An indispensable part of the handgunner’s battery is a good quality .22 caliber target gun. While there are many forms of competition that require a reliable and accurate handgun. The most important role for these pistols is shooter development. A quality .22 eliminates the offensive recoil and muzzle blast of a center-fire pistol and allows the shooter to concentrate on marksmanship.
The handgun must feature good sights, a good trigger action and a hand-filling grip. Balance is important in a target pistol. A pistol that is too light or too handle or muzzle heavy isn’t suitable for long practice sessions. Every advantage must be taken to be all you can be. A pistol that is too light will demonstrate a “whippy” feel.
There are many requirements for a target gun, but there isn’t a requirement that the pistol fit a holster. The target gun will be carried in a range bag or shooting box. (This type of handgun makes an excellent small game gun, but that is another story.) I have recently tested a target version of the proven ATI .22 caliber 1911 with good results. I have previously tested the short-barrel guns as well as the 5-inch model of the ATI pistol. I cannot recall an unqualified malfunction.
These German-made .22s are imported by American Tactical Imports of Summerville SC. ATI is among a number of businesses that have fled the anti-gun policies of the People’s Republics common in the American Northeast. It has hit the ground running after the move and offers good products for the money. The bottom line is any .22 caliber handgun with an advantage over the .22 target model handgun will also have a hefty tariff in price—often twice the price of the ATI gun.
In this case, you get a little more than you pay for. The M1911 Target lists at just a few bucks over $300. The ATI .22 is a five-inch barrel handgun that closely resembles any other 1911. The action is blowback, with a fixed barrel. This affords good accuracy. The handgun isn’t difficult to field strip and maintain.
The pistol is supplied with a good number of accessories. These include three Allen wrenches, two extra front sight blades for fine adjustment, and a screwdriver. The sights have a good radius of adjustment to allow a shooter to properly sight the handgun for either the six o clock hold or the dead on hold. The pistol is accurate enough to reward a trained shooter with excellent results. Be certain to keep up with the tools and sights.
Disassembly isn’t difficult, but requires attention to detail. The slide stop is first pressed out. The barrel pin is next pressed out to the left. After that, one of the supplied Allen wrenches is used to remove a disassembly pin. This is all that is required to give the slide and barrel a good cleaning. There are upgrades available for the pistol and notably the ATI .22 accepts many of the 1911 parts on the market.
The Target Model is supplied with a rail mount. This is a good option for practice if you own a 1911 rail gun. If you do not own a centerfire 1911, some will mount a laser sight for practice. There is nothing quite like a laser to confirm the trigger press during practice. If you do not press the trigger properly, the laser dot will be all over the target. Always be safe and be certain of your backstop when conducting dry-fire drills.
I like the 1911-22 better than other .22 caliber target designs. I use the 1911 in competition and carry the 1911 for personal defense, so this handgun is the logical practice/target gun. Just the same, if you own a SIG double-action pistol or a Glock, the ATI 1911 .22 is a fine target gun.
The pistol features an outline reminiscent of classic target pistols of the past. The walnut grip panels are well executed. If desired, you may sand them to a perfect hand fit. I have seen quite a few competitors with grips sanded, filled in with wood putty and morphed to the shooters hand. You may change the grips to conventional 1911-style if you wish.
These target grade grips are expensive when purchased on their own, yet the ATI grips closely resemble expensive European target grips without the price. A strong point of the pistol is the well-made magazine. This isn’t a cheap magazine; it is constructed of good material. The target gun features a magazine with a bumper pad to insure the magazine is properly seated.
At the range, the pistol was properly lubricated on the long bearing surfaces and the magazines loaded with Winchester’s M22. I use this load a lot. Intended to give reliable function in the AR-15/.22 the Winchester load works in every firearm I care to stuff it into. Results were excellent.
Accuracy from a solid benchrest was in the two-inch range at 25 yards. I am working on the offhand target groups. I also fired Fiocchi’s .22 LR high velocity loads—again with excellent results. The ATI .22 has shown excellent reliability with quality .22 LR HV loads. That is all we can ask. Accuracy is good to excellent with all loads. This handgun has a bright future and a place in anyone’s battery. A .22 target pistol is the one firearm you cannot do without.
What is your go-to target-training pistol or drills? Share your experiences and preferences with other readers in the comment section.