Connecticut-based Standard Manufacturing made something of a splash with the announcement of their S333 Thunderstruck revolver. The pocket-size wheel gun packs eight rounds of .22 WMR ammunition and fires two round with each pull of the trigger. If you think that’s unusual, maybe you missed the introduction of their S333 Volleyfire six-round .25 ACP pepperbox a couple of years ago.
Wait…two guns with the same S333 name? What gives?
First off, the Volleyfire didn’t really catch on and is no longer in production. But Standard stuck with the S333 name because it describes the intended use case of this guns…i.e. personal defense.
Standard apparently subscribes to the old maxim that 90% of defensive gun uses involve no more than three shots within three seconds at no more than three yards. Given the S333 eight-round capacity, that leaves you two more rounds still in the chamber(s).
So if you’re wondering why a company would make a revolver that fires two rounds with each trigger pull, Standard sells the S333 Thunderstruck on its ability to send eight rounds at your target with only four pulls of the trigger.
As for the Thunderstruck moniker, maybe they’re AC/DC fans.
The S333 double action only revolver has enclosed hammers within an aluminum frame. The 4140 steel cylinder releases with a push of the button on the left side of the frame.
The S333 features non-adjustable 3-dot sights that are painted red. I prefer white or dayglo yellow, but that’s me. And at the distances you’re likely to use the Thunderstruck, the sights probably won’t make much difference.
The S333 Thunderstruck’s Unique Trigger
Besides the fact that the S333 launches two rounds of .22 magnum at a time, the other feature that stands out is the gun’s trigger. The S333 has a two-finger trigger shoe with a blade-style trigger safety on the top finger position.
You’ve probably also noticed that the pistol has an unusual trigger guard, one that doesn’t fully enclose the trigger. That may make you nervous about the trigger catching on something and unintentionally touching off a couple of rounds.
As Standard Mfg describes their trigger design . . .
The S333 is the safest self-protection firearm available due to its blade style safety on the trigger, which must be depressed before the trigger can be pulled. The travel of the trigger then actuates a transfer bar, which will only then allow the gun to fire. This will only occur with a complete pull of the trigger; no other revolver on the market has this type of safe and reliable system.
All of that is true. What they don’t mention, however, is that the S333 also has an extremely heavy trigger pull.
Those two finger indentations aren’t there for fun. While it’s theoretically possible to fire the gun using only one finger on the top trigger position (which would depress the blade safety), in practice, it isn’t possible. Try as I might, I don’t have the finger strength to pull the S333 trigger with only my index finger. Jeremy, who also shot the gun, is fully capable of firing it with only one finger, but just barely. And he makes funny faces and some wounded moose noises while doing it.
The S333 double action revolver’s trigger pull weight, according to Jeremy’s scale, is….23 pounds. You read that right. And that’s with the safety blade disengaged but all of the pull happening only on the bottom portion of the trigger — the part with the most leverage.
Hold on, though. While that sounds ridiculous, it works in practice. When using two fingers, the added leverage the second finger (your middle digit) provides is plenty to fully pull the trigger. With two digits it feels like a “conventionally” heavy 10-15 pounds of pull. Stout, but very doable.
In short, despite the open trigger guard, it’s virtually impossible to fire the S333 unintentionally. One finger on top just won’t do it. Pulling from just the bottom position doesn’t release the safety. You have to use both fingers and want to fire the gun.
OK, but how does the trigger pull feel?
First and foremost, it’s long. And mushy. The S333 won’t win any awards for its trigger. But feel wasn’t Standard’s first priority in its trigger design. They wanted to make sure it was both safe and reliable.
In terms of safety, while the partial trigger guard may give some the willies, I don’t see how the S333 can possibly fire unintentionally (famous last words, I know).
As for reliability, the Thunderstruck went bang every time with each full pull of the trigger. That’s no mean feat when you’re dealing with rimfire ammunition. We shot it with ammo from Armscor, CCI and Hornady and didn’t have a single failure.
As for follow-up shots, like getting to Carnegie Hall, you’ll want to practice, practice, practice. As I said, the S333 has a long trigger pull and you’ll have to release that double action trigger completely to reset it.
When first shooting the gun, I found myself short-stroking it…pulling the trigger for a follow-up shot before the revolver had been reset. That’s something I worked my way out of with practice. But in a tense, adrenaline-fueled situation, I can see a defender possibly doing the same thing. It’s something to keep in mind.
Shooting the S333
How accurate is this thing? Well . . .
At first, only OK. But like the trigger, the S333’s accuracy gets easier with repetition.
Our review sample shot high…four to six inches at 15 feet. That’s consistent with other reports I’ve read of the gun around the intertubes. Recoil isn’t bad at all….about what you’d expect shooting a .38 snubbie.
The heavy trigger pull, as you can see above, led me to pull my shots right at first. They’re still well within minute of bad guy, but . . .
Once you shoot the S333 more and make friends with that trigger, the little revolver becomes plenty accurate enough for personal protection purposes. And let’s face it, the Thunderstruck is intended as a personal defense weapon. You’re not likely to use it for anything beyond five yards.
Which brings us to the question of caliber. The keyboard commandos among TTAG’s commentariat are already limbering up their fingers to decry .22 WMR as wholly inadequate for personal defense purposes. That said, being hit with a .22 WMR is nothing to sneeze at and being hit with two of them at a time is even more attention-getting.
To be clear, you can carry other handguns (revolvers and semi-automatic pistols) that shoot .380 ACP, .38 Special, 9mm or .357 Magnum in the same size as the S333. Most of those guns won’t, of course, hold eight rounds or shoot two of them with each trigger pull. Most of them will also be heavier and produce more recoil.
Whether the firepower advantages of sending eight rounds with four pulls fo the trigger is enough to outweigh other options on the market is up to the individual shooter. I’d certainly suggest shooting the gun before you buy one if possible.
There’s one more topic that’s been brought up about the S333 Thunderstruck (and the Volleyfire before it). That’s the gun’s legality. Some think that because it fires more than one round with each pull of the trigger, the S333 qualifies as a machine gun.
Standard Manufacturing has submitted the S333 to the ATF which has given the gun its blessing. I’m not an attorney and I don’t play one on TV, so I won’t try to deconstruct the ATF’s decision. If the S333 passes their test — and it has — that’s legal enough for me.
Specifications: Standard Manufacturing S333 Thunderstruck Revolver
Caliber: .22 WMR
Capacity: 8 rounds
Barrel material: 4140 steel
Cylinder material: 4140 steel
Frame material: 7075 aluminum
Action: Double-action only
Barrel length: 1.25 inches
Weight: 18 oz
MSRP: $429 (about $370 retail)
Ratings (out of five stars):
Fit and Finish: * * * *
The Thunderstruck is nicely constructed with an aluminum frame with steel cylinder and barrel. All parts were nicely finished. Our review gun wasn’t new and it seems to have held up well to a number of rounds fired. The non-adjustable sights are what they are (I’d paint the sights a different color if it were mine).
Ergonomics: * * *
With its comfortable overmolded polymer grip the S333 is comfortable in the hand. The trigger pull is heavy and the reset takes some getting used to.
Reliability: * * * * *
Perfect, which is saying something for a rimfire revolver that has as much going on as the S333.
Accuracy: * *
The gun shoots high. Not high enough at personal defense distances to be a problem, but high nonetheless. And accuracy is definitely affected by that heavy trigger pull, though that gets better with repetition.
Concealability * * * * *
The Thunderstruck’s small size and fairly light weight it a good concealed carry option. Compare it to a similarly-sized Smith & Wesson 642 which is exceptionally concealable, both on the waist or in the pocket (Standard Manufacturing offers a number of holsters for the gun).
Overall: * * *
The Thunderstruck does what it’s advertised to do. It puts eight rounds on target with four pulls of the trigger at self-defense distances and does it very reliably. As for the effectiveness of two .22 WMR rounds at a time, I have to believe that would deter most attackers. While the S333 certainly conceals well, the fact that the gun shoots consistently high with a heavy trigger means you’ll want to put in plenty of range time with it, something that should be a consideration when buying.