The SW22 Victory: A Project Squirrel Pistol (Part 1)

Back when I was working on Project Squirrel Gun, I was playing with the small game hunting concept, which unfortunately is the likely best case scenario if things go dark big time. So why not a Project Squirrel Pistol?

2_Smith_and_Wesson_SW22_Victory_Tandemkross-magazine_release_Victory_triggerRather than trying to find an inexpensive bolt action pistol to match the rifle, I decided to look for a semi-auto solution since a quality long-range shooting .22 revolver is as elusive as it is expensive. So once in the .22 long rifle auto pistol market, I only had about two dozen guns to choose from. But when looking for a real long distance tack driver over a concealed carry format along with some desired characteristics included a target weight barrel, a threaded muzzle, optics mountable, and a friendly aftermarket community, the selection rapidly narrowed to Ruger, Browning, and Smith and Wesson. Of the three brands, the S&W was the least expensive with street prices beginning at $350 and it had a fast-growing pile of aftermarket upgrades of both pistol parts, barrels, mag enhancements, and grips. Although the Victory was only a couple years old, and I’d never even shot one, the collection of companies supporting the Victory was enough to convince me that this thing was really a Thing.

The Road to Victory

The Ruger is an excellent choice and one I chose for my B.O.L.T pistol. And with the new easy-takedown Ruger Mark IV, it’s hard to ignore that as the go-to option. The problem is that the Ruger is still expensive, still without a threaded barrel, still without a healthy appetite for anything stuffed in it’s mouth, and finally, while running well when dirty, the Mark series of Ruger .22s are not known for being the most friendly when digging deeper than cracking open the case.

Check Out: B.O.L.T Pistol

The Browning Buckmark is a fine firearm, but lacks heavily in the aftermarket arena. If the pistol were perfect, than that would not be an issue, but like about everything except the Colt Python, is there definitely room for improvement. Bolt-on options are available for the Buckmark, but tweaking the innards is still left for the professional gunsmith.

3_Smith_and_Wesson_SW22_Victory_Magpul_DAKA_carry_OptionOne standout that is relatively new to the Ruger/Luger looking autopistol is the SW22 Victory from Smith and Wesson. Currently there are three versions. All have in common a heavy steel receiver and five-and-a-half inch target bull barrel, plastic grips on a mostly plastic grip frame. The only real differences between the three models is one has a Kryptek and blacked-out color scheme, and the other two are mostly satin stainless steel, one with a threaded muzzle, one without. So if you were blindfolded, all three would feel and operate the same.

With all the excitement about the new Ruger Mark IV with it’s one-button takedown, the one-screw takedown of the SW22 Victory seems mundane. An excessive amount of work in fact. But either way, the SW22 Victory almost falls apart once the single receiver bolt is removed using a ⅛ inch hex wrench. Unscrew one more hex bolt next door and you can remove the barrel from the receiver. So simple and quick that the SW22 Victory is just asking to be tinkered with.

Can’t Leave Well Enough Alone

5_Smith_and_Wesson_SW22_Victory_TandemKross_magazine_disconnect_leverThe S&W Victory is plenty good straight out of the box. But like a base model AR15, the Victory is begging for customization. Smith and Wesson loaded up the Victory with an excellent trigger action, a target barrel, and fabulous fiber optic hard sights. But the grips, the mag release button, the magazine disconnect safety feature, and a few other things are ripe for upgrade. Some more seriously than others. And even the barrel has not escaped the option to upgrade. In fact, the ease of swapping the barrel and even some other components makes one wonder if this is what the boys at S&W had in mind from the beginning since the gun is rock solid from a foundational standpoint. So let’s get to work.

Ours go to 11

1_Smith_and_Wesson_SW22_Victory_TandemKross_Magazine_pouchStarting on the magazine side, there are two mag upgrades worth noting. The first is a new baseplate. Why, you might ask. Because the tiny base plate on the factory magazines is small, smooth, and not the most talkative when it comes to answering the question if it is fully seated or not. The TandemKross VictoryPro extended baseplate. adds a little more bulk and a gripping surface, the VictoryPro makes seating and unseating mags ever more positive.

The factory mag only holds the standard state compliant 10 rounds, but an 11th round option is available with a shorter follower. TandemKross makes one of those too and it’s called the Maximus Plus1. By shortening up the follower an eleventh round fits in the magazine body just fine. Plus they made the follower bright red instead of basic black so it is vastly more obvious where the bullets stop and the follower begins.

Supporting magazines during activity involves roll pouches of some sort. TandemKross makes a modular mag pouch option called the Quick Grip pouch. Made of durable Zytel, and with adjustable retention the Quick Grips work with all major .22 mag options from Ruger to Browning to Smith and Wesson, and even Colt. So since a Squirrel Pistol is going to live in the field, magazine management is of consideration.

Get Schooled

These upgrades are so easy, a nine-year old girl could do them. And that’s because a nine-year old girl shows you how in the TandemKross installation The Answer Water Bottle Filtration Solution 300x250videos. And that same fourth grade girl probably has a faster tactical reload than you do. In fact the video of the install of TandemKross’s Titan Extended Magazine Release for the SW22 is a pleasure to watch and far more entertaining than most other dry monotone gunsmithing videos. Speaking of the Extended mag release, it is another go-to part. The factory release is both too big and too small. It’s too big for not having a secondary use as a rest, and too small to easily be reached by a smaller hand, say that of a nine-year old girl.

Disconnected

Another pistol-side upgrade regarding magazines is the magazine disconnect safety feature. This is a metal strip that runs underneath the left side grip panel. It detects the presence of a mag and prevents the gun from being fired without a magazine fully seated. The problem in a survival situation is that you may want to shoot the gun without a magazine in place. For instance if you lost your mags somehow and you loaded a directly into the breech. Or the magazine inadvertently was ejected in the heat of the battle or the hunt. You could push up on the magazine disconnect lever with your fingernail and the gun will fire just fine, but that’s pretty awkward. Or you could remove the disconnect lever all together, but then you also loose the spring that launches the mag out of the Victory with more satisfaction than most pistols offer. So a better solution is the TandemKross Magazine Disconnect replacement. This thin metal strip replaces the factor disconnect keeping the spring action intact, but eliminates the need for a mag to be present in order to fire the weapon.

He Bit Me

1_Smith_and_Wesson_SW22_Victory_Trigger_magazine_eject_buttonPulling the slide back on the Victory can be a challenge. First of all, it takes a surprising amount of effort to begin the cycle. Second, if you don’t slingshot the bolt, you may get a bit of a bite from where the slide mates with the frame. Only a small triangular portion of the back of the receiver moves. More than a Ruger, but less than a Browning. And that little amount is enough to pinch your fingers if you let the slide down rather than just letting go of it. TandemKross addressed this with their Halo Charging Handle. The Halo is a thumb-sized loop that clamps to the existing jimping on the slide’s walls. Not only does the Halo make it easy to cycle the bolt, but it gives you additional options for grabbing and charging the pistol under conditions where it might be impossible otherwise such as, one handed, cold hands, wet or slick fingers, and weak muscles. Surprisingly, a full cycle of the Victory’s bolt actually takes quite a bit of effort. Yes, it is just a .22 but something about the leverage cocking hammer back requires a surprising amount of effort. A few times I’ve even thought something was jammed, but no, just in need of a healthy tug.

Related: The Ruger Alaskan

The SW22 Victory is known for having an excellent out-of-the-box trigger. Unlike most other sub-custom .22 auto pistols, the Victory has smooth take up, a clean break, and acceptable overtravel and reset. However the trigger shoe is old school and a little sloppy side to side. The Victory Trigger from TandemKross is an excellent upgrade providing a heavily textured flat face and micro adjustments allowing a drop in pull poundage, reduced and adjustable takeup and overtravel, and a second color option. While installing the Victory trigger requires a bit more surgery than the other upgraded parts, it is also a great time to learn how your gun works. And don’t worry, TandemKross also sells an extra trigger-side spring and detent kit for three bucks for when your factory one goes flying across the room. TandemKross does suggest, however, doing some of the gun work inside a plastic bag or box, and always wear safety glasses. I concur.

Same Bat Channel

In part 2 of this themed build, we will take the Victory outside with a choice of optics, carry options, and things to screw onto the muzzle.

Epic Smart Shield ad - self reliance with product with frame - 600x200SaveSave

Save

Save



Doc Montana
Written by Doc Montana

Doc honed his survival skills through professional courses, training, and plenty of real-world situations, both intentional and not. Doc lives to mountaineer, rock climb, trail run, hunt, race mountain bikes, ski, hunt, and fish. Doc Montana holds PhD’s in both Science Education and Computer Science and currently teaches at a University in the northern United States. Read his full interview here. Read more of Doc's articles.

4 thoughts on “The SW22 Victory: A Project Squirrel Pistol (Part 1)”

  1. I love the Smith & Wesson 22 not as much as Ruger but as you stated it is very good accurate fits the hand great good pointability. etc. as for one other mentioned I would NOT have one as the pins walk and ——– rear sight fell off and a few other really annoying things that precludes it as a SHTF piece of equipment

    Reply
  2. Hi JCMS

    Thanks for the read and comments.

    Got some Rugers and now the Smith. Both are tack drivers and very similar.

    No sure how the pins could walk. All pins are secured under the grips. The barrel screw however, that is a whole different can of worms. When the SW22 first came out, there were a handful of highly publicized reports where the barrel came loose and even fell off the gun frame. Frankly, it is a testament of the operation of the SW22 that it can continue to fire until it comes apart. But in the end, most shooters never had a problem, and those that did quickly cured it with either some locktite or an O-ring on the barrel bolt to keep it from loosening. But I won't argue that it is something to keep an eye on.

    Stay tuned for part two…

    Reply
  3. pins that walked were not any smith I ever had, the BRAND you also mentioned it had a fully adjustable sight and the main pin walked and popped up just enough before it would have fallen off just caught it and I had to use a punch to set it back, it seemed tight but after firing it it started to walk again ! so I traded it off for a Ruger and never looked back. some time later a repair came in and it was a Browning missing a part you guess which one.

    I love the Smith model 22A one item I was thoughtful of was the dismantle screw on this victory model I thought it should have been a trapped screw by use of a C clip or pin so it could never be lost but depending on it's thread design it may be very secure I have not fired one extensively and have a knack for finding flaws as I do torture test everything I own if there is a issue I like to know and address it.

    I love 22 shorts & long rifle shells in accommodating arms it was not uncommon for me to burn up a couple of bricks in a session back in the day and that is where I found that copper plated beat the hell out of lead outside lubed bullets and CCI was head and shoulders above all other brands IMO. I settled on 40 grain copper plated High Velocity their packaging is and has been the best to protect then nose from damage others have adopted it, I have had maybe one in a thousand failure to fire and that could well have been a cleaning issue as I stated I shot hundreds in a setting up and to a couple hundred yards with pistol and rifle.

    Smith & Wesson as far as I know has not made a bad 22LR pistol or revolver and if a person uses the SAME BRAND AMMO, BULLET WEIGHT AND VELOCITY etc it will probably be more accurate than the shooter.
    Anyone that has used a laser can see that a minute change of the hand finger position on the trigger or anticipatory flinch the laser is all over the place. One bad habit if not overcome will become a natural occurrence and prevent quick and accurate shooting. one is poking the pistol out like they have a bayonet on the end going to stick someone and other nervous ticks

    Reply

Leave a Comment