Diamondback's NEW "Sidekick" 22 LR / 22 Mag Convertible Revolver

by Boge Quinn

January 24th, 2022

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Two methods for opening the cylinder.













Double-Action (top) and Single-Action (bottom) trigger pull.





Times change, but people do not.

When I was about eight years old, my Dad took me and my brothers to a Sheriff's Department auction on the Town Square in Clarksville, Tennessee, which is the County Seat of Montgomery County, where my Mom and Dad raised four mean little boys to be the best men they could be. Back in those days, the Sheriff's Department would raise funds by conducting annual auctions of everything from tools and knives to cars and guns seized during investigations. It was always exciting to go to auctions with my Dad, whether they were livestock auctions, farm implement auctions, estate auctions, or Sheriff's auctions, because you never knew what Dad would bring home; he almost always brought home something interesting. THIS auction, though, was more exciting than most, as I had saved up a few dollars of my own, and Dad said if they had something I could afford, I could buy it. I had never owned a "real" gun before, but it was my hope that I could find an affordable handgun that would allow me to emulate the dashing "Cowboys" from the Saturday TV movie matinees. I don't remember how many guns the Sheriff's Department had up for sale that year, but I do remember that they had an old Harrington & Richardson Model 929 nine-shot double-action 22 revolver. The old H&R was a little rusty, but Dad said it was mechanically in good shape and had no problems that gun oil and elbow grease wouldn't fix, and it was a REVOLVER. Revolvers have held a special fascination for me all my life, and while the H&R didn't really look like a Cowboy gun, it did have enough of the "Old West That Never Was" coolness about it that it became the first gun I ever "HAD" to have. I was a little nervous about whether I could afford it or not, but I REALLY wanted it, and I think some of the other bidders decided to take it easy on the Kid, so the gavel hammered down on my winning bid of seven dollars. I still remember being all puffed-up with pride as I went forward with my seven bucks (which was a not-inconsiderable sum for an eight-year-old kid in the late 1960s), shook the Deputy's hand, and walked away with my Prize. As I said, times change!

Also as I said, people do not change. That old H&R started me walking the path that I still walk to this day: I have plenty of long guns, but I have always been more of a Handgunner, and my collection is definitely reflective of that. I wish I knew what ever became of that first Model 929, but the old H&Rs have never lost their charm for me, and I own a good number of them now, including a very nice Model 929. 

My mind flashed back to all this when I first saw a pre-production Diamondback Sidekick in October 2021 at a Writer's Conference at the Texas Gun Experience in Grapevine, TX. We have known the fine folks at Diamondback for many years, first testing their DB380 380 ACP pocket pistol, then their revolutionary DB9 9mm pocket pistol, their now-discontinued full-size DBFS 9mm pistol, and their DB10 semi-auto 308 rifles. My brother Jeff and I visited the Diamondback factory in 2017, where we marveled at the modern manufacturing processes that allow Diamondback to control in-house all facets of manufacture, and had a lot of fun riding around in a Diamondback Airboat.

I had not heard anything in advance about the development of Diamondback's first-ever revolver, the Sidekick, so when I first saw it at the Writer's Conference, I was floored. Here we are, in a world of plastic semi-auto pistols and AR-style rifles, and one of today's finest makers of Modern firearms has developed a 22 revolver that made me feel like an eight-year-old kid again! With all the modern semi-auto rifles and pistols on display, I (along with a couple of the more Old-School gun writers in attendance) were immediately drawn to the Sidekick.

At first glance, the Sidekick resembles any number of 22 Single-Action sixguns on today's market, and it will fit holsters made for these sixguns (more on that later), but one quickly realizes that the Sidekick is neither a Single-Action, nor a sixgun!

Firstly, the Sidekick is a Double-Action or Single-Action revolver. For those who need these terms defined, a Single-Action's trigger system completes only one action: the trigger will release the hammer to fire a cartridge only after the hammer has been manually cocked, while a Double-Action's trigger system will both cock and release the hammer in one stroke. The trigger pull on a Double-Action is longer and heavier than a Single-Action as a result, so many use the Single-Action system for precisely-aimed fire, and the Double-Action system for rapid fire. The Sidekick has the look and feel of a Single-Action, but can be used either a a Single or Double-Action. My Sidekick's Double-Action trigger is quite heavy, measuring 11 pounds, 11.3 ounces on my Lyman Electronic Digital Trigger Pull Gauge, but although heavy, the Double-Action pull is "front-loaded"; the heaviness of pull is encountered after a slight takeup, and smooth over the trigger's travel. The Sidekick's Single-Action pull is an excellent and smooth 2 pounds, 6.8 ounces, with zero takeup and slight overtravel.

Secondly, the Sidekick features a nine-shot cylinder, but the difference between it and a sixgun does not end with the Sidekick's 50 percent capacity advantage. Although the Sidekick looks very much like the typical Single-Action sixgun, the cylinder swings out for loading / unloading, as is commonly seen on the more modern 20th Century Double-Action revolver designs. To maintain the appearance of the Cowboy-style sixguns,  the Sidekick eschews the cylinder latching mechanisms of typical Double-Action revolvers, and there are two methods of releasing the cylinder. The cylinder base pin can be easily grasped and pulled forward, releasing the cylinder to swing outward to the Port side of the revolver; this is how the old H&R design worked, and was thus the way I instinctively operated the Sidekick. The second method for releasing the cylinder is quite ingenious: to maintain the appearance of a Cowboy-style Single-Action revolver, there is an "ejector rod housing" mounted to the Starboard side of the barrel, but since the Sidekick is not a Single-Action revolver, there is no need for a Single-Action style ejector rod. Pressing what looks like the ejector rod button forward releases the cylinder to swing outward. It is a cool option, and allows the ejector rod housing to have more than a purely aesthetic function.

The Sidekick ships with two cylinders, one in 22 Magnum, and an accessory cylinder / crane assembly in 22 Long Rifle. This allows the 22 Long Rifle (22 LR) cartridge to be safely fired in the Sidekick. Many 22 Magnum revolvers are pressed into service as 22 LRs for inexpensive plinking with the lower-powered 22 LR cartridge, and I often shoot 22 LR in 22 Magnum revolvers myself, but this is not recommended. The 22 LR cartridge case is smaller in diameter than the 22 Magnum, so potentially dangerous case splitting may result when firing the smaller cartridges in the larger chambers. I have never had a problem doing this, but tomorrow I might, and the Sidekick eliminates this possible danger. Another potential benefit of having a second cylinder in 22 LR is that proper chamber dimensions in the 22 LR cylinder can increase the accuracy of that cartridge. The 22 LR cartridge can be used for everything from informal plinking to target shooting and small-game hunting, and the Sidekick is up to those tasks just as much as the shooter. The more powerful, and more expensive, 22 Magnum cartridge can take over for medium-size game, and can actually be used with great effectiveness as a defensive cartridge against smaller four-legged and larger two-legged predators.

Swapping cylinders in the Sidekick is very quick and easy. After opening the cylinder and assuring that the gun is unloaded, and double-checking that the gun is unloaded, assure that the gun is unloaded. Next, depress the link pivot pin at the front of the frame with a small punch or similar tool (I keep a 1/16" Allen wrench in the Sidekick's box for this purpose), pull the cylinder crane out to the left until you feel the crane contact the punch, then remove the punch. Finally, while keeping a finger over the link pivot pin hole in the front of the frame, remove the cylinder / crane assembly; keeping a finger over the link pivot pin hole will prevent the link pivot pin and spring from flying into the Wild Blue Yonder, which you do not want to happen - trust me on this! Installing the second cylinder is pretty much in reverse order, and the included instruction manual clearly describes and illustrates the process. After you do it once to establish the procedure, swapping cylinders takes far less time than reading this paragraph.

The Sidekick proved to be 100 percent reliable, and quite accurate with several different 22 LR and 22 Magnum loads. I did not try firing 22 LR using the 22 Magnum cylinder, because there was no need. The sights on the Sidekick will be familiar to anyone who is experienced with Cowboy-style Single-Action sights: the front sight is a rounded blade, and the rear sight is the typical non-adjustable grooved top strap. This type of sighting system is rugged and offers an acceptable degree of precision, but can be slow to acquire, especially in varying light conditions. I have had this type of sight shoot to different points of aim with the same gun and load, depending on where the sun was located in the sky during the course of a day. The different loads used obviously fired to different points of impact, especially with the 22 LR cylinder, but the Sidekick did shoot all loads tried reasonably close to the sights. Still, hopefully soon Diamondback will address this by introducing a Sidekick with adjustable sights.

To save on weight as well as manufacturing costs, the Sidekick's cylinder frame and grip frame are cast from zinc, while the high-stress components such as berrel, cylinder, and bearing parts are made of steel. The steel parts are finished in matte blue, with the zinc parts finished in black Cerakote, resulting in a pleasing dull-black finish throughout. The grips are black, checkered, glass-filled nylon, with a Diamondback logo molded into each side. The grip frame has the familiar Single-Action "plow handle" shape, and fit the hand quite well.

Specifications - Diamondback "Sidekick" 22 LR / 22 Mag Convertible Revolver

Caliber 22LR / 22Mag Convertible
Action Single & Double
Cylinder Capacity 9 Rounds
Barrel & Cylinder Steel, Blued Finish
Barrel 4.5 Inches, 6-Groove, 1:16 RH Twist
Barrel /Cylinder Gap 0.02 Inch
Frame & Handle Zinc, Black Cerakote Finish
Overall Length 9.875 Inches
Weight, Empty 32.5 Ounces
Front Sight Fixed Blade
Rear Sight Integral Notch
Grips Checkered Glass-Filled Nylon
Trigger Pull, DA 11 Pounds, 11.3 Ounces
Trigger Pull, SA 2 Pounds, 6.8 Ounces
Accessories Included Extra 22 Long Rifle Cylinder & Crane Assembly, Cable Lock, Box / Manual, Diamondback Bumper Sticker
MSRP as of January 2022 $320.00 US

As I mentioned above, holsters made to fit the Ruger Single-Six will work just fine for the Diamondback Sidekick, and I have been carrying my Sidekick around in a wonderful Single-Six holster made by my friend Mike "Doc" Barranti of Barranti Leather. Doc Barranti makes some of the finest holsters ever produced; he makes them by hand, one at a time, with meticulous attention to function and detail. Doc is a fine artist whose chosen medium just happens to be leather. My Barranti "Tyler Gun Works RSSE Border Ranger" holster was made to fit my beloved Tyler Gun Works RSSE Single-Six, and works perfectly for the Diamondback Sidekick. Barranti also makes a variety of other holster styles to fit the Single-Six, and will have an option to suit almost any shooter or budget. The Border Ranger is a belt-carry holster, but for those of us who prefer a chest-carry option, Barranti's Universal Chest Rig is a comfortable, practical, elegant, and cost-effective way to carry a wide variety of belt holsters on the chest, for those of us who are more at-ease wearing overalls or coveralls.

The Sidekick is styled after the Cowboy-style sixguns of the late 19th Century, takes its function from long-gone variants of the mid 20th Century, and ups the ante with the modern materials and manufacturing processes of the 21st Century. 

With the introduction of their new Sidekick, Diamondback Firearms has filled a niche that has been too long vacant: a USA-made revolver with 50% greater firepower than your standard single-action sixgun, offering double-action capability with a traditional single-action "Cowboy" appearance. The Sidekick is unique on today's market, and offers great utility and good quality at an affordable price.

Check out the Sidekick at Diamondback Firearms: www.diamondbackfirearms.com.

To Find a Diamondback Firearms Dealer Near You, Click on the DEALER FINDER at Lipsey's: www.lipseys.com.

To Order Diamondback Firearms Products Online, Click on the GUN GENIE at Davidson's Gallery of Guns: www.galleryofguns.com.

Order Ammo Online at Lucky Gunner: www.luckygunner.com.

Remington Ammo: www.remington.com.

CCI Ammo: www.cci-ammunition.com.

Armscor Ammo: www.armscor.com/ammo.

Lyman Products: www.lymanproducts.com.

Barranti Leather: www.barrantileather.com.

Boge Quinn

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Click pictures for a larger version.



The gun that started it all for Boge: Harrington & Richardson Model 929 22 Long Rifle.





The Sidekick 22 Magnum ships with a second cylinder/crane assembly in 22 Long Rifle.



Removing and swapping cylinders is quick and easy.



"Tyler Gun Works RSSE Border Ranger" Single-Six holster and Universal Chest Rig by Mike "Doc" Barranti of Barranti Leather.




Among the loads tested in the Sidekick were (top to bottom): Remington "Golden Bullet" HP 22 LR, CCI Standard Velocity 22 LR, CCI "Maxi-Mag" FMJ-FP 22 Magnum, Armscor JHP 22 Magnum.



CCI Standard Velocity 22 LR, standing offhand at ten yards.