Wednesday, June 23, 2010

ISSC M-22, Review of a Glock-Like trainer in .22 rimfire

When Carteach0 heard about a possible Glock type trainer in .22 rimfire, excitement abounded. The idea is long overdue, with literally millions of Glocks in service around the world and no really good rimfire training solution out there for them. There are a few companies making rimfire conversions for the more common Glocks, although they don't seem to be readily available for some reason. The most common brand has been back-ordered for over a year, and the others are... shall we say.... rare. One can search a years worth of gun shows in vain, never seeing a single Glock rimfire conversion, while having a wide choice of the same built for the 1911.

The idea of a rimfire training option for service weapons has been around for generations. During WWII both the Allies and the Axis powers used .22 rifles in a service rifle pattern to train new recruits. When the most common police carry pistol was a revolver, most builders had a .22 version of the centerfire carry weapon. A trooper might carry a S+W model 19 .357 in his duty holster, and shoot hundreds of rounds every weekend with a K-22 that was an extremely close match. Folks who favored the 1911 platform were not left out, as rimfire conversions for the venerable old colt have been around nearly as long as the pistol itself.

Nowadays, a 1911 shooter can choose between several quality conversions, turning their full power carry pistol into a .22 with only a few minutes of slide swapping. There is also the choice of a Ruger 22/45, a dedicated rimfire pistol with the grip angle and controls styled to match the .45 1911 reasonably well. Oddly, it's usually possible to buy the entire 22/45 pistol for less than a 1911 conversion kit.

Sig Sauer shooters can turn to the Mosquito, a smaller scale .22 sold by Sig. Made of plastic and cheaply so, the Mosquito has controls that exactly match the standard P220 service weapon, and many of others in the Sig Sauer line as well. The Mosquito is a low cost option, but for a little more of the green, Sig Sauer also offers caliber conversion kits for many of the pistols. Not every pistol, but the major players in the service sidearm category surely.

Amidst all these, the Glock has stood out from the crowd. While being adopted as the issue carry weapon for many, many police agencies around the world.... a good .22 rimfire training solution to match the Glock has been sorely lacking. For those of who carry a Glock as a self defense weapon, this lack has been felt too.

So.... when word came of a new pistol on the market that might fill this niche, a little excitement might be understandable.

Introducing...... the ISSC M-22 .22 rimfire pistol.

Okay folks... hold it down.... hold it down. It's not all buttercups and sunshine.... but it's got some good points worth looking at.

At first quick glance, the M22 looks like a typical Glock. The same frame style, same blocky slide, roughly the same sights, and the same trigger with a built in safety lever. At second glance, differences begin to appear. First, the rotating safety built into the slide. Next... and a shocker it is... an external hammer.

Yes, the M22 is not striker fired. It's single action, fired from a cocked hammer. This is the single most glaring difference between the Glock and the ISSC offering. It's an understandable one though, as a single action pistol does not step on Glock patent toes, and it's quite a bit less expensive to manufacture. The upside... it has a fairly decent trigger pull, and promises a better one as it wears in. The downside... it's not exactly like the Glock, so allowances must be made in using it for training.

The ISSC M22 is rife with safeties, the most obvious one the manual safe
ty on the slide. This safety not only blocks the firing pin, but also drops the hammer. That's a nice touch. In addition there is the Glock-style safety lever in the trigger, and a tricky little (nearly invisible) rotating safety device in the trigger that takes a key to operate (which I promptly ignored), and finally a magazine disconnect.

The single action design is the biggest road block to using the M22 as a Glock style trainer. In order to treat it as a Glock, the manual safety must be left disengaged and the hammer cocked. Given the additional safety on the trigger, this is not as big an issue as it might be, but it still exists. A choice has to be made.... ignore the safety and train as if it was a Glock, or use the safety, manually cock the hammer, and lose much of the training value.

I found the M22
will fit (loosely) the holsters I have for my Glock 30 carry pistol. In shooting from a draw, there is a difference in feel between the pistols, as the G-30 is a little bulkier than the M22. Once past that, it's possible to ignore any other differences and do some fairly valuable low cost training.

As for trigger feel, they are obviously different, but not as much as one might think. The Glock is striker fired, with it's 'Safe-Action' finishing the striker movement each time it's fired. The M22 is single action, but the trigger mechanism is heavy enough, with a tiny catch to it, that makes tactical shooting comparable between the two. Target shooting, as in straight bullseye work, is a different story. There the differences in trigger come to the fore, with clarity.

One glitch noticed while putting the M22 through it's paces.... slapping a magazine home in a firm manner will cause the slide to drop, chambering a round... every time. In fact, slapping the butt hard at any time will cause the slide to drop, and the issue is more pronounced the dirtier the rimfire pistol gets. The slide release contacts the bolt face at a point where an angle has been machined into the face. This means any movement of the slide release downwards puts it onto the slope, and then down to disengage.

Is this a feature or a bug? I suppose that depends on your outlook. I was a bit nonplussed at first, as I prefer a very positive control over every feature of a weapon I am shooting. On the other hand, after I learned a firm magazine seating would run the slide every time, I found myself making some very fast magazine swaps. That is something I could get used to.

One can always lighten up in seating the magazine, as doing so with the slide retracted is a very low pressure operation.

On to the range review......

Most all .22 rimfire firearms can be quite finicky about the ammunition they will shoot. This is understandable, given that .22 long rifle ammo can be found in dozens of configurations. Autoloading pistols like the M22 are especially noted for this, as the blowback operation is sensitive to bullet weight and powder charge. ISSC recommends, as most manufacturers do, using high velocity 40 grain solids of good quality, such is CCI Mini-mags or Federal Game Shock.

Understanding this nature of rimfire pistols, my first range quest was trying various makes and models of ammunition in search of something the M-22 would shoot reliably. The process w
as enjoyable, and enlightening. The first range visit found ten different variations of .22 long rifle ammo in the bag, including those recommended by ISSC.

The results were rather pleasant, compared to the usual experience with .22 self loaders. The M22 I tried reliably shot every single high velocity 40 grain solid
and hollow point I fed it, with the exception of Federal bulk pack HP's. The standard velocity ammunition caused failures to feed in every single case, exactly as the manufacturer says it will. This is in contrast to the last .22 auto I worked with, which would shoot only one brand and type of ammunition reliably.

Most surprising was how the M22 reacted when I tried the oddball 60 grain 'Sniper Sub Sonic' load from Aquila. Not only did the pistol function, but
it even shot fairly well over the short range I was shooting. There was evidence the bullet had begun to tumble at fifty feet, but this is not surprising as the pistol does not have the rifling twist to stabilize the slow heavy bullet.

As for the CCI Shot cartridges..... it may be best if we simply don't speak of that. Attempting this round did show me one thing.... The M22 has a very nice (and wide) extractor cut in the barrel and a pocket knife easily removes a stuck case from the chamber.

All in all, initial testing burned up around 200 rounds, and the pistol continued to function well witho
ut cleaning at that point. .22 rimfire is dirty stuff, especially in an autoloader, but the M-22 managed to keep working despite the build up of gunk.

As for accuracy, the hands down winner was Federal Game Shock 40 grain solids. 1.5" groups were attainable from the bench at 50 feet, and that's about as good as Carteach's old eyes can do anymore.

While the sights are adjustable, only one adjustment had to be made. The rear sight is adjustable for windage, and a small screw driver is supplied to make those corrections. For elevation, the front sight is replaceable with various height units, four of which are supplied with the pistol. Using the same supplied miniature screwdriver, the front sight is simply popped out from underneath the slide, and a new one popped into place. The first sight I tried moved the point of impact from four inches high to dead on the bull, and took only a few moments to accomplish.

The pistol has to be field stripped to replace the front sight, and this is a combination of Glock style lever and old Walther style action. The one hand pushes down on the take down lever in Glock fashion, while the other hand pulls the slide back and lifts it off the frame, so it can slide forward. This leaves the slide, the frame, and the recoil spring. No more disassembly is required or recommended.

Moving from bench shooting to what the pistol is really designed for, it took the place of the G-30 in my holster. Another hundred rounds were sent down range in draw/fire practice, looking for parallels between the Glock and the M22. While there are some obvious differences, using the M22 as a trainer for the Glock is perfectly viable. It fit the same holster, and once the manual safety issue is dealt with the handling characteristics are the same. Most importantly, the frame angle, sights, and trigger pull are a close enough match that training with the M22 is both do-able, and valuable.

On the question of quality.... this is not an expensive pistol. The frame is polymer, and the slide aluminum. The internals are steel, with good springs. The magazines appear to be hard anodized aluminum with polymer bases and good quality springs. The slide is coated with something ISSC calls 'Ti-Clad', but my old mechanic eyes see paint. Now, it may be a high tech epoxy coating applied under static charge, but I still see paint. I suppose this is the way of the future, as Smith+Wesson uses a similar coating on their M+P line, as does Springfield on their XD line.

This finish on the slide also accounts for a warning from ISSC not to use spray gun cleaners on the M22. Having seen the results of such chemical unhappiness in the past, Carteach0 is inclined to heed their warning and not test that point.

No.... not an expensive pistol.... so it's not made of heavy machined steel nor finished in hues of blue miles deep. It's not pretty, and there is no way around that. Then again.... it's not designed to be, nor priced that way either. It's clearly designed as a rimfire trainer for Glock shooters, although it's priced at roughly half what a new Glock costs. ISSC has recommended list at $369, but the market does not work that way. Bud's Guns lists it at $323, while the M22 can already be found new on for less than $250. This puts the ISSC M22 at a price point lower than most of the .22 pistols on the market, even the Sig Sauer Mosquito, and also at roughly $100 lower than most rimfire Glock conversions on the market.

Final thoughts..... I like this pistol. It shoots reasonably straight, and is surprisingly un-picky in it's diet. As a Glock trainer, it's about 75% there. If it was striker fired, I'd make that 95%. As it is, I suspect it's the best available option for low cost rimfire training to Glock shooters. As a stand alone pistol, all Glock-like attributes set aside, it appears to be a decently made yet inexpensive firearm. I would be happy to have it live in my range bag, making an appearance every range day for a few hundred rounds of pleasure shooting and even serious training. I'll be looking for my own M22 shortly.

FTC disclaimer: ISSC supplied a loaner M22 for this review. Does this mean Carteach0 got to play with someone elses gun for free? Not by any stretch of the imagination. With the FFL transfers, background check, ammunition.... 'Ol Carteach is down a fair chunk to bring this review to print, and doesn't get to keep the pistol.... although I will surely be asking how much cash it will take to part them from this particular worn out, used up, tired old pistol (by the time I'm done with it, that is).


Old NFO said...

Sounds like a reasonable alternative, but your comment- "On the other hand, after I learned a firm magazine seating would run the slide every time, I found myself making some very fast magazine swaps. That is something I could get used to."

Worries me, because a Glock won't do that, regardless of how hard you try, so the muscle memory might 'trick' the mind on the G30 to say oh yeah, slapped the mag so the slide is forward when it's really not...

Carteach0 said...

Well, I tried that little thing... and my G-30 WILL drop the slide after slapping in a full magazine in vigorous fashion. It did it ten times in a row, slick as can be.

The thing is, the G-30 magazine really doesn't need the slap, as it slides home like it was self motivated. In addition, I have hands and arms that are.... bulky... and a 'slap' from me is significant.

Ike said...

Just to note, I like your blogs. They are informative. I'd like to mention that Advantage Arms also has a .22 Cal barrel for Glock. There is no hammer so it's more of the 95% similarity you're looking for in a training calibre. I've used it many times and enjoy it. The only downside from my point of view it the takedown pin/slide for the .22 conversion kit is a pain to get off the lower receiver of my Glock. Maybe it's a one off but who knows.

Old NFO said...

Carteach0- that must be one hellva slap :-0 I can't get any of my Glocks to drop the slide that way!

Carteach0 said...

Lol.... methinks a post is in the offing, with video yet (g).

Flopeye said...

Thanks Carteach0, To coin a phrase you have restored my faith in hu.... OK, in Carteach0! I read your blog often, altho I am just a triger jurk away from hitting my paper tardets I'm learning. Cudos for being honest about any product you try regardless of the companys response to your actions. I hope you get good results from the boots that disenigrated on you. Thanks again for a great blog. Flopeye

Phil said...

For what it's worth re mag slap closing the slide - my M&P 45 does that, every single time, and without all that hard of a slap. I consulted the manual, and got a chuckle when I found there was a warning about that in red text. Personally, I think it's awesome for fast reloads. :)

RegT said...

I bought an Advantage Arms conversion kit for my G30 (and one for my wife's G23) about 18 months ago, and am very pleased with both. IIRC, I paid $260 for them at that time, and I've seen them for sale for $279 now ( They may be cheaper elsewhere.

The nice thing about the conversion is that you are using your regular, usual pistol for practice. Same grip, same function. It is striker fired, as the Glock is - no hammer. I can't recall what kind of groups I got with Walmart bulk ammo (I think it was Federal bulk 550 or similar), but I remember being satisfied. I bought a spare mag for each kit when I got them.

CatzassGlock said...

I know this review is from a few years back but I'd like to comment on the slide closing and loading a round with a Glock Pistol. I don't know if it's because my Glocks are older than your G30 or what, but I can slam a magizine in both my g26 and g27 and the slide will close and chamber a round. It has become habit to do this with the pistol pointed slightly down and sideways (ejection port toward the ground). I read about doing this with Glocks several years ago. I really don't remember if the position mattered for it to work or if I started using that position just for safety sake. YMMV.

Anonymous said...

I recently purchased an M22 pistol. My gun was plagued with fail to extract issues. Within a week of purchase I contacted Legacy sports and was told my gun was not covered by warranty. They would replace the extractor, at my cost. My gunshop made the distributor take the gun back for a credit. I really liked the idea of a Glock looking gun, but the execution was lacking. I bought a S&W M&P.22 with the refund. No jams at all in first 500 rounds.