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S&W .22 Victory Target Model

Precise And Nicely Priced!
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Variety is the spice: The Victory Target was tested with a variety of standard and high-velocity loads.

Every new shooter, whether using rifle, sixgun, or semi-auto pistol should start with a .22. The reasons are obvious and all of them promote practice — little recoil, low noise level and relatively inexpensive ammo.

One of the finest .22 target pistols ever offered is the Smith & Wesson Model 41. It’s for serious target shooters and — due to its price — won’t appeal to everyone. But several years ago S&W offered a very reasonably priced Victory Model and now we have the Victory Target Model priced at only $429 and probably available at local gun shops for under $400.

The Victory Target features target sights consisting of a fully adjustable black rear matched up with a ramped, black post front. The target trigger has an adjustable trigger stop. The Victory also features a match-grade, 5.5" stainless bull barrel, stainless steel slide and frame, a polished feed ramp and beveled magazine well. It comes with two 10-round magazines with a button on the side to depress the magazine spring for easy loading. Weight unloaded is 36 oz. I find the Victory Target balances perfectly in my hands.

A Picatinny-style rail is included for scope mounting. To install it, remove the front screw on the rear sight assembly to allow the entire assembly to slide off and be replaced with the rail, rings and scope.

The cocking piece at the rear of the slide has serrations to help manipulate the slide, which does not stay open on the last shot. I prefer all semi-auto pistols of any caliber to have the lock-open feature on the last shot. This lack is the only negative thing I can find with the Victory Target Model.

The pistol comes with two sets of polymer grips — one set with a thumb-rest on the left panel, one set with a thumb-rest on the right. This allows you several options. Mine was to use both panels without any thumb-rest whatsoever. Grips are highly subjective and the two plain panels feel best to me. I also like the overall texture of the grips — and the somewhat round-bottomed backstrap. Both the front and rear backstrap are checkered and match up with the grip panels giving a very secure feeling while shooting.

Iron sights at 15 yards: The Victory Target’s propensity for Winchester ammo is shown here.

John’s insistence on a wide array of test ammo really does pay off!

An Extensive Ammo Menu

Shooters often buy a new .22 along with one box of ammunition — or at least just one brand — of ammunition and are then disappointed to find their new acquisition doesn’t perform as well as expected.

I’ve always figured it takes at least 10 different types of .22LR ammo to find out exactly what a gun prefers. With the Victory Target I enlisted 20 different types of ammo from six different manufacturers. The only malfunctions that occurred can be traced to ammunition — CCI’s Quiet .22 didn’t have enough energy to work the slide.

But the more I shot, the better the Victory Target performed. In fact my shooting partner Denis claimed the more we shot, the closer the Victory Target got to the performance level of his cherished Model 41!

One of the first loads we tried was the Federal Champion HP, which clocked out at 1,065 fps. When the gun had less than 50 rounds through it, this particular load grouped just under 2" for nine shots at 15 yards. But after I’d run 200 more rounds through the barrel, the same load grouped in 1". Some pistols just need some break-in time.

John ultimately put a 4X scope on his Victory Target Model. Installation is easy
with the supplied Picatinny rail.


The two most accurate loads I found were the Remington Thunderbolt and Winchester’s T22 Target with both giving 3/4" groups. Other loads in the 1" neighborhood included CCI Standard Velocity (925 fps), Winchester 333 HP bulk pack, (1,030 fps), Winchester Power Point HP (1,085 fps), Winchester Wildcat HP (1,120 fps) and Remington Golden Bullet (1,085 fps).

Formal bull’s-eye target shooting is no longer anywhere near as popular as it was when I was a kid, however, plinking, varmint and small game shooting, and rimfire silhouette are all extremely popular. And for these purposes, the Victory Target would be as good a choice as it would be for punching paper.

The Victory Target Model is a welcome addition to my accumulation of .22 semi-auto pistols from at least a half-dozen manufacturers. The stainless steel construction and polymer grips make it suitable for outdoor carry in a proper holster and it is also accurate enough with the right loads to handle anything we might expect a .22 pistol to do.

The next step for me is to do some concentrated shooting with a 4X scope in place that helps to remove some of the human error. Since the scope base comes with an integral rear sight, I went with quick-release mounts that allow me to use the scope, then remove it when iron sights are called for or when I want to carry it in a holster.

This kind of versatility I like.

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