Firearms

Chiappa’s Affordable 1911-22

Chiappa 1911-22 pistol with two magazines

Sometimes you just have to have fun. The handgun covered in this report is among the all-time fun handguns to cross my path during the past 50 years of shooting.  It works, cracks off with every shot, is accurate enough for meaningful practice and would not be out-of-place hunting small game. That’s right, taking game. The .22 handgun is a great game getter. And just because the piece says ‘1911’ doesn’t mean it is a purely defensive and tactical handgun—far from it. The .45 ACP 1911 has taken its share of game animals and the 1911 .22s are well suited to outdoors use as well. While their primary use is recreational, do not short change a good .22.

And this is a good .22!

While I am serious concerning firearm practice, all work and no play makes for a dull boy. With the paycheck growing less than price increases on ammunition and other goods, the .22 looks good. The .22 caliber handgun is a great choice for recreation and marksmanship training. If the .22 mimics the handling of the service pistol all the better.

The Features

The Chiappa .22 isn’t a locked breech gun; it is a blowback. It isn’t a 1911 in every mechanical aspect—no rimfire pistol could be—but it looks a lot like the 1911. For less than the price of a .22 caliber conversion unit for the 1911, you have a good handling, accurate pistol. The Chiappa is pretty interesting. The hammer—as an example of intelligent engineering—is hinged on the rear of the frame and powered by a spring like many others, but the design is unique. The pistol fits the hand just like any other 1911 and the safety and slide lock are in the same place as any other 1911.

side-by-side comparrison of the .45 ACP and .22 LR cartridges
The .45 and the .22 — The .22 is a whole lot cheaper and easier to shoot well!

The Chiappa 1911-22 features a secondary safety on the slide that locks the firing pin when desired. There is a magazine release and slide lock that is pure Browning design. The pistol does not have a grip safety as the 1911 does, but for a sporting gun it matters little. The 1911-22 is the same in outline as the 1911, with sights that are better than the GI gun even if they are not Novak-style sights.

At 33 ounces, the pistol has a pleasant heft and tracks well on target. The slide is light enough to be actuated by the modest recoil of the .22 Long Rifle cartridge. Be certain to use high velocity .22 cartridges with the Chiappa. About every load you see for sale is high velocity these days but the specialized target loads will not function in the Chiappa or any other .22 caliber self-loading pistol.

A rather interesting innovation is the magazine. This magazine is comprised of polymer. This magazine is inexpensive enough that you could stock up on them. They are probably as durable as aluminum magazines. Polymer magazines certainly work for the Glock and the .22 is a low-impact caliber. There isn’t a lot of wear on the polymer to steel interface.

Hands holding a black Chiappa 1911 22, barrel pointed to the right. The foreground is gray cement and the background is a grassy hill.
The .22 is inexpensive and controllable. This is the Chiappa 1911 22.

Reliability

As for reliability, the pistol as been as reliable as any .22 caliber handgun I have ever used and more so than most. I am pretty certain the tolerances are loose enough the pistol will continue to function when dirty and when fired for hundreds of rounds. So far the pistol has gone a solid 550 rounds between cleaning without a malfunction. As many of you know this is darned impressive for a .22 as the ammo is dirty.

The requirement for frequent lubrication, often associated with .22 caliber conversion units, seems to be eliminated with the 1911-22. While I lubricated the pistol and cleaned it during the test period, the pistol has gone far longer without cleaning than most .22 conversions or .22 pistols for that matter. I have used the pistol heavily, trained young shooters with it and loaned it out to interested students and associates.

At last count, the 1911-22 has had more than 6,000 rounds through it without a single failure to feed, chamber, fire or eject.

Forend of the Chiappa 1911-22 showing barrel bushing and spring
If you are able to field strip the 1911 you will have no problem with the Chiappa 1911-22. It isn’t identical to the 1911 but similar.

I have lubricated the pistol fairly often but cleaned it only every 500 rounds— about half what any reasonable shooter would recommend. The majority of rounds fired have been Winchester Wildcat round-nose lead bullets and the Winchester DynaPoint hollow point. Function has been faultless without a single failure to feed, chamber fire or eject.

Accuracy

As for accuracy, the average group from a solid bench rest has been around three inches for the Wildcat load. This is a five-shot group at 25 yards from a bench rest firing position. With the DynaPoint, I have bested this standard by a small margin. The trigger action of the 1911-22 is heavy at over seven pounds—although usable—and I am certain this has some bearing on the current level of accuracy.

Overall, I find the 1911-22 a grand gun with a useful role in maintaining proficiency and for marksmanship training. With a manufacturer’s suggested retail of less than $300, this pistol is a must-have for the 1911 fan and a good starter for anyone.

Do you have a 1911 in .22? Tell us about your experience in the comment section.

About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.


Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Handloader
Rifle Magazine
Handguns
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns



Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (17)

  1. Bought one in May 2014. 1st 100 rounds no problem, but after that two to three rounds out of every mag, would not chamber or not fire. Sent it back to factory, they would not pay for shipping, two months later got it back. 1st three mags. went fine, after that next two mags. two times with a single trigger pull it double fired. To me this is not safe. Will not buy another piece of junk from Chiappa.

  2. I bought one of these two years ago it has never worked right form day one,you can;t get though one clip with out a jam,stove pipe or bending the lead on the end of the round stay far away from this hunk of junk would make a good paper weight

  3. You must have got a special built one.Bought one even after reading all negitive reports. Take a chance on this Chiappa. You will regret it.Paid 400+ for all extras,
    havent been able to get 5 rds. in row yet.Forget factory acc.BBB couldnt help.If you want to buy this gun,just send me the money,

  4. Some big box hardware/home supply stores have bins full of assorted springs & other small parts. It’s worth giving it a try, as I don’t think the exact size & tension are critical in a coil spring.

    Merle

  5. if your looking for a slide safety spring you might be able to find a assortment of springs in a auto parts store in there help section, usually made by Doorman or there secondary company. probably would have to cut them down slightly. years ago we would use them on carburetors and for passing gears on transmissions. kick down springs was one name we used. many other names. some came in rebuilt carb kits. very in expensive, and a fast fix.

  6. Last summer I bought a used Chiappa 1911-22. When I test fired it, the holes in paper indicating tumbling. In checking it out, we found a missing “slide safety spring.” Chiappa’s web site still lists it as “out of stock.” I guess I’ll have to find someone who can make a spring. Or find someone who wants parts. Doug

  7. I bought one for my son to use at shooting matches – fired about 30 rounds though it before we had to go to the competition and had several jams – cartridges won’t clear. At the first shooting match (actually a training match) the gun consistently jammed about every 3-4 rounds. My Walthers P22, by contrast, never missed a beat.
    I would love to get rid of this gun in favor of spending a bit more for something that works well, like the P22.

  8. I bought a Chiappa .22 pistol in this configuration for my wife as an entry level semi-automatic. I paid $200.00 for it NIB. It has been a reliable, fun plinker and enabled her to be confident in her marksmanship abilities and progress to larger caliber handguns. Take a chance on this Chiappa. You will not regret it.

  9. I am not familiar with Bob Campbell’s other writings but I can tell you “this” piece by him, in my humble(?) opinion, has to be the biggest bum steer I can imagine. This gun is the biggest POS in my safe. I would sell it but my conscience disallows me from sticking another gunny with it. I bought it when it first came out and quickly realized it was of the quality to be found at the bottom of a Cracker Jack box. One hot day on the range one of the magazines actually fell apart, i.e. melted, when I went to load it after it sat on a wood bench in the sun for 15 minutes. The slide latch stopped operating after about 300 rounds. But the rest of the gun is complete total and utter JUNK!!(sarcasm) If it weren’t for the laws here in the People’s Republic of Nu Hersey prohibiting the leaving a gun easily accessible to children I would use it as a paperweight.

  10. Have one and love it! 200-300 round break-in and flawless ever since. Haven’t found any manufacturer it doesn’t like.

  11. Purchased this pistol about a month ago for training classes. At the test old period – I was NOT impressed. Choice of ammo could have been a factor but after a few hundred rounds I was shipping back to the manf for help. Factory sights where way off. I can blow out the bullseye with my Berretta Nano and this 1911/22 shot high right.

  12. If it would ever come close to my Beretta Model 102 .22 without a ton of work, I would buy 2 of them. There will not be a better .22 pistol EVER in my book. No many parts avail though. When I get the opportunity to check it out without a purchase…that may seal the deal. Then again I am partial to the S&W stainless 1911’s as well.
    Enjoy Safe shooting……..

  13. I’ve had one of these for over 3 years. It is a fun firearm, and one that always goes with me to the range. It takes down easy for cleaning, and lends itself well to a buff and polish. Its made with softer metals and a steel insert for the barrel, but as the stresses of a .22 round are nothing near the .45, it works fine. You can get an upgraded trigger group for it that is supposed to make it a lighter pull, but i am fairly happy with mine, now that its fully broken in. I would guess i have about 5000 rounds or so through it. I have had very few FTF, but thats usually the fault of rimfire ammo. I clear the weapon, reload the round and 99 times out of 100 it fires off. I have had a bit of problems with stovepiping, but nothing to write home about. I have 2 of the polymer mags. The only issue is you can’t store them loaded or they will distort and become stubborn to remove. Overall this is one of my ‘keeper’ .22s, one o feel confident my wife can use if she needs to. Simple, reliable, loose but not too lose, and just a nice fitting firearm.

  14. the 22 Chiappa is one of my favorite at the range. Also the m9-22 Chiappa. If you carefully follow the instructions you will not have to much trouble. my front sites have to be filed down as it shoots to high, but I can live with that. it does need a break-in period of about 300 rounds, and that is fun getting used to it. I find that cci 40gr.lead round nose works the best for me. It is more fun to shoot than my 22 Ruger, even though I feel that the Ruger is a more dependable gun. I never had trouble with my chiappa’s. one of my magazines had a burr on it, and after sanding it down it works fine. I do wish they would make a metal magazine like Ruger. Maybe that’s why I feel that Ruger is more dependable. I really like metal magazines better. All in all I really like the chiappa’s and will purchase a few more in days to come. The m9-Beretta style is a great hefty 22 and is also fun to fire.

  15. Please make sure you VERY THOROUGHLY take your chiappa 1911-.22 apart and clean it diligently before you load it out of the box. I purchased one, thinking low price point, .22 cal, hey, good to practice with. I prefer to keep my firearms loaded for my own reasons. So I got the pistol out of the box, gave it a quick once over wipe down and oil, put a magazine in, released the slide, and slam fired 2 rounds through my wall. A close look found grease build up around the firing pin. So strike 1. When I did go to test fire the pistol the next day, it fired just fine. It hit what I aimed at. But it felt strange. I can’t really find the right word, but loose comes close. Maybe I was expecting too much from a .22 version of a .45. After 2 or 3 sessions of firing this pistol, I still did not feel comfortable enough with how it felt to me. I used it as a trade on a plinkerton .22 SAA style revolver, which I enjoy shooting considerably more. I am not a dealer, a gunsmith, a tech writer, or any of the sort, I just enjoy sending a few rounds downrange when I get the opportunity.

  16. 6,000 rounds with NO failures to fire? I’m pretty sceptical of this – the Wildcat ammo I have fired is nowhere near that reliable.

    Merle

  17. CONGRATULATIONS on a very nice , well written article . I being the proud owner of three 1911’s all being 45 none being 22 , but I am sure that will change . This is one of the 1911 in 22 caliber that I have been considering . The reason i have not “squeezed the trigger” on it was because of a review i read about this gun after they first came out . The review was anything but stellar . Owning a M-1 CARBINE distributed by the same company , with manufacturing in Italy . I first hand know what problems i have had with the carbine [failure to feed or fire , double feed and etc.] . In this old guy’s opinion and the differences of the reviews , first or beginning runs from this company should be avoided . Other than that they appear to be a good firearm……………..

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