The German Sports Guns 1911 is a semi-automatic pistol chambered in .22 LR. It is a .22-caliber replica of the iconic design meaning it has a grip safety and manual safety, and is similar in size and weight. There are three variants, but they differ in minor ways. One has wood grips, one has rubber grips and one has a Picatinny rail molded to the frame.
|Features:||Grip safety; and manual safety|
Optional features include a PIcatinny rail
|Trigger Pull:||4.27 to 5.62 pounds|
|Twist:||1 in 6"|
COMBINING TWO CLASSICS: .22 AND 1911
The German Sport Guns 1911 chambered in .22 LR is not a new idea, but it is a good one. The idea is simple: Practice.
There have been .22-caliber versions of the 1911 since way back in 1913. Colt’s Ace was a functional military training tool for World War II. The concept was so popular that Colt made conversion kits for .45 1911s. Popular, yes. But one of the main problems with these early versions of this platform was that the .22 LR cartridge, especially in some of its underpowered incarnations, isn’t hefty enough to move the mass of a 1911 slide. Yet, the benefits outweighed the nuisances – namely failures to extract and feed. Now an entire industry of practice guns has grown up in the Ace’s shadow.
So who makes this new spate of .22-caliber 1911s? Colt, partnered with Umarex, is still making its versions. There is Chiappa and Browning. And they all have some striking similarities. By coupling the design and function of the 1911 with the affordability and availability of the .22, shooters can practice their moves in a live fie situation, without the cost of the .45 ACP or the wear on their more expensive guns.
German Sport Guns (GSG) is relatively obscure in the states. They make a number of different .22 LR models inspired by other, larger caliber guns.
The first of the GSG guns that I’d come across was an AK in .22 LR. I was overly dismissive of the gun. Maybe even a bit derisive. But I had missed the point. As far as I’m concerned, these are firearms simulators, only they do fire live ammunition. But the .22 LR allows you to go through the motions and build muscle memory.
The GSG 1911-.22 LR
This gun feels exactly like a 1911 – that should be obvious – but it isn’t made of steel. Metal, yes, but not steel. It feels like the same grey metal they make Matchbox cars with. I grew up calling it pot metal. GSG probably has a more flattering term for it.
The one I had the privilege of putting through the paces is owned by the Dominion Shooting Range in Richmond, Virginia. It was tricked out with some of the accoutrements you might expect on a high-end 1911. It even had a Picatinny rail. Again, I’m going to admit my ignorance. I remember asking the man behind the counter at the range why anyone needed a tactical .22 LR.
He looked at me with that gentle emotion some call pity and said, “So you can practice with your lights and your lasers and your scopes.”
Oh yeah. That makes sense. If you can put it on a 1911, you should be able to put it one of these.
How does it shoot?
The GSG 1911 looks and feels like a 1911, but it shoots more like a cap gun. I’m used to the big bang and the nice wallop of the .45 ACP. The brain gets conditioned to certain stimuli. I lined up the sights and pulled the trigger and the gun went snap. Now this isn’t a dry-fire snap, or a misfire snap. The gun went off and spit smoke and little hole appeared in the target. Somewhere deep in the darkness of the range, a little bit of lead went wherever little bits of lead go at the range.
I pulled the trigger again. Snap. Snap. Snap.
The slide cycled great. The spent brass was ejected beautifully. It fed fine. The felt recoil, what little there was, didn’t bother me at all.
After ten shots, I dropped the magazine and loaded up again.
But how does it shoot?
I’m not going to tell you any tall tales about this gun’s accuracy. In fact, I’m going to attempt some sort of disclaimer that I don’t really know to be true and that is this: it doesn’t matter that this gun isn’t a tack-driver. That’s not the point.
The GSG 1911 owned by Dominion is a range gun. It gets shot often. It does not get cleaned often. Some idiots that frequent gun ranges treat the weapons like toys. It is the rental car mentality. They abuse them. They drop them. This gun had battle scars. Its sights were a bit jacked up. I shot through a slew of rounds, too many to count (that’s the point!) and could hit the target consistently, but always a bit high and right and never predictably.
I’m a devotee of the iron sight. I know how to compensate for distance and for other screwy deviations. And I could never get this gun to shoot exactly where I aimed.
This isn’t a carry gun. It isn’t even a plinker, in my opinion. There is a reason why Ruger makes the 22/45 like they do. They have 1911 like controls and features, but you know by looking at it that it isn’t going to work exactly like a 1911. And it shoots straight. Maybe that is the best of both worlds.
If you want a really accurate .22 LR pistol, there are numerous options. Guns and Ammo ran an article recently comparing many of the different options.
But before I turn this review of the GSG into a pitch for the Ruger 22/45, let me step back. I’ve shot the 22/45. While I respect the abilities of the gun, I don’t like it as well as the Ruger Mark III. The 22/45 is a respectable gun, but it doesn’t feel like a 1911 to me. The GSG does. If that means that I have to sacrifice accuracy to get that level of affordable, realistic practice – than that is fine with me.
And a new GSG might run just fine. That this one at Dominion runs as well as it does after so much abuse and misuse speaks exceptionally well for the gun and GSG’s products.