Some guns are born to greatness—and the new Browning 1911-22 is one of them. Two years ago at SHOT Show the industry was dazzled with Ruger’s announcement of its .380 LCP pistol. The Insider was among the first to get word in Ruger’s booth that sales of the little compact pistol had exceeded 40,000 units on the first day, blowing Ruger’s most optimistic sales projection out of the water. The show ended with over 70,000 orders in hand.
I’ll wager those numbers are in the ballpark of what Browning Arms just saw at the recently concluded 2011 SHOT Show with the announcement of its miniature M1911 Government Model in .22 LR. The pistol was introduced to coincide with the centennial celebration of John Browning’s M1911 .45 ACP, but instead of jumping into the “me too” line with so many other M1911 clone makers, Browning pulled off this brilliant stroke of duplicating Ole Slab Sides at 85 percent of the size in the ever-popular .22 LR chambering.
The Insider asked Browning’s Denny Wilcox how many units had been ordered at the show. “I can’t say,” Denny replied with an impish smile. I cajoled, I wheedled, I pleaded, but Denny wasn’t budging on numbers. He finally conceded that: “We’ve booked orders for about 70 percent of our annual production. We’ll be able to supply the public with what they want—eventually.”
The new pistol is almost an exact replica of the original 1911, just smaller. The new Browning 1911-22 is proudly made in the USA. Guns shipped in 2011 will include a special first year of production collector’s certificate plus a free limited edition commemorative canvas and leather zippered pistol case.
And get this—the MSRP is $599, so the street price will be about $525 to $550! Put me down for a pair!
The frame and slide of the Browning 1911-22 are machined from aluminum alloy with a matte-blue finish. Unlike its .45 ACP daddy, the Browning .22 is a straight blow-back operated pistol using a barrel with a stainless-steel barrel block. The “slide stop” lever is actually just a retaining pin to hold the barrel firmly in place.
Every part is virtually identical to the full-size M1911. It has a little mainspring housing, an itty-bitty barrel bushing and a miniature grip safety. It’s configured like a classic M1911, sans beavertail or other modern improvements.
It takes a detachable 10-round magazine with extras listed at $29.99. Mec-Gar will need all of 15 minutes to come up with aftermarket mags for less than $15.
The “Government Model” version of the 1911-22 is offered with a 4 1/4-inch barrel and 5 1/2-inch sight radius that weighs 15 1/2 ounces The “Commander” version sports a 3 5/8-inch barrel with a 4 7/8-inch sight radius weighing only 15 ounces
Congratulations to Browning for giving birth to another pistol destined for greatness. JMB must be smiling from above.