REVIEW: Testing the 30-Round Smith & Wesson M&P22 Magnum

The Smith & Wesson (S&W) M&P22 Magnum handgun makes for an interesting topic. Why did S&W introduce a 30+1-round capacity 22 Magnum (.22 WMR) polymer, semi-automatic handgun into the market? Is it for personal defense, a trail/kit gun, target shooting, or dare we say just for fun? The S&W M&P22 Mag seems counter-intuitive, especially when compared against other semi-automatic rimfire pistol “understudy” types.

S&W M&P22 Magnum

Most of these are chambered in 22 LR and modeled after a centerfire “big brother.” The “understudy” 22 LR handguns offer similar feel and balance while being chambered in 22 LR versus 9mm, 40 S&W, 45 ACP, etc. These types of 22 LR handguns are ever increasing in popularity. This is based on facilitating more economical practice/training and making sure the fundamentals of trigger control, sight alignment, grip, and all the other marksmanship tenants are followed without the interference of muzzle blast and recoil; all the while maintaining similar feel and operating controls of their full power “big brothers.”

The S&W M&P22 Mag does not pose as an understudy in that controls, grip angle, chambering and other intangibles of feel do not really mimic any other handgun out there. Do not take this to mean it has no value as an introductory handgun. While the M&P22 Mag’s muzzle blast will surprise with a signature more typical of a centerfire cartridge, recoil is minimal though and thus manageable by all shooters. Though popular as a manually operated rifle and revolver round, few manufactures attempt to build a semi-auto rifle or handgun in 22 WMR. This stems from various reasons including 22 WMR cartridge length standards, case rim specifications, and variations in pressure levels of different brands of 22 WMR ammunition. Smith & Wesson decided to tackle these issues in creating the M&P22 Mag.

The S&W M&P22 Magnum defies easy categorization. It rejects being labeled as an “under study.” The S&W M&P22 Mag easily separates itself from the competition with its 22 WMR chambering and ultra-high capacity. Each of which provided S&W engineers a chance to shine in problem solving. Additional M&P22 Mag features in terms of design and construction further adds credence to its uniqueness.

Smith &Amp; Wesson 22 Mag

Innovation

S&W designers had to pay special attention to magazine design and operating system with the M&P22 Mag. Afterall, what good is 30 rounds of firepower if not capable of being sent downrange when needed. The M&P22 Mag’s magazine can be described as pie shape with the tapered end toward the bullet. S&W’s manual describes proper loading procedures to help in reliable operation.

The requirements are not onerous. The rimmed case inserts into a segment of the magazine lips before pushing to the rear of the magazine. After loading five rounds or so, tap the magazine on a solid surface such as a palm, leg or table. This helps seat the rims into the magazine without getting out of orientation sequence. The rim of the .22 Mag round sitting on top of its neighbor within the magazine belongs in the front. The magazine loading method is straightforward and does not take any more time to complete than random jamming of rounds into a magazine. Indeed, it makes one wonder how people load magazines in any different fashion.

S&W TEMPO

One of the potential issues with 22 WMR semi-automatic pistols is the wide range of pressures generated by factory ammunition. The S&W TEMPO operating system addresses this with its combination recoil/gas assist nature. It allows the S&W M&P22 Mag to reliably fire a wide variety of ammunition.

The S&W TEMPO design is a gas-operated, locked-breech operating system. The S&W TEMPO system was initially unveiled with the S&W M&P 5.7 pistol. The TEMPO system is more of a hybrid recoil gas assist design. A gas port near the muzzle funnels gas rearward between barrel and surrounding shroud/sleeve. The barrel is surrounded by a shroud. A gas port vents gas into the shroud to interact with the barrel. The S&W22 Mag’s barrel has six radial piston rings (three slim ones out by the muzzle and thicker ones towards the breech) that regulate gas flow. After initial backward movement of slide, the siphoned-off gas via port finishes barrel movement rearward, causing it to encounter lug in frame, unlocking barrel from the shroud and slide to finish recoil process.

S&Amp;W M&Amp;P22 Magnum In 22 Wmr

Details

The S&W M&P22 Mag is a semi-automatic, internal hammer-fired pistol. It sports a 4.3-inch barrel. Overall length is 8.4-inches, and the height is 5.9 inches. The empty weight is only 22 ounces. A loaded magazine weighs a mere six ounces. This means that a fully loaded PMR-30 magazine weighs less than 2 pounds. S&W has installed green fiber-optic front and fixed rear sights onto the pistol.

M&P22 Mag controls are minimal—flat trigger, ambidextrous safety, and slide lock levers. The dust cover features an integrated Picatinny-style rail for attaching lights or other accessories an end user might desire. In front of the rear sight, one will find two screws indicating that S&W has tapped and threaded the slide to accommodate one of the many miniature red dot sights utilizing the Shield RMSc footprint. Each pistol ships with two magazines and a padded, plastic case. As expected, the magazines are constructed of high-strength polymer similar to the M&P22 Mag’s frame.

A Better Way To Connect

A ZeroTech Thrive HD Red Dot Micro Reflex was mounted on the M&P22 Mag and used for the majority of evaluation. Weighing only 6 ounces, the ZeroTech Thrive HD Micro Reflex features advanced shake awake technology. The Thrive HD projects a 3 MOA dot with ten adjustable levels while offering up to 150,000 hours of run time with a CR2032 battery. Zero Tech has designed the Thrive HD to be recoil, fog, and waterproof.

The ZeroTech Thrive HD/S&W M&P22 Mag combo performed better than expected. The natural point ability of the M&P22 Mag comes into its own in this realm with the ZeroTech Thrive HD doing its part as well. The Thrive HD’s rectangular lens offers a superior field of view compared to other red dot options. The minimal frame of the Thrive HD “disappears” when focusing on the target with the red dot. The dot is crisp with no halos or disfiguration. The red dot was “there” and seamlessly located at first draw.

This is a compliment to S&W choosing a direct mount method versus plates, allowing the ZeroTech to sit as low as possible on the slide. The M&P22 Mag’s already low bore axis is further enhanced with subtle beavertail and undercut trigger guard, allowing for a very stable sight picture no matter how many or how rapid rounds are fired.

Shooting The S&Amp;W M&Amp;P22 Mag.

Time To Make Noise

The S&W M&P22 Mag was tested with a myriad of ammunition from Hornady, Winchester, Speer and Federal, such as Hornady 30-gain V Max, 45-gain Critical Defense, Federal 45-grain PUNCH, 40-grain JHP & FMJ, Speer 40-grain GDHP-SB and Winchester FMJ & 45-grain PDX 1 Defender JHP. S&W provides recommendations for ammunition to be used in the M&P22 Mag based on their own testing. Range time exhibited all positives in terms of performance and reliability. The trigger pull was a pleasant surprise in terms of minimal creep and weight required to initiate cartridge ignition. An RCBS gauge averaged just over 4 pounds after multiple pull tests.

With a 30-round magazine it did not take long to send large quantities of rounds downrange with many willing volunteers stuffing magazines and running the M&P22 Mag’s trigger. With over 400 rounds fired there were a handful of malfunctions. Most of these were traceable to a volunteer not holding the M&P22 Mag firmly and high up on the grip.

Another anecdote is the surprisingly loud blast that the M&P22 Mag emits. Ear pro should definitely not be ignored. This is based on the 22 WMR being primarily chambered in rifle length barrels, and thus the use of slower-burning powders do not get consumed in the 4.3-inch barrel. This made firing the M&P22 Mag more like firing a centerfire defensive handgun minus the associated recoil. Plate racks and other targets strewn around Echo Valley Training Center (EVTC) were engaged repeatedly, as were more traditional paper targets in an effort to get the full sense of the M&P22 Mag’s capabilities.

Accuracy Results

Accuracy with the rimfire S&W M&P22 Mag was more than acceptable and probably superior to what most users are capable of when being fired from any non-bench position which is its raison d’etre to begin with. It was no problem keeping rounds in the “A” zone of the IPSC targets back to 25 yards thanks to the Zero Tech Thrive HD red dot. It’s very possible further out as well, as long as users pay heed to sight alignment and trigger control, resisting the temptation to blast rounds downrange, knowing 30 22 WMR rounds were sitting in the magazine awaiting release. Recoil is minimal though and thus manageable by all shooters.

The 22 Mag chambering will instantly give it a black mark in terms of terminal ballistic performance. I offer a counterintuitive thought—perhaps the 22 Mag is an asset in such a lightweight package with so much firepower on board. Let me finish before snorting and turning the page.

The S&Amp;W22 Mag Holds 30 Rounds.

Make it a Magnum

Compact pistol sales outpace full-size handguns and rifles many times over. Manufacturers have answered the call by placing 380 ACP and even 9mm cartridges into platforms previously reserved for 22 LR, 25 Auto, or 32 ACP chamberings. The wave of new shooters is more than welcome; however, this is a recipe for a poor initial experience when combining such small weapons with stouter recoiling cartridges. Handy to carry does not translate into comfortable to fire. A pistol chambered in 22 Mag may be a more appropriate option for certain sections of the gun-buying public.

Increased 22 Mag ammunition performance (not an oxymoron) in the ’80s was a major reason why 25 ACP chamberings in pocket pistols fell off. It was a surprise to find the number of 22 Mag loads directed towards the personal defense realm. Hornady and Winchester offer prime examples of this in the form of Hornady’s 45-grain Critical Defense and Winchester’s 45-gain PDX 1 loads. Speer and Federal weighs in with 40-grain GDHP-SB and 45-grain PUNCH loads for the 22 Mag. The M&P22 Mag measured loads via an RCBS Chronograph in the 1125-1250 fps range depending on bullet weights being fired.

Multipurpose Capable

As brought up at the beginning of the article, is the S&W M&P22 Mag a candidate for personal defense, a trail/kit gun, target shooting, or dare we say just for fun? Each user will have to decide what roles the M&P22 Mag will fill in their collection. It can be stated that the S&W M&P22 Mag’s high capacity in a surprisingly lightweight package is extremely attractive in whatever role it is destined for. Overall, the M&P22 Mag is a valid tool offering real world application.

Close Up Of S&Amp;W22 Mag In 22 Wmr.

Smith & Wesson M&P 22 Mag Specs

    • Caliber: 22 WMR
    • Magazine: 2, 30-round magazines
    • Barrel Length: 4.35 inches
    • Overall Length: 8.4 inches
    • Sights: Fiber-Optic Front/Zero Tech Thrive HD red dot
    • Height: 5.9 inches
    • Width: 1.13 inches
    • Weight Empty: 22 ounces
    • MSRP: $649

S&W M&P 22 Mag Performance

LoadVelocityAccuracy
Federal 45-grain Punch1,1301.5
Hornady 30-grain V-Max1,2341.66
Hornady 45-grain FTX1,0781.25
Speer 40-grain GDHP-SB1,1902
Winchester 30-grain Varmint HV1,2671.33

Average group size measured at 25 yards; velocity measured in fps.

On July 11, 2023, Ballistic reported:

The .22 Magnum is suddenly en vogue once again! Smith & Wesson just announced the launch of the S&W M&P22 Magnum, chambered in the wonderful little 22 WMR. The new variant on the popular M&P platform delivers tremendous capacity in a field-worthy and defensive combo.

S&W M&P22 Magnum Details

Sister company Walther really hit a home run with its debut of the Walther WMP. Now S&W doubles down on the concept, bringing another modern, polymer-framed, striker-fired semi-auto chambered in the magnum rimfire cartridge.

“The M&P22 MAGNUM combines the best features of our internal hammer fire control system with the patented TEMPO barrel design, creating a smooth operating experience for the shooter. The 22 WMR is a versatile and field-savvy cartridge that has been a legacy among American shooters, hunters, and trappers for decades. Smith & Wesson is proud to offer a new pistol that further supports the use of this cartridge outdoors or on the range,” said John Myles, Senior Manager of New Products.

S&Amp;W M&Amp;P22 Magnum In 22 Wmr

First off, the M&P22 Magnum–if you still live in free America–30-round magazines! The internal hammer-fired, gas-operated, locked-breech system incorporates a TEMPO barrel system. The breech stays locked until enough gas exits a port up front, keeping shooters more consistent, according to S&W. The pistol wears a fiber-optic, green front sight, paired with a black, notched rear. But the optics-ready platform also accepts most popular red dot optics.

The slim polymer frame exhibits a textured grip. An ambidextrous slide stop and manual thumb safety comprise the controls. The full-size pistol utilizes a 4.35-inch stainless steel barrel with Armornite finish. A flat-face trigger, Picatinny-style rails and a black finish round out this next iteration of the M&P family of semi-autos.

The S&W M&P22 Magnum retails for $649. For even more info, visit smith-wesson.com.

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S&W M&P22 Magnum Features & Specs

    • Caliber: 22 WMR
    • Overall Width: 1.13 inches
    • Overall Length: 8.4 inches
    • Height: 5.9 inches
    • Size: Full
    • Overall Capacity: 30
    • Action: Internal Hammer Fired
    • Barrel Length: 4.35 inches
    • Grip: Polymer
    • Sights: Fiber-Optic
    • Optics-Ready: Yes
    • Safety: Thumb Safety
    • Color/Finish: Black
    • Threaded Barrel: No
    • Frame: Polymer
    • Laser: No
    • Performance Center: No
    • Number of Magazines: 2
    • Barrel Material: Stainless Steel
    • MSRP: $649

Editor’s Take:

We watched closely as the Walther WMP really seemed to take off, and with good reason. It comprised a well-executed rendering of a modern, polymer semi-auto chambered in 22 WMR. So it only makes sense S&W would follow up with an introduction of a similar concept to the M&P line. At first glance, this one looks like a winner as well. But as always, stay tuned for our upcoming field tests and follow-up coverage!

Wherever you are in the world, we have you covered.

ZeroTech. Be Confident.

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