February 2010

Kimber, CZ Compete: 22 LR Conversions for Centerfire Guns

For this test we secured conversions for the CZ 75, called the Kadet Adapter, $412, and the Kimber Rimfire Target conversion for 1911s, $330. We like both units for low-priced shooting.

The concept of shooting 22 LR ammo in centerfire handguns goes back a long way. The Germans had a system for the Luger when centerfire ammunition was mighty scarce between the two World Wars. These conversion units consisting of an insert barrel, a different toggle mechanism, and suitable magazines. Insert barrels were also used on the Walther PP at that time to fire a low-power 4mm round, presumably for indoor gallery use. These 4mms were one-shot deals, the round not having enough power to run the slide, so you had to work it by hand. Also pre-WWII or shortly thereafter were some conversions for the 1911 45 autos involving a lightened slide, which predates the Colt Ace conversion with floating chamber. Then the Ace system came along, and it let 22 LR rounds give the same kick to your 1911 as when firing 45 ACP rounds, thanks to a flying breech that essentially amplified the kick of the rimfire rounds to cycle the normal slide. Even more recently a few 22 LR units were made in Germany for the P-38, apparently for police/border-guard units. Like today’s units, these consisted of slide, barrel, and magazines suitable for rimfires. Of course there have been many other 22 conversions along the way and we’re sure we forgot some, but our focus here is on only a couple modern ones.

Today’s centerfire shooter who wants to save ammo money, or just plain wants to shoot a lot more for the same money, can buy 22 conversions that replace the slide with a more appropriate one, generally of lighter weight. In the case of our two test units for this report, the slides were fitted with excellent adjustable sights and excellent barrels. Changing centerfire to rimfire involved only taking off the original slide and replacing it with the 22 conversion unit, securing it in place with the normal cross pin, plugging in a 22-caliber magazine, and bang, you’re done. In a non-exhaustive search we found modern conversions for 1911s by at least four U.S. companies, Kimber, Ciener, Wilson, and Marvel. There are several 22 conversions for the 1911 made in other countries, notably Italy, but we have not seen those here yet. CZ makes one for its Model 75, called the Kadet Adapter, and Ciener also offers one for the Hi-Power. Note that 22 conversions are available for only a tiny fraction of today’s vast assortment of auto pistols.

For this test we secured conversions for the CZ 75, called the Kadet Adapter ($412), and the Kimber Rimfire Target conversion for 1911s ($330). We have been promised conversions for the Hi-Power by J.A. Ciener, and a new unit from Wilson Combat, but as of our deadline they hadn’t arrived. We plan to follow this test report with another, at a later date, featuring the new Wilson, Ciener’s Hi-Power, and one of the Marvel units. However, all makers report very high sales and relative scarcity of these units, so we won’t make any promises as to how soon you’ll see that next test.

We tested with three types of rimfire ammunition that included light target loads, normal 22 ammo, and one of the hotter types with an odd-shaped bullet. They were Eley’s XTRA pistol ammo, Federal Classic RN, and Remington Yellow Jacket with truncated-cone, hollowpoint bullets. Here’s what these two units gave us.

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