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Colt/Walther 1911 Gold Cup .22 LR Review

Ever since my grandfather told me he carried a 1911 in World War II, I have always wanted one of my own. The clean lines and classic styling of the Browning-designed handgun make it one of the best looking pistols out there and the fact that shooters still widely use the century-old design says a great deal about its longevity. Today however, we are going to talk about the Colt-branded, Walther-made .22 LR Gold Cup 1911, a slightly different beast than its bigger brothers.

Colt Walther 1911 Rimfire Gold Cup Box
The .22 LR Gold Cup comes with a hard-sided case, a lock, a wrench for the barrel's thread adapter, a magazine, and a magazine loading tool.

Controls and Features

The Gold Cup is a hammer-fired, single-action only pistol just like any traditional 1911. The frame mounted safety on the Gold Cup can be found on the left side of the grip area and is actuated with relative ease using the right thumb, but will only activate if the hammer is in the cocked position. It should be noted that the Rail Gun version of this .22 LR pistol does include an ambidextrous safety, while the Gold Cup and the Government models do not. When the manual safety is engaged, the slide is locked in place and the trigger cannot be pulled. Like any standard 1911, the Gold Cup features a grip safety that must be depressed in order for the gun to fire. The slide release is like any other non-extended 1911 slide release.

The barrel features P22 style threading. The Gold Cup has very similar heft to a full caliber 1911, but has a very lightweight aluminum slide, much like the Smith and Wesson M&P-22. From my perspective, the aluminum is likely to last longer and be less prone to breakage than what we have seen with the P22 series handguns. The handgun includes a single 12 round magazine and a plastic case.

The Build

Disassembly of the Gold Cup should be partially familiar to those who have handled full caliber 1911s. First, the magazine must be removed and the safety deactivated. Then, the recoil spring plug at the muzzle of the handgun is depressed and the bushing turned counter clockwise. After these parts have been removed, the recoil spring should slide out with ease. You will notice that the recoil spring looks fairly ugly and is untreated. ZTRS does produce a nicer recoil spring, but I do not have any experience with it as of yet.

Colt Walther .22 LR 1911 Disassembled
It's clear that this .22 LR rendition of the 1911 is very different internally than the true .45 ACP version.

At this point, the similarities in disassembly start to end. The slide must be pulled back to the point where it locks. Then, using a small punch the slide release may be punched out. Be sure that the slide notch and the release lever are properly aligned. After the lever has been removed, the slide can be pulled back and up off the rails of the frame. The slide can then be pushed to the front of the frame and past the barrel for removal.

The Gold Cup features a fixed barrel that is pinned in place. This differs from the GSG 1911 substantially in this area. Unlike the GSG barrel which can be removed from the frame by loosening a screw, the Gold Cup has a pinned barrel. This proven design should be familiar for anyone who has used a P22 or M&P-22. The straight blowback system used by the Gold Cup is not much different than that found in the PP/PPK or Bersa Thunder handguns. There is some minute play between the slide in the frame that may affect accuracy in relation to the fixed barrel, but based on range experience, this seems negligible.

Colt Gold Cup 22 1911 Barrel
The Gold Cup's barrel is fixed to the frame and consists of a thin, rifled internal barrel surrounded by a thicker outer sleeve. A nut at the front is removable to facilitate the addition of a thread adapter for suppressors.

Finish

Externally, the firearm has a very nice matte black finish that seems to be much more durable than what is found on the GSG 1911s. After around 300 rounds, there is no discernible wear on the slide or frame. The provided grips are checkered wraparound Pachmayr-style and are made of rubber. For someone with larger hands, these grips should be very comfortable as they do increase grip circumference slightly. The trigger on the firearm is skeletonized with three holes and the slide has laser engravings which read, “COLT GOLD CUP TROPHY”. The diagonal slide serrations are limited to the rear of the slide, but are very tactile and easy to engage. As was mentioned before, the slide is very lightweight aluminum while the frame is a heavy zinc alloy. Overall, the feel of a centerfire 1911 is well replicated.

Colt Walther 1911 22 LR Gold Cup
The Gold Cup is an attractive pistol, even if the black grips are somewhat bland.

Sights

Unlike other models in the Colt/Walther .22 LR line, the Gold Cup has a windage and elevation adjustable rear sight in addition to the dovetailed adjustable front sight. Tools are provided with the firearm to adjust the rear sight and a provided hex key may be used to adjust the front sight. The sights on the Gold Cup are plain black and feature no dots or illumination for quick acquisition. This is one area where I would have preferred a white dot on at least the front sight to aid with reacquisition while shooting. Otherwise, the sights work very well.

Magazines

The magazine holds 12 rounds single stacked and appears to be constructed from stamped steel. On each side of the magazine there is a tab to assist in depressing the magazine spring in order to load rounds. I have found that loading in this manner can result in a situation where the top round’s rim gets caught behind the lower round’s rim. Such a scenario can lead to a magazine-caused failure to feed (FTF) if left uncorrected. The plastic baseplate can be removed by depressing a button on the bottom of the magazine. Magazines drop free easily when released. The Gold Cup comes with a loading tool to help depress the follower tab while loading. Though the magazine is very similar to that used in the P22, magazines are not interchangeable between the two firearms.

Colt Gold Cup 22 Rimfire 1911 Magazine
A single ten-round magazine is included with the Gold Cup.

Range Report

The Gold Cup’s first trip to the range was very impressive. CCI Mini-Mags (36 grain) and Remington Golden Bullets (40 grain) both functioned with 100% reliability. On the second trip out, I focused on making sure the Gold Cup worked well with the usually widely available Federal Champion bulk ammunition (36 grain). Unlike my Bersa, the Gold Cup ate the Federal with very few problems. The slide did occasionally short stroke and fail to feed the next round, but I think this was generally caused by my thumbs-forward grip putting pressure on the side of the slide. Because the malfunction was rather easily replicated, I would recommend using Federal bulk only in low stress, non-competitive situations.

Accuracy was very respectable. At 10 yards, 3-4 inch groups were easily managed. I am no pistol marksman by any stretch, but was able to shoot groups with the Gold Cup that were comparable to mine with my 9mm USP. The single action trigger does appear to break at right around 5.5 lbs. To me, this is pretty average, but as someone who is used to DA/SA it is not awful. Overall, for a 1911 trainer or fun plinker, the Gold Cup is certainly accurate enough.

Conclusion

To wrap things up, the Gold Cup is an excellent .22 LR handgun. It faithfully replicates the feel and controls of a centerfire 1911 and serves as an excellent gun for shooters both new and experienced. Though the Colt/Walther 1911s do not receive the same sort of attention that the GSG guns enjoy, they are every bit as nice. The Walther design has been proven reliable and the materials used in the Colt branded offerings appear to be above those used in the P22. The Gold Cup and Rail Gun models tend to run just shy of $400 on a good day and the Government model comes in at around $350. Anyone looking to purchase a .22 LR 1911 would be wise to give the Colt/Walther handguns some serious consideration.

Colt 1911 22 Gold Cup Thread Adapter
The Colt .22 LR 1911 Gold Cup shown here with an AAC thread adapter.

Plus-Minus

+ Well finished
+ Weighs nearly as much as a centerfire 1911
+ Reliable with most common ammunition
+ Easily adjustable sights
+ Decent grips with aggressive checkering
+ Reasonably accurate

– Some play in slide/frame
– Only one magazine
– Average trigger

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