Smith & Wesson’s Low-Recoil M&P 22: The Best Caliber Target Pistol?

Smith & Wesson’s Low-Recoil M&P 22: The Best Caliber Target Pistol?

Kyle Mizokami


The 22 Compact stands out on its own.

Key point: A reliable .22 firearm.

One of the most useful things to have in firearms training is a handgun with the look and feel of a full-sized pistol while chambered for the low recoil .22 caliber round. The Smith & Wesson M&P 22 Compact pistol is nearly identical to a full-sized M&P Compact but significantly lighter and easier to shoot. The 22 Compact also stands on its own as a pistol for camping, target shooting, and even home defense.

Introduced in 2005, Smith & Wesson’s “Military & Police’ line of handguns was an evolution of the company’s Sigma (also known as SD) line of pistols. The SD was the company’s first polymer-framed, high capacity autoloader in the same category as the Glock 17. The Glock, which proved immensely popular in the United States in the mid-1980s, took the American market by storm and caught many U.S.-based gunmakers—Smith & Wesson included—totally off guard.

The eventual success of the M&P spawned spinoffs in many calibers, including versions in 9 millimeter Luger, .40 Smith & Wesson, and .45 ACP. The 22 Compact externally copies the look of its larger caliber brethren but internally is different. Unlike larger M&P pistols that utilize a striker-fired operating system, it uses the energy generated from burning propellant to cycle the weapon. This makes the 22 Compact similar to such famous .22LR plinkers as the Browning Buck Mark and Ruger Mark IV.

The M&P 22 Compact is 87.5 percent the size of the M&P Compact. The use of a smaller caliber round allowed Smith & Wesson to machine the slide out of aluminum instead of heavier, stronger stainless steel. The frame is made of polymer, further reducing weight. As a result, the 22 Compact weighs just 15.3 ounces and a full ten ounces less than the larger pistol. It is a pistol that will fit comfortably in the pocket of a jacket or pair of jeans with a minimum of noticeable sag.

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