(This is a reader-submitted review as part of our gun review contest. See details here.)
What is one of the world’s most popular small game hunting calibers? It is, of course, the venerable .22 lr. While not the most suitable caliber for self-defense, the .22 lr is more than capable for accurate shooting, plinking, small game hunting, and other applications. Over the years, there have been many platforms that have fielded the .22 lr to great success.
Normally, when you hear Smith & Wesson, what comes to mind is quality firearms, striker-fired M&P handguns made in the USA, and the expansive array of different model revolvers. Today, while it’s not the cream of the crop of top most popular Smith & Wesson firearms, is still a firearm revered by many in small circles centered on rimfire accuracy. The gun in question happens to be a Smith & Wesson Model 41.
Going back to the 1950’s — well 1957 to be exact — is when this fine piece of craftsmanship arose from its days on the design board at Smith & Wesson. With its introduction to the market, there’s been a backorder on these ever since.
This weapon is not like your everyday plastic Tupperware. Under the correct lighting conditions, the fit and finish turns this firearm into eye candy. With such a fine firearm, you’re sure to attract interest from other range-goers.
Fit and Finish
The wood and metal on this firearm makes the handling feel like something premium. It reminds you of a time when firearms were made of wood and metal.
Ease of Use
Ease of use on the Model 41 is like operating a 1911. It’s as easy as inserting a magazine, racking the slide, flipping the safety to the off position, and you’re ready to shoot.
The disassembly procedure on a S&W Model 41 is similar to that of a Makarov pistol. For basic disassembly and cleaning, pull the trigger guard down, lock the slide to the rear, and then the barrel simply pulls out (no pun intended). For further disassembly and taking the slide off, simply pull back, lift the slide a little, and release forward.
Of course, once you disassemble a firearm, you’re going to have to put it back together. The re-assembly is just as easy. Simply put the barrel onto the frame and hold barrel in place while you swing the trigger guard up against the barrel. After that, you have a full re-assembled gun. Because of its blowback design and ease of disassembly, you won’t have to feel like an Engineer trying to disassemble your way through a maze of small parts. Because of that, the Model 41 can be cleaned with ease.
Upon the action of gripping the Model 41, it instinctively becomes an extension of one’s hand. If you’re in the market for a firearm to always remind you of the 1911 and its great inventor, then this is the gun for you. After shooting it for a while, it dawns on you that it’s designed to mimic the 1911 quite closely. The grip angle is almost exactly the same as that on a full size 1911. While not quite a good a design as the 1911, the slide release and manual safety are just about in the same place.
A five-and-half-inch barrel, along with 41 oz. of heft, makes poking holes in the center of a target look like child’s play. Part of its accuracy can be attributed to its trigger. As it stands, a crisp 2.7 to 3 lb. trigger pull with almost no over-travel makes accurate shooting all that much more fun. Trying to please people on a trigger’s over-travel isn’t as easy as it seems. So, the good folks at S&W had the novel idea of putting an over-travel adjustable stop screw to match your heart’s content.
To date, I’ve had no problems with cycling and feeding. The Model 41 was been superb. Even after lobbing a few thousand rounds at the range, there seem to be no hiccups on the part of the gun.
Because of its accurate shooting, the Model 41 is mostly used in target shooting and competition. However, it could serve other purposes like plinking, small game hunting, and other applications. Self-defense was not mentioned here; however, even the .22 lr is still better than a stick.
Available Aftermarket Options
There is a decent aftermarket covering the Model 41. It’s nothing like the GLOCK aftermarket, but it’s big enough to sufficiently allow you to customize your gun to your liking. Finding what you need in a gun shop could be a bit difficult, but everything from holsters, parts and accessories can easily be had online.
By now, I am sure you’re well aware of the pistol’s feats and abilities. If winning rimfire pistol matches is your forte, then the Model 41 is an excellent option for the job. From a shootability standpoint, the gun prints one-inch or less patterns at ten yards. From a hand held rest, I am able to consistently put five shots in around an inch at 25 yards.
Of all the features on this gun, my favorite feature is the quick detach barrel. It’s so easy, all one has to do is lock the slide to the rear, pull the trigger guard down and pull the barrel out. Because of that, cleaning is a breeze.
Least Favorite Feature
While this gun is near the top when it comes to precision .22s, it also has some downsides. The most notable is the safety. Sticking out an eighth of an inch from the gun’s frame, the safety looks like any other safety. However, upon operating the safety, it quickly becomes clear that it’s very stiff – it surely isn’t your everyday M&P Shield style safety that’s easily flicked on and off. Another minor negative is the weight. At a hefty 41 oz., it’s not the lightest gun out there, but it has a solid feel in the hand. Lastly, the price is also not its best attribute.
Specifications: S&W Model 41
Caliber: .22 lr
Capacity: 10+1 rounds
Barrel Length: 5.5″
Overall Length: 10.5″
Trigger: A crisp 2.75 to 3.25 lb. trigger pull with adjustable trigger stop
Sights: Micrometer click adjustable target rear sight with undercut patridge front sight
Safety: Frame-mounted manual safety
Weight: 41 oz.
Ratings (out of five stars):
Accuracy * * * * *
Better than the shooter. This gun will let you know your shortcomings in pistol shooting.
Ergonomics * * * * *
The Model 41 is of similar proportions to a 1911 in terms of grip angle. The grip itself is molded to fit your hand exceptionally well.
Reliability * * * *
Reliability has been superb for a .22 rimfire. I must acknowledge that some people have complained of receiving Model 41’s that are ammo sensitive – for that, I am giving it four stars. Those with ammo sensitive S&W model 41’s tend to agree that running CCI SV 40 is the best option. However, mine has had no trouble whatsoever in the ammo department.
Customization * * *
There’s not a lot of customizations and accessories available. For those who have to absolutely have custom grips, then they will be pleased to find many offerings to suit your needs.
Value * * * *
There’s no denying that it’s expensive. However, you’re paying for top quality.
Overall * * * *
Despite the stiff safety on the Model 41, I really liked the gun. If you enjoy fine rimfire target pistols, the S&W Model 41 is not one to pass over. While it’s not the best of the best, consider it a cut above the rest.
The only Smith 22s I’ve shot were the disgraceful 22a, and the decent M&P Compact.
Neither holds a candle to the beauty of this thing.
I own a 22A1, picked it up for $150 + transfer fee. It’s personally hard for me to spend $1400 on a 22lr pistol, as nice as it is. I feel like the review is a bit too glowing, but no one wants to spend that much money on a firearm and think negative thoughts.
Model 41 performance center has been on my dream guns list for a long time. Amazing.
Inflation has taken its toll on the price of the 41. I’ve been lucky to have shot one and it’s all that and a bag of chips.
These are nice pistols. Never owned one but shot a few. Always a little (lot) pricey back in the day.
Never shot a 5 inch, a friend had two with 7.5 inch barrels – one in 22 LR and one in 22 short.
He squirrel-hunted with the 22 short. It was almost boring to shoot since it was so easy to hit your targets.
I always liked this and the Model 52 in 38 special. If you miss, it’s not the pistol.
If I have a safe Queen. Its my Model 41. Its a 50 some odd year old gun with a 7 inch compensated barrel.
It is a thing of beauty.
I was given it when my Uncle passed. I thank him every time I open the safe and see it.
Ohhhh it shoots and handles like no other gun Ive ever owned. Its bluing is as good as Old Colts on any given day. Maybe better then most days too.
You know it’s a sin not to shoot it….right?
Life’s too short to not shoot a fine pistol.
Somebody else will when you’re gone or they’ll just sell it.
Bust a rim.
My dad gave me his from when he was on a police shooting team…7″ported and comped…a beauty.
Wow. That is a beautiful pistol.
The barrel is not fixed to the frame? I know this pistol is accurate. But i wonder how much more so it would be with a fixed barrel? If at all.
My makarov has a fixed barrel and for a smallish service pistol it’s way more accurate than you would expect.
I believe it means the barrel is fixed, just not permanently attached.
The barrel assembly is locked into place (and thus “fixed” to the frame) by a lug on the front of the trigger guard. I think this review could really have used a “disassembled” photo, because the 41 is a somewhat odd design. The reciprocating part of the slide is the lower part. The upper and forward section with the sights on it is fixed to the barrel and doesn’t move.
The barrel is clamped by a lug inside the trigger guard. But that’s not really the issue.
The issue is “does the barrel move with respect to the sights?” and the answer is “no.” Please look at the third and fourth photos above. See how the rear sight is mounted to the tang that extends rearwards off the rear of the barrel? The sights are fixed to the barrel. Even if you have an optical on your 41 (as I do), the sight and barrel are one.
The action is purely blow-back; the slide has a long movement on a spring. The slide is the part with the serrations that extends forward on the low side of the barrel, above the trigger guard.
Got it, now. Thanks.
Correct as usual, DG. I always appreciate your comments.
Design of the M41 is similar to Ruger MKs and Browning Challenger, but differ from High Standard, Colt Woodsman and other blowback semiautos which have fixed barrels, and sights on the slide.
Theoretically a perfectly fitted 1911 should approach this condition at lockup. But it is more likely that only the barrel and slide/sights will be solidly linked when in battery.
Bought brand new Smith & Wesson three weeks ago. Three times at the range no problem, fourth time fired Ok but when I got it home I could not remove the barrel for cleaning. Called S & W and they said to ship it back to them, they e-mailed me a shipping label to off set the cost, but wondering anyone else have this problem..
Barrel is integral with what would appears to be the slide on other semi-autos. I wondered about this same thing when I cleaned mine for the first time. May be the same thing you are encountering. What is the barrel is a massive chunk of metal compared to other semi-autos I own. Similar to Ruger Mark I.
Hard to get more accurate than a lazer beam. Most can’t shoot its full potential anyway.
Hell, I’ve got a Pre-War S&W Outdoorsman K-22 that has more potential than anyone I know.
That’s what you want. If you’re on your game, the pistol or revolver is not going to be the limiting factor.
Wow ! $1369 for a .22 paper punch? For a rat-killer? Wish I had the money for that level of toy. Really, I would buy one.
Add to the lottery wish-list and the Bugatti Veyron I’ll never own.
It all depends on what you are looking to do….are you going out and plinking on the weekends at cans and targets? maybe a little hunting but want something reliable and accurate? Get a $500< Ruger or Victory…. OR are you shooting in a competition and NEED that extra accuracy to WIN a gun like this(or a Xesse,Walther GSP,Beretta MP90/95,Pardini) gives you….if the first is your forte then yeah the S&W 41 is probably a waste of your $$$ …but if you NEED/WANT that extra a top of the line gun gives you a gun like this in that $1k-2K range is you gun.
These guns are made for and ARE more accurate than your typical Victory,Ruger Mk series,Browning off the shelf $500< gun….you take a expert shooter give him the Ruger Mk IV or Victory target and the S&W 41 and put him on a competition rimfire bullseye course he WILL shoot better with the 41 than with the Ruger or Victoy..
aka I guess im getting at there is a reason the 41 is more $$$$ but very few people will ever need or realize that reason
At the time that S&W started selling this pistol, all the classy .22 competition shooters were using High Standards, Brownings and Colts. The Ruger Standard (1949) was dearly beloved as a plinker, but for reason unknown not as a competition pistol.
A box-stock S&W M41 was actually more accurate than my beloved High Standard, but the M41 didn’t penetrate (no pun intended) the target market like you’d think it would. I guess some people thought of S&W as a revolver company exclusively.
I know that the M41 comes at a dear price, but it compares very favorably to the justly-venerated Colt Woodsman Match Target. For a hard-core target shooter, the M41 is probably worth the price.
I’ve put a Clark Custom barrel on my 41, and at 50 feet, it will punch a single ragged hole with sub-sonic match ammo off a rest.
When I’m shooting bullseye with the 41, If I miss the 10 ring, it’s always my fault, never the pistol’s. Most of my fellow competitors in the bullseye matches in the winter are also shooting 41’s.
High Standards in good shape have reasonable prices vs. the cost of a Colt or S&W target .22. I still prefer the 41. The only way, IMO, to substantially improve on the 41 for bullseye or target work is to step up to something like a Hammerli or Pardini. Now you’re up into the “thousands” of bucks for a target pistol.
As an aside, people who don’t gunsmith on a regular basis should limit themselves to merely field-stripping/cleaning the barrel & slide on the 41. Do not try to disassemble it further.
Unless you are highly gifted with a broad and deep knowledge of obscenities, vulgar curse words and can swear fluently, you’re just going to humiliate yourself by pulling the lockwork out of the frame.
My father-in-law had a 1973 NIB, never fired Model 41 with all paperwork and accessories which he just gave to my wife last month. My jaw hit the floor when she told me what she was given. It is truly a remarkable pistol and an incredible gift.
My model 41 remains my favorite pistol to shoot. I usually leave a 5.5 inch Clark STC (and with optional threads…) barrel on the gun, and rely on an RMR LED red dot sight. I keep spare springs and a spare firing pin in the box. Now and then I’ll put the 7.5 inch barrel with adjustable metal sights on the piece just to torment my eyes.
The 41 is an accurate, solid, and beautiful joy.
(I didn’t used to have to type my moniker below….but something changed.)
I’m assuming not all of the pictures are the authors, but that is a sweet looking gun. I love my high standard, but I’ll have to consider picking one of these up if I ever see one. I’m just glad I can still get parts for the High Standard.
Model 41,IMHO, has the sweetest factory trigger I’ve ever used. An absolute joy to shoot and accurate way beyond my capabilities.
As nice as the 41’s trigger is, you really need to check out a S&W Model 52-2.
For those grousing about the price, it ain’t a plinker,although it fills that bill quite nicely. Rather, the 41 is to bullseye shooting as a Perrazi is to Olympic trap, a Pardini is to Olympic rapid fire, and an Anschutz is to biathlon. You don’t see 870’s in intl competition. You pay the price if you want to play the game at the highest levels.
That’s the thing that I think so many TTAG readers miss: In shooting competitions, gear that wins costs money. Same as most all other pursuits where equipment is involved.
No one thinks of running a F1 race with a Toyota Corolla, and no one thinks that they’re going to win the Reno Gold Unlimited with a Cessna 172. I don’t understand why so many people think that they should be able to win shooting competitions with cheap guns.
You won’t see a rack-grade Rem 700’s in F-class or benchrest competitions, you don’t see Rem 870’s in state or national trap shoot much (there was a guy years back who won the Grand with a 870, but it wasn’t one of today’s 870’s), and you won’t see Ruger MkII’s or Buckmarks in bullseye competition much. There’s limits to how good you can make those triggers.
How many of us compete at all? Let alone at that level? I haven’t even spectated at a car or air race in decades.
I fully realize it takes top pf the line, expensive equipment to compete in any sport. But for the other 99% of us the off the rack gear will work.
But the 41 isn’t “top of the line.” It’s just in the “top 5%” of very good to excellent target pistols. There’s a reason why you see so many of them at bullseye competitions – they’re “good enough” to get you into expert+ classifications.
The ‘top of the line’ will be pistols that are $2K and up.
I’ve owned my model 41 for over 35 years. I bought it used for $500 back then. Was still in the box with the warrantee card and extra mag. It is EASILY the most accurate handgun I have ever shot, and it easily has the best trigger I have ever pulled. And it fits my giant sized paw like it was molded for it with the stock grips. My safety flicks on and off easily but with enough resistance to remain where it is placed. If I was writing the review, it would have been even more glowing. I truly LOVE mine and would never consider parting with it. $1369 is a lot of money, but $500 was a lot of money back in 1980 and it was money well spent. This is the kind of firearm that I’d eat a year’s worth of peanut butter & jelly sandwiches on stale cheap white bread for a year if I had to. Yeah, it is THAT GOOD a gun.
I agree, Joe! Sometimes, one has to handle the S&W Model 41 to fully appreciate its astute qualities.
I looked at one of these but the price is a killer. I finally settled on a Browning Buckmark PLUS UDX that cost a 1/4 of the price. For me I couldn’t do better with the Browning than the Model 41. Maybe somebody else could but at 25yds I get a 1-2” accuracy every time and I’m sure any time the group goes large it’s me. So if you can afford then buy a Model 41 but if not there are some great semi-auto 22LRs out there for much, much less….
I purchased a new Buckmark UDX about a year ago. Shot about 7,000 rounds through it. I bought a new 41 PC two months ago. I no longer take the UDX out of it’s case.
The new PC model was a bit disappointing when looking closely at the chamber area. I can’t believe that S&W PC would allow this pass quality control. I had a renowned gunsmith clean and match it up. Still all in all it would easily out shoot my Buckmark.
Expensive yes, but I will have it, and shoot it until I’m physically unable to do so.
It may not be the best gun out there but impact wise when you pull that thing out people would be running away from you.
My Dad has one of these. This review is not overblown in the least. It’s nigh impossible to stop comparing other guns to the thing, and they keep coming up short.
I bought a brand new model 41 a few months back and so far have no regrets. Its expensive and a tad heavy, but accurate and incredibly fun to shoot. its also a piece of art IMO as its a gorgeous looking gun and seems to be the “go to” pistol when showing off my collection to close friends. The one caveat is something that all manufacturers are currently doing…. packaging their product in the most horrific & cheap plastik gun cases that I have ever seen. it comes in a turquoise blue container that looks like it fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down. the children are not allowed to look directy at this case as i fear they’ll turn to stone.
buts its really a nice gun.
You didn’t buy the case, you bought the gun. And still better than the cardboard boxes they used to come in. By the way, I love my Performance Center M41!
In terms of looks, this is my favorite looking gun of all time, it is just bad ass.
I have managed to secure two 41’s. One is a 1991 and the other is a 1998. After much chasing I have gotten hold of all four bbls for the 41 22lr. They are the 5″ lightweight, the 51/2 ” heavy version with the drilled and tapped for a Pic rail, the 7″ and the 7″ with the compensator. Also have a Bully Barrel 5″ stainless threaded for competition. They all look great in a custom made display case.
The only thing I am missing is the 22 short version.
Love those 41’s!
See my earlier comment…like to hear your responses…maybe locate a 22 short version!
update to my recent model 41 purchase on this thread……………. stick to the older models………. nuff said.
Should have bought the Performance model. I have both!
I have been a diehard fan of the S&W Model 41 since my first ownership of one back in 1979 at the young age of 14 when my dad bought me this and paid $325.00 for it brand new. I shot many thousands of rounds of all brands of ammunition through that gun for several years until selling it in 1986 which I’ll always regret doing. I remember many times going to the outdoor target range and placing a coke can at about 35 yards and shooting it multiple times, pushing it further out each time I hit it until it would be at around 50+ yards or further. All the years I shot it I never remember it ever jamming which said something for it. Now at 52 I own my 10th one and don’t ever plan on letting this one go. I bought this one back in April of this year and paid 1279.99 for it and am so glad to have been given the chance to once again purchase and own one. I haven’t shot it yet but I must say the look, fit, and feel of this example is totally as expected with these guns. PERFECT!! My favorite feature of these guns is the superb, crisp, light weight trigger pull and this example is no exception! When storing this and any .22 firearm I always keep a plastic snap cap in the chamber so that I can dry fire the hammer to keep it in an “at rest” position so the spring is under less pressure. I must admit the trigger pull on this example like all the others I have owned breaks like the snapping of a pencil lead. Just pure precision!! I am really surprised S&W still produces this model and IMHO look for it to be pulled from the line at any given point due to the cost of making it now. But I have thought that for some time now and they still keep on making it although it’s rather hard to find most of the time. For anyone interested and wanting a fine precision target pistol you absolutely will not go wrong with investing in the Model 41. I’ve owned both the Colt Woodsman as well as the High Standard Trophy and even though they are with no argument superb guns, I still prefer the Model 41. To me the Model 41 always seemed to show a little more heft and brawn in the build quality like in the thick, wide cartridge extractor as well as the robust appearance and feel of the trigger not to mention not having to worry about gold plating wearing off. They are a great investment to say the least and just keep rising steadily in price. The S&W Model 41 will always get my top vote!!!
…..GREAT review…thanks !!
I worked at S&W in the late 70’s and I took their 6 month employee shooting program. The main gun used was the Model 41, We did shoot ALL ranges of calibers during that time….but fell in love with the M41.
In the mid 80’s a friend won a raffle at her revolver club. The prize was a M41…she already owned one so was opting to take $500 cash in place of the gun. I said WOAH !!! Take the gun….I’ll give you the $500 cash !! So that’s how a M41 came into my life. Before taking possession of it I had a Red Dot put on it. After sighting it on a rest…I soon realized that I had the most accurate gun I ever shot in my hands….and it’s way better than me !!
Yes…it’s definitely a heavy gun to hold out straight with 1 hand..especially with the Red Dot. But….look through the scope…the round will go where the dot is. I shot in leagues with it and held my own.
I had a desk job….so would hold a 10lb weight straight out to strengthen my arm.
An interesting tidbit for you owners (or soon to be owners)….there is a # on each barrel….from 1 to 9 (I believe 9). After a barrel is test fired….(not sure of the distance)…..each # stamped represents 1/10th inches of the size variance of the group. I happen to be a recipient of a 1 !! Lucky me !!! I also heard if requesting a barrel from the factory…and you are nice….you can request a low #.
If you’ve never shot a M41…please do…you won’t be disappointed.. you won’t want to put it down.
A quality work of art….to look at….fondle…or shoot. Remember they ARE meant to shoot….don’t store em…use em. I highly recommend this gun. Ready on the RIGHT…..ready on the LEFT…..FIRE !!! Peace
My 7″ + muzzel brake M41 , May 10, 1965, (cost $85.00, I sill have the recipet).
Manffactured 1959, in 1966 the spring holding the slide release broke. It was a $.12 cent part from Gil Hebrad, Knoxville, Ill.
Our daughters, now our grandaughter have grown up shooting this frist class insturment. My M41 and my 6″ barrel, nickeled Colt Python ($125.00 on July 14, 1964) still get a lot of casual use.
I have been a diehard fan of the S&W Model 41 since my first ownership of one back in 1979 at the young age of 14 when my dad bought me this and paid $325.00 for it brand new. I shot many thousands of rounds of all brands of ammunition through that gun for several years until selling it in 1986 which I’ll always regret doing. I remember many times going to the outdoor target range and placing a coke can at about 35 yards and shooting it multiple times, pushing it further out each time I hit it until it would be at around 50+ yards or further. All the years I shot it I never remember it ever jamming which said something for it. Now at 53 I own my 11th and 12th one and don’t ever plan on letting these go. I bought the 11th one back in February of this year and paid 1300.99 for it and am so glad to have been given the chance to once again purchase and own one. This one is the “Performance Center Edition” version which seems even harder to find than the standard ones. Also in August of this year, actually a couple of days ago I had the chance to find and get a 7” barreled standard version one and paid 1080.99 for it. I haven’t shot either of these yet but I must say the look, fit, and feel of both examples are totally as expected with these guns. PERFECT!! My favorite feature of these guns is the superb, crisp, light weight trigger pull and both examples here are no exception! When storing these and any .22 LR firearm I always keep a plastic snap cap in the chamber so that I can dry fire the hammer to keep it in an “at rest” position so the spring is under less pressure. I must admit the trigger pull on both examples like all the others I have owned breaks like the snapping of a pencil lead. Just PURE PRECISION!! I am really surprised S&W still produces this model and in my honest opinion look for it to be pulled from the line at any given point due to the cost of making it now. But I have thought that for some time now and they still keep on making them although they are rather hard to find most of the time (especially the Performance Center Edition). For anyone interested and wanting a fine precision target pistol you absolutely will not go wrong with investing in the Model 41. I’ve owned both the Colt Woodsman as well as the High Standard Trophy and even though they are with no argument superb guns, I still prefer the Model 41. To me the Model 41 always seemed to exude a little more heft and brawn in the build quality like in the thick, wide cartridge extractor as well as the robust appearance and feel of the trigger not to mention not having to worry about gold plating wearing off. They are a great investment to say the least and just keep rising steadily in price. The S&W Model 41 will always get my top vote!!! I highly recommend anyone who likes .22 LR bullseye shooting to obtain one of these fine works of art while they can still be had!!
I inherited a model 41 from my father that was NIB until I fired it. Don’t know when it was purchased but price list states effective 1971 and a new 7.375 barrel/slide assembly goes for $24.35! Factory grips with a flared ledge for the thumb and trigger finger (very similar to Rem. xp100) and 2 barrel weights (1.75oz and 0.375oz) make this weapon shoot like pointing a finger at what you want to hit. A trigger that brakes CRISPLY at 2.25-2.5 lbs with no slack front or back took a while to get used to though. Only thing shot through the weapon so far came out of the bricks of Green Box Federal target rounds the Old Man hoarded away. Don’t know what it’s worth but it’s priceless to me anyway. Never shot anything that compares to it, and I have shot many. Hal Lewis
just bought a 41. I used to have one that I sold back in 1985 and have kicked myself every since. I am not selling this one! I just ordered a 5 1/2 inch barrel from Midway. I read the comment about Smith putting numbers 1-9 according to accuracy from the factory. Where is this number located on the barrel? I looked on my barrel on this 41 that I just bought, but could not locate. Well there be a number on the new barrel from Midway?
Heard the same concerning accuracy numbered barrels but have not found any extra numbers on mine. Have found forging marks that could be confused for nos. in chamber area.
I have owned several model 41’s over the last 40 years now starting in 1979 and through all the ones I’ve had including the two I presently own, I have never seen a number like this on the barrel although I have never really tried looking for something like this either. Personally I wouldn’t even worry about the number thing. I have shot quite a few of the model 41 pistols and have never shot a bad one yet even though the two I have now are still unfired. Everyone I have zeroed in has been nothing short of a tack driver and that is no exaggeration! Bottom line is I have never seen or experienced one that performed anything short of top rate!! The Smith & Wesson Model 41 is very much a top performer and exudes nothing but top quality and American craftsmanship through and through. Some people may argue that point but I’m a T-Total believer in them and always have been!!!
I have a 41 along with unfortunately degrading eye sight. How was the red dot mounted (without a pic rail) on the photo at the top of this article?? My 41 has the two sets of two screws on the top of the barrel but I can’t imagine they would magically match up to any of the miniature red dots.
Purchased my S&W 41 thirty seven years ago, new, paid $350.00 I shoot lots of calibers this gun will always be my favorite. Friends ask “wannasellit”? I would never part with it. At my club always positive remarks, and always a conversation piece. Lester, Brick N.J.
My first 41 was stolen. My wife gave me a replacement for Christmas. My third one
was a bequest. The first one had sentimental value since I won two state championships and used it at the Olympic try outs at Black canyon.
The Model 41 is a good choice for Competition. I believe Don Hamilton set several
record with his model 41.
Wow I just loved it read the whole thing. Thank you.
Best competition arm I have ever owned.
Saw one today at a gun show in NC, fell in love with it. Have shot Ruger Mk II Gov’t Model for 35 years, thinking on going back for this tomorrow, hope it’s still there !
I sure hope you were able to get that Model 41 today that you saw yesterday and fell in love with. You certainly will not be disappointed with it. They are just lovely top notch quality made pieces!!! I currently own a standard 7” and a Performance Center 5 1/2” and love then both! These guns are absolute tack drivers!!!!👍👍
Nope, sadly when I got there it had already been sold…… maybe next time.
Well I’m sorry to hear that but I will say in the last couple of years since mid 2018 I have really noticed a huge increase in the supply of these. The Model 41 used to be a fairly hard piece to come by but now that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. I know on Gunbroker it used to be hard to find new ones listed but now there seems to be at least 35 or more listings of each variant offered. Hands down IMHO these pistols are the best .22 competition level handguns ever produced. I’ve been shooting one since 1979 at the age of 14 and these pieces are flat tack drivers. I have also heard over the years the older ones are better than the ones of today’s manufacturing. I completely disagree with that and can say that honestly because I have had the older ones in my past and now own two newer ones that are very comparable. Yes, the newer ones are CNC machined and the blueing is not quite as shiny but that’s the only difference I see. Functionality is the same in that they are excellent!! They are a very well made gun to very close tolerances.
Yes, I have read much of the same. The older ones were put together by 4 employees who painstakingly assembled each pistol, hand fitted, whereas modern ones are CNC machined to exacting tolerances. There is no doubt the old finish was better, but todays steel is better, so it is kinda a wash. 7 pages of them on Gunbroker, just a matter of time now. Thanks for the reply !
You’re welcome! It was my pleasure!
The most Accurate, Smooth shooting firearm that I have ever had the pleasure to own is the S&W 41, 7.5 barreled pistol left to me by my father. Came with 2 counter weights, 1aluminum, 1steel that screw into the end of the frame if desired and a neat compensator that controlled barrel jump very well that could also be replaced by a standard barrel end cover. Still in box and from the 60s with a parts sheet that prices a new mag at $1.5!!!
Give it a try. You should be well pleased. And by the way, the formed hand grips make the weapon feel like it is a part of my hand. I hit what I point at.
Actually I’m not a very good shot. I have a condition called, Slow Tremors, and it gets worse with age. Does that stop me from shooting ? Not in the least. I just shoot against myself. Which when you boil it down, is the same guy who will be your worst competitor in any shooting event. If you can conquer your ego, your nerves, and practice, and more practice. Then you need a gun to match your new level of expertise, and allow you to explore your self control further. Say for example, a Model 41.
I bought my adopted son a Model 41 7″ barrel, made in 1968 for Christmas last year. He hadn’t gotten involved in drugs, and had graduated HS with a 4.0 grade average, and now was off to college.
I found after much searching a 41 that was in mint condition, and cost 1,600 $.
Regretfully when it arrived and I was looking it over carefully to see what the Model 41 legend was all about, that a nasty thought occurred. It was the first gift I have ever given anyone, that I have thought of keeping for myself, and giving them something else instead. Like some socks, or new shirt instead.
The machining was remarkable. The bluing was beyond anything I had ever seen, and appeared to have endless depth. The gun simply radiated precision, and quality. Expert design. And was very easy on the eyes.
Plus, I’m old school, and I love guns made of real metal and wood. Yeah, I know, BUT…….. The trigger was smooth as glass, with a nice trigger shoe. In short, I found the legend to be true.
I overcame my greed and jealousy and gave my Son the Model 41 for Christmas. I kind of doubt he totally appreciated what he had been given, as he is into firepower, and tactical rifles. However I think with time, and he researches the 41 further, what the 41 really is, will begin to dawn on him.
As far as my jealousy goes, to overcome that, I simply bought a new Model 41 for myself, for 1350 $. Granted the wife was a bit upset (!), but I promised not to buy anymore guns this year if I was forgiven.
It is often mentioned in the comments here about the price of the gun being to high. I agree, it is an expensive outlay for a pistol. Or as some have said, “It’s just a .22 cal. pistol.”
Personally I don’t think justifying the price of a pistol matters as to caliber, or stopping power. Only thing to me that matters really is the pistols accuracy, shoot-ability, reliability, and the quality of the firearm.
There is no good reason for someone like me with my condition to own a Model 41, other than it is considered one of the finest examples of American firearms manufacture ever made. But, I “LOVE” the heft of it, the balance of it, the looks of it, the point ability of it when drawn, as it seems to just flow toward the target. The standard grips are pleasing to the eye, nicely checkered, and fit my hands perfectly. Plus the nice large and roughed sights that help us older types see the target better.
There is one other item I’ll mention. The Model 41 appears to be designed for extreme durability. Unusually so for a pistol designed for target shooting, and not going to war. One commenter said they’d fired 7,000 rounds, “without a failure due to the 41 not functioning correctly”. That is impressive to me for s semi auto, plus the various grades of .22 ammo that are available today.
There is no doubt that the pistol is expensive, but considering the above, and that it has also been expensive since its first appearance, I think you have to consider two things. First is, you don’t get that quality of workmanship care for nothing. Like it or not, workmanship costs.
The second thing is, if you look at how many have been made since 1958, there have been quite a few, made, about 100 thousand if I recall right. And yet for such a specialty gun, and its reputation, not many are available today for resale.
And also notice in the comments how many of those that did sell their 41, have deeply regretted doing so since.
So I’d say that the price is justified, and it has stood so against the test of time. It isn’t just a passing trend.
My only complaint about the gun is, it shoots exactly where it is aimed. When you have the shakes, it’d be nice if Smith & Wesson was to incorporate an option of one of those gyroscope things that are used to take the shakes out of large telephoto camera len’s, into the Model 41. That would be cool. (Chuckle)
Finally I have a question I have yet to find an answer to. Perhaps someone who is considerably more enlightened than I can answer it ?
When the 41 is field stripped, on the back strap of the pistols frame, and under the rear portion of the barrel below the rear sight, are heavy serrations. At first I thought they had some lockup function between the barrel and slide. But with the pistol assembled, and viewed from the side, there is a slight light gap between the two pieces. (?) So what is the purpose of the serrations ? Are they decorative, and yet not seen normally. Why not smooth metal instead if they serve no purpose ?
I want to say I just finished reading your review on the Model 41 and thoroughly enjoyed what you had to say about it. I’ve been a die hard fan of the 41 since 1979 with owning my very first one at 14 years old which was a gift from my father. I remember that gun then costing $325. To comment on the question you were asking about the serrations, I have always realized those were present on these guns but like you, I never really knew their purpose. I’m thinking it may be a two fold purpose, one being for looks, but possibly the other reason may be for heat to escape easier when the gun is fired heavily especially as the slide heats up after much firing. I don’t know, I may be wrong but was thinking that may have merit. The 41 needless to say is a very ingenious design and is still very popular to this day after more than 60 years now of production.
I recall reading your comments about your Father. Pretty cool. And I also thank you for the feed back.
I haven’t had any other comments than yours on the mystery serrations. I would think that if they are there for looks, just doesn’t seem to fit, seeing how they are mostly hidden. And yet they’ve been there, as far as I know, since the first models came out.
I hadn’t thought of the cooling aspect, but off hand it would seem that the tightness of the gap wouldn’t let much air flow through for cooling. But as you say, it could of been a rather large flat area that they figured need some machining on it, rather than being just a rather large flat blank area Craftsmen abhor blank spots. Or maybe they did it just to add a bit of mystery and speculation as what they are there for.
I noticed a comment you made earlier about the supply of 41’s suddenly increasing to someone else. Back about October or so I was paging through the gun ads and noticed a new 5″ on sale, being sold by Cabala’s Sportsman chain stores for about 650 $. I instantly jumped on it and ordered one.
Got a note back saying they were sold out. However it recommended I try the other stores. I did, same thing all over. After 3 days I called up the closest store and asked why they still had the ad up, if nobody had any ? The sales guy was kind of sympathetic, and said he’d check it out. He called back and said that as he understood it, Cabala’s had bought the remains of production run of 5″ 41’s,, and only slightly bumped the price up above cost, because they figured they were not going to move. Being such a specialized gun being sold during hunting season.
He said, that until I called about the teasing ads, the company was unaware that all the stores across the US had been sold out. He also said, it appeared that someone saw a bargain and had bought all of them up for resale.
Whether that is true or not, I don’t know. But I think the guy was being truthful, and the store chain had been blindsided. That same day the ad disappeared..
So I went back on line looking around at the various dealers. I noticed, as you did, while there were very few 41’s listed before, now there were 2 or 3 “new” 5″ 41’s for sale, between about 4 dealers, for I think between 850 and 900 $. And the new listings for the 7″ used 41’s had jumped up to between 1,100 and 1,300 $, from 900 to 1000 $ just a week or so before. Apparently those sellers thought there was a large demand for the 41’s due to Christmas, which was stimulating demand.
I finally ended up getting my Grandson a mint 7′ made in 1968 for 1600 $. Then later I got a “new” 7″ for me for 1,350 $. I may have been burnt a bit, but mine isn’t going anywhere, and I now have one. At my age, you either make up your mind on something, or forget it. Time is not on your side. So I chose a broad toothy smile.
Stay safe Kevin
It is fairly difficult to find a holster for a Model 41. As I was roaming about trying to find one on several gun blogs, I noticed 4 or 5 other owners looking for a similar holster as well.
I might add that the only choice I could find was made by Triple K Brand, who had a Model 41 holster that was designed for a 41 with a 5″ barrel. This is a slightly more common barrel length for the 41. The other barrel length is a 7″.
I ordered the 5″ holster, and crossed my fingers that I could adapt the 5″ holster to take a 7″ barrel if the bottom of the holster was not closed off. The form used in making the fit is for the 5″ barrel, yet it leaves about an inch and an eight of extra holster length to the holster. And it also allows enough give in the holster, to allow a 7″ barrel to be inserted into it. Though about 3/8ths of an inch of the barrel protrudes out the bottom of the holster,
The peak of the height of the front sight is still enclosed just inside the bottom of the holster. I was glad to see this, as it eliminated any snagging of the front sight on clothing, the holster lip, or anything else.
Also, if your lucky enough to have a 5″ and a 7″ barreled gun, you can have one holster for either barrel you have on it. The picture on the Triple K website of the Triple K Model 41 holster only shows one side view, and doesn’t show the back of the holster, or anything else for that matter. The holster is set up for a vertical draw with a high belt loop. The belt loop appears to be large enough to slip on a gun belt. In my case, I use it as a cross-draw holster, on a rather wide dress belt. It works just fine as either a side carry, or a cross draw. I might add, that the holster arrived quickly, and I was impressed by the quality and workmanship for the cost.
One other thing. 41’s are an expensive pistol, and several owners were worried on the blogs about holster wear of the really nice blueing on the gun. I appreciated the heads up.
The Triple K holster appears to have a swede liner, but due to dust, etc. it is going to get dirty no matter what, and wear the bluing. Plus the fact that the holster is designed to protect the pistol very well, and it is fairly tight. Especially down by the bottom of the barrel that I’m currently training to accept the longer 7′ barrel.
So to allow for any bluing wear, I took some electricians electrical tape that was black, and put three short pieces of the tape on either side of the barrel, from the muzzle back to the slide. And another under the barrel for the same distance back.
Much to my surprise, the tape is almost invisible. It adheres well to the barrel surface. It is smooth, and appears to slide just a tad easier across the swede than the metal to swede friction did. And it gives a little more protection to that extra 3/8ths of an inch of barrel sticking out.
True, if I had an older version of the 41 that had that beautiful bluing job on it from the past, I would think several times before putting it in a holster. Taped or not.
My newest one is a brand new 41, and though it is very nicely blued, it is not like the old days bluing job that is no longer done. And this one is also a carry gun, on the belt. So…….I hope this will help some of you find a holster that works well. While also protecting your beauty from harm.
After you bringing up the question about the serrations on the Model 41 located on both the top of the bolt slide as well as the underneath of the rear part of the barrel top strap just past the rear sight, I have been wondering about this a lot. So I decided to just call Smith & Wesson directly to ask them about this. They said these serrations are strictly the way the pistol is designed and have no functionality at all. I was glad to get that information today to settle the wonderment both you and I had about that.
Well done Kevin ! Mystery solved.
I should of known. I make knives. Have for 51 years. For 49 of those years, along the back of the blade I have put a simple design in it with a file. It is known by several names, one of which is “file art.”
It is used to fill in blank spaces you can do little else with, that does no harm, yet indicates to others that nothing was overlooked in the care taken in the craftsmanship in making this item.
Few people know about it. It also serves as my trademark. I was told this by a Master Japanese sword sharpener, Mr. Kono in Seattle.
In the making of a sword, each Master had his own cloudy design along the cutting edge of the sword. The cloudy area is produced by applying a secret clay mixture to the blade that not only protects the blade from scaling during heat treatment, but also allows the blade to form a white crystalline formation along the cutting edge of the blade, known as martensite. Martensite is a steel carbide, and gives the steel its legendary hardness and cutting ability.
It also does one other thing. Japanese swords are not forged in a curve. The curve is formed in the creation of the dense martensite along the edge. When cooled in water rapidly the crystal formation causes the steel in the cutting edge to expand.
The piano wire type of steel that is used on the sides of the swords to give its flexibility, and toughness, shrinks on cooling. Thus forming the swords curve as one type of steel, pulls against the other forming the curve.
The swords made by the Masters, may be made up of 5 different types of steel lamination’s. The center core is pure iron. Inside it backs up the cutting edge steel, and acts like a shock absorber, to prevent the fracturing of the cutting edge during high blade impacts.
These swords are protected from foreign sale by the Japanese government. Some of which are valued at well over a half a million $, or more.
So you see, here is a case of someone doing the same thing as in file art, and its intent, but in a different way. By just simply changing the effects in steel during heat treatment to improve its hardness and cutting ability. And yet at the same time, creating a personal pattern design that says to a knowing few, “I made this, and I’m proud of it.”
I should of picked up on the serrations meaning, but frankly I have never seen file art applied to a gun before. And simply wasn’t looking for it.
But apparently the company says these serrations have been applied to the Model 41 since day one, but doesn’t perform any function.
To me that says it all. The guys that designed this gun were very proud of what they had done, and were sending a message, to those knowing few, that this gun is special people !
Thanks for the head’s up Kevin; Cliff
You’re welcome Cliff and thank you for explaining file art to me. I definitely learned something new and very interesting!! Like you just explained, all this makes total sense now on the serrations on the Model 41. If I let myself, I could talk all day about the 41’s. The designing and engineering that went into the creation of the Model 41 is nothing short of pure amazement throughout!!!
Thank you again Cliff,
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