Gun Review: Walther/Colt Government 1911A1 .22LR

2013-275-660x495

The 1911 needs no introduction.  As the standard service pistol for the U.S. Armed Forces from 1911 to 1985, the 1911 served our country for a literal lifetime.  This storied heritage of performance, in combination with the 1911′s ubiquity, translated to a steady and enthusiastic adoption in the civilian market.  Without question, the M1911 .45ACP enjoys one of the most fervent fan bases in the civilian shooting world for a number of reasons.  The ease of obtaining aftermarket parts, the typically crisp single-action trigger, and the patriotic symbolism of this old standard have made this one of the most popular guns on the market today.

2013-276

Unfortunately, as many of our readers know, ammo prices have skyrocketed over recent history, with a sharp spike in the past couple of years in particular.  Many of us may recall when brass cased .45ACP ammunition was $10-$15 for a box of fifty rounds.  Now, if you can find it, brass .45ACP is closer to fifty cents a round.  This means that those of us who own 1911s are in for at least fifty bucks every time we want to get some practice with our .45s.

While there’s nothing quite like practicing with the round that your 1911 was made for, a salvo of full size 1911s chambered in .22 have hit the market, offering the next best thing – a near identical manual of arms and trigger, even similar weight and dimensions, but designed to shoot the less expensive .22LR round, making practice cheaper and certainly less tiresome.  Ignoring the fact that, lately, even .22LR has been difficult to find, it’s cheaper than .45ACP either way, and a .22LR 1911 would quickly pay for itself after only a few range visits.

Walther has been manufacturing a great example of this full-size .22 1911 under license from Colt, and we were sent the .22 1911A1 for review.  As with the Walther PPK/S .22LR, this .22 is made in Germany by Walther, and as you will see from the review, this pistol feels and performs as you would expect a German-made handgun to perform.

Walther claims that this is the It is the “only genuine Colt tactical rimfire replica available in the world” and that it was designed and manufactured according to the original Colt plans and at a 1:1 scale, which makes this gun very appealing to own if you already have a stable of 1911s.

2013-273

Specifications:

The Colt/Walther Government 1911A1 is chambered in .22LR with a magazine capacity of 12 rounds.  It weighs 2.25 pounds empty, and it has an aluminum slide and a zinc alloy frame.  OAL is 8.6 inches with a 5-inch barrel.  It is blowback operated with a single-action trigger that Walther pegs at 5.5 pounds, although it felt a bit heavier when shooting a new gun.  The rear sight is drift-adjustable, as is the removable front sight.  Like the standard 1911, the Walther/Colt has manual thumb and grip safeties.

As stated, the Walther/Colt .22LR is on a 1:1 scale with the standard 1911, and accepts many regular 1911 accessories.

One bonus offered by this .22 replica is the M8x.75mm threaded barrel.  While this barrel has a flush muzzle (the barrel does not extend past the slide), the muzzle end of this gun has a thread protector that can be twisted off to expose muzzle threads.  This allows the user to attach a muzzle device such as a thread adapter, allowing you to attach a silencer if you elect.  This feature is in common with the Walther P22 and Walther PPK/S .22LR.  Since I imagine this can’t be a cheap addition, the fact that Walther has opted to include this while maintaining a reasonable asking price is a surprising yet very welcome modification.  Fellow shooters/silencer owners know how costly it can be to get a threaded barrel for a pistol, so this is a windfall to those of us with rimfire suppressors, and I applaud Walther for applying this trait across the board with its reciprocating-slide .22s.

Street price at time of writing seems to hover around $400.

2013-274

 

General Observations:

Similar to the Walther PPK/S .22LR we recently reviewed, this is a handsome pistol with excellent fit and finish.  The finish is a flat black that seems durable enough, and looks good if you like the retro/parkerized GI 1911 look.  As mentioned earlier, Walther claims that they relied upon Colt drawings and plans to make this gun, and it shows.  Without picking it up, this .22 looks like the real deal from a foot away, and it is the same size as the standard 1911.  Similar to the PPK/S .22LR, but unlike other modern reciprocating-slide .22s, this pistol handles and feels like an actual handgun and not just a cheap, plastic-y range toy.

And how does it fare on the range?

Again, similar to the PPK/S .22LR, function was 100% with bulk pack .22LR and CCI Stinger.  Over two range sessions and five hundred rounds with no cleaning or lubrication whatsoever, there were no malfunctions, which is the exception, rather than the rule, with reciprocating-slide .22LRs like this.  I should also mention that approximately two hundred rounds were also fired with a suppressor, which typically will increase the accumulation of fouling in the gun.  Note that the standard 1911 sights this comes equipped with will likely be tall enough to be usable with a .22 suppressor if you do mount one.  And as I was fresh off of the PPK/S review, I made sure to keep my support thumbs away from the slide – since these reciprocating-slide .22s create only enough energy to cycle the slide, any additional friction such as a thumb riding the slide may cause the 1911 .22 to fail to lock into battery.

Walther claims this is a 5.5lb trigger.  While I did not measure the trigger weight, this sounds about right, although the pull on my test gun may have been a touch heavier – break-in would probably bring it into 5.5lbs if it isn’t already.  That said, the trigger has a short travel period and a nice, crisp break – just like grandad’s 1911 – which translates into good accuracy.  While all shooting was informal and no bench or rested groups were taken, this is as accurate as any other stock .22 pistol you have shot, if not more so.  Three inch freehand groups at ten yards were easy to make.

Disassembly is similar in some respects to a standard 1911.  First, one removes the magazine and disengages the safety.  Second, the recoil spring plug at the muzzle must be depressed and the bushing rotated.  Once these pieces are removed, the recoil spring slides out easily.

After that point, disassembly is similar to the other Walther .22s – The slide is pulled back to lock, and the slide release can be pushed out of the frame.  Once you’ve done this, the slide can be pulled back and off the rails of the frame, then pushed forward to clear the slide from the barrel.

Negative Observations:

Again, like the Walther PPK/S .22LR, my chief complaint is the inclusion of only one magazine, with replacements costing $35.  This is not an inordinate sum, but it adds 10% to the cost of the gun if you want two magazines.  Also, it is a bit of an inconvenience that the barrel is fixed and pinned in place, therefore not replaceable by the average shooter.

Other than that, there is almost nothing to improve upon with this “little” 1911.  While some shooters may complain about the use of zinc alloy in the frames, Walther has stated that this is a sophisticated zinc alloy that they selected for its durability, and therefore, they do not anticipate any issues with the frames as a result.  I do not see this as an issue with this otherwise-robust .22LR.

2013-271

Conclusion:

After reviewing this gun and the Walther PPK/S .22LR, it looks like Walther’s German-made rimfire pistols are coming in hot.  Both of them performed flawlessly with no cleaning or lubrication out of the box and over hundreds of rounds, and both are accurate guns.  Both replicate very successfully their namesakes – this 1911 feels like, well, a 1911.  Not only does this gun perform well, but it looks good, and it emulates well the look and feel of a 1911.

In addition to the aforementioned reliability, Walther hit this one out of the park in employing several nuanced features that should not be overlooked and that set this .22 apart from its competition: First, it is a 1:1 scale, true size replica of the 1911.  I would think regular 1911 shooters would relish the opportunity to use a full-size replica of their chief sidearm or favorite tournament gun, but chambered for the much-less-expensive .22 caliber.  Second, and tangentially related, this 1911 is licensed by Colt and designed using Colt shop plans and drawings.  That also means that many, many 1911 accessories will be compatible with this plinker.  Third, anyone who shoots with a suppressor will realize what a blessing it is to receive a pistol with factory threads.  If you own or plan to own a silencer, factor in the couple hundred it would cost to outfit a pistol with a threaded barrel, and you will see why Walther’s decision to thread these barrels was a good one.

In conclusion, Walther’s collaboration with Colt bears fruit in this 1911 replica – a reliable and handsome full-size replica of the traditional 1911 that pays the homage this venerable design is due.

Related

James Reeves is a licensed and practicing concealed weapons instructor, the winner of Maxim Magazine’s MAXIMum Warrior 2011 civilian challenge, a graduate of Front Sight and Tier 1 Group, and is an Appleseed Rifleman. James previously owned and operated a gun shop in Tallahassee, FL and worked as a regional sales representative for Interstate Arms Company, a distributor, before he began practicing law, his present career. James likes traveling with his wife, boating, America, photography, guns, gear he doesn’t really need, cold beer, and a little exercise here and there (James is also GORUCK Tough). Above all, James enjoys performing product evaluations for The Firearm Blog and posting his reviews for TFB readers. Follow James on Twitter and Instagram @PelicanHandgun.


Advertisement

  • Chris Chappell

    Totally not enough text on this gun, they went off and left a whole couple square centimeters bare.

    • James R.

      ALWP! Nice, I honestly didn’t notice, but now I see what you mean.

    • jamezb

      Yes, I wish they’d put at least the import portion of the Walther marks and the “licensed by Colt” marks
      on the bottom of the dust cover to clean up the right side view, used a smaller font on the left side, and had refrained from cramming white paint into the markings.

      You would think the BATF ought to know enough about dis-assembling guns to be able to place the import marks on an internal surface so a gun doesn’t have as much print as a cereal box, but I suppose that’s too much to ask.

      • Jimpjr

        If you notice the import marks show that the true place of manufacture is in Fort Smith Arkansas. So the imported Colt is still truly made right here in the good old USA.

    • Irvin Bennet

      I agree Chris it’s nice gun but would look a lot better without all the lettering on the sides!

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

      I do hate highlighted white text on any gun

  • Jack Morris

    Is this another Umarex gun?
    My last “Walther” (made by Umarex); a P22, had it’s slide crack in half.
    I’m not buying another gun with zinc as a main building component. Fool me once…

    • James R.

      Jack, I understand your sentiment. If it makes any difference, these are made in the Walther/Ulm plant. I do not believe that these are actually made by Umarex.

      • Ensse

        Isn’t Umarex a division of Walther, though?

        • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

          More like a partner company

          • Schadavi

            It’s the other way.
            Umarex owns Walther, which in addition to producing Walther competition guns (those well above 1000€) is used as a brand name for the “high end” Umarex products.
            Chinese scopes, Umarex-made zinc alloy guns, and a series of chinese knifes are all stamped with the Walther name, despite never having seen Ulm.

            All zinc alloy guns, the tactical rimfire rifles and the co2-airguns are made in Arnsberg by Umarex.

            I owned the 22lr 1911 for about a year, and the slide wore out after 2.500 shots so much that i could tilt it about 15 degrees to both sides. Plus the sights cant be replaced because they are not standard in any way (i tried LPA, STI and a few other)
            But the pistol never jammer, was actually quite accurate and the magazines are quite good, no lube or cleaning required.

          • James R.

            I know for a fact that the zinc-alloy PPK/S .22 is made in Ulm, so I think your supposition is incorrect on that count. I will check on this 1911, but I think it is made in Ulm as well.

          • Schadavi

            Partly true, all parts are made and fitted in Arnsberg, they do the final inspection and federal test firing in Ulm. They have to do that because otherwise they would not be allowed to stamp the guns with “Walther Ulm” under German firearms law.
            And i am very sure about the 1911, because i picked it up in the factory here in Arnsberg (i live about 10 minutes from there) and had the oppurtunity to join a tour.

          • James R.

            According to an email I just received from Walther, the 1911 is made in Ulm.

          • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

            You’re wrong on ownership. PW Group owns both Umarex and Walther. That’s why I said they have an association but they are not owned by them.

        • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

          As I told a reader below Umarex and Walther are owned by the PW Group in Germany.

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

      Yes it is— at least by advertising. They are made by Walther in Germany

      • jimpjr

        They are made by(for) Walther as to be an import from Germany. But look at the info stamped on the gun. The Gun is actually made in the USA, Fort Smith Arkansas! Still a Colt and still USA made.

  • Mikey

    I bought this gun for myself around Christmas, haven’t shot it yet. Now I REALLY want to after having read this

  • Oscar Victor

    No. Just No. Why did they have to rape a beautiful classic by stamping it’s name on the side (well, all sides…) of this abortion.?

    Each and every zinc-alloy-framed .22 I’ve ever shot is an abolute POS. They’re inaccurate (“three inch freehand groups at ten yards were easy to make – really”?), cheaply made (rumor has it Walther’s zinc frames are made by a company that manufactures airsoft guns), unreliable and they break if you shoot them at all seriously.

    Believe me, when people start buying these and actually shooting them, they’ll fail and fail miserably.

    A turd is a turd, even if you call it a “Colt Government Model”.

    • James R.

      Without addressing each of those issues, I’ll bench it this weekend and post results if that will make you feel any better. I believe these are pretty accurate, it’s just that, being a rimfire .22 pistol made for rec shooting, it isn’t as if this gets run through the wringer in the accuracy department versus, say, the TacSol X-Ring (review forthcoming).

      • Oscar Victor

        James, I’m looking forward to seeing the results of your bench test. Most similar guns are around 3-4″ guns at 25 yards, which is ok for plinking, but kind of sucks if you’re used to Ruger MK-series or Buckmark accuracy.

        Please don’t take my comments the wrong way… I have nothing against your review but I am a great fan of the Government Model and seeing a gun that I strongly suspect to be sub-par labled with that name really irks me. So many once great manufacturers have produced complete lemons when it comes to .22 versions of their guns, as many a Walther or Sig afficionado unfortunate enough to have owned a P22 or Mosquito (particulalry the early runs) will tell you. In this particular case maybe the Colt drawing do make a difference… I’d be glad to be proved wrong!

        On a side note, is the barrel on this thing solid or is it also a casting with a steel liner as on many previous zinc-alloy guns?

        • James R.

          No offense taken at all! I invite comments like this – the manufacturers read these reviews and I hope they read the comments, too.

          I guess I think 3-4″ at 25yds for a plinker is accurate, because I’d be pleased with that! I’ll bench on Sunday and I will update the review. I’d be willing to bet 3″ at 25y is what we will see, but I’ll give it a whirl, maybe we will both be surprised.

          I’ll have a look at the barrel and see if I could tell. I think it is solid, but I’ll check it out.

          Point taken on your original comment re: zinc. These seem fine…I voiced my concern to Walther when I reviewed the PPK/S, and their rep said that this particular zinc alloy was selected for its durability over other alloys…but time will tell.

          • Mike

            The alloy is called Zamak, pretty good stuff. If you want to wail on a shitty .22 1911 abortion of a gun, let the chiappa have it

  • Neville

    Adam lanza used one of these to execute some of the children feom Sandy Hook primary. To all the gun fanatics in here picture your child having its head blown off, do you enjoy that image? You must do you sadistic psychos i hope your children do end up bleeding out from gunshot wounds from your own guns. Getting your come uppance then you cowards.

    • nester7929

      You hope our children bleed out? You want MORE children to die, and you’re calling US sadistic?

      I’m not cowardly enough to wish death on someone’s child while hiding behind a screen name, but apparently you are. Of course, this is just more evidence that the anti-gun crowd not only lacks reasoning ability, but honor as well.

      • Neville

        My daughter was killed at Sandy Hook your response is to insult me and say i have no honor. Well I’d love to see your face being given the news your ugly childs heads been blown off then you wouldn’t be here grandstanding and hurling insults at the parents of the dead.

        • nester7929

          I tried deleting my comment after looking at your profile, but I suppose it didn’t register in time. Oh well.

          Is the daughter that died the same one you say got raped by her teacher? Damn, you’re the hardest troll I’ve ever seen. Granted there are a LOT of people out there who say things like your original post, so you actually got me going at first.

        • gunslinger

          Wait. Are you saying your kid is ugly too? And I dont recall any details of kids heads being blown off.

      • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

        He’s gone never to return—- Neville if you should read this even though you can no longer comment you need to stay on websites where responsible gun owners are not present.
        I’m sincerely sorry you child was killed. It’s something I can’t imagine but you can’t judge a tool by what one insane purpose uses it for.

  • Ton Hartink

    Important for European gun laws: is this a pistol of the Walther brand and with a model name “Colt 1911″ in .22 LR or is this a original Colt (because of the license) which happens to be produced by Walther.

  • Mark Horning

    I really, really, wanted one of these. Then I felt the trigger. I have shotguns with lighter, smoother triggers. Too bad.

  • Werner Neumeier

    The Text is because the gun is an import.I have a SIG Sauer 1911-22, and GSG 1911-22,all in one gun.Has the same type text but all the text on mine is hardly seen.I’m sure the new Colt’s a fine gun!

  • Ed van Wageningen

    I bought this gun a couple weeks ago. As much as I love the 1911 model, I really hate the insane trigger pressure on this one!
    Does anyone have an idea, is it possible to change that somehow? Maybe by a gunsmith, but can it be done?

  • amazing

    I shot one of these on the range. I had many feeding problems. The gun felt cheap and of poor quality. I was completely underwhelmed. Glad I borrowed one to try out. I wouldn’t want to get stuck with one.

    • Ed van Wageningen

      I tried it withseveral different brands of ammo and had some feeding problems too. CCI standard works perfect though. CCI MiniMags worked okay too, but some minor issues with the last round. Three out of twenty times the slide remained in the open position while there was still one round in the magazine.
      Well, not really a ‘minor’ issue, actually a serious safety issue!

  • Gary

    I have had one for two years now. I shoot what ever ammo I can get my hands on. I have had one FTF and one FTE during my first 50 rounds. After taking apart and cleaning the gun I have had no problems. I can say that at 50 yards I am able to hold all rounds in the 8 to X rings and have won a few shoots with it. I have well over 50,000 rounds through this gun and it is still shooting great. Keep it clean and oiled and it will last you along time.

  • Vaughan

    I shot one at the range. It was very ammo sensitive and felt cheap. It handled more like a toy than a firearm. Accuracy was poor. I would recommend a Ruger .22 lr pistol mk II or III as a much higher quality firearm.

  • Vaughan

    My wife just purchased a Walther PK .380. I am interested to see how well it performs. It is an “Umarex” product as well. I hope it turns out to be an accurate and reliable firearm.