Experience WWII’s First True Combat Rifles through .22 Replicas

Running the Replicas

Chiappa's M1-22 sticks closely to the original's specifications.

Chiappa’s M1-22 sticks closely to the original’s specifications.

Shooting both models revealed, well, a lot of fun.

I positioned a set of targets at 70 feet in my backyard, and set about to sight in both rifles. I had two different loads on hand, some Federal bargain hi-speed 40 gr. copper coated hollowpoint loads (almost every semi-auto functions best with high velocity .22’s) that are packed loose in the 250 round box, and a 100 round package of one of my favorite .22 rounds, the Remington Yellow Jacket.

I like the both the Yellow Jacket and the similar Remington Viper. Both are semi-wadcutter in shape-the Yellow Jacket is a hollowpoint and the Viper is a solid. Both cut clean holes in paper and are likely good choices for .22 caliber self-defense. Likely due to the semi-wadcutter shape, neither rifle performed flawlessly with the Yellow Jacket, like they did with the round nose Federals. I would save the Remington’s for manual repeaters, unless your particular .22 worked well them.

I fired the guns in 5 shot strings until the end. The sights of both needed adjustment and were easily adjusted just like their original military forebears. I was firing unsupported from a seated position, at plinking speed. I was rewarded with groups from both guns and both loads in the 2- 2 ½ range size. I guarantee that some well spent, bench rested, slow fire shooting time would produce tighter results. There were no malfunctions with the Federal loads.

Triggers on both guns were quite reasonable and crisp. The Yellow Jackets produced one fail to feed in five rounds in the M1-22, and one in 10 rounds with the StG44.

After I had the sights reasonable regulated, I decided to load up the StG44 to full 25 round capacity, and let fly. All 25 went off without a hitch, and it left me thinking about what a late war German soldier felt like when armed with one of these, seeking to hold off the Soviet onslaught. It may have given him a glimmer of hope, but fortunately for the world, the StG44, like the ME262 was unleashed too late.

Rifles’ Results

So, what are these two .22 replica’s of the world’s first true assault rifles good for? A heck of a lot actually. They are both an absolute hoot to shoot, especially the StG44, which, even though it’s a semi-auto .22 and not the real deal, gives a good feel as to what the real deal must be like.

Both are excellent plinkers, but the M1-.22 has the edge on prone shooting due to its shorter magazine. With a scope, the M1-.22 would be great for using on small game or as a camp gun. Both could be used for home or travel defense. No badguy who is faced by a determined citizen armed with either of these guns is going to think, “aww, that’s just a .22”. You simply could not tell in in a high stress situation. The StG44 clearly is the winner for intimidation factor between the two.

Besides thinking “oh oh” when faced with one, I am sure said badguy will also think “what the hell is that?” and leave before finding out. But the StG44 is limited in the .22 caliber roles it could play. Remember, the M1-22 is much easier to haul through the woods, or to let a small statured shooter handle. Plop a scope on it, and it should do a great job on small game, varmits and other pests. The StG44 shines best in the pure fun arena-and might make a good gun in informal .22 caliber competitive events.

I love this new .22 LR replica trend. It allows interested shooters to get their hands on guns that they either can’t afford, or that aren’t available, or to practice with a replica of the full power gun with much less expense and noise, and to have controllable guns capable of personal defense. It’s a good thing for everyone.

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in the March 11, 2013 edition of Gun Digest the Magazine.


Recommended Military Collecting Resources
Standard Catalog of Military Firearms, 7th EditionStandard Catalog of Military Firearms

Gun Digest Book of Classic American Combat Rifles

The Official Gun Digest Book of Guns & Prices 2013

5 thoughts on “Experience WWII’s First True Combat Rifles through .22 Replicas

  1. Gunguyohio

    My wife purchased the STG 44 for me last Spring. I have had a blast with it. I was concerned about it shooting very low . The rear sight is replicated so closely to the original that it isn’t set up for .22 rimfires . A simple fix is to take the rear sight apart., clear down to the screw pylons on the barrel. stack 3 small washers on each pylon and reassemble the rear sight . This puts the sight adjustments into alignment and I was impressed ,as is everyone else who has fired my rifle, with it’s accuracy. Can hardly wait for the MP-40 replica to hit the shelves.

  2. markpro

    I own an STG44 and it is one of the best .22s in my safe. I also own real M1 carbines and I don’t know where you get your ammo but right now I can get .30 carbine as low as $12 for 50 rounds of FMJ compared to .22 ammo (if you can find it) for as much and in most cases even more than the .30 carbine. I also own other Chiappa .22 replicas like the 1911/22 and yes there junk. But I really do enjoy the STG44. Its one of those guns that works better as a point and shoot than actually aiming. Plus at over 8lbs NO recoil at all. Every shot follows the first. But at over 5 bills one must really want the STG.

  3. Lt. Dan

    The STG44 is a blast to shoot. Companies producing new and interesting products is what’s keeping interest going in the firearms world. Some very early ones had a fit issue with the stock. Mine is tight. I love it! Puts the fun back in shooting.

  4. bhp0

    Like mostly everything else these days its a hunk of junk. The German .22 look alike assault rifle is made with a junk zinc frame as is the new Walther PP .22 pistol. Pure trash. The .22 rifle’s stock was also found to be attached in a very flimsy way which resulted In the stock wobbling when in use. What a piece of trash.

    O course when one looks at .22 rifles and pistols darn few were ever made of quality. The few that were are long gone except the old Browning bottom ejecting rifle that has been around since 1900. Buy one of those if you want quality, the balance of most .22 firearms today are just pure junk.

  5. whooziss

    FWIW, the Chiappa .22 LR M-1 Carbine replica was tested by the NRA, and written up in the American Rifleman some time ago, and was not highly thought of. Apparently the ignition/combustion/firing (whatever you want to call it) gasses tend to blow right back into the shooter’s face, which isn’t cool. I dunno if they do or not, that is just what the article said.

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