It was based on their military frame, and as such, had appeal to those in military marksmanship units of the day. The line of thinking was much like ours today with using 1911 .22 conversion units.
The slab-sided barrel, under barrel weight and sighting rib gave it a unique profile, an appearance that I find visually pleasing. It just looks like an American target pistol.
Possibly one of the most unique items to the pistol’s design was its sight rib. They were configured with or without ventilation cuts and could be ordered in either steel or aluminum. And at times the rib deck could be found crafted flat with a matte finish or have multiple in-line ball cuts.
The adjustable sights were integral with the rib. That somewhat solved the problem HS had with prior models using a front sight dovetailed into the barrel and the rear sight mounted on a steel bridge that was attached to the frame; there was always a fear the two sights wouldn’t realign repeatedly with the older models until the Victor’s sight rib was introduced.From its early beginnings until the last few years of its production, the pistol had a takedown button like the prior generation of HS target pistols. Near the end of its production life the button was replaced by a hex screw, as an accommodation to manufacturing economy.
The transition from button to hex screw might have been an unintentional improvement. After prolonged shooting it would become extremely difficult to release the barrel when using the button, it simply got tighter. I’ve been told numerous times by friends how they needed to take a rubber mallet or the edge of a wood workbench as a tool to force the button in.
For those of you who have never handled this pistol, the factory stippling on the front and rear straps are simply gorgeous. It’s classic small crater point stippling. It wasn’t stamped out by a machine process; a technician took a single point stippling tool and a mallet, and then drove each point home one at a time. Whereby the demonstrated craftsmanship of those completed stippled areas look surreally consistent. It’s a labor process that’s cost prohibitive in today’s modern manufacturing processes.
Even though the Victor had great accuracy, felt heavy and was very controllable with its 46 ounce (empty) weight—it unfortunately had a few design problems that could leave a shooter flatfooted on the line.
HS’s magazines are legendary and the Victor suffered because of it. I wouldn’t be at all surprised most of you are well aware these mags can be a little twitchy. The basic flaw is the gun has no feed ramp. During the feeding cycle, the bullet had to be pushed by the breech almost perfectly straight into the chamber. It’s not a small feat and I wouldn’t call it controlled feeding.
So the practical aspect with the mags necessitate the lips be properly tuned to maintain reliable feeding. While at a match, don’t ever think of dropping one on a concrete floor because it’ll become toast.Since there is huge variance with the dimensions of .22 ammo, all mags pretty much had to be tuned to the brand of ammo a shooter wanted to use. Due to this it was extremely common for new Victors not to cycle right out of the box.
To complicate things further, secondary market mags appear to not have the appropriate steel or tempering to allow proper lip tuning. A common complaint is once one of these mags is tuned it wants to return to its original shape. The basic dimensions should be .230 inch wide for the rear of the front lips and .185 inch wide for the front of the rear lips. The front and rear lips should also be kept parallel as much as possible.
The Victor had a deservedly good reputation for accuracy, performance and was considered HS’s best high-end target pistol. From a historical perspective, the Victor dominated the Nationals at Camp Perry throughout the 1970s by many shooters who we revere today as legends. It was the pistol everyone had to have.