April 5th, 2019

The Rimfire Wheelgun — Why You Really Need One

Smith Wesson 22 .22 LR Revolver model 63 17 617 wheelgun revolver cylinder
Early 6-shot Model 617 shown. Current Model 617s have 10-round cylinders.

“But Honey, I really do need a new gun….”

If you are looking for justification for getting a new handgun, show your spouse this article. Today we explain why every serious shooter should have a .22 LR wheelgun. Rimfire revolvers are versatile, reliable, easy-to-operate, and fun to shoot. A good .22 revolver will be considerably more accurate than 90% of the self-loading pistols you could buy. With a good a .22-caliber rimfire revolver you will learn sight alignment and trigger control. Plus you can practice with inexpensive ammunition.

The better .22 LR revolvers also hold their value. In particular, a Smith & Wesson Model 617 (or its predecessor, the Model 17, shown below) is a good investment. You could use your S&W wheelgun all your life and then pass it on to your kids. If you or your heirs ever wear out the barrel or cylinder, Smith & Wesson will replace the parts for free, forever. Think about that…

Smith Wesson 22 .22 LR Revolver model 63 17 617 wheelgun revolver cylinder

The Model 63 Kit Gun is a compact 6-shot (older) or 8-shot (newer) revolver. Older Model 63s are in high demand, so this is another Smith wheelgun that holds its value well…

Smith Wesson 22 .22 LR Revolver model 63 17 617 wheelgun revolver cylinder

Smith Wesson model 617 4 inchSmith & Wesson Model 617 — Smith’s Model 617 is extremely accurate, with a very crisp trigger (in single-action mode), and good sights. You can learn all the fundamentals with this ultra-reliable handgun, shooting inexpensive .22 LR ammo. The Model 617 is rugged, durable, and can give you a lifetime of shooting fun.

Once you have mastered the basics of shooting with a .22 LR, you can move on to larger caliber handguns suitable for self-defense. Below is a slide-show illustrating a S&W Model 617 ten-shot, with 6″ barrel. S&W also makes a 4″-barrel version of this revolver. (See: Shooting Demo Video with 4″ model 617.)

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August 11th, 2018

Rimfire Revolvers Buyers Guide — Five Great Guns

Smith Wesson Model 617 wheelgun rimfire revolver

Don’t own a quality .22 LR wheelgun yet? Well start saving those pennies. Every serious gun aficionado should have a quality rimfire revolver. A rimfire wheelgun is also very good choice for a first handgun. Indeed, a strong argument could be made that a .22 LR revolver is THE best choice for a new shooter’s first handgun. A .22 LR revolver is easy to shoot, easy to maintain, and will last a lifetime. Once you have mastered the basics of shooting with a .22 LR, you can move on to larger caliber handguns suitable for self-defense.

TOP FIVE Reasons to Own a Rimfire Revolver:

  • 1. Rimfire .22 LR Ammunition is cheap, and now plentiful again.
  • 2. A good, full-size .22 LR revolver will be MORE ACCURATE than the vast majority of semi-auto rimfire handguns. With no magazines to jam, a good wheelgun will also be more reliable than most self-loading rimfires.
  • 3. A rimfire revolver can shoot tens of thousands of rounds, with just routine maintenance. This gun can last a lifetime and then you can pass it on to your kids.
  • 4. On a S&W revolver, it is very easy to tune the pull weight. You can have a safe double-action pull with a very light, crisp single-action release.
  • 5. It is easy to change grips and sights to suit your preference. You can also mount a scope on the top-strap.

TOP FIVE Rimfire Revolvers (Current Production)

1. Smith & Wesson Model 617, 6″ or 4″ BBL, $829.00 MSRP

Smith Wesson Model 617
10-Shot, Stainless Steel, 44.1 Oz. (6″ barrel), 39 Oz. (4″ barrel)

Smith Wesson model 617 4 inchSmith & Wesson’s Model 617, offered with either 6″ or 4″ barrels, is extremely accurate, with a very crisp trigger, and good sights. Accuracy is better than most shooter can hold. You can learn all the fundamentals with this ultra-reliable K-Frame handgun, shooting inexpensive .22 LR ammo. The 6″ version has a longer sight radius, so it’s superior for bullseye work. But the 4″ version balances much better. The choice is yours.

The Model 617 is rugged, durable, and can give you a lifetime of shooting fun. Your Editor has owned a 4″ ten-shot Model 617 for over 20 years, and it’s still going strong. Here is a video showing the 4″-barrel version of Smith & Wesson’s popular model 617.

Hickok 45 Demos “Wonderful revolver”, a 4″ Model 617. See also Hickok 45 m617 Part 2:

2. Ruger GP100 .22 LR, 5.5″ or 4″ BBL, $829.00 MSRP

Ruger GP-100 5.5
10-Shot, Stainless Steel, 42 Oz., 5.5″ Barrel

Ruger introduced the .22 LR GP100 two years ago. Since then, it has become a good seller. This 10-shot revolver with 5.5″ barrel has a comfortable grip and triple-locking cylinder (locked into the frame at the front, rear and bottom). Many shooters like the fact that the 5.5″-barrel GP100 carries its heft more to the rear than S&W’s 6″ 617. However, we’d give the edge to the 617’s trigger. NOTE: Davidson’s also has a limited edition GP100 with shorter 4″ barrel. This Davidson’s exclusive edition 4″ GP100 is handier to carry and balances better.

3. Smith & Wesson Model 17 Masterpiece, 6″ BBL, $989.00 MSRP

Smith Wesson Model 617 wheelgun rimfire revolver
6-Shot, Carbon (Blued) Steel, 39.9 Oz., 6″ Barrel

Smith & Wesson recently re-introduced its Model 17 Masterpiece revolver. This Blued 6-shot classic has been “re-released” with a retro-style grip. It still offers outstanding accuracy and a sweet trigger pull. For those who like the look of the original K-22 revolvers this can fill the bill. With a non-underlug 6″ barrel, this is 4.2 ounces lighter than the 6″ Model 617. The price, $989.00 MSRP, is pretty steep. It you look around you may be able to find an original K-22 for a few hundred dollars less. We’ve seen some decent examples on Gunbroker in the $700 range, but pristine K-22s are selling for over $1000 now.

4. Smith & Wesson Model 63, 3″ BBL, $769.00 MSRP

Smith Wesson Model 63 wheelgun .22 LR rimfire revolver
8-Shot, Stainless Steel, 25.8 Oz., 3″ barrel

The 8-Shot Smith & Wesson Model 63 may be one of the most versatile revolvers on the market. With a 3″ barrel, it balances well and is easy to hold. This makes this a great training pistol for a new shooter, even a junior or a lady with small hands. The latest 8-shot version offers nice big sights with fiber-optic front insert. While we consider this a great training and plinking handgun, it can also do double-duty for concealed carry. No the .22 LR won’t match the stopping power of a .357 Magnum, but better armed than not.

5. Ruger LCRx, 3″ BBL, $579.00 MSRP

Ruger LCRX LCR-X revolver polymer composite handgun .22LR rimfire
8-Shot, Steel/Aluminum/Polymer, 17.3 Oz., 3″ barrel

The new Ruger LCRx Revolver combines traditional wheelgun features with modern composite construction. The 3″ barrel and cylinder are steel. The “frame” housing the barrel and cylinder are aerospace-grade aluminum. The rear/lower section of the pistol, what Ruger calls the “fire control housing”, is made of polymer. This cuts weight and tames felt reoil. That fire control housing holds the hammer/trigger assemblies and provides a mount for the interchangeable grips. This is really a very innovative pistol. Thanks to its weight-saving features, Ruger’s LCRx is 8.5 ounces lighter than S&W’s Model 63, though both have 3″-long barrels.

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