Welcome back to another edition of The Rimfire Report! In this series we discuss, explore review various rimfire firearms, calibers and various aspects of their use. As you can tell by the title, today we’re going to discuss a slightly negative issue – the worst 22LR pistol I ever bought. Before we get started I do have to say that as with any review, the sample size is one person and one firearm. However, in the spirit of The Rimfire Report, I will do my best to be as objective as possible.
The Rimfire Report: The Worst 22LR Pistol I Ever Bought
Back when I was first able to buy handguns I made several uninformed decisions. First off, in anticipation of getting my concealed carry permit, I purchased a Smith & Wesson Sigma SW40VE – probably not the best choice for a first carry gun. My second handgun purchase was the main subject of this article – a Chiappa 1911-22. For reference, I purchased this gun back in 2011 just before the big 2012 22LR ammo shortage – ammunition choices were limited.
Chiappa 1911-22 Specs
- SKU: 401.038
- UPC: 8053670712348
- Type of Gun: Pistol
- Caliber: 22 Long Rifle
- Action: Semi-Auto
- Barrel Length: 5″
- Capacity: 10
- Feed-In: Magazine
- Grips: Stippled Walnut
- Front Sight: Fixed
- Rear Sight: Standard
- Safety: Manual
- Weight: 2.1 lbs
- Length: 8.5″
- Material: Alloy
- Finish: Blued
- Price: $249 MSRP
While this may have been the worst 22LR pistol I ever bought, the Chiappa 1911-22 wasn’t all bad news. The pistol itself is a great replica of a Government model 1911 with all the fit, feel and ergonomics of its 45 ACP counterpart. A standard 1911 government weighs an entire half-pound more but with as large as the frame is 1911-22 still had quite a bit of weight behind it giving you the feel of a full-sized sidearm.
1911-22 came with 2 polymer magazines as well as a nice plastic carrying case. The magazines themselves had a few drawbacks we’ll discuss in the next section. The grips and bluing done on the rest of the pistol were also done very well with the genuine wood grips being laser etched for a nice texture.
Shooting the Chiappa 1911-22 was fun – when it worked. The sights gave me fairly accurate shots and I was even able to get a set of replaceable Novak style fiber optic sights which helped when shooting outdoors. Finally, the trigger was pretty good. This can, however, be attributed to the fact that in general, single-action triggers tend to feel pretty good. Overall a very accurate pistol.
The Not So Good
The biggest problem I had with the Chiappa 1911-22 was ammunition compatibility. For a sub $200 pistol (street price), I would expect it to run with some of the cheapest ammunition out there. I tried Remington Thunderbolt, Winchester, and other bulk 22LR and ran into a few common issues with all of them.
One problem I found was that most of the budget ammunitions had consistent failures to fire. while this could be attributed to me being cheap and buying cheap ammo, this also happened several times with CCI Standard velocity ammunition. “Premium” ammunition didn’t seem to have this problem as often but that could be a combination of both the ammunition and the gun.
On top of the failures to fire, I also had a lot of stove pipes – again all with budget ammunition. Out of curiosity I purchased a box of CCI MiniMags and ran into fewer problems but still had issues with feeding. Most of the problems I think came down to the magazines which are pretty abysmal by 22LR magazine standards (my standard being the Ruger Mark series of pistols).
Most malfunctions aside from failures to fire seem to have been traced back to the magazines. Several times I had rounds pop out of the top of the magazine during a string of fire. Other times I had rounds nosedive into the front end of the magazine preventing the slide from coming forward.
Another problem with the magazines is that they did not drop free – at first. It seemed the coating on the outside of the magazines made them stick inside the magazine well and it took a few range trips for the magazines to drop free from the gun.
The Chiappa 1911-22 was pretty bad – especially for a person new to buying pistols. The great thing about this gun is that it is probably one of the most faithful representations of 1911 without the associated cost. That being said If I can’t enjoy shooting it at the range without constant malfunctions it kind of takes the luster away from the otherwise beautiful presentation.
I wouldn’t recommend this gun to anyone with one caveat. If you really want a 1911 pistol in 22LR there really aren’t too many options out there and for a cheap range toy, I’ve seen these as low as $180 New in the box. You really can’t get much cheaper than that! Chiappa makes a ton of other great firearms, some of them in 22LR, but I don’t believe 1911-22 to be indicative of what the company is capable of producing in terms of quality.
Chiappa has produced other great and unique guns like the Chiappa Triple Threat, the Rhino series of revolvers and even some new and interesting guns like the Chiappa CBR-9 Black Rhino which looks like a great first entry into the PDW arena. Chiappa truly is capable of some amazing things. So what are some of your worst experiences with 22LR pistols? Let us know down in the comments! As always thanks again for stopping by to read The Rimfire Report!
We are committed to finding, researching, and recommending the best products. We earn commissions from purchases you make using the retail links in our product reviews. Learn more about how this works.