It is said that innovation takes time and that perfection cannot be bottled. However, perfection is regularly found in a Smith & Wesson firearm case. Nicholas Yale provided us with the newly-released Smith & Wesson Victory chambered in .22LR for testing and review. The Victory is Smith & Wesson’s latest salvo in the rimfire target pistol market.
Smith & Wesson was founded by Horace Smith and Daniel B. Wesson in 1852. The company has played a pivotal role in the international firearms industry, in both firearm design and ammunition development. Smith & Wesson pioneered modern revolver ammunition in collaboration with Rollin White, a former Colt employee who developed the bored through cylinder in 1856. Smith & Wesson’s first firearm was the Smith & Wesson Model 1 in 1857. It produced over 250 000 seven shot .22 short revolvers, followed by the Smith & Wesson Model 3 revolver in 1869, chambered in .38 and .44, as well as .45 Schofield. It featured a ‘breakneck’ design to access the cylinder while loading and unloading.
The company went on to produce other iconic revolvers for law enforcement agencies and other end users such as the Smith & Wesson Bodyguard, Model 625, Model 686, Model 15, Model 27 and Model 29 (the famous Dirty Harry revolver), and now the V-Comp series of competition revolvers. While Smith & Wesson is famous for its bulletproof revolver designs, it also produces high-quality pistols such as the M&P series and 1911 derivatives, as well as excellent rifles and carbines, including the hugely popular AR platform for the civilian and military markets. The company is a leader in modern ammunition, credited with the development and design of the .22 Short, .32 S&W, .38 Special, .40 S&W, .41 Magnum, .44 Special, .44 Magnum, .460 S&W Magnum, .500 S&W Special and the .500 S&W Magnum, to name but a few.
Design and ergonomics
The Smith & Wesson Victory induces déjà vu on first sight. It has similar design lines as the Ruger Mark 3 22/45 and Browning Buckmark. However, that is where any similarity ends. The Victory was finalised in 2014 by Smith & Wesson’s in-house engineers, with the assistance of the Volqaurtsen Firearms Company. In true Smith & Wesson fashion, the pistol was ‘torture’ tested for two years by various members of the Smith & Wesson shooting team, as well as selected ‘external’ testers such as Dave (22plinkster) Nash.
Smith & Wesson has taken the humble .22 rimfire pistol platform and transformed it into a precision tool capable of phenomenal accuracy.
Stainless steel frame
The Smith & Wesson Victory is the spiritual successor to the Model 41 target pistol, which started its production run 1958. The advances represented by the Victory design are simply astounding when compared to other firearms in the same market segment, including the iconic Model 41. The pistol is made from high-quality stainless steel (including the barrel, slide and frame), with a hybrid grip combining polymer and stainless steel. The Victory is available in three derivatives: The standard model, threaded barrel, and a Kryptek Highlander Camo derivative, all fitted with 5.5" fi xed bull barrels, covering all end users. All three Victory derivatives are fi tted with a polymer fibre optic front and rear sight set, adjustable for both windage and elevation.
Controls such as the magazine release, safety selector and slide stop/hold-open device are exactly where you expect them to be, with the shooter’s finger finding them. The pistol grip feels extremely solid. It is contoured to fit the shooter’s hand perfectly, with front and rear horizontal and vertical serrations mated with medium stippling on the side panels to aid the shooter in maintaining a perfect grip when engaging targets at a rapid pace. The trigger on the Victory can only be described as a piece of art. Measuring 18 mm in diameter, it is serrated and fi tted with an overtravel adjustment screw in the face of the trigger. It requires a mere 3 lb of pressure to break crisp and cleanly, with no overtravel at all. Smith & Wesson had one more ace up their sleeve when they designed the Victory, in that the shooter has the ability to remove the rear sight of the pistol with one hex screw and replace it with the supplied 1913 style Polymer rail, transforming the pistol platform.
The bolt is sculpted to form part of the receiver with a very aggressive serrations on the rear to aid the shooter in cocking the pistol
The Victory is fitted with a fibre optic sight set to aid the shooter in rapidly acquiring targets.
The 5.5" bull barrel of the Victory is capable of phenomenal accuracy.
|Our test model was Smith & Wesson's threaded barrel variant allowing the end user the ability to fit a sound modulator or compensator.|
On the range:
V stands for Victory When I took the Smith & Wesson out of its box, saw the fi t and fi nish of the weapons platform, and felt its ‘heft’, I instinctively looked for the Performance Centre markings on the pistol, but was surprised at not finding any, as it looked and felt as if it had been handmade by Smith & Wesson’s Master Gunsmiths at its Performance Centre. I proceeded to field-strip the Victory (which requires the user to simply loosen one hex bolt in front of the trigger guard so as to remove the slide and barrel from the frame) in order to remove the internals before lubricating our test model with some Boeshield T-9 prior to the testing phase. The field stripping and assembly of the Victory took less than 30 seconds, compared to other similar firearms in this market segment that require a multitude of ‘implements’ for disassembly.
The Victory is shipped with two ten-round magazines, finished in an eye-catching, highly-polished metallic finish, along with a black polymer foot piece. I was amazed at how effortlessly the magazine glided into the Victory’s magazine well, locking in place with a positive click. The polymer ‘lower’ of the Victory is sculpted perfectly for the shooter’s hand, while the stippling and serrations ensure that the shooter is always in full control of the weapons platform.
The sight set, consisting of different shades of green fibre optic inserts (front and rear), was extremely easy to pick up, and engaging targets on the move was a breeze with the Victory. The sight set remains static when weapons platform is fired, allowing the shooter to keep the sights firmly on the target, thus ensuring that quick follow-up shots are the order of the day. Double tapping small targets requires minimal effort from the shooter. The five-inch bull barrel plays a pivotal role in the accuracy of the Victory, ensuring that every round impacts the target at exactly the place intended. Our testing consisted of accuracy drills, speed drills (including some bill drills), as well as shooting-on-the-move exercises. The Victory passed every test with flying colours, exceeding all of our expectations. We utilised a multitude of high velocity ammunition, including Remington Thunderbolt and Sellier & Bellot, as well as some Eley Tenex ammunition. The weapons platform performed exceptionally well, and we experienced no stoppages or failure to feed during the course of the test.
Smith & Wesson has taken the humble .22 rimfire pistol platform and transformed it into a precision tool capable of phenomenal accuracy. The Victory is extremely versatile, and is a perfect training tool for novices or younger shooters. However, it is equally at home in the hands of an expert marksman competing in shooting sports such as Steel challenge or Metallic silhouette, to name but a few.
As usual, I ask myself two questions: “Would I buy the Victory with my own money?” My answer is an unequivocal “Yes.” My SAPS 271 has been completed and is ready to be processed. The second question I always ask myself is: “What will I change?” Well, at this stage, not a single thing. However, the Victory has a threaded barrel, and therefore a sound modulator or compensator is a future possibility.
1. Polymer Picatinny rail
2. Detachable rear sight
4. 5.5" Bull barrel
6. Thread protector
7. Take Down screw
8. Alan key for takedown