Diamondback Birdshead Sidekick. Michael Irwin Collins Photo
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A 25-ounce .22 revolver that rides easily in the back pocket is a good thing to have. A couple of years ago, Diamondback introduced their Sidekick revolver. The original 4-inch barrel revolver is a neat plinker and trainer. But the new 3-inch barrel birdshead grip revolver is even lighter and easier to carry. The popular birdshead grip configuration gives the Sidekick a vintage look some will definitely find attractive.

 

Features

The revolver is similar in outline to the High Standard Double Nine or W100. The Double Nine features a swing-out cylinder and double-action trigger. This provides a more modern shooting experience, while the outline is similar to a single-action cowboy revolver. High Standard even designed a fake ejector rod. The Sidekick carries the fake ejector rod as well, but the new 3-inch barrel gun does not. The Double Nine is similar in operation to the High Standard Sentinel, a great shooting and compact trainer. I have owned a dozen or so in the past and shot the heck out of them.

Compared to the original revolver the new Sidekick Birdshead is a lighter, faster handling handgun. Michael Irwin Collins Photo

The only trouble is the occasional stuck sear. A good cleaning usually cures that concern. Too much dry fire will damage the chambers as a rimfire cartridge crushes the rim of the cartridge against the chamber lip. But the design of these guns overall is good. Diamondback revived the design with modern materials that only enhance performance. Cowboy guns are great, and I own a number of single-action rimfire revolvers. The Sidekick’s swing-out cylinder makes loading and firing and ejecting and training much simpler with this type of gun than a mere single-action revolver.

I think a swing out cylinder .22 is really a great training aid. Everyone needs this type of revolver. Why? A beginner is well served learning safety and marksmanship with a double-action revolver. They are easy to shoot and operate and allows the new shooter to gain confidence working the gun. Meanwhile, for an experienced shooter, these guns are quite simply fun to shoot. I won’t overstate the obvious. A revolver allows using .22 short, long and long rifle ammunition that would choke an automatic. So, you have options when buying your ammo for plinking. Heck, even pipsqueak .22 CB caps are easily used. A .22 shotshell isn’t useful past a few feet but works fine in a short barrel revolver as well.

The Sidekick is not only fun to shoot, but it also looks pretty nice, too. It is finished in dull Cerakote, a finish that is evenly applied and looks just fine. The grips are checkered plastic. The revolver lists at just over $300, so shop around for a good deal. I found a couple online at $283 and some change. I could not find a double-action .22 at this price or close save for some models of the snubnose Charter Arms.

As for other features, the Sidekick features simple fixed sights in the form of a groove in the top of the receiver and a simple post front sight. The single-action trigger is fine for an inexpensive revolver at just over 4 pounds. The double-action trigger is another matter. It registers 15 pounds, 14 ounces on the Lyman digital trigger pull gauge. That’s heavy. To use the double-action trigger, I first brought the trigger back until the hammer was to the rear and ready to break and then slipped the sear and dropped the hammer. If you learn double-action fire on this gun, you will be able to handle anything! I did not make an effort at shooting targets past 10 feet in double-action fire.

An advantage of the Sidekick is a spare cylinder in .22 Magnum. This is common in single-action revolvers. Double-action revolvers require more fitting making interchangeable cylinders a rarity for these guns. But modern machinery and tolerances make the Sidekick dual cylinder-design viable. The design of the swap out is actually quite elegant. Simply depress a button in the frame and release one cylinder and replace it with the other pre-fitted cylinder. I would be cautious to avoid allowing the spring-loaded plunger to escape, but I did not experience this problem.

 

Shooting

It isn’t a big deal on a plinking gun but a swing out cylinder is nice to have for convenience. Michael Irwin Collins Photo

In firing the Sidekick, I experienced good function. Loading, firing and ejection went smoothly. I am at nearly 600 cartridges expended through the small gun, with 90% having been fired as single action. About eight out of every 10 cartridges I’ve used have been high-velocity 40-grain .22 Long Rifle rounds, the most common and affordable choice available.

The revolver is quite fun to shoot and makes for a good plinker. At an outdoor range this may mean any type of target. Indoors on paper there are imaginative targets including game animals, pinwheels and small carnival themed targets you can shoot. The Sidekick is useful for training out to 25 yards or so, but little more. For what many of us will use the revolver for—taking out pests, rodents and reptiles around the homestead—10 yards are about as far as you will be able to accurately shoot a mole-sized animal. I had a mole infestation a few years back and they can wreck a lawn. I practice learning the point of aim and point of impact relationship with any fixed-sight handgun at close range and the maximum likely range. In all of my shooting, I never experienced roughness in cylinder rotation as unburnt powder ash built up, a common occurrence with rimfire revolvers.

I settled down on the bench and fired a few groups for accuracy at 15 yards. For a fixed-sight revolver with a 3-inch barrel and short sight radius, the Sidekick did fine. I changed cylinders and fired a number of .22 Magnum loads as well. Recoil didn’t change at all—nil to nothing—but muzzle blast did. The .22 Magnum uses relatively slow burning powder in most loads with the Hornady Critical Defense intended for revolvers with shorter barrel length. The .22 Magnum velocities make these loads better for larger pests at close range.

After all is said and done, I have to say I really like the Sidekick. It is a neat little fun gun well worth its modest price.

The Birdshead Sidekick is a great, compact revolver for the money.

Diamondback Sidekick

  • Make: Diamondback Firearms
  • Model: Sidekick
  • Caliber: .22 LR, .22 Long, .22 Short /.22 Magnum conversion cylinder
  • Action: Single or Double
  • Capacity: 9 rounds
  • Grips: Checkered plastic
  • Frame & Handle Finish: Black Cerakote
  • Overall Barrel Length: 3 in.
  • Overall Length: 7.8 in.
  • Overall Weight: 25 ounces
  • diamondbackfirearms.com

Rating

Fit and finish               ****                Notes: For the price, very good

Reliability                    *****              Notes: No issues

Accuracy                     ***                  Notes: The shorter barrel is useful for concealability and easy carrying, but not great for accurate shots at distance.

Handling & Comfort    *****              Notes: Well balanced, back pocket comfortable or even totes well in a Carhart jacket pocket.

Accuracy Table

15-yard accuracy, 5-shot groups

.22 LR

Remington Thunderbolt                        2.4 inch.

Remington Golden Bullet                      2.0 inch

 

.22 Magnum

CCI Maxi Mag                                      1.95 inch

Winchester 40-gr. FMJ                          3.0 inch

Hornady 30-gr. V Max                           2.5 inch

Velocity Testing

.22 rimfire

CCI .22 Short HP.                                 1033 fps

.22 CB Cap                                           420 fps

.22 CB Long.                                         599 fps

CCI Quite 22.                                        631 fps

CCI .22 LR Mini Mag                              1049 fps

CCI Velociter                                         1055 fps

Remington Golden Bullet 36-gr. HP         945 fps

CCI 32-gr. Stinger                                 1160 fps

 

.22 Magnum

Hornady Critical Defense 45-gr.               1180 fps

Hornady V Max 30-gr                             1290 fps

CCI 40-gr. Maxi Mag                               1298 fps

CCI 30-gr. VNT *                                    1344 fps

*(VNT is a nice pest popper that fragments in an inch or two of a varmint.)

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30 COMMENTS

  1. Zinc construction.

    Does anyone know if the High Standard was zinc?

    I kinda doubt it. I see them being sold for $290 at places like Academy…

    • Perhaps not for me as well, but it’s notable that the “microstamping” requirement first launched by CA and now being pursued by other Leftist States doesn’t apply to this item. That’s at least a +1 in its favor.

  2. A High Standard Hombre (22LR Only) was my first or second gun purchase. Don’t remember if it was the Hombre or the 1100 12ga that came first. I remember I had to have my mother sign for me. The frame is definitely some sort of non-ferrous material. In double auction the trigger is stupid stiff, in single auction not bad. The only smart thing about the purchase was getting it in a nickle finish. This was supposed to be a camping gun, and I had already seen what Florida moisture does to bluing on Pop’s guns. I never warmed up to it, even now the wife and grandkids want nothing to do with it. Sometime nostalgia has a blind eye.

  3. I have a NEF .32 H&R mag with a birdshead grip. If it was not a gift that I have grown into I wouldn’t go out and buy a birdshead. The .32 trigger out of the box was a bear so the hammer spring was shortened a bit but not too much, too much not good for a wheel gun. Probably could do the same to tame the Sidekick’s near 16 pounder. I like the Sidekick’ Black because my NEF is a reflective I’m over here stainless. The .22 mag cylinder, price and review makes this type of Gun safe to buy without being hands on.

  4. I can vouch for the recreational value of the old Doublenine design. The DA mode was definitely an afterthought, but in single action it beat a SingleSix for funsies, imo. Less fiddly to load and 9 rnds vs 6.

    I think you are right about the frame being
    nonferrous, now that l think about it.

    • I had the Sentinal and the Double 9 in the day. They worked. High Standard semi autos seemed to be of better quality than their revolvers. But their revolvers were very functional.

      My favorite low cost .22 revolver back then was the H&R 999. I really liked that gun.

    • “That’s nice adding the velocities”

      Would that help when scuttling across the road dodging gunfire from a redneck? 😉

    • Probably a higher grade zinc than cap guns, barrel appears pinned…it’s made well enough to handle .22 mag. but no more.

      • Considering there’s no reason for it to be built to handle more than .22 magnum, that’s fine.

      • Can it handle a decent tumble, though? If it cracked the first time it fell on the ground, or banged in to something in the truck, that would be pretty sad.

  5. Ty for reading.

    I enjoying testing ammo and use a
    Competition Electronics, and also a RCBS chrono.

    The cylinder and barrel are steel and the rest alloy like the Ruger Wrangler.

  6. In the mid ‘70’s I bought a new High Standard Sentinel 22 magnum 9 round double action revolver with 4 inch barrel and adjustable sights. Double action trigger pull was ridiculously heavy, but a trigger shoe helped. Single action was decent. I think it was either all steel or maybe an alloy frame. It was my hiking and nightstand gun for many years. I finally sold it when the cylinder started binding on the forcing cone and the local gunsmith wanted too much money to fix it. My current plinker is a Charter Arms Pathfinder, 22lr, 3 inch barrel, nickel finish.

  7. Anyone remembers that years ago, most folks had a “Kit Gun”. Now they are called “Bug Out Guns”, or “BUGs.” Used to be that most Kit Guns would be a 22LR revolver. High Standard’s Double Nine was the almost idea Kit Gun. Now, with the 22WMR cartridge, a modern 9 shot 22LR/22WMR revolver could potentially be a BUG as well. A 22LR/22WMR revolver combo works great for small game, and the 22WMR has potential on two legged varmints. Question is – How durable is the Sidekick?

  8. the High Standard had an aluminum frame.

    I do believe they had a 3 inch model with a regular or birdshead grip.

    there were a bunch of models with names like Posse and Natchez.

    too many to keep up with……. kudos to diamondback for copying it.

  9. Two shots from a twenty two is as powerful as one shot from a .44.
    If you don’t believe me come over and I’ll show you.

    • Only if I get to demonstrate from my .44 on you at the same time.

      Now stop acting like that stupid-ass argument is supposed to be clever.

  10. possum
    certain you are joking but ask any boxer. A series of light blows does not equal one knockout.
    I would limit the .22 Magnum to animals in the 60 pound range with good shot placement.

    2 22s is 80 grains 1 44 is 240 grains

    No one wants one in the eyeball I agree

  11. For comparison the ruger LCR in 22 magnum has a 5 round capacity. And the Barrel length in less than 2 inches.

    I’m very excited to get a 3 inch 22 caliber DA/SA revolver. And 9 shots of 22 magnum is superior to just having 5 shots.
    And the ballistics out of a 3 inch barrel are outstanding. Now test the Federal “Punch” ammo in this gun!!!

    As far as accuracy goes. Does this gun have a longer site radius than some of the pocket 380s on the market now???

    • Ooooh…. I hadn’t really considered this as anything beyond a fun plinker- but that’s a VERY interesting comparison you make!

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