A Financial Advantage

An Advantage Arms .22 lr conversion unit for a 1911

by Frank Ettin for M1911.ORG

Well, itís sort of a financial advantage. With the continued high cost of centerfire ammunition, the ability to shoot inexpensive .22LR with your favorite 1911 can help make regular practice affordable.

The nice folks at Advantage Arms sent me a sample of their latest 1911-22S Standard Conversion kit to try out. I did try it out, and this is what I found.

Sort of Like Christmas

So one day our nice FedEx driver drops off a cardboard box with my name on it. That does happen on occasion, but itís usually something I ordered and therefore expected. But this was a pleasant surprise from Advantage Arms. I then recalled something about getting a conversion unit for T&E.


The conversion unit comes packaged in a nice clamshell plastic case, with a small instruction booklet and some additional information.

However, on inspection, I noticed that one corner of the case was cracked.

The packing box showed no damage, and the conversion unit unit was fine. Of course, everything in the case was well packed in form cut foam.

Included with the conversion unit is a nice polymer magazine, a slide stop, some tools and a little cleaning kit. The cleaning kit consisted of some patches, a jag, a brush, a cleaning rod and some oil.

One of the included tools is a short rod. This conveniently fits in a hole in the bottom of the magazine follower. With it one can pull and hold the follower in the down position to make loading the magazine easier.

The Advantage Arms people were also kind enough to send along four extra magazines.

Magazines for STI and Para Ordnance wide body frames are available, and a sample of each was included.

Since I donít have either a Para-Ordnance or STI, I wasnít able to try them out.

One thing I should mention. While the magazines are nicely made and functional, they didnít appear particularly robust. I would not be inclined to be doing speed reloading drills, dropping the magazines on the deck. However, thatís really moot since the magazines didnít drop free.

Putting It Together

I decided to assemble the conversion unit on my Nighthawk GRP. By great force of will, I managed to overcome my male genetic predisposition and actually looked (well glanced) at the instructions. On a slip of paper packed with the pistol in the slot in the foam where the magazine resides is the admonition that the pistol with the conversion unit may require a reduced power mainspring (18 pounds) in order to cycle properly. And an 18 pound mainspring is included in the kit.

But then I looked at a cover letter Steve Jennings of Advantage Arms sent me with the kit. He wrote:

ď... I donít think the 18 pound spring is needed anymore. I put 100 rounds through this particular kit with a stock 23 pound spring without any malfunction....A key factor is lubrication. I like to run the kit a little wet....Ē

So I decided to forgo the dubious pleasure of disassembling the mainspring housing and swapping out the mainspring.

To install the conversion unit on my Nighthawk GRP, I first made sure that the gun was unloaded and then removed the slide, barrel and associated parts. The conversion unit is an assembled top end -- slide, barrel and captive guide rod and recoil spring.

The guide rod screws into and protrudes into the barrel lug bearing on the slide stop shaft. So to install the conversion unit, one must first back the guide rod out a bit. A wrench is supplied for this purpose.

As Mr. Jennings suggested, I lubricated the rails fairly generously using the CLP that comes in the kit, slid the top end onto the frame, inserted the slide stop, and then pushed the slide back a bit to allow me to get the wrench on the nut end of the guide rod. I then snugged the guide rod down and was in business.

The conversion unit mounts a Bomar-style adjustable target sight and plain black front post.

An extra nice touch: Itís been my experience that on some .22 rimfire conversion units the slide can not lock back. The slides are most often aluminum alloy, which is too soft to stand the wear of the slide stop keeping the slide open. However, the folks at Advantage have thoughtfully embedded a small steel piece where the slide stop bears, so the slide here will lock back.

Off to the Range

I raided my ammunition cupboard and grabbed some of whatever I had available in .22LR. So my ammunition supply for testing consisted of:

  • CCI Mini Mag, 40 grain copper plated RN

  • Remington High Velocity 40 grain copper plated RN

  • PMC Zapper 40 grain RN copper coated

  • Federal Gold Medal Target 40 grain RN

  • Winchester Power Point 40 grain LHP lubaloy coated

And I headed off to Target Masters indoor range in Milpitas.

A package insert with the kit counseled against using Federal, and certain other, ammunition. So, as expected, the conversion unit was finicky about ammunition. Both the Federal and PMC turned out to be very unreliable, so all shooting was done with the CCI, Winchester and Remington ammunition. The conversion unit seemed to especially like the CCI.

I spent a good amount of time just plinking. With suitable ammunition everything worked fine. Informal accuracy at 15 yards was very satisfactory, but I soon discovered that the sights werenít well regulated -- causing shots to go high and left. A little work with some of the CCIs and a small screwdriver, and I soon had the gun shooting to point of aim at 15 yards. I regulated the sights with the CCIs, and I was satisfied with them for the Winchester and Remington ammunition as well.

I found the sights easy to use. I generally favor plain black sights and was glad not to have to bother with dots or any other such distractions.

The plinking was great fun. A .22 is just plain a pleasure to shoot. I tried some fast strings and a little slow fire and was having a fine time. But it was time to get down to business and try to get an idea about how accurate the conversion unit really was.

So I ran a target back to 25 yards and set up a rest and proceeded to shoot for groups. Hereís what I came up with (average of three groups of five shots):

AmmoGroup inches (*)Group mm (*)
CCI Mini Mag, 40 grain copper plated RN
Remington High Velocity 40 grain copper plated RN
Winchester Power Point 40 grain LHP lubaloy coated
*average of three groups of five shots


The Advantage Arms conversion kit is a well made and well thought out .22 lr coversion unit for a full size 1911. I found it accurate and reliable with suitable ammunition and subject to the caveat that it is somewhat finicky about ammunition. The fact that the slide locks back on an empty magazine is a plus in my book.

Advantage Arms 1911-22S Standard Conversion kit
Caliber:.22 lr
Overall Length:8.70" (220 mm)
Overall Width:1.40" (35 mm)
Barrel Length:5" (127.0 mm)
Sight Radius:6.50" (165.1mm)
Sights:Bomar style adjustable target, plain black
Magazine Capacity:10 rounds
Finish:Blued -- matte

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