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An Overgrown Kid in a Colt Candy Store (Part 1)

Colt Government 1911 .22LR

July 15, 2012
Bill Waugaman , Ohio Valley Outdoors

Like a lot of others who enjoy shooting firearms as a form of entertainment and relaxation, I've always been intrigued by the military and law enforcement types of rifles and handguns. Yet, I own neither one. The cost to purchase one of these firearms can thin out your wallet. Then there's the ammunition; even inexpensive 5.56x45 or .45 Auto can get costly. Aftermarket manufacturers have been targeting this niche by producing .22LR conversions for AR/M16/M4 style rifles and 1911 style handguns. Several firearms manufacturers are producing or importing dedicated .22LR firearms in these styles. Umarex USA is one of these companies.

From their headquarters in Fort Smith, Arkansas, Umarex USA is the importer of .22LR firearms manufactured by Walther (Germany) and licensed under the HK and Colt brands. When I checked out their website and saw their Colt line, the feeling was like a kid in a candy store...there were M16's, M4's and three models of Government 1911'sall in .22LR and at an affordable price. Having shot military/LE styles of firearms only a very few times, here was my chance to see if I really would enjoy them. The .22LR ammo cost would not be a challenge and the timing is perfect since summertime plinking at the local range is in full swing.

----- Colt Government 1911

Article Video

There are three versions of this handgun...a standard model, the Rail Gun and the Gold Cup with some basic similarities between these models. They all have a 5" barrel, drift adjustable front and rear sights, single action trigger, blowback action, a 10 or 12 round magazine, a manual thumb safety, a grip safety with beavertail, metal receiver and frame. The Rail Gun is further enhanced with a picatinny rail, front and rear serrations on the slide, skeletonized hammer, open work trigger, extended manual safety lever and large beavertail. The Gold Cup is like the Rail Gun without the picatinny rail and the drift adjustable rear sight is replaced with an adjustable rear target sight.

For this review, I chose the Rail Gun primarily for the ability to attach a laser pointer to the picatinny rail. This would help in evaluating the accuracy of the different brands of ammunition without relying solely on the open sights. Some of the differences of the Rail Gun over the standard model are more cosmetic than functional in my opinion, but they do enhance the visual appeal of this handgun. The extended manual safety is a nice functional enhancement. The Rail Gun definitely has the look and feel of its big brother in .45 Auto and is only 5.2 ounces lighter in weight. Here is a comparison between the Colt 1911 Rail Gun .22LR and a Colt 1980RG Rail in .45 Auto:

--- Colt Gov't 1911 Rail .22LR

Article Photos

Colt Gov't 1911 Rail Gun

Length - 8.64"

Height - 5.21"

Width - 1.31"

Barrel - 5"

Weight (w/o mag) - 31.3 oz.

--- Colt 1980RG Rail .45 Auto

Length - 8.5"

Height - 5.24"

Width - 1.31"

Barrel - 5"

Weight (w/o mag) - 36.5 oz.

There are several features about the Colt Government 1911's that are worth noting.

-- Being a .22LR handgun, I was not expecting very much from the factory trigger, but it turned out to be a pleasant surprise. There is about .050" of travel in the trigger before the sear engaged and then it released crisply at 5 to 6 lbs. pull. It's by no means a great trigger, but it's a lot better than many .22LR semi-autos and it's better than some centerfire semi-autos. The trigger does have to return the full length of travel to reset for subsequent shots.

-- The magazine holds 12 rounds (10 if limited by state law). The 1911's only come with one magazine and additional magazines are a little pricey. These magazines are not interchangeable with a similar 1911 made by Walther for GSG. The button for pulling down the magazine follower could be improved. Being a rimmed cartridge, .22LR rounds have a tendency not to stack neatly. The engineers designed the 1911's magazine in such a way that the top round will align properly for feeding, and my testing at the range would have caused any magazine and loading problems to become obvious. I was impressed since there was only one (1) failure to load in over 1000 rounds, and that one may have been my own fault.

-- Since these handguns are .22LR, the slide spring is not as stiff as typical centerfire semi-autos. This makes it very easy to rack the slide on these 1911's. With the hammer in the cocked position, it only takes 5 lbs. of pull to rack the slide; with the hammer down or at half-cock, it takes about 9 - 10 lbs. For individuals just learning how to shoot a semi-auto, this would be a great handgun to use.

At the Range

First, the 1911 Rail Gun was evaluated at 25 feet with 13 different types of ammunition for accuracy.

ManufacturerBrandProduct ID#Bullet Wt.
CCIMini-Mag HP003136 gr
CCIStinger005032 gr
FederalLightning510B40 gr
FederalAutoMatchAM2240 gr
RemingtonThunderboltTB22A40 gr
RemingtonTarget2128440 gr
RemingtonGolden Bullet162236 gr
RWSR-50213-41-8740 gr
RWSR-100213-41-9540 gr
RWSRifle Match213-42-2540 gr
RWSTarget Rifle213-24-7840 gr
WinchesterSuper-XX22LRH37 gr
WinchesterWildcatWW22LR40 gr

A BeamShot 1000 red dot laser was attached to supplement the open sights (it was a bright day making the laser hard to see even at 25 feet). As you can see in the attached image, the Colt 1911 shot really good and had zero (0) problems with loading, ejecting and firing when done at a slow, deliberate pace. Plus, these targets were not the best out of 3, or 5, or 10; these targets were shot one right after another and none of them had groups over 1".

Top Row (l to r): RWS R-50, RWS R-100, RWS Target Rifle, RWS Rifle Match

Middle Row (l to r): Remington Target, Remington Golden, Remington Thunderbolt, Federal Lightning, Federal Auto Match

Bottom Row (l to r): Winchester Super-X, Winchester Wildcat, CCI Mini-Mag, CCI Stinger

Then, at least 100 rounds of each cartridge were fired (except RWS). The staff at Umarex recommended CCI, Winchester, Federal and RWS; they also suggested not to use any bulk pack .22LR. With a cleaning after each hundred rounds so the results were not skewed, the handgun really got a workout. Even the pace of firing was varied with each magazine full (double taps, 2 second intervals, 1 second intervals, as fast as I could fire). The Colt 1911 performed really well. Only 1 Winchester Wildcat and 1 Remington Golden Bullet did not eject properly. After 80 rounds of Federal Lightning, a feed problem developed and was resolved with a cleaning of powder residue that had built up on the feed ramp. I was very impressed with the performance of the Colt 1911.

When writing a firearm review, I am especially critical of customer service. My technical questions posed to Umarex were answered in the same day; phone calls were returned the same day; emails received a response typically within 4 hours. Needless to say, Umarex USA gets a big 'A' for customer service based on my interactions with their staff.

The MSRP of the Colt Government 1911's ranges from $430 to $494 depending on the model. These handguns are covered by a one year warranty against defects in material and workmanship for the original owner. Umarex did a good job in having their 1911's look and feel like their .45 Auto big brother at an affordable price. Best of all, a relaxing day of plinking at 7 per round for .22LR versus 40 per round for .45 Auto won't break the piggy bank.



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