Rock Island Armory's

Magnum 1911

With a capacity of 14+1 rounds there’s plenty of plinking fun on-board!

I’ve never been what I would consider a gun collector but rather a gun accumulator. The collector normally focuses intently on one particular type of firearm. My problem is I like most guns, and any gun I acquire I expect to shoot. By being an accumulator my focus is quite broad — anything interesting to me! And therein lies the problem; just about everything interest me. So since 1956, I’ve been accumulating interesting firearms.

Just as with most shooters, at least young shooters, I started with .22’s. As life progressed I became more and more interested in the bigger bores, however the .22 has never lost its attraction. Now that I’ve made it through most of Shakespeare’s Seven Stages of Life I find .22’s (and .32’s for that matter) have even more attraction than they did in the beginning.

Good semi-auto .22’s are a real passion with me. Although the Colt Woodsman Match Target and the High Standard Target Pistols are no more, we are still fortunate to have so many excellent versions available to us, especially from Browning, Ruger and Smith & Wesson.

But, the same can’t be said as to availability with those chambered in .22 Magnum. About 30 years ago AMT brought out the AutoMag II. This was a sleek, 2-lb. stainless steel single-action semi-auto with a 10-round magazine — for the .22 Magnum. It was one of the trimmest field semi-automatics ever offered but is long out of production.

The XT was reliably accurate. These are 20-yard groups, with CCI’s Maxi-Mag HP +V going into 5/8"!

The Wait Is Over

It’s been decades since anyone has offered a readily available semi-auto .22 Magnum pistol, but the drought is finally over. The number one producer, quantity wise, of 1911 pistols is not found in the United States but in the Philippines. Rock Island Armory (RIA) offers 1911 quality pistols, at very reasonable prices, made in the Philippines. Their regular 1911’s are available in .45 ACP, 9mm, 10mm and thankfully in .38 Super, including blue and nickel versions.

Their latest offering on the 1911 pattern is the XT 22 Magnum. Looking at the exterior, this smallbore powerhouse looks just like a 1911 complete with a beavertail grip safety with a memory bump, and 1911 controls on the left side anyone would be familiar with. The grip frame is identical to a .45 ACP Government Model to the point I was able to swap out the factory supplied checkered rubber grips with a pair of Herrett’s fully checkered Cocobolo panels, setting off the Parkerized finish quite well.

Capacity of the XT 22 is 15 rounds when carried fully loaded cocked and locked, with one in the chamber and 14 rounds in the magazine. Mine was ordered through my local shop, Buckhorn Gun, and since it comes with only one magazine I ordered two extra giving me a packin’ capacity of 43 rounds. The 5″ barrel is pinned in place and operation is delayed blowback. The skeletonized trigger, adjustable for overtravel, matches up with a skeletonized hammer, with the trigger pull advertised at 4 to 6 lbs. Mine came in a little heavier at 7 lbs. and deserves a trigger job.

Sights are excellent, consisting of a red fiber-optic front sight mounted in a dovetail and a dovetail mounted rear sight with no sharp edges. At an unloaded weight of just over 35 oz. this .22 has the look of a .45 ACP 1911 as well as the heft and feel. Not only do 1911 grip panels fit, 1911 holsters also work just fine.

Accurate And Reliable

Rock Island Armory recommends a break-in period of 500 rounds, however this .22 Magnum performed flawlessly from the very first round. A full dozen different examples of .22 WRM ammunition were tried with 100 percent perfect results as to feeding and extraction, while combined with great accuracy, to boot. The excellent sights certainly have something to do with the latter as the red front sight shows up beautifully. The largest group for five shots at 20 yards was well under 2″, with fully half of the ammunition tested coming in at 1″ or less!

The most accurate ammunition proved to be CCI’s Maxi-Mag HP +V with five shots in 5/8″ at a muzzle velocity of 1,555 fps. Other notable examples include Armscor 40 JHP, 11/8″ and 1,280 fps; CCI Maxi-Mag, 1″ and 1,300 fps; Federal 30 TNT HP, 7/8″, 1,590 fps; Fiocchi 40 JHP, 1″, 1,450 fps; and Winchester’s JHP at 1,240 fps and a 1″ group. The fastest round was CCI’s Maxi-Mag +V at just under 1,700 fps, with five shots into 13/8″.

This pistol is noisy, however felt recoil is virtually nil. With an MSRP of under $600 quality and performance make it an excellent choice as a small game/varmint pistol, and with the hollowpoint ammunition available today, also adequate for concealed carry and self-defense. When we travel off the beaten path we don’t always need the most powerful handgun available. The .22 Magnum will certainly handle anything I would be likely to run into in sagebrush, foothills, forest and mountains in my area. This small caliber, big performance pistol certainly serves well as a Trail Gun and also is a good candidate for the coveted title of Perfect Packin’ Pistol.

For more info:, Ph: (775) 537-1444

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