GSG .22 LR slide conversion kit

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The quest for a .22 LR conversion kit began when I took my Kimber commemorative Custom II to the cleaners. I had ordered a Caspian frame, along with some Ed Brown and Wilson parts, and thus was left over with the original frame. All the internals had been transferred over to the new pistol. The idea for getting a conversion kit was for two reasons. I introduce alot of people to shooting and wanted a .22 handgun so they could work on the fundamentals more. And the backwords compatibility of still having a full size 1911 being able to work in all my existing holsters, use the same procedures and techniques as with the .45 ACP versions.

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The advantages of being able to use gear dedicated to your 1911s is great, such as is the case with this SERPA holster. Note the original hammer and grip safety.

So I went looking around, and GSG really stuck out for the price. I read a number of reviews of it online, some were bad, but for the most part alot of people seemed to like it enough. Palmetto State Armory had some on sale for 150 dollars and I immediately ordered that in. In addition I ordered an internal parts kit from Sarco (which was almost 100 dollars, I didn’t expect it to be that much). When everything came into place I started putting it all together. The biggest problem was that the conversion kit is designed to work with a Series 70/80 hammer, which has a larger profile than the original 1911A1 hammer that came with the Sarco kit. This delayed the conversion kit from working because the slide wouldn’t push the older hammer back far enough so the newer version was necessary. However even with the new hammer, the problems still happened. Failure to feeds, failure to fires, stove pipes, you name it, it happened. During a particular double feed one of the bullets actually got stuck in between the two feed ramps, nose up. About the only consistent thing the gun was doing, was malfunctioning. This was extremely troublesome for myself, because I’m using it to teach new shooters and apart from focusing on the fundamentals, they were starting to become frustrated with all the jams it was having!

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Wow! It works! Such was the reaction and frustration on working through the various problems of the kit on the Kimber frame. However, I am happy that it is in working condition now and more reliable than not, especially for my purposes of teaching.

Eventually I fished around for different ammunition and ironically enough the best ammunition I could find for the gun was Remington Golden Bullets. For some reason they worked absolutely flawlessly over American Eagle or Federal brands. These bullets usually come in 525 value packs and are considered pretty low in quality, but probably because of their velocity or chamber pressure, they function flawlessly in the conversion slide. While at the range, magazines of American Eagle and Federal were failing to fully cock the hammer and not chamber a round, sometimes on consecutive shots, the Remington bullets continued to fire away.

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The addition of a Series 70/80 hammer and the original Kimber grip safety greatly enhanced the reliability of the kit. Look at the first picture in this article with the original 1911A1 hammer and grip safety.

The other fix to the problem was snipping a few coils off of the hammer spring. Being an original spring designed for a .45 slide, the spring had normal pressure for a .45 but that was just too much for a .22 slide. This caused the hammer to actually slow the slide down while it was cycling, leaving just enough room for the shell to eject, but not enough room for the slide to pick up the next round from the magazine. Thus leaving the hammer at half-cock and the shooter being stuck. With the lightened hammer spring, the American Eagle and Federal ammunition started working reliably.

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Slide locked back with two magazines that come with it. The tape is so it stays somewhat centered in the magazine well while inserted.

What you get:

I will compliment GSG very thoroughly for putting the kit together because it actually comes with a ton of options and accessories for the price. Apart from the slide itself and two magazines it also comes with a muzzle wrench (for removing the front portion of the barrel, to allow a suppressor adaptor), an orange dummy round, 2 different sets of iron sights for adjustments, two chamber flags, a Series 80 conversion set, various extra screws/springs/ hex set, and a slide release. One of the neatest things about the kit is that you can have it work with either a Series 70 frame, or a Series 80 frame with a firing pin plunger. Personally I prefer the Series 70 due to the less complex design. Something about Kimber is that most Kimber frames are Series 80s with the firing pin plunger. Most 1911 companies, Springfield Armory as an example, are Series 70 frames. Not to start a Springfield versus Kimber debate, but whichever way your 1911 swings, the GSG kit can accommodate both. It also comes with a small plastic case with a foam liner. However, this is only big enough for the slide and associated parts. It will not fit an assembled 1911.

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Some of the spare parts that come with the kit. It comes with a fairly decent amount of stuff considering the low price point.

Get the conversion kit if…

You want a .22 slide for your full size 1911 for recreational or light training needs. The kit is great for casual days at the range, and is especially helpful in working around jams and dealing with problems that you would have in a .45 ACP 1911. It will also fit in all your existing 1911 holsters and other associated gear. Also if you are willing to work with the slide and your pistol in making sure it becomes reliable. If you’re lucky, it’ll be a simple disassembly and will be working fine. If not, you’ll be going through springs, hammers, and magazines trying to find a solution. Or just give it to a gunsmith. On second thought, just give it to a gunsmith to have the headache instead of you, and yourself just the bill.

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The kit is absolutely outstanding (once reliable) for applications such as this, teaching gun safety and the fundamentals of marksmanship to beginners, and this is what I mainly use it for.

Don’t get it if…

You want to actually get some serious practice in with it. The construction of the kit and the operation of the slide isn’t a reliable mixture at all. Sure it’ll work, but don’t expect it to always work for you. On that regard I wouldn’t recommend it at all for a trail or pest gun, it’s just too fragile to survive much abuse. In that case I’d go with one of the better kits from Advantage Arms or another conversion kit company.

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You don’t like the poor finish on the inside of the zinc slide…. But who looks there anyways?

The magazine situation

Thinking that some of the problems might have stemmed from the magazine and not the ammunition, I figured I might order some Kimber .22 magazines and see if they would work better with the GSG slide. Huge mistake. Not only does it not work better but the Kimber magazines don’t even fit in it. The angle of the Kimber magazine is too steep to even seat in the 1911, it just leaves about an inch of magazine hanging out of the bottom. To top it off, the Kimber magazine seems like a rip off in itself, all it consists of is a plastic magazine tube, a flimsy spring, and a follower. Kimber sells them for thirty dollars or so, but I don’t see them costing much more than ten to produce. However the other issue I was dealing with is that the GSG magazine didn’t fit perfectly within the magazine well of the Kimber frame. It rattled around inside and oftentimes didn’t seat at all. It would do this thing of halfway seating into place, and then halfway through a magazine, the entire magazine would simply fall out of the handgun. Then I would sometimes seat the magazine, hear a click, figure it was fully inserted, but the top round wouldn’t load because it wasn’t fully inserted. Thus I had to wait for two clicks, the first one with the magazine seating, and the second one with the magazine fully inserted.

A great thing about the GSG magazines is that they are designed to lock the slide open on the last round. This can’t happen at all with the Kimber conversions and some other conversion slides are iffy about this, but not with GSG. The magazines also don’t fit in standard 1911 magazine pouches or holders because they’re a tad too small. But it isn’t anything a piece of tape with cardboard can’t fix. They hold a capacity of 10 rounds, are easily disassembled for cleaning, and have rugged housings. Their weak points are mainly the floor plate, which is a piece of plastic that can be pried off of the magazine.

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An example of how the GSG magazines fits in a magazine holder from Fobus, as compared to a standard 1911 magazine. It won’t be snug, and can easily rattle or fall out unless secured somehow.

Accuracy?

At 5 meters the groups coming out of the GSG are great, but that is only because I’m mostly shooting at 5 meter paper targets with my students. At 15 to 25 meters, the pistol is extremely capable on steel targets. As long as the shooter puts in the work, the gun will put rounds down range in pretty good groups, provided quality ammunition is used as well.

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The slide, fully disassembled. That long metal piece sticking out from the chamber is the ejector.

The bottom line

The end result is that the slide itself is really hit or miss. By the end of all these extra parts and ammunition, I honestly would have probably been better off just buying a used but dedicated semi automatic .22 handgun. But on the other hand, I’ve now got a legitimate 1911 frame that I can use with a .45 slide in the future, if I ever feel like putting that on. In addition I can use all or most of my 1911 parts and accessories with the gun, can practice similar loading and clearing procedures just like the full size one, and not lose any safety considerations going from one caliber to another. It is certainly economical, but at what cost? That’s up to whatever frame or platform you’re using in conjunction with it. GSG has a great reputation for making solid shooting guns. However when that conversion line is crossed, there are so many variables in the design of the firearm it is converting, that I would be hard pressed to find any conversion kit, for any firearm, that works on every single version of that particular firearm.

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One of the parts that makes it really versatile is the Series 70/80 choice on it. By replacing the bar on the left side of the firing pin block, you can have either a 70 or 80 configuration. The entire block is taken out by hammering out the pin visible in black about midway on the firing pin block.



Miles V

Former Infantry Marine, and currently studying at Indiana University. I’ve written for Small Arms Review and Small Arms Defense Journal, and have had a teenie tiny photo that appeared in GQ. Specifically, I’m very interested in small arms history, development, and Military/LE usage within the Middle East, and Central Asia.

If you want to reach out, let me know about an error I’ve made, something I can add to the post, or just talk guns and how much Grunts love naps, hit me up at miles@tfb.tv


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  • Riot

    I think I’d go for something like the Walther .22 1911 instead if this kit has feeding problems.

    • Spencerhut

      P22’s are JUNK. JUNK. JUNK. Avoid them like the plague they are.

      • Riot

        Walther 1911 – haven’t heard anything bad about it. No idea about the P22 and don’t care about it tbh.
        And I have heard other people say what Wingbert said.

        • Spencerhut

          Oh crud, I thought you were talking about the P22, my mistake. The Walther 1911 22 looks like a GSG copy, so it should be good.

  • FWIW

    I bought one of the dedicated GSG .22lr 1911s some years ago. It’s fine for what it is, although for about the same price (at the time, maybe they’re cheaper now) you could get a basic Ruger Mk. III, which would certainly be the better buy in terms of quality and reliability. That said, the GSG is still running and is always hoot to shoot, and makes a great suppressor host as well.

    • Spencerhut

      The Ruger MK 1,2,3 are a freaking joke next to a GSG 1911. Let’s play a gm. I completely disassemble my GSG and you do the same to your Ruger. Let’s see who gets it back together first.

      … and the GSG will run 100% with just about any ammo.

      • FWIW

        Haha, well, if dis-assembly and reassembly is the metric the GSG is gonna win hands down. I’m pretty sure I could disassemble and reassemble the engine in my car faster than I could a Ruger Mk III…

        I will say my GSG can be finicky with ammo, which is a little disappointing. Based on the article, though, maybe I should monkey with the hammer spring a little and see if that doesn’t improve things.

  • Some guy in VA

    I’m curious as to why the barrel is threaded yet doesn’t portrude past the slide.

    • Isn’t that how the original GSG 1911 works? I wonder if the thread adapter is compatible with this conversion.

    • FWIW

      It’s so if you keep the thread protector on it, it looks just like a normal barrel. To attach a suppressor (or any muzzle device, I guess) you remove the thread protector, attach an adapter made for whatever thread pitch your suppressor is, then attach the suppressor. It works okay although you have to be careful to keep the adapter tightened down in addition to whatever muzzle device you end up attaching.

  • G0rdon_Fr33man

    GSG 1911 can be good, but it requires extensive work to remove all the extra safeties, new sights, lighter trigger etc… Same goes for many of the “wannabe” .22 pistols these days.

  • Wingbert

    From my experience Remington Golden Bullets works well on every finicky .22 firearm I have.

    • Spencerhut

      You are alone in that opinion.

  • Cymond

    I think our would be better to buy a good conversion than have a gunsmith fix a GSG.

    And remember that lightened mainspring if you do ever put a centerfire upper on it.