Monday, September 17, 2012

Review: GSG 1911 .22LR Pistol

Review: GSG 1911 .22LR

By: Michael Em (Mez)

In todays world of ever increasing cost of ammunition we are all looking for better, low cost ways to practice more.  One method is to use a .22.  There are many excellent .22’s to choose from.  The Ruger MKII series (and new models) or the Browning Buckmark are 2 excellent examples.  But they do not mimic the size or shape of your favorite handgun. 
Ideally, you should use a .22 that is the same size, shape as your handgun.  For those who shoot the 1911 family of handguns, GSG (German Sport Guns) has the solution for you. 
GSG is producing an excellent copy of the 1911 but designed around the .22 cartridge.  The GSG 1911 is a full size copy of the 1911 handgun.  Made from lightweight aluminum alloy with a steel barrel and steel parts where necessary.  It has a 10 round magazine (10 not 12.  Don’t be an over achiever like Gundiva) and fixed sights.  Other features are ambidextrious safety, magazine disconnect safety and changeable front sights (3 different heights) to help set zero. 
In the box you will find instruction manual, tools for cleaning and takedown and the obligatory safety lock. 
One additional feature is the GSG can accept a threaded adaptor for those who own suppressors.

The GSG 1911 functions as any other 1911.  But does have a slightly different takedown.  In their need to overdesign everything, the Germans added an additional screw and pin on the right hand side of the frame that must be removed in order to field strip the GSG 1911.

What I like:

1.    The fit and finish is excellent.  This is one handsome pistol right out of the box.
2.    Reliability is also excellent. (Using proper ammunition)  I was able to shoot approximately 900 rounds through this pistol over a 3 month period without cleaning before I experienced failures of any kind.  A thorough cleaning solved these problems.  If you take care of this pistol and run ammunition it likes, it will run reliably for you.
3.    Accuracy is good.  Definitely not a target pistol.  But 2-3 inches at 15 yards is realistic.  Basically a standard 4 inch clay pigeon out to 20 yards should be doable if you have the skill.  Plenty accurate for a training pistol.
4.    The magazine functions very well, feeds reliably and is a nice heavy duty steel construction. (Again, it holds 10, not 12)

5.    Some parts are interchangeable with 1911 parts.  I was able to replace the safety for one I like better.   (Note: not all parts will interchange)
6.    Full size 1911 and will fit into standard holsters.  As will the magazines fit into standard carriers.
7.    Lighter weight than a standard steel frame 1911.  Being an alloy Aluminum frame, there is a significant weight savings.  This is great for a long day of training or competition. 

What I’m indifferent about: (Things that irritate me but are not deal breakers)

1.    This handgun works best with high velocity .22 ammunition.  Reliability goes down when using standard velocity ammunition.  But you do get to practice your malfunction drills.  This could be a good thing. 
a.    CCI Mini Mags work wonderful in this handgun.
b.    Try several different brands of high velocity ammunition and see what works best.  (And no, CCI Mini-Mags are not expensive.  When you start buying Eley Match, then you can complain about expensive ammunition)
2.    The magazine disconnect safety.  I’m not a big fan of a magazine disconnect safety.  Especially when the original design does not have one.  But the Europeans like them for some reason.  But the good news is, this feature is easily removed.  Just remove the backstrap as you would with any 1911, and pull out the spring and transfer bar that make up the magazine disconnect safety then reinstall the backstrap. 
3.    The finish does wear quickly.  Being an aluminum alloy, the frame and slide are anodized.  And most commercial anodize finishes will wear quickly with heavy use.  After 3 months of use for Steel Challenge competitions, I noticed typical holster wear.  Do expect cosmetic wear if you use this for training and are drawing from a holster.  This is solely cosmetic and will not affect performance. 
4.    The factory guide rod is plastic.  This is a known weakness of this handgun.  It will break eventually.  Be prepared for this.  The good news is, replacements are readily available.  Either the factory plastic one or an aftermarket stainless steel rod.  The good stainless steel rod will run around $25. 
5.    Cost.  The cost is moderately high for a .22.  The base model will run approximately $350 and go up from there.  Sig Sauer also sells this same handgun under the Sig name.  They just charge you more. ($380 - $460).  But with the Sig you have one option not available from GSG.  The Sig comes in Black, OD Green and everyones favorite FDE (Flat Dark Earth).  
Shop around for the best price.  Magazines are also a bit pricey at approximately $30-$40.  But being all steel, they should hold up well and give you years of service.

What I don’t like:  (Things I want the factory to improve upon)

1.    The safety catch.  It is nice the GSG 1911 has an ambidextrious safety.  But does it need to overly large with sharp corners?  I think the safety is ridiculous.  It is too large and has many sharp corners.  I would definitely replace this item.  Which I did. 

2.    The plastic sights.  Really?  Plastic sights?  WTF GSG?  For the price you charge, I would at least expect aluminum sights.  Something a little more durable than plastic.  But I guess the 1911 is such an uncommon firearm there isn’t a large aftermarket base to use a standard off the shelf part.
a.    In reality, I think there should be some aftermarket sights that will fit.  But I do not know for sure.  I don’t know which dovetail the GSG is cut for.  Call the factory to verify before buying aftermarket sights. 


If you are a 1911 fan and want to shoot lower cost .22 ammunition, look at the GSG.  It may be a bit pricey but I think in the long run you will get good value for it.  Especially if you practice a lot. 
It has a few irritating nags that I want to see the factory improve upon.  But overall I think this pistol will give you good reliable service and value. 
I like this pistol.  I would definitely buy one again and even recommend it to friends and family. 

1 comment:

Momma Fargo said...

Great review! You should do these more often and for a living. Egads, some manufacturer is stupid and blind if they don't hire you. I also think $350-480 is too high for a .22. Am I in the stone ages? LOL. Of course, I paid $80.00 for my last one when I was young. Are they really that high now? Beat me. I pay that for a Glock at police discount.