ISSC-Austria ® (ISSC Handels GmbH, Austria) has brought forth a new and unique training pistol chambered in .22LR. Unique in that it clearly resembles and feels like the modern self-defense or law enforcement polymer pistols. At first blush the resemblance is definitely like that of a Glock 19 pistol. It is said, that the ISSC M22b pistol resembled the Glock® so much that Glock filed a trademark infringement lawsuit because the pistol looked too much like a Glock. I have not been able to verify that story. The sights are plastic, just like the Glock, the front sight is held in place by two ‘dog-ears’ on the plastic tabs, and the rear sight is windage adjustable, just like the Glock Optional Adjustable Sight. But that is where the resemblance ends. The operation of the pistol is on a fixed barrel traditional blow-back system, with the recoil spring encircling the barrel. It is a Single Action Only (SAO) trigger that has a measured crisp 4.25 lb. let-off that felt lighter. There are 5 different safeties built into the pistol; a manual safety/decocker; a trigger lock; a drop safety (automatic internal safety); a magazine safety; and a loaded chamber indicator. It is indeed a polymer framed pistol with what appears to be a steel slide, but it is not steel, it is an aluminum alloy slide that has a black coating instead of a ‘bluing’. There is a warning in the owner’s manual against using “Break Free’s Powder Blast®” cleaner, as it would harm the finish of the slide. My feelings are that a good Duracoat SL® finish would be much more durable and resistant to cleaners, and will be my ‘upgrade’ to the pistol when it needs it.
Right out of the box, the pistol looks and feels really good (see Fig. 1). It fills the hand and the grip angle is a good one in that it aids in the natural point-ability. The grip has molded finger grooves that are not a problem but aid in the feel of the pistol. With an unloaded magazine installed, the pistol weighs in at 22.5 oz. and the sights are easy to see and align. The pistol comes with three different front sights for adjustment to suit the individual user.
The Owner’s Manual recommends that CCI Mini-Mag® .22LR Solid Point ammo be used for the first 200 rounds to allow for break in of the pistol. At first, I would get at least one malfunction per magazine used. At about 80 rounds the malfunctions ceased while using CCI Mini Mag .22LR ammo. At 100 rounds I decided to try a different manufacturer and used Remington’s Golden Bullet Bulk Pack® .22LR ammo. I started having failure to feed (FTF) and Failure to Eject (FTE) which was stovepiping, 2 or 3 times per magazine. I went back to CCI Mini-Mag ammo and had no more problems. Accuracy right out of the box was pretty good, holding to a 4″ average grouping at 30 feet. At the 500 round mark I cleaned the pistol and found for a .22LR, the pistol was not all that dirty. I again went to the Remington ammo, and only had an occasional FTF or FTE. The pistol was also getting much more accurate (or I was getting more accustomed to it’s feel and sights). While Remington GB ammo was functioning in the pistol, CCI gave the better accuracy, in my opinion. Remington GB .22LR ammo was used for the second 500 rounds for this marathon test of the M22b pistol. At about 800 rounds, the problems were very infrequent, nothing abnormal for most .22’s. At 1000 rounds, the pistol was again cleaned and there was much more powder residue in the pistol, but no leading was discernable. At this point, I decided to utilize CCI Blazer® .22LR ammo. Immediately it was noticeable that the ammo was less ‘smokey’ when being fired, accuracy was very good and absolutely no malfunctions occurred. This ammo was used for testing to the 3000 round mark. Cleaning would be done at that point unless functioning of the pistol became a problem.
There is a problem with the front sight design, as noticed and enumerated by the many users who have posted YouTube videos. The sight has a propensity to come off during recoil, and it happened to me at about the 3000 round mark. Based on previous testers, I had two spare sets of front sights on hand from ISSC (they are only $5 per set), I noted just how easy it would be to have the recoil spring or barrel hit the ‘dog-ears’ on the sight tabs during reassembly and loosen the connection of the sight to the slide. To test my theory, I just reassembled the pistol without care or worry about the spring or barrel positioning as the slide was reattached to the frame, other than the barrel opening being unobstructed by the recoil spring. I then went out to fire 50 rounds through the pistol. The second shot the sight was missing. It was easily located on the tarp that I had spread to catch the shell casings and the expected sight loss. I thoroughly cleaned the slide of any oil or lubricant around the sight mount inside the slide, using naphtha to degrease the area. I then installed the sight again, only this time I used white silicone caulking to bed around the sight’s dog ear tabs. (See figure 2) Letting the silicone adhesive cure overnight I went back to my endurance testing of the pistol. After another 2000 rounds of .22LR ammo, the sight is still secure and no longer a worry, the white silicon seems to be doing the job of protecting the ‘dog ears’.
The pistol is a real pleasure to shoot, I had almost forgotten just how easy shooting a .22LR could be. The recoil is almost totally un-noticed. On the frame in front of the trigger guard is an accessory rail which would easily handle a laser sight or light. I could see where the laser option would help in taming a trigger control problem, but do not see that a light would be needed, as this pistol is more of a ‘training pistol’ and not a tactical or concealed carry pistol. Though, if your tactical home pistol does utilize a light, then training with it on this pistol would be much less expensive and a positive method of training.
The M22b is also available in different configurations, such as the M22b Long which has a longer slide and sight radius than this pistol under testing. See figure 3 to see the design of that pistol.
The M22b is plenty accurate, but the longer barrel and sight radius can only help in that department, along with the added weight to further tame the light recoil. All versions of the ISSC M22 pistol come with a Lothar Walther Match Grade barrel that has conventional rifling. The magazines hold 10 rounds and are very well built metal with a removable floor plate to allow for thoroughly cleaning the magazines from dirt and debris. In the over 4000 rounds fired through this pistol, no magazine problems were encountered. The polymer frame appears to be very stout and should last a lifetime. The match barrel is well made and thick solidly steel and does not appear to be a ‘sleeved’ barrel. The firing pin is sturdily made and strikes the rim of each shell firmly and with sufficient force to fire the cartridge. There were several cartridges that were struck 3 and 4 times in different places along the rim to get them to fire without doing so. Those cartridges were requested by the manufacturer to have them sent back for testing at their ammunition plant in Arkansas. Notably, the several ‘dud’ cartridges were from one lot and another lot of the same manufacturers ammunition did not exhibit that tendency to not fire.
Accuracy was very good, and has continued to be so. Figures 4, 5 & 6 show the typical accuracy from 30 feet, free hand, modified weaver stance. I am not a master in shooting and say that your groupings should be better than what I was able to provide.
As the targets show, they are 5½” Caldwell Orange Peel® targets and are typical of the 400 targets shot for this review, shot from 10 yards (30 feet). I utilized a sturdy cardboard box as the target mount, and figure 7 shows what it looks like after 5000 rounds and two days of shooting. Not all targets were Caldwell Orange Peels targets some were 8″ Bulls Eyes printed out on a computer printer to save on costs. All accuracy targets were Caldwells so that consistency was maintained.
The ISSC-Austria M22b pistol is a very solidly built firearm capable of improving your shooting habits, giving you the feel of ‘the big boys’ at a fraction of the costs of shooting your higher caliber firearms. Are there things that could be improved upon? Yes, but they are minimal and do not affect the utilization of the firearm for what it is designed to do.
Breakdown or field stripping of the pistol for cleaning is a real breeze, reminiscent of the Walther PP. Remove the magazine, ensure that the pistol is unloaded, with your left hand pulling down on the takedown levers above the trigger guard, use your right hand to pull the slide back, lifting the rear of the slide as it clears the hammer and then let it slide forward and off the front of the pistol. This is as far as the manufacturer recommends you take it apart, as there are some tricky springs that can get lost easily. Figure 9 show the disassembled pistol ready for cleaning.
Reverse the process to reassemble, taking some care so as not to catch the recoil spring or the barrel on the front sight mounts inside the slide. The recoil spring also has a right way and a wrong way to be installed on the barrel. One end is just a tad bit smaller in circumference, and if put on backwards, will have a tendency to pop through the barrel port on the front of the slide, complicating reassembly. There is a tricky point on getting the slide back on and you may have to play with it a couple of times to get the slide on correctly and securely.
The ISSC M22b pistol comes in a (now) traditional plastic case (see Figure 9 & 10) with a foam liner to hold the pistol securely. It is furnished with one 10 round magazine, a small screwdriver to adjust the rear sight for windage, and two additional front sights of differing heights. The front sights are marked 1, 2 & 3. I have the #2 installed on my pistol and it seems to be right on target. I bought an extra magazine for the testing and as is my personal preference to always have a spare magazine.
The pistol kit also has a small white envelope that contains two spent cartridge cases for those areas that may still require them, a test target & owner’s manual. The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price is $399.95, and can be found on-line for as little as $199.95 and at that price is a real bargain. As noted before, you can obtain the pistol in a long slide configuration and also with a threaded barrel so that a silencer can be attached. ISSC has partnered with GEMTECH Industries® for the provision of a silencer for their pistol. ISSC is also now offering their pistol in different color schemes, Bright Pink frame, an OD Green Frame w/Black Slide or OD Green and a Steel colored slide. There is also a Desert Tan Frame available.
ISSC-Austria® is a registered trademark of ISSC Handels GmbH, Austria
Glock® is a registered trademark of Glock, Inc. Smyrna, GA
BreakFree Powder Blast® is a registered trademark of Safariland, Inc., Jacksonville, FL
Duracoat SL® is a registered trademark of Lauer Custom Weaponry; Chippewa Falls, WI
CCI Mini-Mag® is a registered trademark of CCI Ammunition, Inc.; Lewiston, ID
Caldwell Orange Peel® is a registered trademark of Caldwell Shooting Supplies & Battenfeld Technologies, Inc. Columbia, MO
GEMTECH Industries® is a registered trademark of GemTech; Boise, ID
Disclaimer: All firearms and materials utilized in this testing were purchased through local sporting goods stores and/or internet vendors, with the exception of the replacement front sights, which were purchased directly from ISSC-Austia’s website. No materials or products were donated by anyone so as to keep this review impartial and an objective one.