Issue 48 S333 Thunderstruck Mike Searson Because Anything Worth Shooting Once is Worth Shooting Twice Oddball firearms pique the interest of any firearms history enthusiast. Derringers, pin-fire revolvers, lever-action shotguns, most of what was developed in the infancy of modern firearms from the mid 19th century to the early 20th. Some represent stepping-stones or milestones toward modern designs, others make you wonder what the designer was smoking. There are endless dead ends and failures, and a few stand out as feats of engineering genius. The S333 Thunderstruck by Standard Manufacturing falls into that last category. This is an eight-shot revolver chambered in 22 Magnum with two barrels that fires two rounds with a single pull of the trigger. Known for their high-end shotguns ranging from $14,000 to $95,000 in price, the parent company, Connecticut Shotgun, has been turning out some of the finest double-guns in the world for over 40 years. About eight years ago, they opened the Standard Manufacturing division, responsible for turning out beautiful 1911 and Colt single-action Army-type revolvers as well as ARs, a double-barreled tactical pump shotgun called the DP-12, and their latest creation, the S333 Thunderstruck. At first glance the S333 Thunderstruck resembles a modern double-action revolver with a rubber grip, a double-action-only trigger mechanism, and standard fixed sights. The trigger guard is very non-traditional in that it has no bottom; it sports just a forward guard, and the trigger itself is perhaps three times as long as a typical revolver trigger, inset with a safety like that found on the trigger of a popular Austrian striker-fired semiautomatic pistol. It’s not until you look to the business end of the revolver that you notice the two barrels. This design fires two rounds of 22 WMR (Winchester Magnum Rimfire) at the same time, with each trigger pull. With four pulls of the trigger, eight rounds can be delivered on target in under three seconds. What initially appears to be the trigger is just the safety mechanism. A Few Words About Rimfire A lot of people dismiss rimfire cartridges as novelty rounds for training and plinking. Don’t fall into that group. Modern rimfire rounds have come a very long way since their introduction in the mid 19th century. The 22 WMR is larger case than the more common 22 LR (Long Rifle) in length and diameter. Because it’s larger, a 22 WMR round will obviously not chamber in a 22 LR firearm but the reverse may not be the case — but that doesn’t mean that you can shoot 22 LR rounds in a 22 WMR firearm. You may successfully chamber the smaller round, but the brass will more than likely swell, making extraction difficult, and there’s a risk of injury from gases leaking around the fired case. In short: Don’t do it. Lastly, most 22 WMR is manufactured to a higher standard than 22 LR, meaning that it will be inherently more reliable. It also means it’ll cost a little bit more. You’ll need to become familiar with this piece before you shoot it, especially how you hold it. Shooting the Thunderstruck For most of us, there’ll be a learning curve to firing this revolver, as the trigger squeeze is performed with two fingers instead of one. Your (usual) trigger finger must press the safety button, and you must squeeze purposefully with your trigger finger and middle finger simultaneously. This moves the transfer bar out of the way for the hammers to strike the firing pins and touch off the top two rounds in the cylinder. The rest follow suit, as the trigger moving forward advances the cylinder to cue up two more rounds. While it’s possible to fire the Thunderstruck with just the trigger finger, this is a Herculean effort due to the leverage required, and the rear of the longer trigger will definitely make malicious contact with the back of your middle finger. This was designed for safety reasons so that the revolver won’t discharge accidentally. Incidentally, you’ll need to become familiar with this piece before you shoot it, especially with how you hold it. As mentioned, the trigger is about twice the length of a typical trigger, so a conventional two-handed hold with your support hand wrapped around the grip won’t work here. This revolver works great one-handed, but if you need the second hand for support, make sure you don’t hold the front of the grip or the revolver will be unable to fire. The included eight-round snap cap is highly visible. I found it difficult to accurately gauge the trigger with an RCBS trigger scale but would place it somewhere in the realm of 12 to 14 pounds. It’s smooth and has a long reset and is reminiscent of a Stanley staple gun used to tack targets to a cardboard backing at the range. The fixed three-dot sights are red and easily visible, although we’re curious as to why they didn’t go with a different color to differentiate front and rear. A variety of ammunition types were used at the range. Normally, for a short-barreled revolver such as this, 1.25-inch Hornady Critical Defense would be the choice, as that load was designed to optimize the powder burn in such a small package. The S333 Thunderstruck was designed with close-range self-defense only in mind, and that’s the realm where it performs best. In fact, the name comes from referring to a gunfight as a series of threes: “Three shots, three yards, three seconds.” At distances out to 7 yards you can count on seeing two holes side by side for each shot, as we moved the target further out, the two-shot pattern opened significantly. This was to be expected, as 1.25-inch of barrel length isn’t going to do much to stabilize those little bullets in flight. You cannot reliably count on full expansion with a hollow point in a .22-caliber round in such a short barrel. For defensive purposes, you’re going to want a round that provides greater penetration. With a 40- to 50-grain bullet traveling around 1,000 feet per second, a single shot of 22 Magnum is only going to generate about 90 foot-pounds of energy on a good day. However, two rounds delivered simultaneously at about an inch creates two separate wound channels. That’s in the realm of 32 ACP or 380 ACP territory with less of the recoil. Not bad for a pocket rocket. Some folks have recommended a staggered loading with this type of revolver alternating Hornady Critical Defense with CCI Shotshells in 22 WMR. While we wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of such a double tap, this isn’t recommended when you actually need to save your life. Sure, it’d be a painful experience for the recipient, but not necessarily the key to ending the encounter. If it takes four two-shot volleys of rounds to save my skin, I’d opt for solid projectiles. If you’re emptying any revolver try to keep the muzzle elevated, but in a safe direction. Hit the ejector with one solid slap to knock out the empties and then reload. Particularly with a rimfire you want any unburnt powder, jacket material, etc., to leave the gun. Keeping it horizontal during this process will ensure there’s crud and buildup that’ll cause failure at some point. A traditional two-handed grip isn’t possible with the S333 due to the trigger. So How is This Not a Machine Gun? If you’re a regular reader of RECOIL, you’ll have seen the federal definition of a machinegun before. And in case you’re not, here it is again for posterity. According to Title 26 of the U.S. Code, Chapter 53 Section 5845: “The term ‘machinegun’ means any weapon which shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot, automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger.” The S333 Thunderstruck fires two rounds with each pull of the trigger, on the surface, that sounds like a machinegun. However, there’s a classification for this type of firearm, and it refers to “volley fire,” which was the original name for the first incarnation of this revolver. Standard Manufacturing released a model several years ago called the S333 Volleyfire. It was basically a six-barreled revolver chambered in 25 ACP. For whatever reason, the pistol wasn’t successful, and they went back to the drawing board to come up with a better solution. The principle stays the same, however, and because it fires two rounds simultaneously as opposed to sequentially, it isn’t considered a machinegun. At least not yet. Aftermarket The S333 Thunderstruck includes an eight-round snap cap arrangement. Anyone who dry-fires with any rimfire firearm should use snap caps or even plastic drywall screw anchors in order to protect the firing pin and chamber mouths from damage. There are two holsters made for the S333 Thunderstruck as of this writing, an IWB and a shoulder holster both available through Standard Manufacturing. They were out of holsters at the time we were preparing this article, so we were unable to test those for you. Even though this revolver could be carried safely in a pocket with almost zero chance of an accidental discharge; we’d caution prospective shooters to not carry in this manner. There’s more of a risk of snagging the trigger and fumbling the draw without a good holster. There are no speed loaders or speed strips at this time, but they may be available in the future. The same goes for laser sights and other accessories of that nature. Loose Rounds The S333 Thunderstruck will seem odd to some and intriguing to most. It’s intended as a close-range, self-defense firearm. When someone represents a genuine lethal threat within 5 yards, this is the distance where the S333 thrives. Even with thousands of hours of practice, this won’t be the handgun that’ll make head shots at 50 feet to stop an active shooter. However, Standard Manufacturing doesn’t pretend this is the answer to that question. The S333 Thunderstruck isn’t a primary handgun to be chosen by a SWAT officer, competitive shooter, or a servicemember. This is an affordably priced handgun that looks at stopping a threat a little differently than how conventional firearms manufacturers have done so in the recent past. It does take a bit of getting used to and while it may not be our first choice in a defensive handgun, it certainly wouldn’t be our last. Standard Manufacturing S333 Thunderstruck Grip: Polymer Weight: 18 ounces Capacity: 8 rounds Barrel Material: 4140 steel Frame Material: 7075 aircraft grade aluminum with anodized finish Caliber: 22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire Barrel Length: 1¼ inches Overall Length: 5.1 inches Action type: Double-action revolver Cylinder Material: 4140 steel MSRP: $429 URL: stdgun.com Explore RECOILweb:Governor Perry's cool hat12 Survivors Mini-FAKsThe Combat Application Trigger for GlocksComing soon from POF: the 9mm PSG NEXT STEP: Download Your Free Target Pack from RECOILFor years, RECOIL magazine has treated its readers to a full-size (sometimes full color!) shooting target tucked into each big issue. Now we've compiled over 50 of our most popular targets into this one digital PDF download. From handgun drills to AR-15 practice, these 50+ targets have you covered. Print off as many as you like (ammo not included). Click here to get IMMEDIATE ACCESS to a digital PDF of this target pack!