Handguns > Semi-Auto

Colt's Government Model 22 Long Rifle

Colt’s Government Model 22 is a low-cost training alternative that retains the looks and handling of a full-sized M1911.


The history of service or military arms chambered in sub-caliber ammunition is indeed a storied one, and the Colt M1911 is certainly no exception. Sub-caliber ammunition—.22 Long Rifle most commonly—offers reduced training costs, operational familiarity with the firearm and helps new shooters master the fundamentals of marksmanship.

While the price for an original Colt Service Model Ace may be too steep for many, Colt is licensing new-production Government Model pistols chambered in .22 Long Rifle. These blowback-operated, single-action, semi-automatics are manufactured by Carl Walther in Germany and imported by Umarex USA. They offer all the familiar weight and handling of the classic M1911, using components made of zinc-alloy, aluminum and steel.

The new Colt Government Model features an even matte-black finish and black rubber stocks. A steel block is pinned into the aluminum slide’s rear and contains not only the firing pin, but the breech and the hook extractor. Stressed parts, such as the breech and barrel, are steel, as are the extractor and fixed ejector. The slide has traditional blackened iron sights, which are dovetailed in place and include set screws for each. By loosening the screws, both the front and rear sights can be adjusted for windage. Slide markings include “Colt’s Government Model Cal. .22 Long Rifle” and the rampant Colt logo on the left and “Colt Government Model” on the right in white. The vertical rear slide serrations are sharp and close together, again following the traditional pattern.

The frame is of cast zinc-alloy and gives the gun a heft that approximates that of its center-fire cousins. Controls include a fully functional slide lock/slide release, a left-side thumb safety and a grip safety. The grip safety is of a similar pattern to the slightly elongated style found on the M1911A1 to help avoid hammer bite on the hand. The hammer is also of the traditional spur design and includes a half-cock notch. A small window in the phosphated steel block, at the top of the ejection port and the rear of the chamber, serves as a loaded-chamber indicator by showing the rim of a cartridge case if loaded.

The left-side magazine release allows the 12-round-capacity steel magazine to drop free. A loading tool, which depresses the follower for easy cartridge insertion, is supplied, and the magazine has a polymer baseplate so it fits flush with the frame. The frame’s rear has a flat mainspring housing like the original M1911 and there is no checkering on it or the frontstrap. The black rubber stocks feature double-diamond checkering and are interchangeable with standard M1911 stocks.

While the Colt .22 Long Rifle is almost identical to a standard M1911A1 on the outside, internally there are key differences, most notably the frame-mounted fixed 5-inch barrel and blowback operation. The steel barrel assembly is fitted into a light alloy sleeve, and it includes the chamber and feed ramp. The barrel and its liner are locked in place by a steel nut at the barrel’s front. The recoil spring is under the barrel, and the rear of the guide rod rides in a recess in the frame with its rear abutting the slide stop.

Initially, the method of disassembly is similar to a standard M1911. Ensuring the pistol is unloaded, simply depress the recoil spring plug and turn the barrel bushing to remove it. Then the plug and recoil spring may be removed, followed by the slide stop. The slide must then be retracted and lifted up off the frame and then forward off the barrel assembly, much like a Walther PP, which is what the gun resembles with the slide off.

Despite using a mix of ammunition during the three range sessions, we experienced no malfunctions. No break-in or maintenance was required. Recoil was negligible thanks in large part to the .22 Long Rifle cartridge and the pistol’s full-size grip and weight.

Accuracy at 25 yards was very good, no doubt aided by the fixed-barrel design, surprising tight fit between the slide and frame and clean single-action trigger, which broke at 4 pounds with virtually no creep, stacking or overtravel. The trigger is of the longer M1911 variety and not the shorter M1911A1 style, though the frame does have the M1911A1 frame cutouts to help the user reach the trigger more easily. It was a delight to shoot, and even after several bricks of .22 our evaluators were looking for more.

The Colt Government Model may not be made in Hartford but it is made under license to Colt’s specifications by Carl Walther, which has a good reputation for reliable rimfire renditions of popular center-fire firearms. Umarex offers three variants of the Government Model, including a tactical version, with an accessory rail on the dust cover, and a competition version. Parts interchangeable with standard M1911s include the stocks, sights, trigger, grip safety, thumb safety and hammer.

The end result is an interesting mix between the original M1911 and M1911A1, with all the weight and feel and manual of arms of John Moses Browning’s classic. Those seeking a low-cost (to shoot) training alternative that retains the looks and handling of a full-sized M1911 will be pleased with this offering. 

Importer: Umarex USA, Inc.; (479) 646-4210; www.umarexusa.com
Caliber: .22 Long Rifle
Action Type: single-action, semi-automatic, blowback-operated rimfire pistol
Frame: black zinc alloy
Slide: steel reinforced black zinc alloy
Barrel: 5"
Rifling: six-groove, 1:13.75", riht-hand twist
Magazine: 12-round capacity, 
detachable steel box
Sights: ramp front, notch rear, drift adjustable for windage
Trigger:  single-action, 4-lbs. pull
Overall Length: 85⁄8"
Width: 11⁄4"
Height: 57⁄16"
Weight: 36 ozs. empty
Accessories: molded plastic case, owner’s manual, loading tool, take-down wrench.
Suggested Retail Price: $375

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17 Responses to Colt's Government Model 22 Long Rifle

GK wrote:
July 21, 2013

I purchased the Colt 1911 22 lr with a 10 rd magazine. Will a Colt 22 lr 12 rd magazine interchange?

Craig wrote:
June 17, 2013

Just got one for Father's Day. Took it to gun range and it was a fun gun to shoot. Only able to shoot 60 rounds that I had laying around. No .22lr's to be found anywhere. Even with just 60 rounds it was a pleasure to shoot. No jams, not even close to a stiff trigger, very little recoil. It is a great little gun!

john messer wrote:
March 26, 2013

in other words this is made of pot metal like an rg

paulb wrote:
November 16, 2012

I have the plan jane government model. cleaned it took it out put about 400rounds through it with winchester 36 grain hollow points in the 555 round box only had 1 jam and the shel was stuck had to plunges it out then about 50 more rounds through it no issues. got home cleaned it next Time shooting 600 rounds went through with only 1 jam so id say its been a great gun i don't know were the stiff triger comments are coming from just remove the packing grease and add oil it stiffen up at about 300 rounds 22 is messy clean it and its back to being a great little gun.

Ian Rupert wrote:
November 05, 2012

My buddy bought one of these, we have put around 500 rounds through it with only one or two malfunctions (and that's because he NEVER cleans his guns haha) Seems worth every penny to me, I plan on getting one. Found extra mags for 27 bucks a piece at a local shop.

Rich wrote:
August 16, 2012

I purchased this pistol as a birthday present to myself. Out of the box it worked like a champ. Since the pistol ships with only one magazine, I tried to order a spare. After exhausting the usual suspects, Midway, Natchez, Brownells, Gun Broker, etc. I checked the UMAREX USA website. They would sell me a magazine for $41 plus shipping. They must think these mags are coated in gold! I contacted Anna in customer service and she responded that the price was high to protect their approved vendors. These vendors were also the ones who didn't have the magazines in stock. I called Anna on this point and she basically hung up the phone even though it was an email. I checked other blogs and the response from UMAREX USA customer service was always the same. Heaven help you if this pistol breaks. Customer service at UMAREX will not help. I think that when a weapon is reviewed by AR, customer service issues should also be reseached and discussed.

Ken D Life member wrote:
June 18, 2012

I recently bought a Sig Sauer 1911-22 its only means of being a defencive weapon would be put in the toe end of a tube sock, and swung like a mace. the Mag GUN TESTS recomends the Colt Walther umarex and graded it with an A-. Had to add my 2 cents. Go to the range and find someone shooting smoething you are looking to buy and ask to try it out. Most Range people are very nice and will tell you all of the pro's and con's that they have had. Back to the SIG Customer service was great.

Ron R wrote:
May 31, 2012

In reply to Rob Weaver - The pistol can be found here http://www.colt22rimfire.com/

Paul wrote:
April 28, 2012

I have the rail gun and i too had my share of jams with it, but i gave it a thorough cleaning to make sure all of that packing grease was off the gun, then oiled it lightly. Shoots like a champ now with even the cheapest ammo.

Jay March, Life member wrote:
April 18, 2012

I've had this pistol for quite awhile. While its a blast to shoot, the trigger is very stiff, and no elevation adjustment on the sights, are a down side as is the fact that its VERY picky on ammo. good ammo shoots fine, while the cheapstuff starts jamming after about 100 rounds. Overall, I would recomend it for anyone wanting an affordable 1911 to shoot, just buy top quality hi-velocity ammo and you'll love it too.

Don L wrote:
March 26, 2012

Just got the rail gun, feels great in the hand, but the trigger is a little stiff. Digests Rem Hi-vel just fine, but jams occaisionally with fed 40gr. champion. A pleasure to shoot

Randy B wrote:
March 21, 2012

I have taken the Colt Rail gun version of the 1911 22 out to the range twice so far and have a differing opinion with regards to the sight and trigger. The trigger has a stiff breaking point which makes it a challenge to squeeze to the rear. I handled the gold cup version of Colt's 1911 22 and it had the same problem with the trigger. Sig's version of the 1911 22 has a much smoother trigger. I shoot much tighter groups with my Browning Buckmark and my S&W 22A than with the rail gun. I attribute most of that to the difference in the trigger pull of the pistols. The other problem I have with it is the use of plastic sights on the weapon. So far, the gold cup version is the only one to have metal sights. Plastic sights on this class of pistol seems to be common across the brands. If you are spending $300 to $500 on a pistol the least they could do make metal sights stock on the pistol.

Al phillips wrote:
March 15, 2012

Nice looking gun ,not,not, reliable Failure to eject once out of every mag, bought new mags , still same prob.

Don Volkmar, NRA Life Member wrote:
March 03, 2012

What a great buy and a lot of fun. Have run about 400 rounds of mixed brand standard and hi-vel without a hitch. Best 3 shot 25 yard group, from a sandbag rest, is a hair under 1", and that is with the no frills GI model. I recommend it highly!

Rob Weaver wrote:
February 23, 2012

Who actually sells it? It's not shown on Umarex's web site that I could find. And ditto Doug's request for accuracy data - wold make a great BE pistol if the accuracy's there...

Doug Tiedt wrote:
February 22, 2012

Any hard accuracy data to share? The fixed barrel is intriguing, might it be accurate enough for Bullseye shooting?

Bob Quint, NRA Member wrote:
February 20, 2012

I recently asked my father to buy me this pistol, so that I could have an affordable "plinking" pistol. I recently received it, took it to shoot for the first time last weekend and ABSOLUTELY loved the little Colt pistol. I think it is an extremely accurate pistol and very fun to shoot. I would highly recommend it to everyone wanting an inexpensive and fun pistol to shoot. Lieutenant Colonel Bob Quint, US Army Military Police Corps