Sometimes you just have to have fun. The handgun covered in this report is among the all-time fun handguns to cross my path during the past 50 years of shooting. It works, cracks off with every shot, is accurate enough for meaningful practice and would not be out-of-place hunting small game. That’s right, taking game. The .22 handgun is a great game getter. And just because the piece says ‘1911’ doesn’t mean it is a purely defensive and tactical handgun—far from it. The .45 ACP 1911 has taken its share of game animals and the 1911 .22s are well suited to outdoors use as well. While their primary use is recreational, do not short change a good .22.
And this is a good .22!
While I am serious concerning firearm practice, all work and no play makes for a dull boy. With the paycheck growing less than price increases on ammunition and other goods, the .22 looks good. The .22 caliber handgun is a great choice for recreation and marksmanship training. If the .22 mimics the handling of the service pistol all the better.
The Chiappa .22 isn’t a locked breech gun; it is a blowback. It isn’t a 1911 in every mechanical aspect—no rimfire pistol could be—but it looks a lot like the 1911. For less than the price of a .22 caliber conversion unit for the 1911, you have a good handling, accurate pistol. The Chiappa is pretty interesting. The hammer—as an example of intelligent engineering—is hinged on the rear of the frame and powered by a spring like many others, but the design is unique. The pistol fits the hand just like any other 1911 and the safety and slide lock are in the same place as any other 1911.
The Chiappa 1911-22 features a secondary safety on the slide that locks the firing pin when desired. There is a magazine release and slide lock that is pure Browning design. The pistol does not have a grip safety as the 1911 does, but for a sporting gun it matters little. The 1911-22 is the same in outline as the 1911, with sights that are better than the GI gun even if they are not Novak style sights.
At 33 ounces, the pistol has a pleasant heft and tracks well on target. The slide is light enough to be actuated by the modest recoil of the .22 Long Rifle cartridge. Be certain to use high velocity .22 cartridges with the Chiappa. About every load you see for sale is high velocity these days but the specialized target loads will not function in the Chiappa or any other .22 caliber self-loading pistol.
A rather interesting innovation is the magazine. This magazine is comprised of polymer. This magazine is inexpensive enough that you could stock up on them. They are probably as durable as aluminum magazines. Polymer magazines certainly work for the Glock and the .22 is a low-impact caliber. There isn’t a lot of wear on the polymer to steel interface.
As for reliability, the pistol as been as reliable as any .22 caliber handgun I have ever used and more so than most. I am pretty certain the tolerances are loose enough the pistol will continue to function when dirty and when fired for hundreds of rounds. So far the pistol has gone a solid 550 rounds between cleaning without a malfunction. As many of you know this is darned impressive for a .22 as the ammo is dirty.
The requirement for frequent lubrication, often associated with .22 caliber conversion units, seems to be eliminated with the 1911-22. While I lubricated the pistol and cleaned it during the test period, the pistol has gone far longer without cleaning than most .22 conversions or .22 pistols for that matter. I have used the pistol heavily, trained young shooters with it and loaned it out to interested students and associates.
At last count the 1911-22 has had more than 6,000 rounds through it without a single failure to feed, chamber, fire or eject.
I have lubricated the pistol fairly often but cleaned it only every 500 rounds— about half what any reasonable shooter would recommend. The majority of rounds fired have been Winchester Wildcat round-nose lead bullets and the Winchester DynaPoint hollow point. Function has been faultless without a single failure to feed, chamber fire or eject.
As for accuracy, the average group from a solid bench rest has been around three inches for the Wildcat load. This is a five-shot group at 25 yards from a bench rest firing position. With the DynaPoint, I have bested this standard by a small margin. The trigger action of the 1911-22 is heavy at over seven pounds—although usable—and I am certain this has some bearing on the current level of accuracy.
Overall, I find the 1911-22 a grand gun with a useful role in maintaining proficiency and for marksmanship training. With a manufacturer’s suggested retail of less than $300, this pistol is a must have for the 1911 fan and a good starter for anyone.