The last year has been an exercise in frustration with availability of ammunition. Calibers like 5.56, 9mm, and .22 Long Rifle have been scarce to say the least. As a result, a lot of shooters, both casual and competitive have reduced the round counts in their practice sessions. Another byproduct of the shortage is high price. The pressure is beginning to fade on availability but the prices are likely to stay with us for a while. Even at pre-madness prices, consistent practice with a centerfire handgun required a financial commitment.
I have always been a strong proponent of the rimfire as a training tool. Rimfire ammunition is cheap, even at today’s prices. It is productive for training because it’s mild in both noise and recoil and these attributes make it suitable for improving marksmanship skills and trigger management without developing a problem with recoil anticipation, or flinch.
I recently tested the Iver Johnson .22LR conversion kit for 1911 pistols. I put it on my 1968 Gold Cup frame and found it was both accurate and reliable. It ran all the ammunition I tried in it without a glitch. It was nice to retain the excellent trigger from the Gold Cup and the Iver Johnson had a “real gun” feel.
I liked the 15-round magazine. It’s very solid and high-quality, but lacks the ability to compress the spring to make loading easier and it fits tight in the frame of my Gold Cup and won’t drop free on its own. I suspect this might be different from gun to gun since the magazine was just barely too tight to drop.
The sights are adjustable and they work well, but the white outline on the rear sight looks funky and the front sight is distractingly light in color. A little sight smoke would correct both counts.
A downside was the lack of a functioning slide lock, important in training situations.
Installing the unit was simple. Check to make sure the gun is clear, remove the spring plunger on the centerfire upper, and pull the slide stop. This will allow the centerfire upper to slide off the front. Slide the rimfire upper on the frame, index the slot for the slide stop, and put it back in. Load the magazine and you’re ready to shoot.
At around $200, the Iver Johnson Conversion Unit would be a valuable accessory to anyone with a 1911. While .22 Long Rifle ammunition hasn’t shown up on many gun store shelves yet, I think we will soon be back to normal availability. In improved trigger management and economy, the rimfire conversion will soon pay for itself.