First group from my new Smith & Wesson K-22
Some weeks ago my wife was gracious enough to allow me to acquire a new piece that will enhance my humble collection and also provide me with long periods of relaxation at my indoor range.
As you will immediatelly tell from the picture above the new old Smith & Wesson K-22, or more precisely a Model 17-3 made around 1971 according to the serial number, is in pristine shape, and the first (and so far only) off-hand five-shot group at 10 meters demonstrates that purebred target precision is clearly alive and well.
The roots of the K-22 can be traced back to 1899 when Smith & Wesson introduced what would become the gold standard to which all revolvers are compared, the .38 Hand Ejector Military & Police Model revolver, built in the then new K-frame. By 1913 the adjustable sight configuration, the .38 Hand Ejector Military & Police Target model (eventually called K-38) held 24 of 40 all-time records of the U.S. Revolver Association.
But the .38 Military & Police was not only popular with target shooter, it also became the virtual standard police handgun, not only in the United States of America, but either as original Smith & Wesson or unauthorized copies in countries that issued wheel-guns to its police forces.
And due to the massive popularity and constant use of the .38 Military & Polcie, both target shooter and police department started claiming for a revolver with same handling carachteristics od the K-38, but that would shoot the much lower cost .22 rimfire ammunition (and by this time the .22 Long Rifle had already become the de-facto standard).
In order to provide the same handling, the new .22 revolver had the same loaded weight as the K-38, and to allow for the same handling the center of gravity had to be the same, and threfore the .22 barrel is slightly taped towards the muzzle. And in keeping with its competition roots, Smith & Wesson guaranteed that the new K-22 would group five shots under 1 1/2 inches at 50 yards.
From 1931 to 1939 this fantastic .22 revolver was called the K-22 Outsdoorman, and from that point, after incorporating a new micrometer-adjustable rear sight it became the Smith & Wesson Masterpiece, and I cannot think of a better name to christen the best .22 revolver ever made.
In 1957 Smith & Wesson introduced model numbers to replace the model names, and the K-38 became the Model 14, while the K-22 became the Model 17. Why they did not became the Models 38 and 22 I will never understand!
In order to really pair my new K-22 and my old K-38 I need to find some original grips to replace the aftermarket combat grips of the latter, but that is neither hard nor expensive, and in a short time I should have a perfect pair of target revolvers.