Gratuitous Gun Pic: S&W Mod 48 (.22 WMR)

We are all familiar with Kim’s #1 Principle of Guns:  a .22 gun is not in fact a gun;  it is a household appliance (and every home should have one, be it a rifle or a handgun).  The corollary thereto is that .22 ammo is likewise not actually ammunition, but a household commodity like salt or sugar.

And while this is absolutely true for the venerable .22 Long Rifle, there is a higher level of household commodity, if you will — not salt or sugar, but, shall we say something that could also be classed as a commodity but has a tad more spice to it — something that makes life more enjoyable, like BBQ sauce, or mustard, or Tabasco sauce — which adds to the enjoyment of life, and I don’t think anyone is going to argue too much with me on this point.

Which brings me to my favorite cartridge of the small ones, the .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire, a.k.a. the.22 WMR or still more simply, the .22 Mag.  I love this tangy little rimfire cartridge with a passion, and it remains a mystery to me why it’s not more popular among shooters (the lack of popularity no doubt being the reason why it is priced as high as it is today).

Basically, the .22 Mag does everything that a .22 LR cartridge can do, only with a 50-yard longer reach and an impact that makes it more deadly without adding in the slightest to felt recoil.  You want numbers?  Using a 40-grain bullet, the.22 LR ammo runs at 1,200 fps, while a .22 mag leaves a rifle barrel traveling at 1,800 fps.  That 50% increase in velocity creates a significant difference in muzzle energy : the .22 LR typically weighs in at around 140 foot-pounds at the muzzle, but the .22 Mag. generates more than double that — around 300 ft-lbs.  Without the huge cost difference, the Mag would leave the LR in the dust — at least, it would in my case.

I have one rifle (Marlin 882) and one handgun (Ruger Single Six) chambered in .22 Mag, but I want more.  Which brings us to day’s GGP, the S&W Model 48:

This particular little beauty is at Collectors Firearms, and the only thing that’s stopped me from getting one is the nosebleed price.  (At Bud’s Gun Shop, the 6″ barreled model is over $100 cheaper… stop me before I do something foolish.)

“So Kim,” you may ask, “why do you want another .22 Mag revolver?”

Because I can, because it’s double- and not single action, and because it’s beautiful.  And in case I didn’t mention it earlier, because I love the .22 Mag cartridge.


  1. Pretty guns.
    The 100 buck premium at Collectors is pretty typical of them … 15% or so. It’s less painful for those of us nearby who can save the shipping and the FFL transfer fee. Occasionally makes it worthwhile to give them my money when they have something interesting or choice.
    That Model 48 really grabs the eye, but it’s worth recalling that for a long time S&W has only published pics of the right hand sides of their guns. Those of us who would say “beauty gun, but not having one with a lock on it” are supposed to be fooled somehow.

    1. And yes, I do realize the Model 48 doesn’t have a lock, but it’s the principle of the thing, idn’t.

  2. I was jonesing for a .22 wmr semi auto years ago, wound up getting an Automag II in a moment of weakness. Rather handsome gun, but dang, it was one jam-o-matic POS. My range’s gunsmith worked on it, and got it to run much better. Then it was just an inaccurate POS. I sold it for more than I paid, at least. I eventually scratched the .22 mag itch with a BRNO ZKM 611, which is what a 10/22 wants to be when it grows up. Sweet little takedown rifle, a beauty as well. I only have the six round mag that came with the gun–there are ten rounders out there, but they go for nosebleed prices.

    I had a Single Six, also a pretty gun, stainless and rosewood. It too was inaccurate, so I sold it. I’ve had poor luck with Ruger rimfire revolvers.

  3. Yes, just what I want to do – burn through 500-rd of .22WMR in a single range session. What better use do I have for $120-150?

  4. Well, I’m happy to say that I have a 6″ Model 48, manufactured in 1960, when my grandfather bought it.
    It’s beautiful gun and heavy too. Basically the same outside dimensions as a 6″ Model 14 but with a lot smaller holes in the barrel and cylinder.
    Aside from the cost, .22 Mag has issues in this revolver. One is the loud bang and fireball upon discharge. The other is that the fit is very tight on my Model 48 and since the .22 Mag doesn’t burn all the powder (at least in the ammo I used a few years ago) powder flakes can get under the extractor and jam the cylinder, preventing rotation or opening. It’s a good idea to check this when reloading. Hammering open the cylinder is not a good practice.
    A previous commenter mentioned the Automag II – I fell prey to the same jones. Cool pistol, but the magazine was a poor design and combined with the long rimmed cartridge, contributed to the feeding problems. The gun also had a fluted chamber which I presume was for a delayed blowback. It’s a dirty system, however, and makes it harder to clean.
    I never shot mine enough to find out what the accuracy was.

  5. I bought a Marlin .22 mag lever gun when I was 16 years old and shot the heck out of it for a few years and then it took a nap for about 30 years when I but a better scope on it and ran about a box and half of ammo through it for the next ten years and traded it on along. I don’t know why but for me a nice .22LR is great for plinking up to 50 yards and then I have a 22-250 and 556 for shooting out a bit further.

    I really like the idea of the .22 mag but I can purchase decent brass case, reloadable, centerfire ammo for not much more and at my age I don’t just pull the trigger to make a lot of noise, I take a little bit of time to aim and keep track of where the bullets go, even shooting steel.

    At one time I considered purchasing a little snub nose .22mag to use as a concealed carry gun until it was explained to me that a two inch barrel would not be long enough to burn the powder and a 38 or 9 mm would be a much better choice.

  6. Kim, I’m gonna give you the same argument that I gave my shootin buddy last month.
    He was talking about buying a new Ruger competition rifle in 6mm Creedmore. He was going back and forth, should I, shouldn’t I. He said he already has a safe FULL of rifles, pistols etc etc and didn’t NEED another rifle, but he was WANTING another rifle.
    My suggestion to him, was that he had worked hard all his life, in the cold, in the rain, in the heat etc etc.
    That he had EARNED the right to buy what he wanted, when he wanted. He could afford it, he wanted it,
    end of argument.
    The Ruger’s barrel is about halfway broken in now and shooting nice little groups and my friend is happy.
    You too have EARNED the right to make yourself happy. So DO it.

Comments are closed.