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Colt 1911-22 Beginner Gun Review

One of the most fun guns we've ever shot! See how we review the Colt 1911 .22LR in terms of reliability, cost, shootability, upgrades, and more.

With a family tree worthy of any Daytime Soap Opera, this particular gun which is sold as a Colt 1911-22…is manufactured by Walther…which is owned by Smith & Wesson and is based off of a specialized 1911 frame designed by Umarex, which is known for Airsoft guns.

In the dog world, this would be called a “mutt.”  Don’t let its odd pedigree fool you; this gun is as awesome of a pet as your faithful Schnoodle.

Let’s start from the very beginning here: Umarex manufactures and sells a Replica Colt Government 1911 pistol that is made to shoot 9mm blanks.

Walther then takes that gun and works it over so that it will fire .22LR.  They ship it off to Colt, via Umarex who throws it into one of their branded boxes and then sends it out to distributors.

Due to the lack of recoil produced by blanks, to make a gun shoot them you have to lighten every aspect of the gun as much as possible.

Coincidentally, that’s the exact same thing you have to do with .22 conversions as well!

In this case, they lightened the slide just enough to support the rimfire cartridges but added some heft to the handle to compensate.  The end result is a gun that weighs almost the same as a normal 1911.

Colt 1911 22
Colt 1911 22

This is an all metal gun that handles just like a Government 1911 for about $450+/- and you can get 10 or 12 round magazines for it.  The controls, the trigger, the safety– they all work just like a 1911.  

The only difference is that while the recoil is significantly lighter, your wallet won’t be!

Enough gushing.  Let’s see how this gun fares against…the tests!

Ease to Breakdown: 3.5/5


This is an area where this gun and an authentic 1911 differ greatly.

Oh sure, it starts out similarly, but once you get the slide off you see that this gun is an entirely different beast.

The process: push the button on the front, twist the bushing to the left and remove the button and spring.  Then twist the bushing in the other direction and remove it.  Push the slide back a bit and remove the slide lock lever.

Lift the slide and move it forward then remove the guide rod.  Not too bad.  There are some little nuances to it though.  In more than one spot, if you’re holding the gun at the wrong angle, stuff slides around and you’re not going to be able to break it down until you shake it around and get everything back in place.

Compared to the most widely used .22LR pistol out there, however, it’s a breeze.  Compared to some other .22s, not so much.

In the end, breakdown gets a 3.5 out of 5

Maintenance: 3/5

There are 2 main flaws with .22LR ammo.

One is that they’re not that reliable.  The second is that it is a dirty round.

My goodness, this ammo is disgusting!

Everything around it is going to be caked in soot and lead, and it is a pain to clean.  If it’s a .22, it doesn’t matter what gun it is, you’re going to want some extra cleaning patches.

Lots of them, actually.

For a gun with so few surfaces that need to be cleaned, this thing gets filthy.  Usually I’m left with a big pile of dirty patches and cotton swabs when all is said and done.  Keep in mind, I am borderline obsessive when it comes to cleaning my guns.

The bright side is that even though it gets coated, there aren’t any spots that are difficult to get into.  It’s not that the gun is difficult to clean, but that it gets so dirty because of the ammo.

For the difficult task of keeping a .22LR pistol clean, the Colt 1911-22 (and any .22LR gun for that matter) gets a 3 out of 5.

Reliability: 4/5

There is an inherent problem with .22 pistols: the .22LR ammo is terrible.

Granted, you could spend big bucks and get super premium ammo and it’ll run great.  That’s not why you get a .22LR though.

You’re (probably) not going to use it for home defense.  You can, but you shouldn’t.

Pretty much everyone gets a .22 for the purpose of practice and, barring that, raw fun.  With that, you’re going to want to get some cheap ammo.  If there are problems with this gun, the only ones I’ve run into were 100% the fault of the ammo.

Every now and then I get a bullet with the wrong amount of powder leading to a noticeably weak shot.  When that happens, the bullet doesn’t cycle correctly.  However, this is quite easy to fix– just tap and rack and you’re back in business.

The other problem is that, in every couple hundred bullets, you get one with a bad casing.  It might expand when fired and won’t eject from the barrel.  For that, you have to unload the gun, break it down, and pry the casing out.  Thank goodness I keep a tiny knife with a thin blade on my key chain.

I’ll be honest, I’m not sure how to judge this one.

This gun has worked flawlessly on its own.  There was no need for a break-in period and it’s fired perfectly from day one.  With the only problems being a direct result of the ammo, I can’t really blame it on the gun.  Considering the fact that the only ammo this gun can shoot is unreliable, should the whole package be punished with a low score?

I’m going to split the difference and rate this one at a very difficult 4 out of 5.

Safety: 4/5

You’ve got a frame-mounted, manual safety on the side and you’ve got the traditional grip safety that all 1911s have.

Anyone who uses a 1911 will tell you that’s all you need.  I don’t really disagree with that.  This gun isn’t going to fire easily unless your hand is on it.  The thing about 1911s that has always made me a bit uncomfortable is that the safety can only be engaged when the hammer is cocked.

Thousands of 1911 owners and our military for over 100 years can’t be wrong, though.  Just make sure you brush up on your trigger discipline. For safety, this gun gets a 4 out of 5.

Poor Technique: 5/5

As I said before, the only problems with this gun have been from the ammo.  Short of holding this thing with 2 fingers, I haven’t been able to get it to mess up.  The almost complete lack of recoil makes it nearly impossible to limp wrist it.  The dovetail sights on it were spot on from the factory and that short, 6lb 1911 single-action only trigger pull makes it very difficult to jerk the trigger.  This right here is why people love 1911s of any sort.

For its saint-like forgiveness, this gun gets a 5 out of 5.

Starter Kit: 2/5

The kit was a bit sparse….and mysterious.

I’ll get to the mystery in a moment.  You get a plastic clam shell case with the Colt logo on it.  You get the gun, of course, and a magazine.  You get the obligatory gun lock and a wrench.  Not an Allen wrench, an actual wrench.  No indication of what it’s for…until you take a very close look at the gun and the parts diagram in the manual.  You see, the tip of the barrel is removable.

Why?  I’ll cover that in the next section.

In the meantime, the barren box gives this gun a 2 out of 5.  Is it too much to ask for 2 magazines?

Accessories/Upgrades: 5/5

This is a 1911.  Most of the parts are interchangeable with the real 1911s.

From what I can tell, the thumb and grip safeties, the hammer, the trigger, sights, and the grips can all be updated with any 1911 parts you want.  What does that mean?  That means that you can trick this gun out with a multitude of “bling.”

Don’t believe me?  Check out our 1911 Upgrades section.

On top of that, there’s that mysterious wrench I mentioned earlier.

As I said, the tip of the barrel can be removed.  You can then pop on a threaded barrel tip that comes with the Walther Replica Silencer kit.  From that point you can look cool with the replica silencer or you can jump through the flaming hoops necessary to get a real one.

If you wind up going the authentic route, you’re still going to need that threaded tip from the fake silencer kit as I’ve yet to find it sold separately.  It’s only $50 or thereabouts so why not?

The plethora of upgrades available gets this gun a solid 5 out of 5.  Those toys!  Where does he get those wonderful toys?!

Final Word


I have always said that I would never recommend a 1911 for a first gun.

I stand by that statement as long as we’re talking about the .45 caliber 1911.  This one, on the other hand, should be in your collection.  It’s not a perfect gun, but it is one of the most fun guns I’ve ever shot.

There’s also an added bonus to it: There’s no denying that the most popular of the .22LR pistols, the Ruger Mark series, are a bit…ugly.

They’re all great to introduce someone with but when you hand them that gun, you can see in their face that they’re a bit disappointed.


Because it looks like a toy.

Everyone else is shooting Berettas and Sigs and HKs and you hand them a Star Trek Phaser?  This gun, however, looks and feels like a “real” gun.  They’re going to be a lot more excited about shooting it.  In the end, excitement is what it’s all about (second only to safety, of course).  This is a fun gun that doesn’t feel like a toy.

More importantly, it’s a gun that looks, feels, and behaves like a normal gun.  Learning the fundamentals on this one will translate better to the bigger ones and ultimately make you a better shooter.

The Colt 1911-22 gets a solid 4 out of 5.  Give them your money…

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13 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    Wil Smith

    I have this gun and I can’t tell you enough how much I’ve enjoyed shooting it with my daughter at the range. This is by far one of the best guns to get training in with teaching kids how to shoot. I’ve had more fun with this gun than I have had with all my other ones combined. Reliable, easy to load and great choosing gun. I have owned this gun for over 8 months now and shoot it at least once a week and have had zero issues with it. Granted it does have some rough areas but I love it. Hate to see the negative comments about it as I have enjoyed it and spending time with my daughter at the range with it. For the money you can’t beat this gun.

    January 1, 2023 11:17 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    The old Colt Ace 1911 was better. It was a .22 that was modified to increase recoil and feel like a centerfire pistol.

    November 7, 2020 1:48 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    The magazines for this pistol feel nasty. The galvanized steel, the finger lap joint on the back, all the rough edges, and the tiny follower button add up to a cheap and unpleasant feeling mag. The slide stop has a strange, staked in wire spring instead of the usual plunger. The slide rattles on the frame rails. Since the pistol has a fixed barrel the slide fit probably is purely aesthetic. And a pot metal recoil spring guide? Really?

    Overall I do like the 1911-2. For the price it's a decent weapon. But I do wish the manufacturer had paid a little more attention to detail.

    September 7, 2020 1:12 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Angry Hippo

    The author makes factually incorrect statements in his opening paragraph and should not be trusted as a reliable source. Is it too much to ask that you research a subject before writing about it or that your piece be fact checked before going to press?

    Smith and Wesson has never, EVER - at ANY point in time - owned Walther. If the author had bothered to do even basic fact checking they would know that S&W was the importer for Walther firearms up until about 2012 when Walther started importing their own pistols under Walther Arms in Ft. Smith Arkansas.

    Walther isn't owned by S&W and never was - shame on you for misinformation.

    August 19, 2020 9:14 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    I purchased the Walther 1911 22lr a while ago, everything was great for a while, then I started having problems. The gun would not load as if the main spring was too weak. The bullet didn't get stuck it just didn't have enough spring to push it all the way forward.

    May 16, 2020 2:07 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Just purchased the rail gun version of the Walther/Colt 1911-22 and took it out shooting today—couldn’t be happier! I purchased the adapter for my silencer, installed it and headed out to the range! I have a medium size military ammo box that is chock full of a mixture of 22lr ammo that was mostly purchased in the 80s and 90s. I also have a new box of subsonic 22lr ammo that I brought along. I wanted to check out the reliability of the gun first and foremost, as that seems to be the chief complaint about the 22 versions of the 1911! I fired over 100 rounds and Every single shot fired and cycled the gun as advertised, even the subsonic rounds! Each Time I fired the 12th round the gun locked the slide back as advertised also. Accuracy will be evaluated later as the silencer covered the sights and it was pretty much a guess where it was actually aiming, however it does seem to group pretty well when I took my time to line up my guess to a degree! Damn fun gun to shoot!

    April 8, 2020 11:46 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    William Updike

    Just bought mine today. 250 rounds put through it. All CCI Mini Mags work great. No problems at all. Cleaned and lightly oiled it and fell in love with it. This gun just feels right !

    August 12, 2017 10:50 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Frank Carvell

    I've had mine for nearly two years. My one and only problem has to do with ammunition...any brand of 36gr and 38gr hollow points run flawlessly but 40gr solid bullets won't run without stove-piping, failures to eject or failures to feed. Any input?

    June 1, 2017 2:51 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Rogerio Esteves

    Bought this gun a month ago. Yesterday was the first time I took it to the range. Worked perfectly for 50 rounds and it would not eject the cartridges. Had to manually ejected them after every shot. I was using Federal HV 22lr. I starting to think this is a piece of garbage! Already put in an email to Walther. Hope I can get my money back!

    January 29, 2017 6:54 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Eric Hung

      Oh man that sucks! Let us know how it goes.

      February 7, 2017 7:44 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Two years ago I purchased the Colt Gold Cup 22. First time I took it out I fired around 100 rounds. Had some trouble with the slid release coming out of alignment. The bigger problem started, however, when I got home and started to clean the barrel the brush stuck in the barrel! It took over an hour remove it. Looking down the barrel it was full of crud. I had to purchase a .17 brush and plenty of soaking and Chore Boy metal cleaning mesh. It took days.

    I was using Remigton Thunderbolt ammo. Big big mistake. Now I only use copper plated ammunition and CCI.

    I also purchased the Sig equivalent. I much prefer this.

    August 17, 2016 5:46 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      Thanks for the insight, Dexter!

      August 18, 2016 8:47 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    Love mine. Only had one range trip but fired over 300 rds. of mixed ammo. <br /> Started off with 100 Mini-Mags with rest being Rem. Bulk G.B. , Federal Bulk. <br /> <br /> No problems at all. <br /> wanted extra 12 rd. mags but everyone was out of them but had some 10 rd. ones. <br /> Got them and decided to see what the difference was between the 10 and 12's. <br /> The 10 rd. mags have a spacer at the bottom and can be removed easily and then you have a 12 rd. one. <br /> <br /> The followers and springs are the same on both.

    February 7, 2015 2:56 am
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