A guy on a forum was unhappy with the reliability of his self-loading Ruger Mk.III .22 with hollowpoints* and was looking for a revolver with which to teach his kid the basics of handgunnery, since he still had two bricks of said hollowpoints. He expressed dismay with the prices of some of the .22 revolvers out there, and I'm assuming he was looking in the S&W showcase because he asked "can anyone explain why a .22 revolver is more than a S&W M&P ?"
I swan, the price tag on a S&W .22 revolver is the single hardest thing in the handgun showcase to explain to the average consumer.
We are conditioned by a generation of .22 plinker self-loading pistols
to think that a rimfire should naturally be cheaper than a centerfire,
right? But there's a reason they're cheaper: Even a classic old Ruger Mark II has a barrel threaded into a
piece of tubing, mounted atop a gripframe that's just a couple of big
stampings joined together; it's essentially a well-polished Sten gun
with fancy stocks.
Meanwhile, over in the revolver case, the only real difference between
the Smith & Wesson Model 617 .22 revolver and the Model 686 .357 Magnum is the size of
the hole drilled in the barrel, but having walked past the auto case to
get there, our brains tell us that the price should be lower for the .22
because it's just a .22. It's more expensive than an M&P auto
because, with the exception of its barrel, locking block, and rather
elaborately-machined slide, the M&P is a collection of injection
molded parts and stampings that is much cheaper to make than a Hand
This is the same sort of economics that killed the Woodsman and
relegated the 41 to an esoteric niche product, despite an attempt to
come out with a sort of de-contented matte blue Highway Patrolman-esque
version in the late '50s. All of which makes it kind of ironic that the inexpensively-constructed Ruger
self-loaders are themselves threatened from below by products of
injection molded polymer and cast zinc alloy, for people who don't want
to shell out the bucks for a "high end" Mk. III auto.
There are inexpensive .22 revolvers on the market, but most tend to be
fairly crude constructions of painted or plated zinc, like the Heritage. If all
you're looking for is a plinker as opposed to an heirloom, and
understand that you could certainly wear one out with a high enough
volume of shooting, then I reckon they'll do. If, on the other hand, you're looking for a revolver through which you could fire many tens of thousands of rounds before handing it down to the grandkids, I'd consider buying the Smith or Ruger.
*I don't think it's the hollowpoints that are wrong with the dude's Ruger. Most .22 HP's are still round-nosed and even the truncated cone ones like the Remington Yellowjackets still tend to run okay in Rugers unless they're drier than a popcorn fart or cacked up enough with carbon fouling to require a dental pick for cleaning.