In a previous article, we looked at the ISSC M22 standard version. In fact, we also ran it through a simple torture test to see how long it's little rimfire heart would keep beating in the face of abuse. Now, we get a chance to see the other offering in their lineup... the M22 target version.
What makes the target version different than the standard Glock-like M22? I am so glad you asked..... and we'll explore those differences now.
The ISSC target pistol offering is really nothing more than a standard M22 with a longer barrel, a forward barrel mounted shroud that relocates the front sight further out, and more impressive... muzzle porting through the shroud. Other that that, it looks like a standard M22 frame and slide.
This is not to sneer.... the longer barrel and longer sight radius are classics in the recipe for making a pistol easier to shoot accurately. The muzzle porting, while not strictly necessary in a .22 rimfire, sure is a nice touch. In fact, if shooting a compensated Glock in competition is your joy, then this might be the rimfire training pistol for you.
The extended barrel (made by Walther) and it's shroud do add one chore to field stripping the weapon. Where a standard M22 tears down for cleaning in seconds without tools, the target version needs the barrel shroud removed first before the slide can be removed. This is done by loosening a set screw on the underside of the shroud, and sliding the finely machined shroud forward off the muzzle.
There was a concern with this, as the front sight is mounted on the shroud. Would removing the shroud to clean the pistol blow away the the sight settings? ISSC solved that issue by providing a very positive detent for the set screw to contact. It locates the shroud exactly back to it's original position on re-installation. That said, there is another issue. I'd expect some care must be taken to be gentle on tightening the set screw. Too loose, and the shroud will fall off. Too tight, and the set screw could strip. This might be a good case for owning a torque setting screwdriver like MidwayUSA sells.
While field stripping and examining the M22 target pistol, something interesting was noticed... a feature usually found only on more expensive pistols. The barrel and slide are serial numbered to the frame, and all carry what appear to be Austrian proof marks.
The M22 does have a failing... and that is a mediocre trigger pull. It's rough, heavy, and catchy. Perhaps this is not surprising in a pistol as inexpensive as the M22, but it does detract from the shooting experience.
Never one to leave well enough alone, 'Ol Carteach had to take it apart a little and see what can be done.
Lightening the trigger pull does not seem much of an option, as the pistol appears to use the mainspring in double duty on both hammer and sear. The gritty feeling, however seems to be perfectly workable. I didn't tear into this loner pistol and attack it with my trigger engagement stones (400, 600, and 800 grit square stones from Brownells), but I did apply several dabs of moly grease in strategic places. This minuscule change had a huge effect, and is a clue that a decent trigger is just a little stone work away.
I'll note something here..... ISSC provided the M22 target pistol for this review. The standard M22 pistol from the previous articles... that one I bought, as I was impressed enough to loath giving it back. The loaner will get nothing more that a bit of grease applied to it, but the pistol I own now will get a lot more. While lawyers everywhere might cringe and whine about liability, I'll throw caution to the wind and treat my M22 just as I treat most of my weapons... with loving care, good quality lube, and the judicious touch of a fine stone here and there. Expect an article in the future as that little magic happens.
How did the M22 target pistol shoot? Not bad, not bad at all......
Accuracy was hampered by the less than optimum trigger, but fifty foot groups of two inches were not hard to do on a regular basis. This is just slightly better than the standard version, and can likely be pinned on the longer sight radius.
The compensating ports do nothing for accuracy... but in rapid fire shooting... oh My! Double taps from the rimfire pistol flowed quickly and surely once accustomed to the triggers reset length. The weapon stays flat and on target, and recovery is very fast indeed.
The target version proved even less finicky about ammunition than the standard M22, and that may be because of the extra barrel length. The pistol shot at the range today did not have a single hiccup in 150 rounds of .22, of four different brands. More shooting will be done... we are not done yet... but this fact alone is promising.
The thought comes to my mind, as I shoot and examine the M22 series of pistols. These things are like firearm velcro... anything your heart desires could be done to it. All the M22's come with a rail, so every light and laser on the market will fit. The trigger appears to be easily workable, and the adjustable sights can be easily swapped out too. The extended barrel with it's shroud removed.... a welcome home to a dedicated suppressor, or a barrel weight, or a sight rail, or....... the sky is the limit. I can see this thing cleaning the clock at the rimfire steel match, with a trigger job, different sights, and a weight hanging off that rail.
The American shooter market likes a weapon that is easily modified to suit personal tastes, and I suspect the ISSC M22 will fit that profile. I doubt ISSC intended that, but it's the case now. With only seven or eight thousand of these pistols on the American market so far, it will be a while till we know for sure. More are coming, and a highly tactical looking .22 rimfire long gun is coming from the company as well.
The pistol has an MSRP of $399, but as is typical they are out in the market for quite a bit less. The M22 should sell at a price point substantially lower then the Walther P22. The two pistols were in fact designed by the same man, and I suspect the M22 benefits from lessons learned with the P22. With it's Glock-like feel and utility as a training pistol, the M-22 series clearly has a place in the range bag.
I know there is one in mine now.
Oh.... and just because it was fun to do.... here is the torture test video again: