Skip to main content

Rock Island Armory XT 22 Magnum Review

Rock Island Armory's XT 22 Magnum is affordable to shoot, reliable and accurate.

Rock Island Armory XT 22 Magnum Review

Rock Island Armory is best known for producing reliable 1911s at a reasonable price, so it should come as little surprise that the company’s new .22 Magnum semiauto pistol bears more than a passing resemblance to John Moses Browning’s most influential handgun design. But the 1911 was never designed to function with mild rimfire ammo, so Rock Island has made a few engineering changes to the XT 22 Magnum to make it look and feel like a 1911 without sacrificing reliability.

For starters, the XT 22 Magnum features an open-top slide design that is reminiscent of another popular semiauto centerfire pistol: the Beretta 92. The open top eliminates some slide weight and allows the XT 22 Magnum’s delayed blowback operating system to function properly.

The XT 22 Magnum also features a clever two-piece barrel design wherein the chamber and feed ramp are attached to a steel inner barrel that slides into a larger barrel shroud. A small spring-operated plunger is housed within the outer barrel, and when the slide returns forward it compresses the spring and the inner and outer barrels lock together. The system is simple and, as it turns out, quite reliable.

The frame of the XT 22 Magnum looks and feels almost identical to a full-sized 1911, and both guns share similar frame dimensions and angles. Both the frame and the slide of the XT 22 Magnum are made of steel, and the added heft helps reduce recoil and gives the gun an unmistakably 1911 feel. If you’re a fan of the John Browning design, you’ll like the way the Rock Island handles and operates, making this gun the ideal practice pistol for 1911 .45 shooters.


The dimensions and specifications are also very 1911-esque. The XT 22 Magnum measures 8.54 inches long, 5.51 inches high and 1.3 inches wide across the controls with an overall unloaded weight of 40 ounces. By contrast, Rock Island’s Rock Ultra FS 1911 .45 ACP measures 8.75 inches long, 5.5 inches high and 1.3 inches wide and weighs within an ounce of the XT 22 Magnum. Needless to say, both guns will feel very similar in the hand.


The XT 22 Magnum’s profile and dimensions aren’t the only similarities between the rimfire and .45 pistols. Like the 1911 centerfire gun, the rimfire version comes with a skeletonized single-action trigger with an adjustable overtravel stop and a skeletonized combat hammer.

The XT 22 Magnum also gets the same extended beavertail and checkered rubberized black grips with diamond cuts you’ll find on the company’s 1911 pistols. Other key features include a checkered mainspring housing and a beveled mag well. The rounded frontstrap is smooth.

Rock-Island-XT-22Mag
The controls on the XT 22 Magnum—as well as the gun’s dimensions and its reliability—make it an excellent trainer.

The XT 22 Magnum’s controls are also borrowed from the 1911. There’s a manual safety lever on the left side of the gun, a round magazine release button with checkered top just behind the trigger and a slide stop that travels transversely through the frame and must be pressed from the opposite side to be removed for fieldstripping.

The rear portion of the slide features the same vertical cocking serrations you’ll find on classic 1911s, and there’s a large external claw extractor.


Along the left side of the open top slide, you’ll find cutouts similar to what you’ll see on a full-size 1911 slide: a notch to accommodate the safety, a slide stop cut for locking the slide back and a small rounded notch that allows the slide stop to be removed from the gun for fieldstripping.

The front and the rear sights are both fixed and dovetailed. The front post sight is dovetailed into the barrel shroud, while the rear notch sight is dovetailed into the slide.

The gun I tested came with a fiber-optic front sight, although it appears production guns will get a white dot. The metalwork has a black Parkerized matte finish.


Rock-Island-XT-22Mag
The barrel consists of both an inner and an outer portion, and a small spring and plunger act as a buffer between the two parts.

Fieldstripping the XT 22 Mag is easy and straightforward, especially if you’ve had previous experience with a 1911. With the gun unloaded and the magazine removed, simply pull back on the slide until the semicircular notch on the slide aligns with the tab on top of the slide stop. Using opposite-side pressure, push the slide stop free of the gun and move the slide assembly forward off the frame. The slide assembly contains the inner and outer barrel shrouds, the spring and the slide itself. Pressing forward on the spring allows it to be removed from the block on the bottom of the barrel shroud, and that allows the barrel to be pulled free from the open-top slide. The inner barrel sleeve then slides out of the shroud and the gun is ready for cleaning.

The process is simpler than stripping a 1911 with a bushing, but it’s important to keep track not only of the recoil spring but also of the smaller spring and plunger that act as a buffer between the inner and outer portions of the barrel.

The plunger and accompanying spring are particularly easy to lose or misplace, so pay special attention when pulling the two barrel portions apart.

Because the slide and spring of the XT 22 Magnum are lighter than those found on centerfire 1911s, the operation of the slide is light and easy. Even new shooters or those who don’t possess a lot of hand strength will have no problems pulling the slide back to chamber a round, and the provided 14-round steel magazines are robust, functional and easy to load.

I’ll admit I have reservations about shooting rimfire semiautos, especially those designed to imitate successful centerfire pistols. I’ve encountered some centerfire-lookalike rimfire guns that were finicky about ammo and unreliable. But the XT 22 Magnum is neither finicky nor unreliable. It’s just plain fun to shoot because Rock Island got the rimfire recipe right.

This is due in large part to the fact that the gun eats anything. I tested five different loads from five different manufacturers and found each one of them fed, chambered, fired, extracted and ejected as promised.

The Rock Island’s inner barrel has a cutout that allows the extractor to slide over the rim of the cartridge for reliable cycling, and there were never any hang-ups while firing more than 250 rounds.

A full magazine holds 14 .22 Magnum loads, and you’ll be surprised how quickly this gun can digest that much ammunition. You’ll also be surprised how much fun you’ll have burning through those rounds.

A rimfire pistol made from 40 ounces of steel doesn’t recoil much, and there’s precious little muzzle rise when shooting the XT 22 Magnum. Muzzle blast is considerably greater than what you’ll encounter when firing a .22 Long Rifle semiauto, but recoil is pretty much non-existent.

Rock-Island-XT-22Mag
Fitzpatrick loved the trigger, calling it target-gun good, which gives the pistol a lot of accuracy potential.

What’s more, the XT 22 Magnum’s trigger is excellent. The average pull weight was 4.5 pounds for 10 shots on a Wheeler gauge, and there’s very little take-up. It’s clean, crisp and target-gun good. On the range I managed groups as small as 2.1 inches at 25 yards, and that’s with the pistol’s relatively basic sights.

With so many rounds on tap, such reliable performance and such a clean trigger, it’s understandably appealing to send a few hundred rounds downrange with this gun. And unlike larger centerfire 1911s, you can burn that ammo without spending a lot of cash. Ammo for the .22 Magnum runs about a quarter a round, maybe less, so this 1911 clone .22 Magnum is a great option for anyone who wants a low-cost training gun.

On that score, the XT 22’s frame is a dimensional doppelgänger of a full-size 1911, which can’t be said for some 1911 trainers. Traditionally, .22 1911 trainers that mimicked bigger guns didn’t really match feature for feature with their centerfire counterparts, but the XT 22 does. And, as I mentioned, many of the rimfire 1911s I’ve worked with didn’t function reliably.

Aside from service as a training pistol, the XT 22 works fulfills a variety of other roles, and if you’re one of those people who believe every new gun purchase must have a higher purpose, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the XT 22’s versatility. It’ll work as a small game and varmint gun out to 25 yards or so, and it’s also a great farm or ranch sidearm for dispatching damage-causing critters.

The Parkerized finish held up well during the test, and the XT 22 fit into both 1911 holsters that I had (one Galco, one DeSantis) without issues, though at 40 ounces it does weigh more heavily on the belt than competing rimfires.

And while I won’t advocate that a .22 Magnum 1911 is a better personal defense weapon than a 1911 in .45 or 9mm, I will say the XT 22 proved accurate and reliable enough to place a lot of shots in the vitals of a torso target very quickly.

Ultimately, though, this gun is just fun to shoot. It’s accurate enough to make you feel good about your skills, reliable enough so there’s no wasting time clearing jams, and affordable enough you can shoot all day without the feeling of having just burned up a week’s wages. With a suggested retail price of just $598 and a street price closer to $500, your investment in the gun isn’t all that heavy in the first place.

Rock-Island-XT-22Mag
The XT 22 Magnum holds 15 rounds of .22 WMR ammo, and that makes it a whole lot of fun to shoot and also a handy sidearm for various purposes.

If you’re a 1911 fan, your rimfire training gun has finally arrived. If you aren’t, this mild-mannered, affordable .22 Magnum just might convert you.

Rock Island Armory XT 22 Magnum Specs

  • Type: Single-action semiauto
  • Caliber: .22 Magnum
  • Capacity: 14+1
  • Barrel: 5 in.
  • OAL/Height/Width: 8.5/5.1/1.3 in.
  • Weight: 40 oz.
  • Finish: Parkerized 4140 barrel shroud and frame
  • Grips: Black plastic
  • Trigger: 4.5 lb. pull (measured)
  • Sights: Fixed notch rear, fiber-optic post front (as tested)
  • Safeties: Grip, single-side thumb
  • Price: $598
  • Manufacturer: Armscor/Rock Island Armory, armscor.com

Rock Island Armory XT 22 Magnum Accuracy Results

Rock-Island-XT-22Mag
Notes: Accuracy results are averages of four five-shot-shot groups at 25 yards from a fixed rest. Velocities are averages of 10 shots recorded on a Shooting Chrony digital chronograph placed 10 feet from the muzzle. Abbreviation: JHP, jacketed hollowpoint

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Handgun Basics

Handgun Basics

SIG Academy's Hana Bilodeau joins Rich and Jim to discuss the essential skills all handgunners should master.

KelTec P17 22LR Pistol – Feature Packed, Accurate & Fun to Shoot

KelTec P17 22LR Pistol – Feature Packed, Accurate & Fun to Shoot

If you're in the market for a 17-round, compact .22LR pistol that's feature packed, then the P17 is definitely an option for you. At less than 14 ounces fully loaded, and barely longer than a dollar bill, the P17 is concealable for pretty much anyone. The threaded barrel, Picatinny-style accessory rail, ambidextrous safety, ambidextrous magazine release and three (3) 16rd magazines come standard. That's a lot of value added in such a small package.

Performance Center M&P Shield M2.0

Performance Center M&P Shield M2.0

From Smith & Wesson, the M&P Shield M2.0 is a great option for a carry gun with optics option.

Ruger Security 9 Compact

Ruger Security 9 Compact

This handgun lives up to what Ruger wanted to build: a solid, dependable, easy-racking carry/home defense pistol at a better-than-reasonable price.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

The Smith & Wesson Model 13 revolver was a combat classic back in the day.Smith & Wesson Model 13 Revolver Revolvers

Smith & Wesson Model 13 Revolver

Payton Miller - July 31, 2020

The Smith & Wesson Model 13 revolver was a combat classic back in the day.

With the introduction of the XD-M Elite line of pistols, Springfield Armory one-ups itself.Springfield Armory XD-M Elite Precision Review Reviews

Springfield Armory XD-M Elite Precision Review

James Tarr - August 21, 2020

With the introduction of the XD-M Elite line of pistols, Springfield Armory one-ups itself.

While some modifications require an experienced gunsmith, the average shooter can install most parts in just minutes.
Instead, the curtain-rod engineer with a8 Popular Drop-In Glock Mods Accessories

8 Popular Drop-In Glock Mods

Dusty Gibson - July 17, 2013

While some modifications require an experienced gunsmith, the average shooter can install most...

The defensive handgun market is ripe with affordable, accurate and dependable choices, but these six compact high-capacity 9mm pistols stand out from the rest of the field.6 Best Compact High-Capacity 9mm Handguns Compact

6 Best Compact High-Capacity 9mm Handguns

Jeff John - July 08, 2020

The defensive handgun market is ripe with affordable, accurate and dependable choices, but...

See More Trending Articles

More Reviews

Reliable and small enough to conceal but big enough to shoot comfortably, capable of direct mounting a red dot and a full-size pistol light, the FN 509C MRD seems to be the ideal pistol for those people who want the option of a red-dot carry gun.FN 509C MRD Review Reviews

FN 509C MRD Review

James Tarr - May 12, 2020

Reliable and small enough to conceal but big enough to shoot comfortably, capable of direct...

The new Ruger-57 looks to put a charge into the 5.7x28mm pistol market—and you know you want one.Ruger 57 Pistol Review Reviews

Ruger 57 Pistol Review

James Tarr - June 05, 2020

The new Ruger-57 looks to put a charge into the 5.7x28mm pistol market—and you know you want...

The MP-F3, part of the new ‘Fueled by Ed Brown' series, takes the rock-solid Smith & Wesson M&P to new heights.Ed Brown MP-3 Pistol Review Reviews

Ed Brown MP-3 Pistol Review

Keith Wood - September 03, 2020

The MP-F3, part of the new ‘Fueled by Ed Brown' series, takes the rock-solid Smith & Wesson...

The Mossberg MC2c gives you a reliable, concealable, shootable, made-in-America pistol with steel sights, all-stainless-steel construction, good ergonomics and double-digit capacity. All for a price lower than most of its competitors.Mossberg MC2c Review Reviews

Mossberg MC2c Review

James Tarr - May 06, 2020

The Mossberg MC2c gives you a reliable, concealable, shootable, made-in-America pistol with...

See More Reviews

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Handguns App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Handguns subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now