S&W Model 41


Today from Karl is this 1958 classic Model 41 S&W target rimfire pistol. A very highly desired pistol.


  1. 41’s can be had in 7″ and 5.5″ barrels from the factory. For 50′ bullseye work, I don’t see a benefit to the 7″ barrel.

    If you own a ’41 and want to detail-strip it for cleaning or polishing the trigger, I highly advise you to take pictures and notes as you take parts out of the frame. They’re not quite so easy to put back together as something like a Ruger MkII.

  2. Not… Quite… So… Easy… As… A… Ruger MkII?

    OK, aside from the Browning sporting BAR, the Ruger .22 semi-auto pistols are one of the more likely things to wind up in a basket and taken to the local gunsmith. I’ve lost track of the number of people who took theirs apart, and then utterly lost it upon attempting to reassemble the poor things. And, you say, this is worse?

    Yeah; I’ll give these a hard pass if I ever run across a reasonably-priced one, somewhere, somehow.

    I’ve this little rule of thumb, you see: If it requires the services of a three-handed prehensile monkey to reassemble, I’ll not be buying it. I’ve done just enough work on guns as a military armorer to be able to appreciate designs that actually lend themselves to user serviceability, and if that isn’t inherent, I’m not keeping it in my arsenal.

    I think John M. had it right: If you can put it together “wrong”, and be able to think you’ve got a functioning firearm (M60, I’m looking at you…), then you’ve fundamentally and abysmally failed as a firearms designer. Not to mention, it should go back together naturally, with ease and sense. Three hands required? You fail. Special tools? You fail, again…

    I remain gob-smacked at some of the things that have gotten out of the design shops and factories, over the years. Let alone, managed to get type-standardized for issue. The M60, for example…? That should have been laughed out of the fielding process as a sad practical joke, perpetuated on the test subjects. The fact that it somehow became our standard MG for nearly forty years…? Yeesh.

    • The MkII can be re-assembled in less than a minute if you’re just putting the barrel back on the frame, putting in the bolt and then putting in the mainspring cover.

      Most people just don’t want to do what needs to be done, and that involves pointing the muzzle upwards while you’re closing the mainspring housing.

      Here’s a link to Ruger’s MkII manual:


      Please look at pages 22 & 23. The manual shows the muzzle pointed straight upwards – I usually don’t find that necessary, but upwards at least 45 degrees is necessary.

      Once I show a MkII owner how they go back together, they can do it almost as quickly as I can. I can take a MkII from a basket of detailed-stripped parts to an assembled pistol in no more than three minutes, and that’s taking my time – but almost no tools. Maybe I use a paper clip to position a couple parts as I’m laying a pin in place.

      The S&W 41 requires tools – tweezers, slave pins, etc. It is a fiddly gun to get together – even for a gunsmith. That’s why I advise 41 owners to “not go there” unless they’re taking their time, and observing and documenting what when where as they take it apart.

      The 41’s advantage is the trigger. It has a very nice trigger for a target pistol. They can be tuned and stoned to become an exceptionally fine trigger. Triggers in semi-auto .22 pistols are a Big Deal, and the 41 has a trigger that can be tuned and stoned to be exceptional.

      There are, of course, some other target pistols with nice triggers (esp. the European competition pistols with the magazine forward of the trigger guard), but they cost more than the 41 does – like double.


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