June 2007

Three .22 Autos for the Trail: Phoenix’s HP22A Earns an A+

We admit we were surprised when the low-cost Phoenix HP22A overshadowed the substantially more expensive Beretta Cheetah and High Standard’s Sport King.

How much does it cost to get a decent .22 "plinker," or whatever you’d like to call a .22 pistol for shooting fun in camp or on the trail? Can you get one for under $150? Or will you have to spend many hundreds of dollars? The answers may depend on your proposed use for the gun, but if we limit the use to simply having low-cost fun with a semiauto handgun, the ground has been laid for our current test.

We came across a low-cost pistol at a local gun store, the Phoenix HP22A ($140 locally) and could not believe it would be any kind of performer, our opinion being based largely on its extremely low price. We had on hand a more costly pistol by a top maker, Beretta’s Cheetah Model 87, with a price tag ($675) well over four times the cost of the Phoenix. Both pistols seemed intended for casual shooting. They were certainly not target pistols, and too small for serious self defense. We decided to try these two against each other, and then threw in a recently made High Standard Sport King ($695).

Our impression of the Sport King was that although it was larger than the Beretta and much larger than the Phoenix, it seemed to be designed for the same casual uses of the other two, with its fixed sights and Parkerized finish. Its cost indicated it ought to do a pretty good job of busting apart yonder tin can. Here’s what we found.

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