already have too many old K-22s and Hi Standard target autos. Another .22 isn’t on my radar.

    Good luck to Diamondback…

    • i voted for ya.
      if i had known you thought that too many .22’s was a thing i’d have hesitated.
      thanks for reminding me of my desire for a super pratic (what the hell does that even mean?) citation.

      • Supermatic.

        Thanks for your support! I hope to have a positive impact.

        So- here’s the story on the .22s. Back when Prairie Meadows “graduated” into a full blown casino, some collector couldn’t lose money gambling fast enough. (Some dope use might’ve entered into it, too.) I knew the north side pawn dealers very well because in the pre-internet days I could buy musical instruments from them for pennies on the dollar to give to my ghetto band kids to use. The north side shops were the lowest of the low, pretty much end of the line for a loan.

        This collector must’ve had a High Standard corral because about every other week for a couple months I could go in and pick up a perfect Victor, Citation, Trophy or other HS pistol for $150-$200. Crazy.

        Poor guy also dumped Terry Redlin prints and other expensive stuff. Funniest thing was Type 99 rifles. On one trip I bought a last ditch for $10, told Blinky I was going to make a floor lamp out of it. Couple weeks later he had another, told me I could have a matching set of floor lamps for another $10. A couple weeks later he had a perfect 99 with dust cover, aircraft sights and monopod. He screwed me on that one- $20. Those days before the internet were something we’ll never see again. And remember- I was really looking for band instruments more than guns.

    • I don’t see an optics mounting plate or a flashlight rail. How can it be any fun without those options?
      Is the barrel threaded and are the sights suppressor height?
      I don’t know how improved cowboy guns ever did anything without this options.
      I am looking for a semi auto Lematt revolver that takes Glock mags.

  6. Looks like 22lr mag would do nicely for dispatching a Racoon with a bad attitude!
    My mom had that raccoon at her house out side of Fredrickburg Texas

    I will go to my grave, regretting I didn’t dispatch that fat ass racoon with 10 rounds of 22lr mini mags
    Her cats couldn’t get a mouthful of food without fat ass raccoon eating all their food.
    I live by the saying “shoot, shevel, and shut up”

    • 10 rounds of mini mags, Are you sure you hit it? If you did it went off somewhere and died.
      Damn, I’ve did a lot of “coon” hunting, never did take ten rounds.
      You sure it wasnt a bear?

  7. I’m assuming that since this is DA it has a transfer bar or similar mechanism and is safe to carry with all chambers loaded?

  8. I can’t say with all certainty…….but observing the last photo it appears someone is looking for an Alec Baldwin moment…..not sure, but I don’t think this handgun has a cocked and locked feature…..

  9. I share the fond memories of a .22 revolver for hiking, plinking and challenging myself shooting rabbits or vermin in the hay pile. My first revolver was an H&R 649, a convertible six shot for LR or WMR ammo. Hiked many a mountain trail with that one on my belt. Also have the H&R Sportsman 999, a nine shot.

    Knew a gentleman for many years who, as a BSA leader and when on SAR team missions in our local mountains, always carried a High Standard .22 revolver on his belt. He was the original buyer and had been carrying it from the early days of the model.

    This Diamondback could be interesting, but need more info. Especially on materials and action details. What is it made of? Floating firing pin is it? Transfer bar or other safety feature? Safe to carry it at some mid-cock position with all chambers loaded? How’s the chamber to barrel/forcing cone fit? How about how it paper’s from a firm rest?

    I do enjoy the old version of this sort of rimfire revolver from the venerable brand names of my youth, but more detail is needed for me to consider buying a new one.

  10. if reminder right, taurus purchased both diamondback and heritage a while back—heritage, chiappa, taurus, armscor, and a few others have some with more than 6 shots, and some are all steel

  11. Cute, but I need something reliable. This might as well as be as unreliable as a Walther. No sense in spending hard earned money on junk. Just buy a Ruger, you will be happier.

    • Did you somehow miss this…

      Reliability * * * * *
      The Sidekick never failed to crack off 240 .22 Long Rifle cartridges and 27 .22 Magnum. The only problem you may have in terms of reliability with this gun will be due to the rimfire ammo that goes into it.

      “For the price and compared to the Ruger Wrangler and Heritage Rough Rider the Sidekick is quite accurate.”

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