Walther’s 22LR Colt 1911 Government A1 Pistol
Walther’s 22LR Colt 1911 Government A1 Pistol
With the steady rise in ammo prices, more and more manufacturers are beginning to offer classic firearms in .22LR caliber alternatives. Walther Arms is at the forefront of that 22-conversion movement. In this article we’ll be taking a look at their licensed .22LR replica of the venerable Colt 1911 Government A1 pistol.
Like many .22LR conversions, Walther’s Government comes in a plain, no-frills, Colt-branded plastic case. Beneath this you’ll find a surprisingly detailed manual, some promotional materials as well as some basic tools for disassembly, sight adjustment, and an adapter for the magazine thumbsaver. While the case isn’t anything special, the gun itself is a thing of beauty.
Features & Specs
As of the date of this article’s publication, this is the only fully-licensed Colt replica available, and it shows. Built from the ground up using the original designs and specifications furnished directly by Colt, this is as close to a true 1911 as you’re ever going to get in .22LR. Nearly identical to it’s .45 caliber big brother, the Government looks, feels, and operates just like the real deal.
Measuring in at 8.6″ overall, the Government is an all-metal design weighing 36oz empty. Built with a zinc-alloy frame and aluminum slide, it’s noticeably lighter than my .45, but still has enough heft to it to function as a decent low-cost trainer. Just like the .45 version, the Walther also has a functional thumb safety, grip safety and disconnector. These too, look and work exactly like they do in the original .45. Likewise the magazine ejector is in exactly the same place as it would be on a .45, and functions every bit as well as you’d expect from a Colt.
The sights, while basic, are very true to the original Colt design. The Walther’s are both windage adjustable, and look virtually identical to those of my series 80.
The ten-shot Canadian-legal magazine, predictably, is a bit different story. As .22LR is a completely different size and style of ammunition, it probably goes without saying that a 1:1 replica of the .45’s mag just isn’t possible. The .22LR version’s magazine is still nice though, being a folded metal design vs the plastic versions sported by many competitor’s offerings, although it does still feature a plastic follower. That said, it loads smoothly, and functions flawlessly. Unlike the original it also comes with a thumb-saver to facilitate easier charging, but more on that later.
- Manufacturer – Walther Arms
- Model – 1911 Government A1
- Caliber – .22LR
- Capacity – 10+1
- Action – Semi-Automatic
- Rifling – 1:13 3/4″
- Barrel Length – 5″
- Overall Length – 8.6″
- Weight – 36OZ
- Finish – Matte Black
- Classification – Restricted
The fit of this pistol is really nice, if a not quite as tight as my .45. With the smaller caliber that’s to be expected since obviously the recoil spring can’t be nearly as heavy, or the pistol wouldn’t cycle properly. The finish is likewise excellent; a lot of premium manufacturers have entrusted some very highly-regarded designs to Walther for re-engineering in .22LR, and it’s clear they’ve taken this seriously. Right out of the box it’s obvious that trust has been well-placed as every surface of this pistol is flawless with no burs, tool marks, or marring of any kind. It’s clear that Walther wanted this thing to come out looking perfect, and they’ve accomplished that in spades.
In terms of operation, everything functions smoothly, and easily, making it a pleasure to shoot. The hammer has a comforting firmness to it, allowing you to instinctively know exactly where it’s going to rest, and where the trigger’s going to break during operation. Mine required virtually no break-in period at all, and was equally happy to chow down on both premium and bulk pack .22LR without issue or complaint.
That’s pretty much it for the outside, so lets talk about the internals.
The Government takes down in almost exactly the same way 1911 owners will already be accustomed to, making it a breeze to disassemble. True 1911 aficionados will also appreciate the fact that all the internal components are made of metal. While GSG, Browning and other 1911-22 manufacturers make excellent pistols, the one thing that’s always bothered me was their use of plastic components, particularly the guide rod. By contrast, Walther goes the extra mile and makes theirs from metal, ensuring it will function well and long, long time.
In terms of what you can do with it, Walther’s Government makes a great little plinker, and a competent training pistol. New or younger shooters interested in trying a .45 will find this a great way to get started, and work their way up to the larger caliber. Once they’ve established the basics of operation, a simple caliber change becomes far less intimidating. Likewise where else can you find a 1911 pistol that you can shoot all day for $50 worth of ammo?
If you’re looking for a long list of cons next, you’re going to be disappointed. The only part of this gun I don’t care for is the magazine thumb-saver. It’s not that it’s a bad idea, ordinarily I’m a big fan, but this one is small, stiff and actually kind of sharp around the edges. Although Walther does include a slip-over adapter to mitigate this, I can’t really be bothered to use it, and generally just charge the magazine normally.
The only other complaint I can really offer about this pistol is regarding availability. When they were first released I was able to get my hands on a couple of them without much trouble, but in recent years they seem to be all but impossible to locate. The prices have stayed pretty constant, which is surprising considering the limited supply, but locating one definitely takes some doing.
Whether you’re completely new to 1911’s, or own a safe full of them, if you’re in the market for a .22LR version you’ll love what Walther’s done with the Colt 1911 Government. It’s clean, simple, and well made at a price that’s very much in line with a dozen other lesser pistols. Though not as easy to find as its imitators, it’s absolutely worth the effort to track one down, and I’d highly recommend you do.
Tactical Advantage TV is focused on delivering short, to-the-point content on a host of subjects related to firearms, casting, reloading, optics and accessories. In addition to theoretical discussion, I will be performing a number of practical demonstrations on processes and products, including my own designs.