Range Review:  Phoenix Arms, HP22 Pistol

By: Felicia Sheffield; Tuesday, October 13, 2009

 for ENGL 1010, O'Donnell, ETSU

Final Revised Form: Essay


Felicia Sheffield is an undergraduate, Anthropology major at East Tennessee State University.  She is not a gun expert, but loves researching and trying out new guns.  She may be reached at SheffieldF357@yahoo.com if you have any questions.





Introduction:  HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

On September 23 of this year, I received a handgun for my eighteenth birthday.  It is an attractive little .22 pistol with a nickel-colored slide, barrel, and trigger group and jet black hand grips.  Though bought used, the pistol looks brand new.  The frame has an elegant feel to it; all of the edges are smoothed, and the gun feels soft yet metallic.  Later that day, I researched my new, beautiful pistol.  I downloaded a gun manual, printed it out, and read it carefully.  Then, I figured out how to disassemble and reassemble my gun in less than a minute.  As a gun enthusiast, I couldn’t wait to go shoot it!



            My first stop was Mahoneys, an outdoor goods and gun shop, in Johnson City, Tennessee.  I purchased a used holster, a cleaning kit, an extra magazine, and five hundred .22 caliber rounds. 

            My second stop was a small rifle range in Elizabethton, Tennessee named Pond Mountain.  The tiny range, surrounded on all sides by The Cherokee National Forest, offers targets at fifty yards, one hundred yards, and two hundred yards.  I decided to stay at the fifty yard bench for the first several hundred rounds.



            Before shooting I thoroughly cleaned the handgun.  I loaded the magazines to their maximum capacity of ten rounds

each.  I laid the first magazine on the table beside me, and inserted the second into the frame of the gun.  After undoing all the safeties, I grasped the pistol tightly in my right hand.  I racked the slide back, let it fall into place, and squeezed off ten rounds to empty the first magazine.  I pressed the magazine release button.  The empty magazine dropped. I quickly inserted the second magazine and fired those bullets as quickly as the first ten.  I came to the conclusion that with a little more practice reloading, I could fire twenty rounds in less than thirty seconds!


Gun Integrity

            I continued the above mentioned shooting process four more times.  Not once did the gun misfire.  I was quite impressed with the magazine integrity.  After I let the magazines drop nearly six feet to the ground and strike the pavement, they were neither scratched nor broken.  After the first one hundred rounds, I inspected the gun barrel.  It was reasonably dirty, but all of the working parts seemed in order.  There were no obvious signs of wear, so I continued shooting. 


Magazine Design

            Over the next one hundred rounds, shot more slowly than the first, I discovered that the lips of the magazine feel very sharp.  They are very efficient in design, but are absolutely murderous to your fingers when loading rounds.  To load a magazine, you must push the round down and back into the magazine.  The lips of this magazine are rounded off, but protrude slightly above the spring mechanism.  So every time you push a round into the magazine, your fingertip gets scratched by these metal protrusions.  After a couple hundred rounds, your finger aches quite a bit.  To solve this problem, well a temporary solution anyway, I quickly learned how to ambidextrously load my magazine.  This could be a potentially useful skill to have, and it allows time for your fingers to rest in between reloads.


Holster Design

            For a while I practiced drawing my pistol from its holster and firing it.  I soon discovered that the ambidextrous hip holster I had purchased was NOT meant for quick draw.  The holster I bought had been used, and as a result of wear the brand name logo was missing.  On both sides of the holster there are loops of fabric so you can attach the holster to your belt.  Atop those loops of fabric there is Velcro to attach the strap to.  The strap is freely adjustable, so you can customize the fit to your pistol.  When trying to quick draw, you must remove the pistol as quickly as possible from it holster and ready it to fire.  The Velcro cause problems, because you must pull it away before you can even get to the gun.  However, after several practice runs, I concluded that the holster was only a minor setback.  After much more practice, I should be able to smoothly draw my pistol and fire it in just a few seconds.



I found that that the HP22 is an accurate target pistol.  The gun is only four inches long.  This means the sights are tiny compared to most other pistols in it size range, but I would expect nothing less from such a compact gun.  The rear sights are black, and the front sights are silver.  This is an efficient design; because if distinguishing between the front and rear sight is not hard then aiming the gun is a simple task. 



After firing every round, the slide flies back, this is known as a recoil.  This action pushes against the gun, which pushes against your hand.  Since your wrist will not easily compress backwards, the gun normally pushes itself upwards.  In many handguns, much larger than my .22, this can be extremely painful; especially if the shooter doesn’t know how to properly handle a weapon.  When the gun pushes upwards, it knocks itself off target.  With a little practice, you can learn to retrain the weapon on the target following every recoil action.  The HP22 has a miniscule unnoticeable recoil, which makes retraining the gun on the target a simple flick of the wrist. 



            Overall, I was impressed with the integrity of the HP22.  Phoenix Arms, a Canadian firearms company based in Ontario, first produced the HP22 in 1994.  Due to the gun’s inexpensive price (around $100-$150), it has been given a bad reputation of being “just another Saturday night special”, which leads to assumptions that the gun is cheap and faulty.  I would have to argue greatly against this view.  On the first day I shot this firearm, I put five hundred Remington .22 long rifle rounds through it.  It only misfired seven times all day, and I concluded that these malfunctions were due to faulty ammunition.  The magazines were not hurt after being repeatedly dropped on the ground.  The internal mechanisms on the pistol were not worn after being repeatedly slammed together five hundred times in a row.  The accuracy is impeccable, and the recoil is nearly unnoticeable.  The HP22 is a great target practice pistol.  The gun takes a while to learn to deal with, because it has more safeties than any other pistol I have ever shot.  This pistol would make a great concealed carry backup, as long as you practice with it enough to be familiar with the safeties.  In conclusion, I would definitely recommend this firearm to everyone that wants a practice pistol.