With the price of ammo these days, I’m always looking for a way to get more trigger time for less $$$. More and more, I find myself dragging my rimfire guns to the range instead of the guns I should really be practicing with. Sure, I’ll take my carry pistol, a XDM Compact, and put a box or two through it, but most of my time is spend shooting rimfire because it’s gives me the most number of bangs for my buck. That’s all fine and dandy, as I still have a lot of fun when I head to the range, but I’ve really neglecting my practice sessions for the USPSA matches I compete in every month.
For the past 5 or 6 months, it seems the only time I shoot my competition gun is at the match itself. And let me tell you, it shows. My performance on the first stage of each match has been on the verge of embarrassing. The subsequent stages all show increasing improvement as the day progresses, usually ending in respectable showing in my class, and occasion taking the class. But I’m not growing. I’m not progressing. My skills aren’t getting better. On a good day, I’m maintaining the status quo. On a bad day, I’m losing ground.
The bottom line, I need more practice. A lot more practice. I do dry fire drills, and they are truly invaluable. But nothing can replace true trigger time on the range. However, for me to put in the necessary amount live fire practice, I’d have to get a second job just to pay for the ammo. That’s doubly true now that I want to jump from the production class (minor power factor) to the single stack class (major power factor), where the ammo will cost me 1.5 to 2 times as much. That’s why I’ve decided to go with a .22lr conversion kit for the new SR1911.
A lot of people will tell you that training with a .22lr conversion is a waste of time, and counter productive, because you don’t have the same recoil, the same weight, along with a whole host of other reasons. That reasoning could easily also apply to dry fire practice. Why waste your time pulling the trigger if it’s not the real thing. The truth of the matter is dry fire practice is extremely beneficial. It lets you focus of the fundamentals of grip, stance, sight picture and trigger control without the distraction of recoil and report. It lets you get hundreds of repititions of a specific movement burned into your brain so that it becomes second nature, for free. You will not find one successful competitive shooter that will tell you dry fire practice is a waste of time. So why are there so many people that discount training with a .22lr? Mainly because they don’t understand it’s role in your training. Training with a .22lr conversion kit on a 1911 cannot replace practice with your actual competition loads. You need to practice at some point with the full recoil of the loads you will be shooting in competition. You have to learn, and maintain recoil control. You have to learn how to require your sight picture after every shot with your competition loads. So in a way, the naysayers are partly right. Practice with a rimfire is a lot like dry fire practice. It can be very beneficial if done properly. It’s sort of an in-between step for developing a skill. Start by practicing the mechanics of a skill in dry fire practice. Move to the rimfire and drill that skill in until its perfected. You can run hundreds of repetitions before you even hit the cost of a box of .45 ACP ball ammo. Then, once you have the skill pounded into your brain so that it is natural and automatic, move up to the full caliber load. It will only take you a relatively few repetitions with your competition loads to incorporate the proper recoil management into the skill you are trying to learn. Instead of going through $300 of ammo in one training session, your in for $30 – $50 with similar end results if not better.
Which reminds me, I recently let my brother-in-law try out the Glock 17 with the Tactical Solutions .22lr conversion (expect another article on that soon). Afterwards, he said “I finally get it!”. He like many others had believed the .22lr conversions were “gimmicky”, and that the money would be better spend on a Ruger 22/45, Browing Buckmark, or the similar. But after the converted glock, he’s itching to find a conversion for his Springfield XDM. Now if someone would actually make one…..
On to the Kimber .22lr conversion kit. There are quite a few conversion kits for 1911′s to chose from. My personal requirements were that the conversion kit have a standard 1911 form factor and operate reliably. The converted gun must be able to use the same holster and mag pouches. Magazines must be readily available to purchase either online or at my local gun store. My last requirement was that I can handle the kit in person prior to purchasing. The only kit that I could find that met all these requirements was the Kimber .22lr conversion kit. One of my local dealers had one in stock, on sale for a little less than $300, and plenty of spare mags available for purchase. Sold. They had one in a stainless looking finish, and one finished in black. Both are some sort of paint finish. I ended up picking up the black one because it closely matched the look of the slide on my Talo edition Ruger SR1911.
The Kimber .22lr conversion kit comes with the slide assembly, and one 10 round magazine.
The slide assembly consists of the slide with adjustable target sights, barrel, barrel bushing, and the recoil spring assembly. The ejector is incorporated into the barrel.
The magazines are polymer, hold 10 rounds in a single stack configuration. The one limitation of this kit is that it does not lock the slide back after the last round. So it will be a little hard to practice slide lock reloads. But on the plus side, it’ll do a pretty good job of making me practice my malfunction drills.
One of the nice design features of this kit is how the top of the magazine sit’s just barely below the chamber. This provides for very smooth feeding of the rounds into the chamber.
Here you can see the ejector that is incorporated into the barrel and the extractor.
The barrel features a recessed target crown.
It looks pretty nice on the SR911 frame.
The one thing I wish I would like to change are the sights. They are nice target sights, but they don’t replicate the sights I will be using in competition. The sights are dovetail mounted, but the slide is cut for the adjustable target sights.
So how did it run? Flawless so far. I have a little over 1000 rounds of CCI MiniMags (40 gr solid) through it so far, and not the slightest sign of feeding or extraction issues. If you’ve never run a 1911 with a rimfire conversion kit on it, your missing out. How accurate is it? I’ve been having so much fun with it, I’ve neglected to shoot for groups. Most of the time I have on it so far has been shooting at a rimfire dueling tree and my Caldwell Shootin’ Gallery and have had no issue hitting the 2″ round plates from 10 yards. So at this point, I’m willing to say, it’s adequate for my needs. When I get a chance to shoot for groups, I’ll update with my results.
For $300 you can just about buy a dedicated .22lr pistol. But in just the first 1000 rounds of .22lr, the conversion kit has almost paid for itself in ammo costs.