One silver lining the recession has had is that it’s made me rediscover how much I like shooting guns chambered for .22 long rifle. Yes, the lowly .22LR. Like many shooters, I cut my teeth on a .22 rifle. In my case, it was a Ruger 10-22 that my dad bought me for my 11th birthday. Or was it my 10th birthday? Hell, I forget. As I got older, I moved on to more “manly” guns. But by around 2009, the double-whammy of a bad economy and sky-rocketing ammo prices forced me to return to the .22LR as my primary outlet for shooting entertainment. I recently reviewed the GSG 522 SD and it was the bee’s knees. So when I saw that GSG was producing a full-size affordable .22LR clone of the venerable Colt M1911A1, I had to get my mitts on one for testing . . .
German Sport Guns is a small but growing firm based out of Höingen, Ense, Germany. They’ve been around for about 10 years now and have seen great success with their excellent version of the HK MP5 and other interesting .22 clones. American Tactical Imports (“ATI”) is the U.S. importer of GSG products, and has developed an excellent reputation for customer service and repair of GSG guns.
In early 2010, GSG entered what was a pretty tight .22 pistol market with their 1911 clone. There’s a wide selection of excellent .22 target pistols in the $300 to $500 range including the Ruger MK III, the Browning Buckmark, the Beretta Neo, and the Smith & Wesson Model 22. The super sexy Beretta Cheetah 87 Target will set you back about $700. Older classics such as the Colt Woodsman and Hi-Standard Model 106 Military/Supermatics are also available, but expect to pay through the nose for samples in excellent condition.
But the GSG 1911 .22 is unique in that – unlike the guns mentioned above, it accurately replicates the ergonomics and manual of arms of a Colt M1911A1 pistol. If you’ve wanted a low-cost .22LR trainer to supplement your M1911 you have, as far as I have been able to tell, five options:
(1) a vintage Colt Series 70 Ace
(2) a Kimber .22 Target
(3) a Colt (Carl Walther / Umarex) Government 1911 .22
(4) a GSG 1911 .22
(5) a Chiappa 1911.22
SIG Sauer markets a .22LR based on the 1911 platform, but it is manufactured by GSG and, cosmetic differences aside, is identical to the weapon featured in this article. Similarly, the Chiappa 1911 .22 is also marketed by Legacy under the name “Puma.” Browning now makes a 1911 .22 clone, but theirs is a “mini-me” version (i.e. smaller than a real 1911). Downsizing the 1911 is a decision that I think FN / Browning will regret in due course.
Although this isn’t intended to be a side-by side comparison between these various guns, the differences between them are reflected by their price points. Starting with the most expensive, the Colt Series 70 Ace is an out-of production collector’s item that fetches well over $1300 in good condition. The remaining four options are currently in production:
- Kimber 1911 .22: Nicely finished, aluminum slide and frame, plastic magazines, very light at 23 ounces, slide does not hold open on last round, street price is $650.00.
- Colt-labelled Umarex 1911 .22: proprietary alloy slide; fixed, non-removable barrel; similar weight to an original; many proprietary parts; $400.00.
- GSG 1911 .22: a zinc alloy slide and frame; high degree of parts interchangeability with a M1911; similar weight to an original; good workmanship, $350.00.
- The Chiappa 1911 .22: zinc alloy slide; utilitarian workmanship; $230.00.
So based on this thumbnail comparison, the GSG is definitely one of the most affordable of the five options. The question is – is it worth 3.5 Benjamins? IMO… Oh, hell yeah.
Features and Attributes
Taking a visual tour of the GSG, it is very difficult to tell you are not looking at a “real” .45 ACP 1911 until you look at the muzzle. Other than that, it’s a virtual dead-ringer for the big boy gun. The size is exactly the same and, as you can see from the photo below, the GSG frame is virtually identical to a full-size Springfield Armory .45 ACP 1911 (foreground).
The gun weighs in at 34 ounces, which makes it about 4 or 5 ounces lighter than a typical .45 1911. Thus, while somewhat lighter than a “real” M1911, the GSG weighs enough that it feels like the real thing.
As discussed in more detail below, the slide is made out of an incredibly lightweight zinc alloy. At first glance, I thought the frame was made out of Parkerized steel, but the frame does not react very well to a magnet, which indicates that it’s an alloy of some sort.
Manual of arms is exactly the same as a 1911. Importantly, the GSG holds open on an empty magazine. The magazine release and slide stop function the same as a 1911, too. Other than the safeties (more on that later), the only major operational difference is the fact that GSG’s barrel does not tilt back like an M1911.
The GSG 1911 comes with a number of so-called “enhanced” features that used to be only found on custom 1911s including ambidextrous safeties, beavertail grip safety, extended trigger with adjustable over-travel screw, “commander” style hammer, and extended magazine catch.
And speaking of parts, one extremely cool thing about the GSG 1911 .22 is that it has a high degree of parts interchangeability with standard .45 1911 parts. This list includes: slide stop, barrel bushing, ambidextrous thumb safety; mainspring housing (and internal parts); grip safety; disconnector; hammer and strut; sear; sear and sear spring; grips and grip screws; magazine catch; plunger tube assembly, and trigger.
Note: while some of these are true “drop in” replacements, the gunsmiths at ATI told me that some replacement parts will require some handfitting so YMMV. Also, I have seen various sources state that the GSG 1911 .22 has “80% parts” interchangeability with a standard 1911. That all depends on how to define and count the parts, though. For example, does the magazine count as one part or seven? My impression is that the 80% figure is a fairly meaningless statistic.
Despite the low price, GSG doesn’t scrimp on equipment included with the gun. It ships from the factory with two magazines, a 12mm wrench used to take the thread cap off the barrel, a safety lock (not pictured because I used it as a target one day), a replacement guide rod buffer disk, one Allen wrench needed for disassembly of the gun, two Allen wrenches needed to drift or replace the sights, a chamber flag, a chamber cleaning brush and two extra front sight posts of varying heights. These latter items are especially useful since .22LR bullets can vary greatly in velocity, causing a high degree of variability in the vertical trajectory of the bullet.
One of the best features of the GSG 1911 .22 is that it is almost suppressor-ready: it comes factory-equipped with a threaded barrel. Barrel treading will usually cost you $65-100 if a gunsmith does the work. The GSG’s barrel threads also allow you to add screw-on compensators and other similar devices. Also, the barrel on the GSG is fixed in place (i.e. non-tilting) so there is no need for a Nielson device to assist the action when firing suppressed.
In one GSG 1911 .22 review I read, the author was highly critical of his test sample’s trigger. I’m not sure if his sample was bad or whether he was too picky, but my test sample has a much better trigger than one would expect on a $350.00 gun. It initially had a bit of creep, but it smoothed itself out after a thousand rounds or so. Now it falls at about 4.5 to 5 pounds with a 1/8 inch of take-up, virtually no creep, a good let-off, and very little perceptable overtravel.
Is the trigger as good as an Ed Brown custom .45? No, but it’s not a $3K gun, either. I think it’s important to keep expectations in line with the gun’s price tag. Certainly, this trigger is as good or better than many triggers I’ve felt on .22 pistols. If you insist on having an Ed Brown-quality trigger, however, you can certainly swap out the parts on the GSG to your heart’s content. Or buy an Ed Brown.
The factory GSG grips are checkered, and depending on the model, are made of either plastic or wood. The wood grips on the test sample were done in the classic Colt style “Double Diamond” pattern. They didn’t exhibit much grain and were not fancy by any means. They were functional, utilitarian, and pretty good looking. Thus, while any aftermarket grips intended for a 1911 will fit the GSG 1911 .22, there is no urgent need to replace the factory grips unless you are looking to upgrade the looks of your gun.
One definite highlight of the GSG 1911 .22 is the magazines. These magazines are designed to replicate the size and feel of a standard M1911 magazine. When you pick one up, you know immediately that these are substantial, heavy duty units. Unlike many .22 LR magazines, these are relatively easy and painless to load. They appear to be made out of a zinc alloy. The follower and base plate are plastic. Extra magazines are $25 bucks a pop, which is in the ballpark with other .22 magazines.
One downside: the plastic base plates are rather delicate and will break if you drop them. If you are going to be doing a lot of mag changes that result in them being dropped to the ground, I highly recommend that you change out the plastic base plates with aftermarket aluminum plates.
Normal blueing won’t work on zinc or aluminum alloys, and so the finish on the GSG’s slide appears to be some sort of paint. Honestly, I have not been all that impressed with this finish, as it appears it’s not as durable as I would have hoped. The good news is that Duracoat works well on the GSG slide and since I’m going to keep this gun, it will get Duracoated at some point in the future. ATI warns users not to heat-treat / bake the zinc-alloy parts, however. The alloy has a lower melting point than steel and apparently some folks have ruined their slides by heating them up too much.
I have not really been able to figure out the composition of the frame’s finish. Whatever it is, it looks a lot like Parkerizing, Unlike the slide, the finish on the frame is very tough, and I have yet to scratch it in any way.
Perhaps my only significant complaint with the GSG 1911 is the sights. They’re made of plastic and they are somewhat delicate. Both the front and rear sights fit in a “Novak” style dovetail cut, and are held in place with metal hex screws. The front sight screw is a microscopically small hex head deal. If your GSG is not shooting dead-center bulls right from the factory, you will have to drift these sights in order to sight it in. Be warned, you have to be very careful not to strip the threads. I was a bit of a Neanderthal and managed to strip out the rear sight when I tightened it up too much and it is surprisingly easy to do. ATI was kind enough to send me a replacement free of charge, however.
Visually, the sights are a three-dot arrangement similar to what you’d normally see on a modern .45 1911 and I had no issues achieving good sight picture. GSG provides the user with two additional front sight blades of varying heights, in case you want to raise or lower the point of impact.
The GSG has more safety features than a Volvo XC60. In the military, we were taught that in addition to the soldier’s finger, the Colt M1911A1 had five “safety features:”
- Manual “thumb” safety (aka: slide lock”)
- Manual grip safety (prevents hammer from falling unless gun is properly gripped)
- Slide stop (holds back the slide on an empty magazine, allowing visual inspection of chamber).
- Half cock notch (arrests the hammer fall should the operator’s thumb slip while manually cocking the pistol).
- Disconnector (aka “sear disconnect’) (prevents the gun from firing if the slide is out of battery).
The GSG has two additional safeties beyond those listed above:
- “Colt Series 80” style firing pin block safety (holds firing pin; deactivated by the trigger).
- Magazine safety (gun will not fire without magazine in place).
A lot of folks are not going to appreciate the GSG’s mag safety, especially if you use the gun in competition. Fortunately, it’s fairly easy to replace parts and deactivate that safety.
One minor gripe relates to the GSG’s grip safety: it protrudes from the weapon more than one would typically expect on a .45 ACP 1911 and takes more force to activate than normal. Again, it’s not a deal killer, but it is noticeable. Of course, if it really bothers you, you can swap out some parts and make it precisely replicate your .45 ACP 1911.
Another slight quibble is that thumb safety isn’t radiused, so it’s slightly uncomfortable to the touch. Again, these parts can be swapped out if it really bothers you.
If you spend any time reading older (2010 and 2011 era) internet reviews of the GSG 1911 .22, you’ll note consistent reports of a few key problem areas. In retrospect, it appears that the GSG 1911 .22 may have been rushed to the market. Fast forward two years, and it appears that the gun has now been thoroughly Beta-tested. As far as I can tell, GSG has resolved the major issues.
But far and away, the biggest problem area was the factory guide rod and its associated buffer, washer, and spring. The first generation guide rod was both skeletonized and made out of zinc alloy. As a result, they tended to snap off at their base after as few as 500 rounds. GSG has made some design changes to the guide rod and the new ones seem to be doing much better. My test gun was still going strong at 1500 rounds when I swapped the factory guide rod out for a CWA replacement.
The first generation recoil spring also caused a few headaches. GSG initially used the same tapered, directional recoil spring that they use on their GSG 522s. If you installed the spring in backwards, it could cause havoc with the gun. Fortunately, GSG now uses a non-tapered spring and my understanding is that ATI will retrofit the older units free of charge.
The barrel bushings on the original GSG 1911 .22’s were made out of zinc alloy, and they frequently cracked. GSG’s now makes the barrel bushing out of steel which has resolved the problem.
GSG originally outfitted the 1911 .22 with a rubber buffer disk, but that has been replaced by a clear plastic disk. The stainless steel washer was also redesigned, and is now shorter and thicker than the previous washer.
The recoil spring plug was also redesigned by adding two small anti-twist “ledges” to the plug. These feet are critical to the operation of the pistol, and therefore aftermarket plugs should not be used.
Disassembly / Reassembly
Disassembly is fairly similar to the procedure used on a government model M1911. The only major difference is that the GSG has additional pins (in addition to the standard slide stop) that hold together slide and frame together. One of these pins – the “Barrel Fixing Pin” is actually a small hex Allen screw that helps secure the barrel to the frame. This screw plays a key role in the accuracy of the gun, as it holds the barrel on straight and tight.
The gun comes with the Allen wrench needed to remove the barrel fixing pin. If you lose the Allen wrench in the field, you are pretty much screwed unless you have a spare on hand. Some folks will consider this a significant reason not to buy a GSG 1911. 22. In my estimation, though, it’s not that big a deal because the GSG is more of a range gun than a field / home defense gun.
One word of caution on reassembly: the barrel shroud is relatively soft metal. You have to be careful not to tighten up the Barrel-fixing screw too much. If you Cro-mag it, you will strip out the threads and you’ll have to buy a new barrel ($45.00).
Range Time: Accuracy & Reliability
After 2000 rounds, the GSG 1911 .22 has proven itself to be very reliable, especially when feeding it the CCI Mini Mags that are its preferred diet. Most the failures I experienced happened when I fired the first round from the magazine and were the likely result of my thumb rubbing up against the slide when I released the slide stop. This extra drag causes the gun to lock up with less force than it otherwise would. I recommend that you either use the “slingshot” method to rack the slide, or be careful to not let your thumb rub the slide when you disengage the slide stop.
Accuracy seems to be more than adequate for a gun of this sort. I’m certainly not a crack pistol shot by any means and I was able to achieve 1½ to 3inch, 5 shot groups at 25 yards (benched) using CCI Mini Mags. A really good shooter could no doubt do even better. I shot this 10-shot group off-hand at 15 yards:
To Zinc, or not to Zinc? That is the Question
One thing that may make the GSG 1911 less attractive to some potential purchasers is the fact that the slide is made out of die cast zinc alloy. The use of zinc alloys is common on .22 guns that are trying to both replicate larger center-fire pistols, and also keep the price point below $500.00.
Some folks in the shooting community dismissively refer to die cast zinc as “pot metal.” These “Zincophobes” won’t touch a zinc alloy gun with a 100-foot pole. Because the .22LR can only generate a small amount of force to push the slide rearward, it is obvious that the slide on a .22 caliber 1911 clone needs to be extremely light weight. That’s why Ruger Mark II’s and other steel .22s don’t have a slide like a typical centerfire semi-auto pistol.
But if you want to replicate a modern semi-auto pistol gun featuring a full-sized, reciprocating slide, you can’t use heavy steel unless you mill out a bunch of expensive lightening cuts. Even then, reliability will be iffy. Thus in the GSG 1911, the need for a lightweight slide means that the only three possible metal alloys they could use are aluminum, titanium, or a zinc alloy. Figure cost into the mix and zinc alloy becomes the natural choice: GSG wanted to hit a price point in that $350 range and that necessitates the use of zinc.
After putting a few thousand rounds through both the GSG 522 SD and the GSG 1911, I can honestly say that I don’t have any major concerns about the use of zinc in the slide. Perhaps if you are going to be putting 50,000 to 100,000 round a year through your gun, you may want to buy the Kimber. (I have no personal experience with the Kimber, but I would assume that the aluminum frame and slide would wear better than zinc). But for most people who will just use the gun for range plinking or competition a few times a month, I don’t anticipate any serious issues with longevity.
Some GSG 1911 .22 users have reported some “peening” occurring on the slide stop notch. According to the gunsmiths at ATI, this is a cosmetic issue for the most part, but it does nonetheless indicate that the use of zinc alloy does involve some compromises. As shown below, the test gun shows some cosmetic wear after 2000 rounds, but nothing significant.
Caliber: .22 LR (Optimized for HV ammunition)
Action: Semi auto, blowback operated
Capacity: 11 (10 round magazines)
Overall Length: 8.6 inches
Overall Height: 5.5 inches
Barrel Six groove, right hand twist, alloy shroud, steel liner, 5 inches.
Weight: 2.15 lbs
Sights: Black plastic “Novak” style with a standard three-dot configuration.
Finish: Slide: painted black; Frame: proprietary finish, visually similar to Parkerizing
Price: $350 (Retail Street Price).
RATINGS (out of five)
Style * * * * *
It’s a dead ringer for a modern 1911, so what’s not to like!
Ergonomics * * * * *
Standard 1911 ergonomics…it either works for you or it doesn’t, but most American shooters seem to like the way the 1911 feels and handles, so I’ll give it 5 stars.
Reliability * * * ½
After an initial break in period of 150 rounds or so, this pistol has been very reliable. The only malfunctions I’ve experienced occurred when I was using standard velocity ammunition, and even then it runs smooth about 99% of the time. Using good quality HV ammo recommended by the manufacturer, there are very few malfunctions. The key is to keep the chamber clean to reduce the amount of drag caused by the round as it’s inserted and extracted from the chamber. To help with this, the GSG comes with an angled chamber brush. It is your friend, use it! Do this every couple hundred rounds or so and you will be good to go.
Customize This * * * * *
It’s a 1911 design, so virtually anything that will fit on a real 1911 will fit on the GSG 1911. There is one caveat, however. The slide needs to remain very light in weight in order to cycle via the blowback of a .22LR round. Chet Whistle of CW Accessories makes aftermarket accessories to trick out your GSG 1911. Chet runs a 6 oz Leopold DeltaPoint red dot optic on his GSG 1911 .22 without any problems, but YMMV.
GSG also manufactures an assortment of accessories for the GSG 1911 .22, including a bridge mount system for optics, flashlight and laser adapters, red dot sights and fake suppressors:
Accuracy * * * *
This pistol is surprisingly accurate. Expect 1½ – 2 inch groups at 25 yards, or maybe even better.
Overall * * * *
GSG gets a “do buy” recommendation. The GSG 1911 fulfills a niche that few other guns can match: it accurately replicates the size, weight, ergonomics, handling attributes, and manual of arms of a Colt M1911, all with good accuracy and reliability. The ability to customize the GSG 1911 .22 with after-market parts is a real plus. Also, the threaded barrel also is a key feature for those shooters seeking to run cans or compensators.
Is the GSG 1911 .22 perfect? No. The slide’s painted finish wears fairly quickly and the gun’s use of zinc makes it less rugged than standard-bearers such as the Ruger Mark III or Browning Buckmark. However, GSG has worked the bugs out this gun and if you use high quality HV ammo, keep the chamber clean and the slide slightly lubed, you will have a reliable gun that I think will go at least 10,000 rounds – if not more – before anything major wears out.
[Also, see this post for information about accessories for the GSG 1911 .22]
I stopped reading at One silver lining the Obama recession has had…. If you cannot think accurately about that, why would I trust anything else?
PS – It isn’t necessary to politicize everything.
Ok, you’re right. It was all Bush’s fault. My Bad. 🙂
Everything is political now, deal with it!
I agree with pair-o-dee, this knee-jerk politicization is tiresome; please try to adhere to TTAG. If not, at least consider a more likely suspect: the Greenspan Recession, since AG kept both regulations and interest rates low, causing banks to chase excess returns through excessive means.
In the end, though, I ‘d rather just read about the guns. Why blemish what looks to be such a professional review by pandering to the people who need to blame someone for any problems they may have?
Tell your fellow leftists to stop politicizing everything – especially guns – and maybe we won’t have to.
Tell your fellow leftists to stop politicizing everything – especially guns – and maybe we won’t have to.
Exactly – well said!
“Tell your fellow leftists to stop politicizing everything – especially guns – and maybe we won’t have to.”
Silver, in your prior posts, you have claimed a Mensa membership; as such, your unfounded assumption about my politics is interesting. As I have stated before, in response to similar mistaken claims, my screen name LeftShooter is because I shoot left-handed, not because I am a leftist. I’m merely trying to remain rational and apolitical and contribute to TTAG. And, since I’m an OWFG, I may have been one of the “we” gun guys you reference even longer than you.
I’m still going to buy the gun, but please do keep your biased politics out of the review. Good write-up, otherwise.
So is this gun designed for democrats or republicans? I would hate to buy the wrong one.
Wow, incredibly thorough review. Good work, good writing.
A really thorough review, Joe, including this absolute pearl:
a safety lock (not pictured because I used it as a target one day).
At long last, someone has found a use for those locks.
I am one of those people who can’t abide a zinc firearm. I bought a Ceiner conversion that fits all of my 1911’s and has worked well.
I think I shot this pistol at the local gun club. You had a suppressor on it. Yeah, the plastic sites were lame.
That’s right! Good to see you on TTAG!
I have owned a GSG 1911.22 for about 10 months. After about 800 rounds the guide rod snapped, the bushing cracked and the spring bent. The folks at ATI sent me new parts free and it shoots great after I put it all back together.
As a retired US Army soldier I love the feel and weight of this little gun.
I have recently purchased the Browning 1911-22A1 that you mentioned. Had to pay MSRP of 599.99 because they are scarce but found one at a gunshop in my old town. Looking forward to shooting and comparing….although it might be apples and oranges just due to size. The browning is more in size like the Colt .32 1906 “hammerless” pocket pistol I have and that is wonderful. Enjoyed your review. I love my GSG.
Mine cycles fine with normal ammo. One stovepipe in maybe 300 rounds (actually I have no idea how many rounds but I can only remember one stovepipe).
I would like to get a better rear sight because I stripped the threads trying to tighten down on the plastic (replaced at no charge).
The plastic push pin you push into the frame before you push in the slide release has to be pushed in from the side with the gun pointing to the left. If not it will fall out.
I like this gun very much and recommend everyone buys one.
Regarding additional versions, I think Rock Island Armory is importing a .22 LR 1911 from Armscor. Calling it the XT22.
And Kimber offers two: the Rimfire Target you noted, and the Rimfire Super (which pushes $1,100).
I love this guy! It is precisely because it is almost like a “real” 1911 45acp in every way that I bought it in that the $$$ saved in training is absolute. I too prefer the steel or alloy models but it is what it is and I rate it a strong buy. I also have an all metal Bersa Thunder .22 and appreciate the durable feel of it (granted it’s much smaller than a 1911 so it’s kind of apples to oranges). If money were no object I would buy the RIA 1911 22 tomorrow (all metal beast). That said I still think the Ruger MK (maybe their 22/45 in particular) models are the way to go for a virtual “lifetime” .22lr gun (my local range uses the MK II for CCW training and the owner says well over 100K rounds and still ticking). GREAT review of which I found little to differ.
There have been several reports , including one a few days ago on Calguns.net about a”catastrophic” failure of one of these guns with injuries to the face of the shooter. Having just finished introducing my wife to the pleasures of shooting with my new GSG 1911-22 (about 700 rounds so far, with flawless performance using CCI 40 gr. Mini-Mags), I’m not sure it’s worth the risk of continuing to use this gun. What do you think, and do you give much credence to the admittedly few reports of these failures?
Great review. I have been looking at a GSG for a little while now and you hit on every question I could think of and more.
If I have a Sig Sauer 1911 22 would, it be at all possible to upgrade it to a 45 cal. If I get new spring, barrel and such?
Loved my GSG until I had problems with broken recoil spring guide, barrel bushing and recoil spring plug. All had to be replaced including the recoil spring. Items shipped quickly and soon pistol was in working order. I loved it but as I started seeing other issues with the pistol on the web, including a completely ruptured slide, I sold mine at a $200.00 loss. Better rid of it than serious bodily harm from a defective weapon.
ON THE 18 th OF JULY THAT BEANING MY 69 th BIRTHDAY I THOUGHT I MIGHT BY SOMETHING NEW, GOING THREW THE GUN CABINET IN A SPORTS STORE ” CITY ARMS EAST, LLC IN PLEASANT HILL CALIF. I FOUND YOUR GSG 1911, 22, 5 inch CA. PICK UP THE GUN PUT IT INTO TARGET POSITION A FEW TIMES LIKED IT SO MUCH I BOUGHT IT. ON THE 28 th OF JULY I CAN PICK IT UP AND TAKE IT HOME. THERE IS ONLY ONE MAGAZINE WITH THE GUN, HOW MEANY MAGAZINE COME WITH A NEW GUN, ONE, TWO, OR THREE ?? I WILL LET YOU KNOW HOW IT SHOOTS AND HOW WELL I DID WITH IT WHEN I DO GET A CHANCE TO SHOOT IT. THANK YOU VERY MUCH. STEWART E. MARSCO ( PLEASE DO NOT VIEW THIS E- MAIL )
Picked up my new one today. Can’t wait to try it. If it works well we will buy another three at least. The feel and fit is 1911 all over. Greta training device for new shooters and good working copy to replicate the original in a liter caliber.
After reading virtually every review or blog on the GSG 1911 .22 I’ve come to several conclusions. There seems to be many unrealistic expectations on the roll of this type of gun. There’s no way you’re going to get the quality of an $800 1911 format for $400 or less. What you can get is a gun that closely duplicates the handling, feel, and functional characteristics of the 1911 .45 that is cheaper and easier to shoot. That translates into more fun. Many wrongly assume that a .22 pistol needs to be built as stoutly (steel) as a .45 to be durable, dependable, and perform well over time. Not so. Another misconception is that a 1911 .22 with fixed sights will shoot like a “target” gun. My $800 Springfield 1911-A1 that came “loaded” with upgrades shoots well, but does not shoot like a target grade pistol. As for the weak guide rods, I replaced the nylon guide rods with steel on both of my concealable 9mms (Kel-tec P11 and Ruger LC9) before they broke. So, nylon or weak guide rods isn’t a GSG peculiarity. Given the above, the GSG is a great choice for a 1911 .22 pistol. Still not convinced? Check out the following links:
If this doesn’t look like fun then you probably shouldn’t buy the GSG.
I had read your review earlier, and was impressed by how you covered both the good and bad. It’s not a news flash to the gun community that many reviewers flagrantly fellate gun companies in order to get a steady supply of T&E guns for review. Kudos to you for not just raving about this pistol while ignoring the weak points, like many “reviewers” do.
So anyway, your review was on my mind today when I walked into a local gun shop to sell or trade a pistol that no longer fit my needs. They had just one GSG-1911 in the case, and it sang to me. To be honest, I took a soaking on the trade, but I really wanted this pistol as a trainer, and to introduce people to the 1911 platform without scaring them away with the big boomy .45 ACP round.
The easy option of a suppressor for some winter basement shooting is a great bonus.
I’m looking forward to breaking it in.
Thanks for the feedback on the review.
With regard shooting in your basement: Aside from other safety issues, you need to be aware of the fact that shooting indoors can lead to unhealthy accumulations of lead dust. I’m not sure how much shooting it takes to create a problem, but I’m not sure its worth the risk.
Thanks for the caution. I’m aware of the risks, and with adequate ventilation the risks are low.
Despite a lifetime of shooting (first shots fired at the age of 3, and I’m now 49), I have both eyes and perfect hearing. I’ve never been called incautious when it comes to shooting safety. 🙂
I want to start by just saying, Wow! Great gun review. It’s like you wrote this just for me. I came upon your article searching on “are the GSG and Sig Saur 1911-22lr the same gun”. I had just looked at them at Gander Mtn and was sure they must be made by the same manufacturer. You covered a lot of the problem areas discussed in other threads but with a great deal of information, along with insightful explanation, and well reasoned expert opinion. .
The negative posts on the slide metal being “pot metal” from the “zincaphobes” almost had me convinced to stay away. Your explanation makes good sence. I have been wondering particularly regarding the big names like Colt and Sig Sauer, why if the 22’s and 45’s are so similar is there such a huge price difference (other than the obvious reason that there is only so much the average shooter is willing to pay for a 22). I also appreciate the info on the fixxes made on the early models. Good to know the reliability is not the issue it once was. I had noticed a lot of scratches and marks on the slide Of the Gander Mtn GSG to the extent that i asked if the gun was used. I dont like that and if it is true that the SIG has a better finich, that would be worth something for me.
The only issue you didn’t cover is the warranties. I read a post that SIGs have a lifetime warrenty, and the GSG only 2-years. So again if that is correct i would be willing to pay a little more for the SIG; maybe $50 over the GSG.
Thanks for sorting this out for me. Again, this was an excellent report. I will be looking for others with your by line.
B C Barker
Great review, I have had my GSG 1911-22 for 13 months. Im at 15,000 rounds. I have only had to replace the buffer and left side safty. Now I did put new sights, trigger, msh and grips but that was because I wanted to… Good pistols not great but very good.
Really thorough and well written review! Thanks for all the info!
The first one I had the firing pin broke after 150 rounds. I returned it to my dealer and they had a brand new pistol sent to me. This one is having light strikes. Ive tried CCI, Remington, Federal, pretty much everything and it continues to have light strikes. I disassembled the breach block, inspected it and cleaned it. Put the pistol back together and it was still having light strikes. If i re-cocked the hammer the rounds would always go off. I ran the pistol for a month and the problem did not work itself out so i called ATI today and got my authorization number. Overnighted to NY and an hoping for the best. I love the pistol just wish i could get one that functioned properly. Btw i am having multiple ftf’s per magazine so it is a complete headache. If it were a couple per hundred i wouldnt be as picky.
I got one of these guns about a month ago and it has been the biggest POS ever built. It jammed, lite strikes on the shell, not accurate, etc, etc…. I called Sig and they took it back and said they cleaned a few things up and it shot 30 shells with no problem… I got it back and it jammed first shell! I was even using the same CCI mini mags they were using! I was pissed off and called Sig back. The guy I talked to again was insulted me by asking what kind of gun oil I was using and what kind of shells and he wanted pics sent to him of both. Not impressed. But anyway, I ran acrossed a video on youtube and I polished the slide rails. They have a ton of over spray on them. And then I looked closer and the rear corner of the slide had a spot where it looked like it was dropped and there was a little spur hanging down. I filed that off and slapped it together. Now it shoots like a dream. Hope this helps and good luck!
What does that have to do with the GSG 1911 ?
I just purchased a GSG 1911 CA model, I love it to death. I installed the CWA gull metal guide rod and spring, Strike Industries Grips and Wilson magazine bumper plates (the stock are plastic and dropping them on the concrete will break them for sure). Anyway, it shots great and it has become my favorite range gun alone with my S&W M&P AR15/22… These days with the cost of ammo and the lack of finding them, I’m able to train and not break the bank… Thanks GSG..
I’ve had my GSG 1911 CA model for almost a year now and have liked it alot. At first I had FTE and FTL on the one through 3 shells in the mag. After some break in and switch to CCI minimags, that stopped. To extend my supply of minimags I just load the last 2 shells with 40g. minimags and the 1st 8 with cheapie 36 g. Federals. No jams or FTE, FTLs since. Review was accurate and explained the tradeoffs with this gun. My slide finish is wearing but I’ll just repaint it when it gets too ugly.
Just picked up my Sig version of this. Shot it at the range in Rhode Island today. An absolute delight to shoot. Put 200 rounds through it without a single hiccup.
I have a sig 1911-22, fairly new,broken firing pin. I’m from alberta Canada,does anybody know where I can get one from. No company seems to ship from the USA? Need help,thanks.
I purchased a sig sauer 1911-22 a month and a half ago, h
Shot 35 rounds through it. No problems, except slide was peening where slide lock is. Went to gun shop where I purchased it and the gun smith said they wanted to send. It to Sig. I haven’t seen it since. Sig has hade this for 4 weeks, still no comment nor gun. I should have stayed with Ruger! This gun is trash!
“Hey I have a gun that is not the gun that was reviewed and I would like to complain about that gun that wasn’t reviewed but is the gun I purchased. “
Hey derpdderp try and find your head and pull it out of your kister. What a moron.
GREAT , I just ordered mine , should be here in 2 weeks ,,,,,,,,,,,Canada NS the BIG FReeeeeeeZeeeeeerrr
I have had mine for 3 years now. Started off with lots of malfunctions and was really scared I wasted my money. Started using CCI tactical 22 ammo and started getting much better use. Broken guide rod. Internet reviews sent me to CW for a new full length guide rod and spring. runs perfect, More than 5000 rounds since. During the ammo shortage I even tried some sub-sonic rounds and surprisingly ran those without a problem too.
After a couple of extra mags and the parts from CW I have it where I want it.
Its a good gun. ATI was very cool when I was having problems and sent me out a new factory guide rod right away. Called them on Monday and had a new one by Friday.
Purchased one and had numerous Fail To Feed (FTF) and Fail To Eject (FTE) malfunctions no matter which ammunition I used. All of these malfunctions were simply due to the black paint on frame and slide. I found a 69 second length video on YouTube where it’s explained and demonstrated. (Link below) It saved an awful lot of frustration.
after reading about the slide I chose to go with the colt 1911 got it for 229.00 Palmettostatearmory.com reviews all seemed awesome and can’t beat the price!
I own two ATI (GSG) .45’s. First I bought the M1911 Military which I walked out of the store with for just under $400. I was a bit worried about how it would perform . After feeding about 20th new through it without one singe snag, I was thrilled . I bought a box of Tulane ammo, aluminum cased rounds and it ate them like candy! I then went back and bought the ATI M 1911 GI which is the same gun but only has a 4″ barrel. That gun was just as reliable and accurate as the first one . I have since put probably 1,000 rounds of cheap Tullamore through them and neither one of them HAS EVER jammed once! JOHN but these are absolutely wonderful gun’s and are made better than most “high quality”, “high priced” .45’s. I’m selling my M1911GI with 3 mags, almost 300 rounds of ammo, a military holster, trigger lock, owners manual , and original box for $500 if anyone is interested .
You hear a lot of “Pot metal Zinc Bashing”, But Zinc is actually stronger than aluminum for equal cross-sectional area, but not weight. Aluminum has miserable fracture toughness also.
Great to have a threaded barrel. If I was using this as a trainer for a centerfire 1911 I’d explore recoil booster (muzzle booster, “reverse muzzle break”) muzzle device options to increase the recoil for better recoil simulation of a centerfire 1911. A good idea in general for training with .22LR variants of firearms chambered for cartridges with more recoil. And yet, the barrel is fixed so no recoil booster (Nielsen device) is needed when firing suppressed for minimum recoil. Great for new shooters and when you’re not practicing for your .45ACP (or 9mm, etc.) 1911.
“I have seen various sources state that the GSG 1911 .22 has “80% parts” interchangeability with a standard 1911. That all depends on how to define and count the parts, though. For example, does the magazine count as one part or seven? My impression is that the 80% figure is a fairly meaningless statistic.”
……..? What?? A meaningless statistic!?!?!
A percentage is a representation of the value of fractional dividends shown as a proportion of share in relation to the whole. The individual parts which make up these fractions and the manner in how one “counts” or “defines” them is entirely irrelevant. Once the share amount has been established or identified, such as the case in how 80% of the guns parts are interchangeable, it makes no difference if the magazine counts as one part or if it counts as one million parts, four fifths of all the parts inside that gun are going to be interchangeable. So it is of great virtue to know that if the gun has five total parts, only one of those parts can not be swapped.
My impression is that youve made a mathematical error and are now unintentionally passing it off to the masses as a form of enlightenment. I also should mention that the 80% statistic is in fact, very meaningful……IF……one knows which of these parts are those that can be interchanged.
It is really a matter of part count and if part content was different or equil between models. That is- 80% of 100 parts would be 80 parts. 80% of 90 parts would be-72 parts. That sugests a modest difference in “interchangeability” of physical objects.
Just picked one up. Terrific gun. Dead on look and feel of a 1911. Just a bit lighter out of necessity. I just wanted to point out that in comparing mine to the review I note that GSS has now installed a steel reinforcement at both the front and back of the slide stop notch. This should eliminate the peening that some people have seen.
As to the idea that the slide is made of zinc alloy….who cares, as long as it works. I put this in the same category as the spastic knee jerk reaction that gun snobs had to the first polymer frame guns. Granted, there were a few parts in early guns where the zinc alloy simply wasn’t strong enough, such as the guide rod. But GSG has recognized and eliminated the problem.
And finally, on the pointless argument over whether or not the claim of 80% parts interchangeability with standard 1911’s is mathematically accurate…Seriously? The simple fact is that a very large percentage of the gun’s internal workings are interchangeable. Of course the frame, slide and barrel aren’t. And neither is the firing pin. But who would be silly enough to believe they would be. But the trigger, back strap, grip safety, hammer, sear, safety lever, slide stop, grips, magazine release….basically everything in the frame are totally interchangeable. Even the 80 series firing pin safety parts are the same. So is it 80%, or 70% or 90%? Who gives a rat’s rear end?
Bottom line. Much of the bad press this gun has gotten come from early models, that were admittedly rushed to market without thorough testing. While this is a bad mark on GSG’s record, they aren’t the first company who is guilty of doing this. They won’t be the last. And that includes some of the big name boys. But I point out that the company has been very diligent in addressing and fixing the reported problems. Current guns are a lot better than the first release.
And one last thing. If you really want to turn this gun into a top performer, you can get aftermarket one piece machined stainless steel barrels, with fitted match grade bushing. As well as guide rod, recoil spring, firing pin, etc. And you will still spend less than a kimber will cost you.
Agreed!! From Consumers’ Digest:
80% of all the parts will fit 70% of other manufacturers 60% of the time and at 50% of the cost. 40% of all purchasers will be satisfied 25% of the time, while 30% of them will experience 100% satisfaction. 10% will never be fired.
I picked up My new GSG1911 the other day and tried it for the first time yesterday. My reaction was this gun is everything everyone said it would be! It fired great without any jams, misfires etc after 200 rounds. Fit and finish was superb and the 1911 was a blast to use. I wholeheartedly recommend this firearm to anyone.
There is a stainless steel version of this. Do you think that would fix the issues with the finish and the slide wearing out at the cost of some extra weight?
Very informative this post i really appreciate it 🙂 thanks for sharing
There is a stainless steel version of this. Do you think that would fix the issues with the finish and the slide wearing out at the cost of some extra weight? Do you think that the stainless steel is a better choice?
I purchased my GSG in 2014, in part because of this article.
Very glad I did. During the break in period (about 250 rounds) I had a number of stovepipes and double feeds, but that soon cleared up. After I had decided I would keep the gun I put replaced the guide rod, alignment cone, recoil spring with ZR Tactical replacements and some quality Novak style sights.
I’ve now got about 10000+ rounds through it and still enjoy taking it to the range on a regular basis. A bit of finish has worn off the frame, but there is no peening of the slide stop and overall the gun just looks well used…as it is.
When it is clean and well oiled I can go through 200-300 rounds with maybe one or two stovepipes or failure to ejects…which is remedied by a cleaning.
Glad I read your article five years ago.
If someone is being put in a life or death situation well I do believe anti gunners would like to have a good weapon.If not well we all know what happens next.
Purchased new 2018-07, will check back in August to update my results.
I have both the Chiappa 1911 22 and the GSG 1911 22. This is my honest opinion of the two guns.
– Durable parker-like finish (not painted)
– Very accurate shooter thanks to solidly mounted fixed barrel
– Alloy used contains iron and can be touched up with a cold blue product
– wood grips
– reliable (for a .22)
– low price
– Barrel bushing fit is not flush with front of slide (no effect on accuracy, but looks bad)
– Finish is not very refined: looks like a GI 1911
– No grip safety
– Plastic magazine (2 supplied)
– Magazine will not drop out free
– non-adjustable sights (in basic GI version)
GSG 1911 22:
– Looks great, nicely detailed finish when new
– Skeletonized hammer
– Extended Beavertail
– Ambidextrous safety
– Threaded barrel
– Lightened trigger
– Nice, metal magazine (one supplied)
– Magazine drops out free
– Many common parts with standard 1911
– Adjustable sights
– Not accurate (barrel held by two pins and one screw). Every time gun is field stripped for cleaning, torque of barrel screw moves the point of impact.
– Very delicate finish: the finish on the slide is painted and will scrape off easily. CLP products such as Hoppes 9 will actually melt off the paint from the slide.
– Zamak alloy chosen is very soft
– Lots of common parts with SoftAir gun made by GSG
– Barrel bushing prone to turning and braking (at least in early guns)
– Guide rod fragile: many users upgrade to non-OEM part
– Barrel screw prone to stripping threads in soft barrel shroud
– Plastic grips
– Plastic sights are very fragile
These are my personal opinions. I hope they can be of interest to people looking at these two guns.
This is how Chiappa describes the alloy used in their guns.:
Chiappalloy is a die casting alloy developed by Chiappa Research and Development engineers and has been in continued development and application since 1987. Historically, zinc alloys have been an economic approach utilized in firearm production for over 50 years. However, this application was not without limitations. Typically alloy casted components are limited to the quality of metal finish with high porosity and were usually either plated or painted. Most alloy casted firearm components are limited to low pressure ammunition and are usually best suited for rimfire calibers.
Chiappalloy has been developed to improve the strength, wear resistance and creep properties in the zinc alloy family. The alloys included in our unique blend include aluminum, copper, magnesium, and iron. This allows Chiappalloy to maintain casted components that are easily machined and finished to a bright level of polish with minimal porosity. Due to the high luster polish that can be obtained, Chiappalloy’s plating properties are enhanced, yielding beautiful Nickel & Gold (color) plated components.
Chiappalloy can be black finished that matches well with conventional blued & black anodized aluminum components. This black finish is much more durable and appealing than that of zinc casted components that must be coated or painted. The black finish when applied to Chiappalloy is very durable and can easily be touched up with most commercially available “Cold Blue” gun products.
In addition to the machining & finish attributes of Chiappalloy, this unique alloy has been developed to accurately replicate the weight of the replica firearms produced by Chiappa Firearms. For example, the Model 1911-22 feels very similar in weight and balance to the original 1911 chambered in .45 ACP.
what is the thread size that the little suppressor is attached on aGSG 9 22?B
I have an Original Colt 1911 Government from 1944 with an Original Colt .22 conversion upper. The gun looks, functions and shoots great. However, I would like to have additional magazines. Does anyone have an original Colt .22 conversion or Colt Ace to compare it with? If the GSC mag will work it will make many Colt owners very happy and give GSC some additional sales.
Thank you gentlemen
Some people would rewrite the BIBLE if it didn’t agree with their thinking.
Sorry you bowed to the PC imbeciles and their self righteous dictates.
The ATI distributor says the slide is aluminum, frame is zinc. https://www.americantactical.us/76/detail.html
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