October 30th, 2022

Sunday GunDay: Smith & Wesson Model 41 — Rimfire Classic

Smith wesson S&W model 41 rimfire .22 LR 22LR pistol handgun engraved 50th anniversary

The Smith & Wesson Model 41 is a classic American rimfire target pistol. Beautifully crafted, the Model 41 boasts a superb trigger, comfortable grip, and excellent accuracy. New or used, a Model 41 is a fine addition to any firearms collection. We’ve shot a few Model 41s, and they will spoil you if you go back to a lesser rimfire pistol. First released commercially in in 1957, a special 50th Anniversary Model (shown above top) came out in 2007 (hitting the market in 2008). Perhaps it should have been named the 60th Anniversary edition, as the first prototypes of the Model 41 were crafted way back in 1947. READ American Rifleman article about Model 41.

The Model 41 is one of those classic American designs that has stood the test of time. Many feel the Model 41 represents the apex of American .22 LR pistol design, much like the Colt Python is the “crown jewel” of double-action revolvers. One YouTube poster noted: “After [65] years the Model 41 is still near the top of the game in precision .22s. Very few if any of the current day pistols can match the workmanship, fit, and balance that makes having a Model 41 so enjoyable to own. S&W blew the center out of the 10 Ring with this one when they introduced it and continue to do so today.”

The Stunning 50th Anniversary Edition Model 41

Probably the most sought-after Model 41 is the handsome, machine-engraved 50th Anniversary Model, released in 2007. This was offered in a hardwood, glass-covered case. This would be a prized addition to any gun collection:

Smith wesson S&W model 41 rimfire .22 LR 22LR pistol handgun engraved 50th anniversary
The 50th Anniversary Model was machine-engraved with Class A+ coverage, 24 carat gold striping, and special serial number range FYA0001 – FYA0500.

smith wesson model 41 50th anniversaryOf course, if you want a superb trigger in a .22 LR semi-auto pistol, look no further than the S&W Model 41. For $2000.00 to $3700.00 you can find the fully engraved, 50th Anniversary Model 41 in presentation case on various auction sights. First released in 2007, the engraved model 41 combines superior accuracy with stunning appearance.

Smith & Wesson Model 41 — An American Classic Rimfire Pistol

The Smith & Wesson Model 41 is an American classic — one of the great, iconic .22 LR target pistols. Accurate, well-balanced and built-to-last, model 41s have been in production for over 50 years. The Model 41 remains one of the most accurate pistols ever produced by Smith & Wesson.

Smith wesson S&W model 41 rimfire .22 LR 22LR pistol handgun engraved 50th anniversary
Model 41 photo by Mightymoo01, creative commons released CC BY-SA 3.0.

Beautifully crafted, the Model 41 boasts a superb trigger, comfortable grip, and excellent accuracy. Whether an older classic or a newer model, the S&W Model 41 is something every gun owner would prize for target shooting. And “like new” high-grade models are now appreciating in value!

Smith & Wesson historian Roy Jinks recounts the development of the Model 41: “It was a difficult task to develop a competitive pistol that would meet the various needs of the top shooters. The final design was decided upon in 1956 and the new .22 target pistol was announced in Smith & Wesson’s 1957 Annual Report, stating: ‘Its design includes many advanced features, such as stocks equally suitable for right or left-hand shooters- a clean, crisp, trigger pull that is adjustable to individual preferences. The distribution of weight, together with the angle of the stocks, permits extremely steady off-hand holding. The precise micrometer sights are rigidly mounted on a one piece forged barrel to avoid any possible misalignment even after long usage.’ The handgun featured a 7 3/8-inch barrel equipped with a muzzle brake to help control recoil. The underside of the barrel was grooved to allow the addition of adjustable Olympic Style Barrel Weights. The trigger pull could be adjusted to allow for a 2-pound pull to meet the NRA Gallery Course requirement or increased to 3 pounds to meet the needs of the ISU International rules.

Smith wesson S&W model 41 rimfire .22 LR 22LR pistol handgun cowan's auctions holster
Smith & Wesson Model 41 with two extra slide/barrel assemblies, plus custom holster and mag holders. This sold on Cowan’s Auctions for $2640.00 in 2019.

Sales began in December of 1957 and the Model 41 was first cataloged in 1958. The factory was soon heavily back-ordered and [the Model 41] became the most popular auto-loading pistol offered by the company. In May of 1959 Smith & Wesson introduced a 5-inch lightweight barrel for the handgun to meet the demand of hunters[.] The line of Model 41s was further expanded in September of 1960 with the introduction of the Model 41-1 which fired .22 shorts for the International Rapid Fire Shooters. [I]n August of 1963 the company introduced the 5.5 inch heavy barrel. The last of the major barrel changes occurred in 1965 when the company produced the 5.5-inch heavy barrel with an extendable front sight to provide the shooter a longer sight radius. During the last 50 years the Model 41 has … established many records around the world. Today it is one of the classic target handguns[.]” READ MORE Model 41 History.

Field Test of Current Generation S&W Model 41

.22 Plinkster .22LR pistol model 41 Smith wesson review Savage a22 WMR rimfire video

So how do modern production Model 41s shoot? Very well indeed, based on the results from popular gun Vlogger 22plinkster. He took a new Model 41 to his test range and tested it for handling and accuracy. Watch the 22plinkster video below:

22plinkster runs of the most popular gun-centric YouTube channels. His videos have been watched by hundreds of thousands of firearms fans. Some of .22 Plinkster’s videos involve trick shots, but he’s actually a very competent marksman who has shot a vast collection of .22 LR/22 WMR pistols and rifles, making him a qualified rimfire expert.

Hickok45’s 30-Year-Old Model 41

Hickok45, a popular YouTube host, has been a fan of the S&W Model 41 since it was first released. In fact, back in 2020, Hickok45 celebrated his 30th year of ownership of this classic American rimfire. In this “Celebrating 30 Years” video, Hickok 45 demonstrates the qualities that have made the Model 41 so popular. He notes that it balances well, has an excellent trigger, and delivers superb accuracy. He observed: “What a great .22 LR pistol!”

Performance Center “Optics-Ready” Model 41

Do you prefer shooting pistols with a modern optic? Well check out the fully “Optics-Ready” S&W Performance Center Model 41. This modernized Model 41 PC has an integral Picatinny Rail mount for optics, plus adjustable target sights with a special skeletonized and removable front blade sight.

Performance Center Smith Wesson Model 41 Picatinny

Performance Center Smith Wesson Model 41 PicatinnyThe Performance Center Model 41 sports an integral Picatinny-style equipment rail for easy installation of optics. Other standard features include an external thumb safety on the left side of the frame, custom wood target grips, and a blued finish. This full-size, 10-shot .22 LR pistol features a carbon steel frame and slide along with a 5.5-inch barrel. Measuring 10.5 inches in overall length, the Model 41 PC has an unloaded weight of 41 ounces. MSRP is $1763.00.

The S&W Model 41 History from Wikipedia

From Wikipedia: The Smith & Wesson Model 41 is a semi-automatic pistol developed by Smith & Wesson after World War II as a competitive target pistol. It was designed with a 105-degree grip angle, the same as the Colt M1911 pistol, to maintain a consistent grip angle.

Smith wesson S&W model 41 rimfire .22 LR 22LR pistol handgun engraved 50th anniversary

Prototype and Production Models
In July 1947, two prototypes, numbered X-41 and X-42, were produced, tested, and improved for the next 10 years. In 1957, the Model 41 was made available to the public for sale when Smith & Wesson produced 679 units. At the end of 1958, they had built 9,875 Model 41 pistols. A lighter 5-inch (130 mm) barrel was offered in 1958 for field use. The Model 41-1 was introduced in 1960 and was chambered in .22 Short for International Rapid Fire competition. Only 1000 were made using light aluminum slides necessary for function with the lower powered .22 Short.

Smith wesson S&W model 41 rimfire .22 LR 22LR pistol handgun engraved 50th anniversary

In August 1963, the 5-inch heavy barrel version came into the market. Stoeger’s Shooter’s Bible of 1964 shows a 7 3⁄8″ (190 mm) barrel grooved for Olympic center weights. The cocking indicator and 7 3⁄8″ barrel were dropped in 1978. The 7-inch (180 mm) barrel was introduced in 1978 with no provision for a muzzle brake. A 6-inch (150 mm) barrel was offered for a few months in 1991. In 1992, the Model 41 was dropped from production. In 1994, Smith & Wesson returned it to production as the Model 41 “New Model”.

The Model 41 Military Variant — S&W Model 46
In 1957, Smith & Wesson offered a “no frills” version of the Model 41, designated the Model 46. In 1959, it was selected by the U.S. Air Force for basic marksmanship training. About 4000 units were made in total: 2500 with a 7-inch barrel, 1000 with 5-inch barrels, and 500 with 5.5″ barrels. The pistol lacked the checkering, polished blue finish, and other refinements of the Model 41. It proved to be a commercial failure with consumers who preferred the more costly Model 41, and production ceased in 1966.

Smith & Wesson Model 41 RESOURCES:

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