John Browning’s M1911 .45 ACP is arguably the most popular handgun in the history of firearms. Until recently, it was the gold standard used by militaries around the world and the weapon of choice for self-defense by discerning shooters. Many though have lamented the recoil that can be challenging for many shooters, the limited capacity of the magazines and expensive ammo. There are 9mm version that have been brought to market, but many folks have wanted a rimfire version for training and plinking. The typical rimfire cartridge is too underpowered to cycle the slide. Into this breach steps Rock Island Armory with the XT-22 and it is definitely more than delivering on the promise.
RIA built the XT-22 on a steel full size 1911 single stack frame. They have removed metal from the slide (like you’ve seen on Berettas), and created a two-piece barrel assembly, pinning the barrel and thus improving accuracy. The two-piece barrel assembly includes an outer sleeve/shroud and an inner insert for the feed ramp, chamber and rifling. The bull barrel adds weight, also improving accuracy, and provides enough mass for a dovetail for the front sight blade.
Everything in the lower half of the frame is standard 1911 fare and should appeal to the purist. The frame, slide and barrel are all parkerized, giving the weapon a classic look. The beavertail grip and thumb safety, mag release and double diamond checkered grips (albeit rubber) are all familiar to 1911 users. The skeletonized trigger is a nice aesthetic touch, though I would like to see a light trigger than the 4-6 pound trigger it comes with.
The steel magazine (two ship with the weapon) holds 14 rounds of .22 WMR in a double stack configuration. No issues loading the magazine or feeding, but I did wish the slide would lock back on an empty magazine. At 35 ounces, or 2 ¼ pounds, the weight also contributes to the ease of recoil management.
On the range
This gun was a ton of fun to shoot, on both paper and steel. And it draws attention. Several other shooters asked about it and wanted to handle it. All thought it fills a neat little niche. With the .22 WMR round and the 5” barrel, it does put out a pretty good muzzle flash. Recoil management is very good. I found it easy to keep it on target and make quick follow up shots.
I think this is a great option for new or tentative shooters. Though not as cheap as .22 LR, ammo can be found for about ½ the cost of 9mm or larger calibers. So it is also a good option for 1911 shooters who want a cheaper alternative to .45 ACP for range practice.
I only put 250 rounds through it by the time of this writing, so I am still breaking it in, but I have been more than satisfied with the results. At 7 yards, I was able to maintain 1 inch groups. Using a bench rest, I also shot out to 25 yards with my average grouping being around 3 inches. I am an average non-competitive shooter, so was happy with these groupings. I didn’t shoot at any long distance but other shooters have reported minimal drop on steel at 100 yards.
Don’t @ me for what I am about to say. In almost all situations, I would rather someone use a 9mm or larger as a serious self-defense tool. But, all people and all situations are not equal.
For home defense, the imperfect gun you have is better than the perfect one you don’t. Many smaller and/or older shooters just don’t have the physical strength to handle the mainspring and recoil of a large centerfire handgun. And so they won’t practice with it and likely won’t be effective using it in a home defense situation. While the .22 WMR is not what I would choose for my home defense, I could definitely make a case that for some folks it is a viable option. Heck, it’s even a legal hunting cartridge for deer in Maine, so at least some folks recognize it has the ability to stop a 150 pound mammal. And a bunch of .22 WMR rounds in quick succession is going to do a reasonable job of dissuading many attackers to pick another target.
From the manufacturer:
You asked. We delivered. It’s the first in a carefully designed 1911 and packs the powerful 22 magnum cartridge with a 14-round capacity. Engineered with a pinned, 5” barrel with delayed blow back slide and our crisp, factory 4- to 6-pound trigger to offer match class accuracy and power. Includes low profile anti-snag angle front and rear sight with skeletonized hammer and trigger with adjustable over travel stop. The XT Magnum is finished with rock-tough parkerized coating, fitted checkered rubber grips and comfort extended beaver tail safety.
For 1911 fans, this is a great option to have in the safe for plinking and practice. For novice or smaller framed shooters, it may be a good intro firearm to build their confidence and skills. And for some of those folks, it may be their best option for home defense as it is easier to use and they would likely practice with it. I would prefer a lighter trigger pull and slide that would lock back, but those are relatively minor nits for what is otherwise a good little platform.
I received this product as a courtesy from the manufacturer via Spotter Up so I could test it and give my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give this product a good review. All opinions are my own and are based off my personal experience with the product.
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