From American Tactical Imports comes the GSG M1911 HGA 22 LR 5″ BRL WDGP 10RD Pistol.
“John Moses Browning developed the 1911, which is famous all over the world. Up to date the 1911has been produced by different well-known arms manufacturer. GSG succeeded in developing the 1911 in caliber .22 by connecting original design with an innovating concept. On one hand we stuck to existing design and measurements, this means a development with “Mil-Spec” specifications in inch. On the other hand we added additionally the magazine safety, drop safety and firing pin safety to meet present safety standard.”
What the manufacturer tells you about the gun:
- Caliber: .22 lr HV
- Overall length: 218 mm (8.58268 inches)
- Overall height: 140 mm (5.51181 inches)
- Overall width: 36.5 mm (1.43701 inches)
- Weight: 975 g (2.1495 pounds)
- Barrel length: 129 mm (5.07874 inches)
- Rifling length: 406 mm (15. 9843 inches)
- Number of grooves: 6
- Sight length: 136 mm (5.35433 inches)
- Trigger pull: 1900 – 2500 g /19 – 25 N (4.1888 – 5.5116 pounds)
- Magazine Capacity: 10
- System: Single-Action
- Same specification and weight as a standard .45 1911
- Compatible with other 1911 parts – including grips
- Beaver tail and grip safety
- Wood grips
What the manufacturer does not tell you about the gun:
- An arched Mainspring Housing
- A skeletonized trigger that is adjustable for over-travel.
- 3-Dot sights (green) – Comes equipped with a medium profile sight mounted while a lower and higher profile sights are provided with the gun.
- A Heine-style rear sight that is windage adjustable.
- Ambidextrous extended safety.
- A Disconnector (A passive safety that locks and unlocks automatically while the slide moves). The Disconnector releases the sear when the slide is moving to the rear and avoids firing before the pistol is ready to fire.
- A Firing Pin Safety (A passive safety that keeps the firing pin in its position until the trigger is pulled (Similar to Series 80 Model Colts)
- Magazine safety (inside of mainspring housing)
- Grip Safety
- Half-Cock Safety
The following is included with the firearm:
- 1 – Pistol
- 1 – Magazine
- 1 – Handbook (Instruction manual and safety instructions)
- 1 – Case
- 2 – Substitute front sights
- 3 – Allen wrenches (front sight tool for loosening the rear sight that is drift adjustable for windage, rear sight tool for loosening the rear sight that is drift adjustable for windage, and a “Barrel Fixing Pin” tool).
- 1 – Cleaning Brush 1 – Barrel Wrench (The barrel is screwed in and can be replaced with an optional suppressor or barrel extension)
- 1 – Cable Lock
- 1 – Level Indicator (To be inserted into the chamber to prevent dry-fire damage)
- 2 – Shock Buffers (1 installed and 1 spare)
Since I had scoped my Ruger 22/45, and the challenge has shifted to clearing out the x-ring with the smallest group possible, I decided to find another fun gun. While at the range wringing out the CW9, I came across this gun hiding out (or strategically placed) among numerous .45 1911s from various manufacturers and it caught my eye – first thinking that it was a .45 for a very low price.
The sales person handed it to me and it weighed as much as a 1911. The checkered wood grip panels, the trigger, beavertail, arched spring housing, grip safety, and ambidextrous safety all screamed .45 acp 1911 to me – until I looked at the muzzle end. This was the smallest bore I had seen on a full-size 1911 – ever.
Wow! A 1911 styled pistol that shoots High Velocity .22 LR and looks great. No rinky-dink construction here. German engineered and manufactured. It has to be good, right?
Now, I had seen videos from Davidson’s on the American Classic and the Citadel 1911 .22 clones, but this one was as true to the 1911 as I could think of and it was in my hands. The range also had a Chiappa (American Classic) and there is no comparing the two – at all. The quality of the GSG was hands above the Chiappa.
I also started searching the web for any reviews of the gun and I found a couple that were positive. A day later I was back at the range to purchase it.
After a thorough cleaning it was off to the range to evaluate it up close and personal.
Range Testing and Evaluation:
My Son-in-Law was with me so I decided to test him while we were at the range. Pulling the gun out of the range bag laying it on the shooting table (cleared of course) I asked him if he would like to try the new gun. His immediate response was, “You got another .45?” I didn’t say anything as he picked it up, hefted it, looked at it and said that it was nice looking. I then told him to look at the muzzle end. “That’s a .22!” he exclaimed and went on to handle it more. I told him that he would get to shoot it as soon as I was through with my testing.
I had 4 types of ammunition available to me for testing:
- Fiocchi 38 grain CPHP
- Armscor 36 grain CPHP
- CCI Blazer 40 grain LRN
- CCI Mini-Mag 40 grain CPRN
The magazine is easy to load and requires no assistance. A thumb and forefinger is used to push down on a button that protrudes from each side of the magazine.
The test distance was 7 yards, as is my standard for any initial handgun test and I was going to fire 10 rounds (1 magazine) of each to test for functionality into a standard 100-yard rifle sighting target.
Bench resting the gun would give me a better picture of accuracy, which ammunition did the best, and as most of the work of trying to keep the gun steady was removed, it would be the gun working and not me.
The following is the result of ammo testing and functionality:
Fiocchi 38 grain CPHP:
The pistol functioned perfectly throughout the ten rounds; no FTFs, no FTEs. The POI seemed to be up and right from POA, however.
Armscor 36 grain CPHP:
Armscor 36 grain CPHP failed to feed on the first round, but no failures after that.
CCI Blazer 40 grain LRN:
The CCI Blazer 40 grain LRN was the worst of the pack. Three failures to feed and the worst grouping of the four types tested. This gun does not like LRN ammunition from CCI at all.
CCI Mini-Mag 40 grain CPRN:
CCI Mini-Mag 40 grain CPRN was the best of the group. There were absolutely no FTFs or FTEs. You could tell a difference in the ammunition with the CCI Mini-Mag 40 grain CPRN being the most powerful. I finally choose this ammunition for the next test – offhand shooting with two hands.
Recoil is a delight. The weight of the gun holds the recoil down and muzzle flip was minimal. Recoil was straight back into the hand. Ejection of spent cases was up and right well clear of my right shoulder.
The trigger is light and felt like many found on full-grown 1911s: a little take up and a crisp release that will probably smooth out over time and use. There is also a setscrew to adjust for over-travel; over-travel was very little and not enough to concern myself about. My RCBS trigger pull scale indicated 4 and 3/4 pounds when the hammer dropped.
The sights are easy to pick up and are slightly green, which helped in the low light of the firing lane.
Pressing the magazine button releases the magazine just like on the big boys.
The slide is easy to manipulate and locks back on the last round – and the Slide Lock Lever is within easy reach for dropping the slide into battery. Sorry lefties, the Slide Lock Lever is positioned on the left side of the pistol but can be manipulated easily with the thumb of the support hand.
The safety is positive and works as it should, as does the grip safety, as does the magazine safety, as does the half-cock safety. The finger safety worked best of all.
The next test consisted of 20 rounds of the CCI Mini-Mag ammunition, which gave me the best performance in the first test for functionality.
Shooting off hand, the pistol really showed its inherent accuracy (and which I’ll expound on shortly). The pistol grouped well; albeit up and right. Since the pistol ships with three front sights, adjustment for elevation will consists of replacing the stock sight with the tallest of the three. I prefer a “covered” sight picture rather than the usual 6 0’clock standard and that should get me in the ballpark a little closer to home plate. I didn’t take the Allen wrenches that were provided with the gun, but a simple loosening of the rear sight and a little left drift for windage should correct the windage problem.
The result of this last bit of testing is shown below.
The first shot went high and right and I began walking the front sight down. I was not worried about windage, as I was looking more for the gun’s ability to group (precision). Once I felt about centered I repeated the shots to see how it would group. The result was about 1″ right windage but a good final group. This will be a good gun.
To explain the inherent accuracy, I discovered that this gun has a semi-fixed barrel; it does not lock up on the bushing like most floating barrel pistols do. The barrel seems to be resting on the bushing but, in fact, it is just barely floating in it. You can take your finger and move the barrel ever so slightly when in battery, but this play is very minimal. While the barrel is not “solid” like a fixed barrel, neither could you consider it a “floating barrel”.
The barrel is secured by two locking points; the Slide Lock Lever, and a second “Barrel Fixing Pin” that resides underneath the Slide Lock Lever when the gun is fully assembled. This may have been an afterthought in the design, but without the “Barrel Fixing Pin”, the gun would make a nice looking paperweight, as accuracy would have been out the window. It is not a part that you want to lose nor do you want to lose the screw that secures it.
Field-Stripping and Assembly:
Field-Stripping and assembly of the gun is the same as any 1911 with the following exception:
A “Barrel Fixing Pin” is located under the Slide Stop Lever. It is held in place by a setscrew that is located on the right side of the slide assembly. Before removing the slide from the frame, the set screw is removed (Allen wrench is provided). Once the setscrew is removed, the slide is then aligned for removal as you normally would with the 1911. The Slide Stop Lever is removed as normal and then the “Barrel Fixing Pin” is removed. Note: You are not going to get the slide off the frame without removing the pin – period.
(Note: This is a blowback design and does not rely on just the slide stop lever. Apparently the screw was a design change and ensures that the barrel is securely held to the frame. It is a key component in the accuracy of the gun.)
To fieldstrip, perform the following (Note that the instructions that follow do not repeat the owners manual. Since translated from German, I hope to clear up any miscommunication between the manual and the owner):
- Ensure that the gun is unloaded and safe.
- Pull the hammer to its most rearward position.
- With an Allen wrench, remove the “Barrel Fixing Pin” retaining screw.
- Move the slide rearward until the Slide Stop Leer is aligned with the disassembly notch (this is the same as with any 1911).
- Push the Slide Stop Lever from the right side and then remove the Slide Stop Lever from the frame. The “Barrel Fixing Pin” can now be removed.
- While holding the slide and frame assembly so that the disassembly notch remains in the position as when the Slide Lock Lever was removed.
- With the right hand, ensure that the disassembly notch remains in alignment with the slide.
- With the left hand, use the Allen wrench that was used to remove the “Barrel Fixing Pin” screw to push out the “Barrel Fixing Pin” from the frame.
- Complete the removal of the “Barrel Fixing Pin”. The slide can now be removed from the frame.
- Press the recoil spring guide slightly to remove the barrel bushing; turn the barrel bushing a quarter turn clockwise and slide the bushing from the slide while covering the recoil spring plug with your thumb. Note: Alternate method (my preferred method): Remove the recoil guide and recoil spring from beneath the barrel assembly; allow the recoil spring tension to release slowly and in a controlled manner. The recoil spring plug will slide into the frame slightly. Then, remove the barrel bushing from the frame and shake the recoil spring plug from the frame.
- The final step is to remove the barrel assembly from the front of the frame. Note, that there might be some resistance and there is a tight fit between the rear of the barrel assembly and the frame; it may take a little jiggling of the frame while applying light pressure before the barrel assembly will clear the slide.
- This completes the field stripping of the pistol for maintenance purposes.
- The Recoil Spring is a conical shaped spring that has to be assembled onto the Guide Rod in the correct orientation; conical end toward the breech.
- The recoil guide assembly contains a shock buffer and a spare is included in the gun.
- The gun is well lubricated from the factory with what looks like white lithium grease.
- The slide assembly appears to be aluminum while the frame seems to be steel, which accounts for the weight of the pistol. Lubricate as you would any 1911. If you don’t know how, there are several videos on YouTube that will steer you in the right direction (Lubrication of the 1911)
Reassembly is, of course the reverse of disassembly.
I returned to the range a day after the initial run-in; taking the necessary tools with me to set the final site picture for the gun.
During the previous run-in session, the POI was up and right from POA. Using the small Allen wrench provided with the gun, I removed the front sight and replaced it with a taller rear sight (also provided with the gun). The sight can be removed without disassembling the gun. The sight can be drifted off of the slide without tools once the set screw that holds in it place is fully loosened. Simply use the thumb to move the sight off of the slide and install the replacement sight. Align the front center of the slide and tighten – not firmly and with just enough to feel resistance. The front sight set screw is small, as is the Allen wrench, and you could strip the Allen wrench.
I fired three shots for POI and adjusted for a 6 o’clock sight picture. Using a larger Allen wrench (the one that is used for the “Barrel Fixing Pin”) and just loosening the rear sight set screw until I felt the sight give a little. I moved the sight lightly left (to compensate for the right POI) and tighten the screw just a little. I fired three more rounds for grouping and had to shift the rear sight slightly to the right as I had over-adjusted. Three more shots and the gun was sighted in. I tightened all of the set screw and fired 10 rounds.
Cleaning out the X-ring, I decided to pack it in and go home
A final word about dry firing:
Do not dry fire the pistol without something to buffer the impact of the firing pin. Use an expended cartridge or “dummy” round to dry fire, as “peening” of the breech face will occur and damage to the firing pin may occur. I use Pachmayr 03200 22 LR Plastic Safety Snap Caps that are available from Amazon.com, as they are an inexpensive means to protect any .22 rim fire firearm from dry firing damage.
Overall, I am well pleased with this pistol. It is of quality construction and materials. Fit and finish are excellent as are handling and shooting characteristics. The pistol gives you a true 1911 feeling without the recoil (and the expense of .45 acp ammunition). As a trainer, as a plinking gun, or as a practice gun, the GSG M1911 HGA 22 LR 5″ BRL WDGP 10RD Pistol, I believe, is going to provide many hours of and many rounds of satisfaction and enjoyment.
I ordered spare magazines through AIM Surplus, and they work perfectly. I thought about getting some nice 1911 grip panels for it but I decided that I like the checkered walnut grips that came with it. By the way, the magazines are the same dimensions as the real toy. Therefore, if you already have magazine carriers for your 1911 magazines, you can use them for these magazines as well.
Moreover, if you already have a holster for the 1911, you will not have to buy a holster for it. That is, unless you want to.
Alternate Choice: If you are looking for an alternative to the GSG, look no further than the SIG SAUER 1911-22. With the exception of grip, stampings, and lettering, the GSG M1911 HGA 22 is a twin to the SIG SAUER 1911-22. In fact, I believe that the GSG M1911 HGA 22 is manufactured by Sig Arms and the GSG M1911 HGA 22 is about $50 less in MSRP from what I can tell.