The Phoenix Arms HP-22 is an interesting example of how to build an inexpensive, yet reliable pocket pistol! All hyperbole aside, the HP-22 provides exactly the same amount of defensive fire power as any other 10 shot, compact .22 pistol for a LOT less outlay of cash. For people who aren\'t \"into\" guns and only want something inexpensive and easy to shoot that will spend more time in a drawer, or closet, or in a pocket or purse, than it will banging away at a range, pistols such as the HP-22 make sense.
What is interesting is that the HP-22 has demonstrated itself to be as reliable as any of my other, much more expensive .22LR pistols, and even one of my VERY expensive compact .380 ACP pistols! From day one the pistol dry cycled perfectly, and during range time, has thus far cycled perfectly for several hundred shots. Two-hundred shots without a single failure going either way is 100% reliability! I\'ve actually read comments where people have stated the little HP-22 functioned flawlessly, then stated, \"but I would never carry one because of it\'s \"cheap\" acquisition cost. This unfortunately is a sad commentary on a society that equates cost with functionality, despite holding in their own hand a low-cost pistol that functions every bit as well as those costing 3x more.
Anyway, with that said, the little HP-22 IS a nice, \"cheap\" gun....but also a 100% reliable gun to this point, and certainly worthy of consideration by anyone, and especially those who can\'t afford, or simply don\'t WANT to blow a thousand dollars on becoming a post-modern pistolero. The finish is basically black, matte, with thin polymer grips, and it fits nicely into the hand. Because it\'s built to a price point it\'s heavier than other compact pistols for this caliber, but still completely concealable for those who want that option.
About the only negative I would say about this pistol is the convoluted, \"California inspired\" safety system that won\'t allow the mag to be removed when the safety is on \"fire,\" and the independent firing pin block safety. This makes initial handling of the gun awkward and counter-intuitive, but it\'s EASILY corrected! All it takes is to remove the left side plate, lift out the thumb safety, and with a rotary tool, quickly shave away the portion that slides down behind the magazine release button. Now the pistol can be reloaded without having to put the safety on, then off. One interesting feature that remains is that if the magazine is removed and the thumb safety placed on \"fire\", it cannot be snicked off until the magazine is reinserted - your basic magazine interlock safety for those who care. The thumb safety that is modified costs $4.50 direct from Phoenix Arms so one can purchase a spare to insert just in case the pistol ever need warranty work.
Disassembly is a bit convoluted at first, but once understood, actually simpler and easier than other designs. The little slide tab located under the....\"big slide?\" is pushed forward, and the barrel rotated upward from the front...magazine IN the piece. Cocking the hammer as this is done will allow the barrel to rotate completely disengaging from a locking pin inside the frame. The recoil spring will pop up in front, and to slide, spring, and spring guide are stripped forward off the frame. The spring guide is an aluminum cylinder mounted to the slide release lever. RE-assembly is stranger, yet quite easy....drop the slide release back into its frame recess, place the slide on top just forward of the rear slide \"lugs\" insert the recoil spring onto the aluminum guide, then carefully insert the front edge behind the inside crossbar at the front of the slide. THEN, place the magazine body into the slot where the barrel goes, and pressing down, ride the whole thing back and snap the thumb safety UP to lock the slide back. Let the magazine come free, and you will see the recoil spring nicely compressed between slide crossbar and frame. Now insert the barrel lug into the frame, hooking the slot in the lug onto the frame pin, then press down...it will feel like it won\'t go, then snap into place. Pull back on the slide to release the thumb safety and the slide will go forward....reassembled! The instruction booklet that came with it is actually VERY clear on how to accomplish this procedure.
Even though such pistols tend to get more shelf time than range time, one that shoots as reliably the HP-22, and with such low recoil, does then to encourage one to shoot it when the opportunity permits, but for those concerned about buying a gun they can rely one out of the box without 1,000 \"break-in\" or sending off to one\'s personal gunsmith, the HP-22 is a worthy \"people\'s pistol\" because many \"non-gun people\" will never fire one until or unless that moment self defense becomes necessary, and based on my personal experience with this gun, it won\'t disappoint.
Rating: [5 of 5 Stars!]