Pat’s Product Review: German Sport Guns (GSG) .22s

A relative newcomer on the firearms scene is German Sport Guns (GSG) which, as the name implies, are guns made in Germany. GSG firearms are imported into the USA by American Tactical Imports (ATI) and they are causing quite a stir these days. Under review here are the GSG-5 and the GSG-1911 firearms. The GSG-5 is a “clone” of sorts, of the HK94 semiauto carbine (patterned on the Heckler & Koch MP-5 submachine gun) – except it’s semiauto only and it fires .22 Long Rifle (LR) cartridges. The GSG-1911, is a virtual “clone” of the legendary 1911 .45 ACP handgun, except it is .22 LR only.

I happened upon the GSG-5 about a year and a half ago, at my local gun shop. There it was, hanging on the wall, and for all appearances, I thought it was a Heckler und Koch Model 94, semiauto, 9mm carbine. The gun looks “that” good! It only took me a minute or so to make a decision to purchase the GSG-5. About a week later, I purchased another GSG-5, this one slightly different than the first. Both GSG-5 models have what appears to be a suppressor on the barrel. However, they are for looks only, and are not sound suppressors. One false suppressor is quite a bit larger in diameter than the other. For some reason, the BATF, told ATI, that they believed these larger false suppressors could be converted into real suppressors, and they had to be removed, and replaced with the smaller diameter false suppressor. Personally, I don’t know how people were converting these hollow aluminum tubes into real suppressors. But the BATF employs a lot of boneheads, who have nothing more to do than come up with this garbage. I sent my larger diameter fake suppressor to ATI and they sent me the smaller diameter fake suppressor free of charge.

The GSG-5 comes with one 22-round .22 LR magazine, and I immediately purchased a dozen more – they are selling for around $20 each. ProMag magazines also makes an after-market 22-rd magazine for the GSG-5, and they also work flawlessly, and are priced a few dollar less than the originals. So often, after-market magazines don’t work very well, but these are an exception.

The sights on the GSG-5 are adjustable. You can change windage with the rear H&K style drum sight, as well as elevation. I used the lowest elevation setting, which has a buckhorn style sight and left it at that. The other adjustments have a peep rear sight on the drum, for raising the impact of the bullet. The front sight is easily removable and you can change the height of this sight with the additional front sights that came with the gun. I saw no need to change out the front sight, as the gun was hitting where I wanted it to hit. Still, the sights are there if you need them.

The forearm, butt stock and pistol grip are all made out of plastic, which makes the gun very light-weight. The upper receiver appears to be either zinc or aluminum, with the lower being made out of polymer. The gun operates with a blow-back bolt, which is the way all .22 semiauto rifles work, no big surprises there. The charging handle is on the front-left of the upper receiver, just like it is on the real H&K MP-5 or Model 94. You pull the charging handle back, lock it in place, insert your loaded magazine, and release the charging handle to chamber a round. The safety is ambi, and easily reached with the thumb, too. Trigger pull was more than acceptable, and I saw no need to fool around with it. No sling was provided, but it’s an easy and cheap fix for anyone.

The GSG-5 models I purchased have the sliver/gray finish on the upper – it’s the collector’s version, celebrating the first year of production. Current GSG-5 models have an all-black upper.  The magazine release can be operated one of two ways, with either a push of a button to release the mag, or pressing forward on the paddle. I personally prefer the paddle, as it seems quicker and more secure. The HK MP-5 can be found with the paddle, and most H&K Model 94s can be found with the button magazine release.

I’ve literally put thousands of rounds of .22 LR ammo through my GSG-5 samples – albeit one was given to my wife for a birthday present, she still let’s me shoot hers. I’ve had very few malfunctions of any sort, and all were ammo related – either the rounds didn’t fire, or there wasn’t enough “oomph” for the rounds to push the bolt back far enough to fully eject the rounds. The guns don’t appear to be ammo sensitive at all, and that’s a good thing. So many .22s are very ammo sensitive these days, especially .22 handguns, that you have to find just the right ammo to make the guns function.

I’ve used the GSG-5s for hunting “big” game in my front yard – moles! I’ve literally lost count of the number of moles I’ve taken with the GSG-5s, but it’s been quite a few. Whenever I see a new mole mound coming up in my rural front yard, I reach for a GSG-5 with a 22-round magazine in-place, and unload the entire magazine into and around the mole hole – dead mole! Some folks in the area use a 12 gauge shotgun for moles, and they make a bigger hole than the moles were making. I prefer using the GSG-5 for mole eradication. In my neck of the woods, the GSG-5 can be found for $400–give or take a few bucks, and for a mean-looking .22 rifle, it is a great deal.

I recently purchased the GSG-1911, and it looks for all the world, like a full-sized Government Model 1911 .45 ACP pistol, except it shoots economical .22 LR ammo. The GSG-1911 is made out of aluminum for the frame, slide, and most major parts. However, most of the innards are genuine all steel 1911 parts – nice touch – should you want to change some parts out, or have spare parts on-hand. The GSG-1911 is very-well made and nicely fitted – better fitted than many 1911s I’ve owned over the years. The GSG-1911 takes a proprietary 10-rd magazine, however, I expect we’ll see after-market mags coming down the pike soon. The GSG-1911 model I picked came with a threaded barrel and had a fake aluminum suppressor on it – it has a very “kool” factor look to it. The fake suppressor can be removed quickly by hand, and you can put a thread (provided) protector on the threads to protect them from damage.

The GSG-1911 is very popular with folks who want to put a real suppressor on them, and who are willing to jump through the red tape and hoops that are required for purchasing a real suppressor with a $200 Federal tax stamp. I just like the super-kool look to the gun with the fake suppressor on it – and it does nothing to reduce the sound signature when the gun is fired. Take note, BATFE: The fake suppressor is for looks only.

Three-dot sights adorn the slide of the GSG-1911, and they are eye-catching, too – neat! The rear sight is adjustable for windage. And, if the point of impact isn’t to your liking, there are additional front sights provided with the gun, along with an Allen wrench to swamp ’em out. My gun shoots where I want it at 25-yards, so I haven’t changed the front sight. Both the front and rear sight are made out of tough polymer.

There is an ambidextrous safety on the gun, and it’s fitted nicely, it clicks on and off with authority. It’s actually better fitted than safeties on many .45 ACP 1911s. Personally, I can take or leave an ambi-safety, and I prefer a 1911 without ’em. The grip safety – it needed a little bit of stoning. I had to press the grip safety completely in before it would release and allow the gun to fire. I’m surprised this one slipped through quality control from GSG. If you know anything about 1911s, you can easily correct this if your sample has the same problem. It only took me about 10-minutes to get the grip safety to release where I wanted it to.

Trigger pull! It’s outstanding, even though the gun has the Series-80 firing pin safety – which I see no need for. GSG did a great job on the trigger pull – mine breaks at slightly less than four pounds, and it’s crisp and smooth, too. Again, I’ve run across a lot of 1911s that didn’t have a trigger pull any where near this good. I saw no need to change the trigger pull on my sample.

Take-down of the GSG-1911 is similar to that of a genuine 1911, with a few exceptions, and an added step or two – it’s all there in the instruction manual, and read it before you attempt to take the GSG-1911 apart for regular cleaning and maintenance. Also, if you have a mind to tear the gun completely apart, there are some added parts in the gun, that you need to know about – or you might lose them – I lost a spring in the mainspring housing – it holds in a magazine safety, so the gun can’t be fired without a magazine in place. Luckily, I keep a lot of spare gun parts around my digs, and it only took a minute to replace the spring that went flying. The lost spring will show-up eventually, but I wasn’t gonna start tearing my office/gun room apart looking for it. Just be advised, if you are removing the mainspring housing, do it slowly and keep it covered with your hand, so when the spring pops out, you’ll have it in your hand, instead of it flying across the room.

The GSG-1911 is now my new mole hunting gun. I can sit on my front deck or in my front yard, with the GSG-1911 in my hand or holstered, and I can unleash 10-rds of .22 LR ammo into a newly forming mole hole. The GSG-1911 sample I purchased has an accessory rail for mounting a light or a laser on it, and this gun won’t fit in all 1911 holsters. I can place mine in a Blackhawk Products Serpa hip holster, which is made for 1911s with or without rails. (Most molded leather holsters will not accept a 1911 with an accessory rail – be advised!)

I’ve had zero malfunctions with my GSG-1911 sample. The gun is rated to operate best with high-velocity .22 LR ammo. However, I’ve used standard velocity .22 LR ammo without any problems at all. The GSG-1911 with the fake suppressor and accessory rail sell for around $360 in my neck of the woods, and the model without the fake suppressor and accessory rail are about $30 less. Spare mags for the GSG1911 run around $30 to $35, not too bad, all things considered.

In the grand scheme of things, I think everyone needs some kind of .22 LR in their survival battery. A good .22 is certainly great for taking small game. However, if all you have on-hand is a .22 rifle or handgun of some type, you can sure make the bad guys wish they had chosen another house or property to attack. Sure, the .22 LR isn’t a real man-stopper, but it’s better than a sharp stick or throwing rocks. And, it’s sure better than going hand-to-hand with an intruder. Truth be told, there’s probably been more people killed with the “lowly” .22 than any other caliber. And, I’m willing to bet good money, that more game has been taken with a .22 than any other caliber.

There are a lot of different .22 firearms on the market these days. Of course, the gold standard is probably the Ruger 10/22 rifle, followed by the Ruger .22 pistol (one of the many versions) and they are great guns. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen guys bring tricked-out 10/22s to the gun shows or gun shop and they want to trade them for something else – after they’ve invested a thousand dollars to make that 10/22 look like some kind of “assault” rifle. With the GSG-5, you have the super-kool look to it – it looks like an H&K MP5 or HK94, without you having to add anything more to it. It also works, and works well. The GSG-1911, again, there’s nothing you have to do to it – and with the fact suppressor on the barrel, it also has the super-kool look to it – and those who don’t know better, will think you are shooting suppressed .45 ACP when you touch off a .22 LR round.

In a survival situation, you always have to look at how much ammo you can afford to buy and stock pile. With a good .22 rifle and handgun, like the GSG models, you have great guns to start with, and there’s nothing more you need to do to them, except buy some spare magazines. And, you can easily stock-up on ten thousand rounds of .22 LR in short order. That’s a lot of fun shooting, as well as a lot of ammo to have on-hand for target shooting, pest shooting and small game hunting purposes.

By the way, GSG also makes an AK-47 clone, again, in .22 LR if you like the look of AKs and want to have any inexpensive to shoot trainer with the same ergonomics. – SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio