This will be the first entry into a new series called Jimmy's Collection. A chance meeting with a fellow revolver enthusiast at a local shop has led to an invitation to review a full of wheel guns that he has collected. One of his favorite small framed revolvers is the Smith & Wesson 43c. Here is a little more about this nifty little J-frame!
Smith & Wesson has produced small five shot revolvers chambered in .38 Special for decades. Historically, pocket sized J-frames have been carried for protection by law enforcement and private citizens alike, but few have been chambered in .22 Long Rifle. Luckily, Smith & Wesson is producing a small handful of small framed rimfire revolvers and one of them is the 43c!
Weighing less than 12 ounces unloaded, this aluminum alloy revolver sports an eight shot cylinder. XS Sights has supplied a pinned white dot front sight to mate with the U-notch rear which provides a great sight picture. The ejector rod is protected by a barrel shroud and matte black finish is a nice touch. There is also small groove cut into the back strap with a post at the bottom of the frame that appears to be for a lanyard. Not sure how I feel about that, but the milling saves a tiny bit of weight. This I like. All of these upgrades help justify the slightly higher MSRP of the 43c!
Finding speed loaders for the S&W 43c was easy as Speed Beez produces the model 317-08 which is compatible with eight shot J-frames. While they are a little pricey, they are extremely high quality and worth the price. Speed Beez also offers several Loading Blocks so you can get away with only one speed loader while practicing on the range and/or a shooting match like Steel Challenge. I also encountered the 5 Star Firearms J2-22 online, but the description indicated it fit the Ruger LCR and & SP101.
The 43c is incredibly light, even for a J-frame. I've pocket carried several revolvers, but after becoming spoiled to slightly longer stocks, pocket carry has become a bit more challenging. I felt like the short rubber stocks would make it an ideal candidate for pocket carry. On the range, the 43c was riding comfortably in this pocket holster, a Safariland Model 25. There isn't a ton of retention outside, but the pressure put on the holster in the pocket keeps everything in place. The holster keeps the revolver oriented correctly and it draws quickly from a pocket.
Due to it's rimfire design, the .22 long rifle cartridge is not always the most reliable. As revolvers have relatively heavy double action triggers, there is a slightly better chance for ignition. I was curious to see what kind of issues the 43c might have with commonly available rimfire ammunition.
To test reliability, the revolver was loaded with eight rounds of each type of ammunition and a first attempt to fire each round was made. For rounds that did not fire the first time, a second attempt was taken with varying results. Unfortunately, the 43c has some reliability issues. The following loads were tested with the following results:
Needless to say, there were several reliability issues. The Federal HV Match and Remington Automatch both functioned incredibly well, but there were some issues with other loads.
I've always found light weight double action revolvers to be a bit challenging to shoot well. This particular model is lighter than most which made it particularly challenging to fire! The trigger was a bit heavy and for with good reason, increased reliability. Unfortunately, the trigger of this particular sample pulled between eleven and twelve pounds! This made shooting at distance difficult, which may be why my target was only five yards away. Even at shorter distances I found myself pulling low right, but this helped me work on my trigger control as recoil is incredibly light. The sights were very visible and I prefer pinned sights to milled slides any day. In all, I fired 300 rounds in one range session and it didn't cost me an arm and a leg!
The Smith & Wesson 43c is a really neat J-frame chambered in .22LR! Not only is this light weight revolver a fun range gun, but it is a fantastic training aid for those that carry small framed wheel guns. Accessories are plentiful and relatively inexpensive. I think the reliability might be the one factor that keeps me from adding this one to my list. While two of the six loads did manage to fire all eight rounds, this only happened after a second strike. Shooting this revolver was challenging because of the heavier trigger weight. I really like the visible front sight and the lack of recoil.
If you are looking for a really neat .22 revolver, you might want to give this one a try! Jimmy, thank you again for letting me shoot this revolver from your great collection!
As always, if you have any suggestions for future posts or would like to share your experience on the current topic please post below!