Train with ISSC’s M22 and get more trigger time for less.
ISSC M22…the .22 Caliber Police Training Pistol
By: Steve Tracy
My father first taught me how to shoot with a .22 caliber rifle. The mild .22 rimfire cartridge eliminated loud noise and heavy recoil, two factors that can intimidate new shooters and interfere with their ability to concentrate. A .22 rimfire is still the best way to teach the fundamentals to new shooters today, regardless of their age. The .22 caliber firearms are also an excellent way to improve the skills of police officers, rid them of any bad shooting habits, and improve training by repetition.
I have made use of my personal High Standard .22 target pistol to reaffirm the basic principles of sight alignment, breath control and trigger squeeze while helping other officers improve their shooting abilities at the range. Although my target pistol did not operate exactly like the officers’ duty sidearm, the practice still improved their qualifying scores.
Law enforcement training and practice with inexpensive .22 caliber ammunition is both fiscally responsible and smart. A 20 dollar bill will buy 100 rounds of 9mm practice ammunition. The same money will purchase 500 rounds of .22 Long Rifle practice ammunition. Shooting rimfire ammo is meant to supplement centerfire training; it does not replace it. While saving money is a smart idea because police training is on the taxpayer’s dime, it’s the 400 rounds of extra trigger time that can save an officer’s life.
Militaries worldwide have long known the value of training with .22 caliber ammo in arms that function similarly to weapons issued to their troops. Some police academies and departments utilize .22 caliber weapons for training if time allows it in addition to centerfire training.
Conversion kits that allow the firing of .22 caliber ammunition in duty pistols have been around for many years. These kits usually consist of a new slide / barrel / recoil spring combination “upper” that fits on a standard pistol frame and include a .22 caliber magazine. Due to the rise in cost of centerfire ammo, many new kits have come to market. However, these conversion kits are often hard to find or on backorder.
A New Pistol Aimed at Training
A new company called ISSC has introduced a .22 caliber training pistol called the M22. At first glance, the M22 looks a lot like a mid-size Glock Model 19 or 23. But upon further inspection, your eyes quickly notice something rather odd looking and out of place. There is an exposed hammer at the rear of the slide. That’s when you realize this certainly isn’t a Glock. Also at the rear of the slide you will spot an ambidextrous safety / hammer drop lever.
The M22’s trigger has the same Glock-style safety lever we’ve all come to know, but ISSC calls it a “trigger safety tab.” Look closely at the left side of the trigger and you will see a built-in lock on the trigger as well. A supplied key rotates the trigger lock from F-ire to S-afe and can prevent unauthorized firing of the weapon.
Wolfram Kriegleder designed the Walther P22 and then formed his own company to bring the M22 he designed to market. Glock pistols are quite popular with both law enforcement and civilians and the cost of ammunition has steadily risen during the past few years. These two factors combine to make a .22 caliber pistol that operates similarly to a Glock a rather smart concept.
While there are plenty of .22 pistols on the market for target shooting, plinking and even training, ISSC saw the opportunity to create a gun that handles like one of the most popular combat defensive sidearms and could be offered at a reasonable and desirable price point.
It’s Not What It Looks Like
Upon grasping the M22, your hands will tell your brain that the pistol does not feel exactly like a mid-size Glock. The M22 is thinner than the G23. The checkering and finger grooves are similar to the style of the Glock pistols, but not identical. The M22 points in my hands just like a stock Glock does.
The M22 is a direct blow-back, single-action semi-automatic pistol, with a fixed Lothar-Walther 4-inch match barrel for outstanding accuracy. A 5.5-inch barrel is also available with an attached barrel weight forward of the slide. The lightweight slide is made of aluminum alloy and is coated in a tough “Ti-clad” black finish.
A “titanium-white” finish is also available on the slide that gives the gun a two-tone appearance. The slide requires very little effort to retract due to its lightweight recoil spring. The forward and rear cocking serrations provide a good grasp.
The black frame is made of tough polymer and is smooth, textured and checkered in all the same places as the Glock. While the trigger is much like a Glock’s, it does not fully cock and release a striker, but instead only releases the aforementioned exposed hammer. The hammer has to be cocked by the slide’s rearward motion or manually by the shooter.
On my Lyman digital trigger gauge, the M22 registered an average of 5 pounds, 8 ounces with no over travel. It’s not a target trigger, but it works well as a combat pistol training weapon. The serrations on the front of the trigger were a bit sharp.
A magazine disconnect prevents the M22 from firing unless its 10-round magazine is inserted in the grip. The steel magazine has a side button that your thumb can use to pull the follower downward to aid in loading .22 rounds. The standard-style magazine release and slide release were simple and easy to manipulate and empty magazines fall free from the grip when ejected. The slide locks back after the last round in the magazine is fired. This mechanical advantage allows the M22 to function more like its duty gun brethren than .22 pistols that do not keep their slides back after their last shot.
Similar But Different
The cocked hammer can be safely lowered by using the decocking lever on either the left or right side of the slide. It rotates downward to cover the red “fire” dot, which blocks the firing pin from being contacted as the hammer falls. If left in this down position, the decocking lever also acts as a safety that prevents the hammer from being cocked.
The rear sight has a squared white outline and is adjustable for windage by turning a tiny screw with the supplied tiny screwdriver. Elevation adjustments can be made to group different cartridge loads higher or lower by swapping out the front sights. The M22 came with three plastic front sights, one short, one medium, and one tall. The front sight has a white square instead of the more common white dot.
Despite this unusual system, the sights worked just fine. However, care does need to be taken to prevent anything from smashing against the front sight. I damaged two of them when I packed the M22 along with another handgun in a single case for a trip to the range. The other gun must have bumped harshly against the M22 and the plastic front sight couldn’t handle the attack.
The M22 disassembles for field stripping, cleaning and lubrication almost like a Glock. Retract the slide, remove the magazine, and make sure the chamber is empty. Then pull downward on the takedown latches’ location on either side of the frame. The slide can then be pulled rearward and lifted upward to take off the frame around the fixed barrel. Unlike the Glock pistols, the ISSC gun does not require the trigger to be pulled for disassembly.
There are, however, some operational differences between the M22 and the Glock pistols it mimics. With the Glock, you release the slide and it loads a cartridge from the magazine into the chamber. Then you safely holster the weapon while keeping your finger off the trigger. The Glock’s striker is partially cocked and the safe-action trigger prevents rearward travel unless finger pressure disengages the trigger safety.
With the M22, you release the slide and it loads a cartridge from the magazine into the chamber in the same manner. Then a decision has to be made concerning safety in relation to realistic training. Before holstering, the safest thing to do is depress the decocking lever and safely lower the hammer. Then the decocking lever can be rotated back up to “fire” and the gun can be holstered. Of course, this means that when drawn from the holster, the hammer would have to be manually cocked.
You could decide to holster the gun with the hammer cocked. The M22 is designed so it cannot go off by accident because of the trigger safety tab. The M22 fit in my Uncle Mike’s Tactical Pro-3 security holster with its hammer cocked. The thumb break still worked with the gun’s hammer all the way back. The thumb break was actually between the hammer and the firing pin, adding another level of safety.
Placing a cocked single action pistol in a holster without a manual thumb safety or grip safety can make anyone a bit uncomfortable. But the M22 does have the trigger safety tab that keeps the gun from going off. Just like a Glock, one needs to keep the finger off the trigger until ready to fire.
Finding the Right Ammunition
All .22 semi-auto pistols are notoriously finicky when it comes to ammo selection. Finding the right ammunition that functions well is usually the result of trial and error. The M22’s instruction manual recommends high-velocity ammunition from CCI or Blazer. Standard velocity ammo often does not have the power to work a semi-auto’s action. I found CCI Stinger, Aguila, Remington Thunderbolt and Winchester Wildcat high-velocity rounds to work well in the M22. No malfunctions were experienced with these brands.
Recoil is negligible in the M22, even though it weighs only 21 ounces, unloaded. The lightweight slide does not carry much reciprocating mass and .22 ammunition doesn’t recoil very much in any firearm.
Accuracy was certainly good enough to simulate combat shooting with rewarding hits and all brands of ammo grouped well. I did not attempt precision shooting as it’s not really the gun’s mission, but Lothar-Walther barrels are known for their extreme precision.
Training Pistol and .22 Plinker
The ISSC M22’s suggested retail price is $399.99, but it can be found discounted online for quite a bit less. If purchasing online, shipping fees are usually incurred and an additional transfer fee through a local Federal Firearms License (FFL) dealer becomes part of the cost. A quality .22 conversion kit may cost a little less, but with the M22, you get an entire pistol.
If you’re one of the great many law enforcement officers packing a Glock pistol on your hip, the ISSC M22 can provide you with a whole lot more trigger time through the use of inexpensive .22 caliber ammunition.
Steve Tracy is a 22-year police veteran with 20 years of experience as a firearms instructor. He is also an instructor for tactical rifles, use of force, less-than-lethal force and scenario-based training. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.