S&W M&P .22 LR Compact – By Pat Cascio

It’s just hard to go wrong with a really good .22 LR pistol. Specifically, the S&W M&P Compact .22 LR pistol is a winner in every respect. This is a great little gun for trail, plinking small game hunting, or target practice.

The One Gun For Survival

Many years ago, and we are talking close to 40 years ago, I used to get asked the same question over and over again. People would ask, when it came to buying one gun for survival, and one gun only, based on a limited income, what did I choose. My pat answer used to be to buy a good pump-action 12-gauge shotgun and then add a variety of different 12-gauge ammo. I told them it would take care of all their needs. Well, I don’t know of any single firearm, no matter who makes it or what caliber it is, that will take care of all your needs, period!

So, my thinking and firearms education have grown and expanded over the years, and while many may disagree with this, I think either a .22 LR handgun or .22 LR rifle will serve many of your survival needs, if you’ll take some time to think about it.

Many Uses for .22 LR

There are many good uses for the .22 LR handgun or rifle. I’ve had a friend who hunted deer, hitting them with a head shot, using his .22 LR rifle. So, it can even be used for large game hunting, if need be.

I no longer teach the NRA Basic Handgun course. I stopped a couple years ago, because I had too much work, and I had a bum hip and couldn’t stand very long. For new shooters, who didn’t own a firearm, I’d take a variety of different handguns with me for them to try. For those who had a real “fear” of guns, I’d let them shoot a .22 LR handgun. It didn’t scare them, and the recoil was non-existent. They did well enough to pass the course with a .22 LR handgun.

A young man who owns the local Mexican restaurant in our area had never fired any type of firearm before and wanted me to take him out shooting. No problem. I am always happy to introduce folks to shooting, especially those who’ve never fired a handgun before. It’s fun for all of us once we hit the range.

Overview of the S&W M&P .22 LR Compact Handgun

Today, we’re checking out the S&W M&P .22 LR Compact handgun. The one I have was made in Germany, but the current crop are made in the USA. They are basically the same gun for all intents and purposes though. The M&P .22 Compact has a capacity of 10 rounds and comes with a manual thumb safety. It’s the only way to get this model, with the thumb safety, which is not a problem for me. The barrel is 3.6 inches long, and this gun is a single-action only. The grip frame is black polymer, and it is identical to the M&P line of handguns. Its barrel is carbon steel, and the slide is aluminum alloy, not stainless steel, like the center-fire M&P line of handguns. The slide is finished in black Armorite, and the polymer frame is black. Both of these match perfectly. The front sight has a white dot, and the adjustable rear sight has two white dots on either side of the sight opening. This makes for a fast sight picture. It’s very easy to pick up. The gun weighs less than a pound, too. How cool is that? Two 10-rd magazines are included, too. There is a magazine safety, meaning the gun can’t fire without a magazine inserted. This is a nice safety feature, especially for new shooters. The barrel is fixed to the frame, unlike the center-fire M&P handguns, where there is a titling barrel you can remove from the slide for cleaning. We also have a Picatinny-style rail on the dust cover, if you want to add a laser to the gun.

Perfect Companion to Center-Fire M&P Handguns

I purchased my German-made M&P .22 LR used but in “as new” condition from my local gun shop, where I paid $250 for it with two magazines. Current, brand new guns retail for $389, but they can be had for quite a bit less money. They are a perfect companion to any of the center-fire M&P handguns. This addition makes for training “on the cheap” a lot more possible, especially when you’re firing .22 LR ammo as opposed to center-fire ammo. Luckily, the .22 LR ammo drought is all but over, and we can find reasonably priced bricks of 500 rounds of .22 LR ammo for around $25. I don’t think we’ll ever see prices of $15 again. Still, at $25 for 500 rounds, that’s a fun weekend of shooting.

Friend’s Favorite Gun, Shotgun

Getting back to my friend who owns the local Mexican restaurant, he started out shooting a 12-gauge shotgun, and it all but knocked him over. He bruised his shoulder, even though I told him to lock it tight into his shoulder to prevent this sort of thing. He also shot 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP handguns as well as some AR-15 types of rifles. He loved them all, but his favorite was the shotgun. Go figure.

We have since come a long way in his training. Quite often, we go out and shoot a lot of .22 LR ammo through a rifle or a handgun, and his shooting skills have really improved. However, every now and then, he still has a bad day. I can’t figure this one out. He’ll be shooting a 9mm handgun and hitting where he is supposed to hit. However, on our last outing, he switched to one of my .22 handguns, and his shots were all over the target. Many were not on the target. Strange!

Wearing the M&P .22 LR

My M&P .22 LR will fit in any of the holsters I have that are made for the center-fire M&P handguns. That’s a good thing. When wearing this gun, you completely forget you have it on, because it is so light eight. Add in a spare magazine or two for when you’re out hiking along with some spare ammo in your fanny or backpack, and you can fill the pot with small game or just have a fun plinking day.

Ammo and Target Performance

The M&P .22 LR has never missed a beat, no matter what kind of ammo I’ve fed it. Believe me, too. I’ve run a lot of different makes of .22 LR ammo through this little pistol, and it just perks along. If I do my job, the bullets hit where I intend for them to hit. At 25 yards, it’s fairly easy to keep all of my shots in the black of a bulls eye target, too, and I do mean it’s easy to do this!

S&W M&P .22 LR Compact Pistol Can Take Care of Many Needs

You could do a lot worse, if the only gun you could afford or wanted was a good .22 LR handgun or rifle. In this case, the S&W M&P .22 LR Compact pistol will sure take care of many of your needs in a survival situation, or if you just want a fun and inexpensive day on the range. It would be a great choice to pick up one of these little pistols, because it will sure do most jobs you’d expect it to do. Check one out at your nearest gun shop. They are a lot of gun and a lot of fun.


  1. Nice article Pat, I couldn’t agree more! My pistol of choice in .22LR is the Browning Buckmark. I appreciate the longer barrel and heavier feel of the handgun. I picked up a Ruger .22 takedown and I absolutely love that rifle! I really enjoy having 2 different weapons that use the same ammo.

    The takedown is a bunch of fun to plink around with, and the Buckmark is dead-on accurate, especially with a red-dot sight on it! I could probably get a headshot on a squirrel from 25 yards with that set-up!

    I also have an M&P shield in 40S&W for CCR, not as many rounds as the .22, but they pack quite a whallop!

    Thanks for the write up!

  2. I own the .22 M&P compact as well as the .45 compact and love them both. The biggest upside as you stated is that the .22lr is a great way to train at a cheaper rate than with the .45. Obviously there are differences is the actual shooting, but the feel and workmanship of the two are very similar.

    I’ve had my wife and her sister working with the .22 and it is perfect for them. Once they are working the .22 as if it were an extension of their body, we will move up in caliber (if they so choose) sticking with the same M&P format. Otherwise, they will be perfectly fine with the .22 if they decide that is their weapon of choice.

    Great handgun, and highly recommended!

  3. I like the idea of a . 22 in the format as the one you would carry in every day use. I have .22 Ace conversion upper on a 1911 frame, I use to shoot bull’s eye for yrs and used the Ace in place of the .45 match pistol and later practiced with for .45 combat matches. But it won’t work on my compact

  4. It is now legal to hunt deer in Tennessee with 22 caliber, as long as it’s centerfire…Ie) .223 or 22.250 etc. Still too light of a caliber I think for dependable and humane harvest. Most of the time when I hear of using a ..22 LR or .22 Mag deer hunting it’s spotlighting/poaching.

  5. Good topic. Jeff Cooper (I think it was) often mentioned that a ‘kit pistol’ was often carried in his Mackinaw jacket pocket when he went deer hunting. His choice was the Walther PPK in rimfire (or maybe the slightly larger PP) model.

    My choice many years ago was the Erma RX-22, a Walther PPK inexpensive clone. It has proven to be a ‘high-miler’, its light weight very similar to this reviewed pistol. Not to difficult to steady due to the bulk (unlike the Walther TPH), this pistol size and weight is juuusst right.

    That Erma is getting a bit long in the tooth (1981) and if it were to break, parts would be extremely difficult if not impossible to find. This one (or the Browning Buck Mark with short barrel) might be just the ticket. The Ruger .22 Auto is a shade to big and heavy for this I am afraid.

    Thank you for the post.

  6. Interesting article.
    I just do not know that there is any 1 (pistol, rifle, shotgun) that fits all survival situations. I would imagine you have to take a lot into consideration depending on where you are, where you are going (if anywhere), and what you may encounter.

  7. I can attest to the virtues of the S&W M&P .22 compact. Fun, reliable, and accurate. I’ve taught several people to shoot with it, and even when I bring something bigger out with intent to shoot them, the M&P winds up putting 4-5x the rounds down range.

    I hate to even type it, but after bricks of ammo run through it without cleaning, this little .22 has never jammed.

    I know there are fancier .22LRs out there, but as someone who never intended on owning a S&W product, I purchased this to teach my family proper handgun safety, and fell in love with it. Good luck finding a better functioning .22LR.

  8. If you are talking long term survival a magazine fed firearm is not a good choice. Especially one with a magazine safety. Lose the magazine and the firearm will not fire. lose the magazine on any other magazine fed firearm and it becomes a single shot firearm.

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