Smith & Wesson Model 43c .22 — For Carry?


Why I Carry This Gun For Personal Defense

I did a long-term test on a Smith & Wesson Model 43c — the flyweight .22 LR, eight-shot J-Frame. I know you’re going to ask, so we will address this question first: Did I, or will I, carry this gun for personal defense? I did, and I will.

The S&W 43c is the .22 LR version of the Centennial Model, whose name celebrates their 100th anniversary in 1952. The original model had a concealed hammer and a grip safety. There have been several iterations of this gun, including the 340 PD, an 11.8 oz .357 Magnum. The 340 PD is the reason why I got the 43c in the first place.

Both the Model 43c and the 340PD have enclosed hammers, giving them a distinct sloped appearance. It makes this design the easiest pocket revolvers to put into action in the business. The 43c comes with an XS Sights’ White Dot front sight and a fixed U notch for the rear. This setup is designed for snap sight alignment, and I can crank out my fastest time with failure drills I have ever clocked with a revolver. Just to answer the question forming in your head right now, I can shoot 15-yard headshots all day with this gun.

The Upsides Of A .22 Revolver

Over the past few years, every time a politician said they were going to take away our basic right to bear arms, I purchased a brick of 22s. There was an 8-year period where I had to dip into my savings to cover all of the gun-control threats. During the ammo drought, I had plenty of practice rounds. After January 20, 2021, I filled two closet shelves, buying a few rounds at a time. I have reloaded .22 LR before, but my preference is to keep a good stock of them.

This is the first upside of having a .22 revolver. A hundred rounds can be carried in a pocket. A .22 is not even marginal by defensive standards, but my experience with seeing gunshot wounds confirms .22s are also formidable in the right hands. Out of my 43c, Aguila SuperMaximum bullets come close to 1,100 fps and Stingers are right behind them. .22 cartridges are considerably more reliable than they were 10 years ago and revolvers don’t jam if the cartridge fails. If a zombie outbreak occurs anytime soon, I would be well equipped with my Henry H1001 and a Model 43c.

Shooting .357 Magnum cartridges in a lightweight gun can be painful. It’s good to practice with them regularly, but most perishable skills for the 340PD can be reinforced on the Model 43c. I got a Speed Beez speedloader and some Tuff Products QuickStrips to practice with it. In the time I can empty a five-round .38 cylinder, I am already on my reload with the Model 43c, with eight accurate shots on the target.

The Model 43c is made mostly of aluminum alloy with a stainless barrel. The backstrap and trigger guard even have milled areas for reducing weight. It has a matte-black finish, which seems to be rather resistant to pocket wear. I had a set of Crimson Trace LG-350 grips for it, so I put them on. Now it weighs 11.3 oz. (12.1 oz., loaded). It is the perfect pocket gun, as it is light enough for a pocket in my dress slacks.

The Model 43c Is Not A Match Gun

The Model 43c is easy to shoot, but the trigger pull is heavy and slightly gritty. I showed this to my gunsmith and he assured me he could smooth it out. The quality of the build is excellent, and I have put better than a couple thousand rounds through it already. My only comment on the design is something typical of all .22 revolvers: Because of the shorter ejector, one must punch the empties out with authority. Ejecting them slowly runs the risk of the thin brass getting off track, resulting in the ejector star getting behind the rims. When I teach revolver, I always teach pounding the ejector rod anyway.

The Model 43c is not a match gun, but everything is very consistent. Anyone who tried it could nail a headshot at 15–20 yards with little effort.

I didn’t start out carrying my Model 43c, but when I picked it up, I was running trails in my area. I don’t run unarmed, and the 43c was pretty easy to tote around with 36 rounds. As a kit gun, it brought me back to the times when we used to carry a couple cardboard boxes of .22s in a backpack, and a hike could turn into impromptu target practice.

I Cannot Tell You To Carry This Gun But ...

Shooter’s Choice has just released their .22-cal Pistol Cleaning Kit, which comes with their FP-10 Elite oil. Since it has all of the right things that protect a .22 in the same place, I recommend this for an accessory. Most J-Frame holsters fit it, but mine goes in a Sticky MD-5, which is good for running shorts and a tank top.

I cannot, in clear conscience, tell you to carry this gun. There are, however, reasonable applications for it. I’ll tell you one thing: No tin can is safe around me anymore.

MSRP for the Smith & Wesson Model 43c is $749

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