Friday, December 23, 2011

Shooting a piece of history: K-22 Outdoorsman

Remember the question about ‘plated vs. lead .22 ammo’, and the pistol with the dry parkerized finish? Well, this is the beast that was about, borrowed for a tryout and a picture:

At Cosmoline and Rust Tam had a post about the K-22 Combat and Target Masterpiece pistols, beginning 1940; this pistol is part of The Rest of the Story.

In 1931 S&W started selling a .22 revolver made on the K frame, called the K-22 Outdoorsman(collectors say First Model). The early production had a gold bead front sight, changed to a stainless bead after September 1931. During the depression this thing sold pretty well, which tells you something about the accuracy and reliability; people looking for an accurate .22 revolver for target or small game use liked them. A lot. Originally it had grips similar to these, then in 1936 the Magna grips became available for it. There was also an option for a ‘hump back’ hammer, designed to make for faster cocking.

In 1939 they stopped production, after making a little over 17k of them, which included a group made with fixed sights for the Coast Guard shooting team, in order to bring out an improved model . The Second Model, the K-22 Masterpiece, came out 1940 and had the shorter action(shorter hammer throw), overtravel stop and click-type adjustable rear sight. Those also had either the gold or stainless bead front sight and Magna stocks; both these and the Outdoorsman had round non-ribbed barrels. Production stopped after one year (in 1941 for all target models), with the start of wartime production for the military forces(if you haven't read Tam's piece yet, it starts with the 1940 model).

The owner says this one had no grips when he found it, the proper would be this design but with the S&W badge on them. From what we could find out the parkerizing was done sometime after it left the factory, I’m guessing someone wanted it for hunting or trapline use; it’s obviously been used, and cared for: holster wear in the places you’d expect but no rust or pitting, and the bore and chambers are spotless. The action is smooth, lockup tight, single-action pull light and clean. No bead on the front sight, just a Patridge square post; special order, maybe, or changed same time the parkerizing was done.

It shoots like you’d expect from a pre-War S&W: very well. Better than I can do justice to without better eyes. Shooting at an indoor range with slightly dim light, single-action at 20 yards from a rest I was able to shoot a couple of groups of right at 1"; the trigger's a bit heavier than my later K-22 Combat, but breaks clean. For myself I'd put a set of bigger grips on, but that's personal preference added to a fine piece of design and craftsmanship.


Gerry N. said...

My Dad had a K22, he let me shoot it starting when I was about eight. I remember it being a bit too large for my hands, but with .22 longs, no beer can was safe if I could see it. We turned the house upside down after Dad died, but that old revolver is still drifting about in the aether somewhere. I hope whoever stole it shoots a hollow point through himself with it. My Dad ran a saloon for several years in rural So. Dak. and wore the K22 on his hip. I asked him in later years why a .22? His take was that it would be more effective to hit some nitwit trying to rob him with a .22 hollow point three or four times than to miss with a .38 and shoot out the front window. Glass was expensive. Armed robbers had less than no value.

I carry when I'm camping, hunting or fishing, and my gun of choice is an el-cheapo Western Sheriff .22 Single action I got as parts in a shoe box for $50. I had to buy $15 worth of small parts from Numrich Arms to complete it. That pot metal POS will put six .22 LR's into 4" at 50 yards off a rest. It's a marvel. I bought a "Nasti-Nose" tool to make .22 LR rounds "NASTY".

Firehand said...

I've heard of that tool, I take it it really does make them open up better?