It seems the latest trend these days for firearms manufacturers, licensee manufacturers, or sometimes totally independent entities is to provide realistic replicas of modern combat/tactical firearms in .22LR versions, especially since centerfire ammunition has been in short supply or so expensive that actually shooting any of it is cost prohibitive. Therefore shooters have been turning to the modern wave of “understudy” firearms to be able to have something they can actually shoot, in a realistic replica version of the gun they would really like to be shooting.
This has resulted in the introduction of some outstanding firearms that at first glance can’t be distinguished from their full power siblings. I can’t really say full size, as these are full size weapons, mimicking the weight, balance, ergonomics and handling of their full power relatives. And usually, not only is the ammunition for them much less expensive, but so are the guns themselves, being rimfire, blowback versions of the “real” thing.
Now, this has been a great thing, especially for those of us who remember the first of the .22LR “replica” (boy was that term a stretch) AR-15s from companies like ERMA. Their gun had about as much in common with a real AR-15 as the toy Mattel M16 rifle from 1969 did. This new generation of replica guns is outstanding and long overdue. But one of the best of this new breed isn’t an AR-15 or MP-5 replica. It’s a 1911, one very nicely done by German Sport Guns in (you guessed it) Germany, and imported by American Tactical Imports: the GSG-1911.
To put it mildly, this is a great pistol for anyone seeking a .22 for whatever reason. It is a 1911 after all (albeit with a few design modifications). As such it has so much more to offer over standard .22 pistols that look like, well, standard .22 pistols, especially considering its price. Even the Ruger .22/45 — which has a grip frame designed to feel like a 1911 — isn’t a 1911.
It still clearly looks and handles like a .22 target type pistol, its grip only feels a bit like a 1911, but it certainly doesn’t look like one. The GSG-1911 IS a 1911, and as such it offers the shooters all the shooting advantages of its full power relatives without the recoil. And believe me, although they won’t admit it, there are plenty of folks out there that would like to shoot a 1911 without the noise and recoil of the .45 ACP round. So let me detail what those advantages are, particularly in terms of this particular 1911.
In terms of construction, the GSG-1911 does exhibit some differences as compared to a true 1911. First, the slide of the GSG-1911 is aluminum and the frame/receiver body of the pistol is cast Zinc #Z410 (Zamak), which gives it a heft that totally absorbs the miniscule recoil of either standard or high-velocity .22LR rounds, making it an ideal gun for new shooters. While some of you may be put off by a 1911 frame that is constructed of zinc as opposed to aluminum or steel, you won’t know it is zinc by the appearance, which is a pleasant matte gray. It took me awhile to figure out what the frame was made out of. I finally emailed the factory. You won’t recognize it as Zamak, at least externally. Where you will notice the Zamak construction — if you are a 1911 aficionado — is in terms of weight distribution.
The GSG is grip heavy, enhanced by the light weight of the aluminum slide. Here’s the thing though — because of the materials used in its construction, you can purchase this pistol for about $339 retail. Sure, they could make the frame out of steel, but that would shoot the cost up by at least $200 a copy. Considering the low pressures involved with the .22LR cartridge, there shouldn’t be any significant wear and tear on the frame. The slide is marked .22LRHV but the owner’s manual advises that the gun is set to work with either standard or high-velocity rounds. For what I envision the uses of this pistol are, I would stick with HV loads when running it. The grips are nicely checkered walnut colored wood of the traditional Colt style “Double Diamond” pattern. They are held in place by flathead screws.
About the Author: Scott Wagner is a 32-year law enforcement veteran. Currently a police sergeant in Baltimore, Ohio, he spent 20 years with the Union County Ohio Sheriff's Office as a Reserve Deputy where he worked patrol, training and SWAT, and was the assistant SWAT team leader and a team sniper. Wagner has been a state-certified police firearms, fitness and defensive tactics instructor for 26 years, and has been a criminal justice professor and police academy commander for 20 years at a community college in the Midwest.He is the author of the Gun Digest books, "Tactical Shotguns,", "Own the Night—A Guide to Tactical Lights and Laser Sights," and Survival Guns.
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