Exclusive: German Sport Guns
1911 .22 Rimfire
From American Tactical Imports
By Mike Cumpston
The GSG 1911 is an affordable alternative to the increasingly popular rimfire conversion kits for the Government Model. The three basic models include a Standard Model, the pictured Wood Grip Model and a Tactical Model with accessory rail.
Since its inception in 2002, German Sport Guns has achieved a solid reputation as a quality manufacturer of rimfire versions of popular military small arms. These include variations of the AK 47 and the highly popular GSG 522 Series that closely resemble the H&K 9mm carbine. In 2010, GSG’s American Distributor, American Tactical Imports, took delivery of the long- anticipated first shipment of the rimfire version of the Colt/Browning 1911, the GSG-1911. The pistols were quickly dispersed among the regional distributors and just as quickly snapped up by a cadre of enthusiasts who had been anticipating imminent delivery since early 2009. German language Youtube skits and wild Internet conjecture fanned the flames.
Local shooters Louis Ellis and Mike Parsons, gambling on the validity of reports of extreme reliability and accuracy and excellent trigger pulls, cabbaged up a pair of the pistols and made them available for inspection. The pistols, the wood-grip variation of the model, displayed fine surface treatment overlaid with a black finish that appears to be a bake-on coating. The slide, frame safety levers spring cap and barrel bushing are all alloy. There is a steel breech/firing pin-passive safety housing in the slide. The full-length guide rod is of heavy steel. The sights are either alloy or plastic and both pistols required fitting of the tallest of three supplied front sights to achieve zero at 25 yards. The dovetailed rear sight allows for lateral adjustment. Fire controls are familiar to users of state-of-the-art, 1911s having ambi-safety levers and a high grip beavertail grip safety.
The passive safety is trigger-actuated patterned after the Colt Series 80. There are no front slide serrations (thank you, GSG). Trigger pulls on the two pistols displayed only moderate creep, with one releasing at 4 pounds 2 ounces and the other breaking at an even 5 pounds. The over-travel adjustments were perfectly set. The 10-round magazine is all steel, very well made and of sturdy construction.
Excellent groups with CCI Stingers illustrate the smooth feed cycle of the GSG. Accuracy with the hyper velocity round suffers if the bullet becomes deformed on the trip from magazine to chamber.
The slide and frame are primarily alloy with appropriate use of steel on selected parts.
At two ounces less overall weight than my Ten Ring Precision Gold Cup, the pistol has the definite 1911 feel. I noted I tend to make the same trigger control errors with the rimfire as with my .45s, when shooting one-handed at 25 yards, with similar results on the target. Like the .45s, accuracy from a two-handed hold is sufficient for a comprehensive range of field applications. It comes across as a very good understudy for the larger pistols. I fired a number of five shot 25-yard groups from a padded rest using loads ranging from loss-leader bulk ammunition, to Eley match rounds. The modal group was about 1.5″ with one or two clusters approaching 2.5″ blamed on the shooter or the bulk pack ammo that produced them.
The best groups of the session came with CCI Mini-Mag HP and Stingers. These went 1.1″ and 1.2″ respectively, with four rounds from each group hovering at the ½” mark. As the session progressed, I shot groups with both pistols indiscriminately and found no detectable difference in accuracy or overall performance. Except for the slight difference in trigger pull, they seem to be virtual clones.
As mentioned, the agglomeration of ammo on hand included some bulk pack big box store el-cheapos noted for fairly frequent squibs. They’re constructed so the bullets not only rotate freely in the case, but also tend to wobble back and forth. Both pistols sucked these up with gusto and we had the good luck not to encounter any duds or gather any stuck bullets in the bores.
Bullets take a straight path from the magazine lips into the essentially ramp-less chamber. We confirmed the goodness of the feeding sequence of these pistols with several groups with CCI Stingers. This round produces excellent groups, but only if the bullet is un-marred by the feed cycle. Any damage to the bullet during feeding results in shotgun-like patterns on target. This was not an issue with our sample pistols.
I did encounter a single feeding failure that occurred when a CCI Mini Mag failed to leave the magazine. It resembled what happens when the magazine is not fully seated though I believe it was fully locked in place. We found the recoil impulse of Wolf Match ammo too light to function the action. With high velocity ammunition, the pistol is fully functional topped off with an eleventh round and, unlike some conversion units, the slide remains open when the pistol runs empty.
The end of the barrel is threaded for removal and substitution of an extender for attachment of the GSG faux suppressor or an appropriately registered actual one.
The all-steel barrel/chamber/ejector attach to the frame via a pin and set screw.
Dismounting and reassembly for cleaning is well explained by the owner’s manual. The procedure requires only minimum trial and error and moderate cursing and becomes easy with practice. Manufacturer’s literature indicates it is transparently easy to put a .45 upper on the GSG frame — a feat we were unable to accomplish with my WWI replica or Gold Cup slide/barrel assembly. We would like to believe nobody else will be able to do so either and hope not to hear about it if they do.
We also found it impossible to place the rimfire slide/barrel assembly on either of these pistol and it appears that a series 80 frame assembly (if one could be found to fit) would be necessary to deactivate the passive firing pin block plunger in the slide. The important consideration here is the GSG 1911 is a complete and full-featured pistol that costs the consumer the same or less than he would have to pay for one of the conversion kits alone, around $360.
The GSG 1911 comes in a hard case with owner’s manual, extra front sights, a spanner for replacing the standard muzzle with a threaded extender, several wrenches, a cleaning brush and a single ten round magazine.
For more info: www.americanhandgunner.com/American-tactical-imports
With economy in mind, many shooters select bargain priced rimfire ammunition. These Thunderbolts deliver accuracy comparable to Eley match from the sample pistols.
Our two pistols were indistinguishable in function and accuracy. One came with a 4 LB 2 0z trigger while the other broke at an even 5 pounds.
The first 25-yard bench group set an accuracy trend for CCI Mini-Mags.
Louis Ellis delivered this 25-yard group using Mini-Mag Hollow Points.
The handling sensation is very close to that of a full caliber 1911 as are the down-range results. This head shot group was fired two-hand standing from 25 yards.