Saturday Movies: Rimfire Revolver Videos — .22 LR and .22 WMR By: Editor

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December 9th, 2023

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Saturday Movies: Rimfire Revolver Videos — .22 LR and .22 WMR

Smith & Wesson 617 rimfire revolver colt ruger .22 LR WMR

While Accurateshooter.com concentrates on high-accuracy rifles, we know that many of our readers enjoy handguns. We are often asked “What is your favorite handgun — Glock? HK? SIG Sauer?” The answer to that question may be surprising. This Editor’s favorite handgun, at least the one that gets shot most often, is a rimfire revolver — that’s right, a wheelgun.

This Editor’s first really accurate handgun was a .22 LR Smith & Wesson Model 617 that could easily stack ten shots in a dime at 10 yards. It remains my favorite and most-used handgun. What can we say about the Model 617? The single-action trigger pull is superb, and the accuracy surpasses most any semi-auto rimfire pistol, except for a few, very expensive target pistols. We like the 6″ version for the longer sight radius, but the 4″-barrel 617 is also very accurate, and it balances better.

Smith Wesson model 617 .22 LR Revolver handgun
S&W Model 617 now has a 10-round cylinder, but early models were six-shooters.

We recommend that new pistol shooters start off with a .22 LR rimfire handgun. The .22 LR cartridge is accurate but has very low recoil, less “bark” than a centerfire, and very little smoke and muzzle flash. New shooters won’t have to fight muzzle flip, and won’t develop a flinch from the sharp recoil and muzzle blast common to larger calibers. With the .22 LR, the trainee can focus on sight alignment, breathing, and trigger pull.

Smith & Wesson Model 617 (6″ and 4″ Barrels)

Smith & Wesson 617
CC-BY-SA-2.0 and photographs by Dennis van Zuijlekom.

Here are three video reviews of the Smith & Wesson Model 617, both 4″-barrel and 6″-barrel versions. All three videos demonstrate the 617’s great accuracy. The reviewers concede that this handgun is pretty expensive, but all agree that the Model 617 will last a lifetime, and hold its value.

22 Plinkster loves the Model 617, “one of [his] favorite revolvers in the whole entire world — a great choice”. He reports it “shoots straight [and] functions pretty much flawlessly” with nearly any .22 LR ammo. In this video, 22 Plinkster tests a wide variety of rimfire ammo types including CCI .22 LR Std Velocity, .22 Shorts, .22 LR Shotshells, .22 Stingers, .22 Super Colibri, and .22 LR tracers.

Other Rimfire Revolvers — from Colt, Ruger, and S&W

If you’re considering a rimfire revolver but would like to see other options, read our Buyers Guide to Rimfire Revolvers. Along with the S&W Model 617, this covers the Ruger GP100 10-shot (5″ bbl), Ruger LCRx 8-shot (3″ bbl), Classic S&W Model 17 6-shot (blued 6″ bbl), and S&W Model 63 (3″ bbl).

Colt King Cobra Target .22 LR Revolver

new colt king cobra target 22 LR .22 LR revolver rimfire wheelgun

At the NRA Annual Meetings in 2022, Colt Manufacturing introduced an impressive new rimfire revolver — the King Cobra Target 22 LR. Colt states: “From competition to plinking and small game hunting, this baby Cobra does it all and packs 10-rounds of .22 LR in its cylinder”. The King Cobra Target 22 LR is available with 4.25-inch and 6-inch barrel lengths, both with 1:16″ RH rifling twist. MSRP is $999.00.

The King Cobra Target 22 LR features USA-forged stainless steel construction. Designed and crafted for outstanding accuracy, new King Cobra Target 22 LR features a one-piece barrel/shroud with fiber optic front sight. The cylinder holds ten (10) rounds. The frame is fitted with an adjustable target rear sight and Hogue overmolded rubber grips.

Ruger GP100 .22 LR 10-Shot Revolver

Ruger GP 100 .22 LR wheelgun revolver rimfire 10-shot

Ruger offers a big stainless .22 LR wheelgun to compete with the S&W Model 617. This rimfire wheelgun is based on Ruger’s trusted GP100 platform. The Ruger GP100 chambered in .22 LR looks to be a good firearm — strong, versatile, and intelligently engineered. In the video above, the late Jeff Quinn of Gunblast.com tests the Ruger revolver and gives it high marks: “It’s a good hefty gun [42.6 oz.], but not overly large or heavy for a good trail gun. It’s just a really nice, well-made revolver from Sturm Ruger.” The gun Jeff tested had a 3.7-lb SA trigger pull and a 9.8-lb DA pull.

The .22 LR GP100 features a windage and elevation adjustable rear sight with a white outline, a light-gathering fiber optic front sight and the original full-size GP100 rubber grips with hardwood inserts. With all stainless-steel construction, the rimfire GP100 is easy to maintain. Just keep the cylinder chambers and barrel clean and this gun should run forever.

The 10-shot Ruger GP100 in .22 LR is a durable, well-engineered wheelgun. Ruger’s engineers optimized the GP100’s innards to deliver a smooth double-action pull: “The new GP100 has an improved fire-control system that uses a lighter mainspring than previous Ruger double-action .22 LR revolvers … we’ve done a lot of development on the firing pin location and geometries so that we’re able to put a lighter trigger pull in this gun than you would find in other .22 LR [handguns]. We’ve got a half-underlug barrel, and it’s a smaller diameter so the gun balances real well. We’ve added a narrow-spur hammer and a smooth trigger.”

Smith & Wesson Model 648 in .22 WMR

smith wesson S&W model 648 revolver wheelgun .22 WMR Winchester magnum rimfire 6

We love Smith & Wesson rimfire revolvers. We have put thousands of rounds through S&W Model 617 revolvers, with 4″ and 6″ barrels. These stainless .22 LR handguns are accurate, superbly reliable, and they hold their value. In general we’ve found that Smith & Wesson rimfire revolvers may be less fussy with ammo, and more trouble-free than typical semi-auto rimfires. Bottom line, we feel that everyone should have an S&W rimfire wheelgun in their collection.

Along with its .22 LR wheelguns, S&W now offers another very impressive Rimfire Revolver option — the “revived” Model 648 in .22 WMR (Winchester Magnum Rimfire). This stainless Model 648 brings a more powerful cartridge to S&W rimfire revolver fans.

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Tags: .22 LR, Hickok45, King Cobra Target, Model 648, Revolver, Rimfire Revolver, Ruger GP100, S&W, Smith Wesson, Wheelgun