Marvel Precision .22LR 1911 Conversion Review

I previously posted a review of my Springfield 1911, and after using my Marvel Precision Unit 1 1911 .22 LR conversion kit for a while, here are my notes on that. This is a continuation of a previous article, about my Springfield Armory black stainless 1911.

This is one of the most popular pages on the whole site! For more information, you can also see the update to this review, one year later, and another update, the two year review!

I ordered the Marvel Precision Unit 1 1911 .22 LR Conversion Unit a few months after after I got my Springfield 1911. Shooting the .45 was fun, but ammo was getting expensive! Even WWB ammo at walmart is like $20/100 rounds. After going shooting with a friend who brought his brother’s .22LR (with a red dot scope), who had just bought a brick of 550 rounds for like $8, I started looking into getting .22 pistol or a conversion for my 1911 to save on ammo costs. I figure the ammo costs alone will pay for the conversion pretty quickly. (That or i have to start reloading myself, and i’m not ready for that yet!)

I looked into lots of options in 22’s and conversions at several places, like ARFCOM and After reading up at those places, reading reviews, etc, i decided on the Marvel Unit 1.

The marvel unit 1 (which now comes in several lengths: original, commander, and long slide) comes with a detachable adjustable sight rib, a scope mount, or both. I ordered the unit that came with both, because i wasn’t sure if i was going to get a red dot. Well, i was pretty sure i was going to get a red dot, i just didn’t know how long it would take me to find one i wanted.

The website says “please allow up to 6 weeks for shipping”, but i’ve ordered stuff with that kind of warning before without a problem. Marvel must be busy, because after the 6th week of waiting, it still hadn’t arrived. I sent an email, and they responded back that mine would ship out the next week. About a week later, i got another email from marvel indicating it had been shipped, and another with a couple dollar credit back to my credit card. I assume that shipping was less than the original estimate, and that was the reason for the refund, but i wasn’t complaining!

A few days later, the package arrived via USPS. Inside was a zipper bag with the kit, the optional compensator, scope mount rib, screws, the test target, and 2 magazines. (the kit comes with one, i ordered a second). My stuff looked just like this pic from the marvel website, except that my case is red.

Here she is with all the goodies! While i was waiting for the conversion to arrive, i found a red dot for a reasonable price, so i bought that. There’s nothing like getting a scope and then having to wait another month to attach it to something! 🙂 So while i waited for the conversion to arrive, i mounted it on my airsoft MP5, and “psuedo” sighted it in in the garage. The fully auto airsoft mp5 in the garage is a nice way to kill some time, and shred unwanted credit-card offers! A few weeks later, i sold the adjustable sight rib online because i like the red dot and have no intention of going back to standard sights on this thing!

Shown in the pic is my black stainless springer, with hogue rubber wraparound grips, the marvel conversion with scope mount and compensator, and the red dot scope. Looks pretty bad ass!

Assembly was pretty trivial, just remove the standard top end, attach the conversion, and tighten it down. Getting the slide release in isn’t anywhere near as complicated as the upside-down trickery and idiot scratch avoidance on the normal setup. The only problem that i had? The scope mount and adjustable sight mounts use different screws! They send you sets of each, but i didn’t notice that. So when attaching the scope mount and tightening down the screws, i overtightened one and sheared it off! ooops! Good thing there are three screw locations! I then noticed that the ones i hadn’t tightened down were nowhere near being flush, so maybe i was missing something. I dug through the bag-o-stuff again, and found that there were 2 bags of screws, one mounted “scope mount” and the other bag labelled “adjustable sight”. Sure enough, the scope mount screws were a bunch shorter. So i removed the adjustable mount screws, put in the scope mount screws, which did sit flush, and then removed them and locktite’d them in.


Breakin was a little disappointing, to say the least. I had heard that most 22’s, and the marvel unit specificly, were very picky about ammo. I can verify that firsthand. A brick of 550 rounds winchester (i think?) from walmart didn’t go through very smoothly. The first round of each magazine would feed and fire without issue. After that, i had failures to feed or failures to eject/extract every third round or so. Some rounds went in at a wierd upward angle, and the steel barrel would shave off some of the bullet. They would then jam in good enough that i would need to remove them using my fingers or tools. A few fired, and then would not extract at all. I needed to squeeze the extractor and cycle the slide to get them out. From the pics you can see the bent/scratched rounds, and the shavings that were all over the place during the first day of breakin. Some of the shavings appear to be from bullets, some from the brass itself.

After the first disappointing day, i checked the marvel forums to see what people had recommended for breakin, and everyone had different opinions and results. Some said CCI MiniMags worked awesome, others said they didn’t cycle reliably. some people recommended CCI Velocitors, or CCI Stingers. Some people had only used cheap ammo. some only used copper plated, some only high velocity. So i went to midwayusa and bought a variety of ammo. A bunch of minimags, stingers, and velocitors. The one thing i didn’t notice at the time is that the velocitors are steel cased and not brass. My usual range doesn’t allow anything but brass, so to shoot those i had to go somewhere else.

The copper plated ammo worked great compared to the cheap stuff, and the stingers worked almost without incident. The minimags would jam about once per magazine, if that. The stingers failed maybe 1 every 50 rounds, but nothing like the 1 in 3 with the cheap ammo. After going through a few hundred rounds of stingers, i also noticed that the minimags were working much more reliably as well. After going through all of my ammo from midway, it was eating just about anything i fed to it. Even cheap ammo was working more reliably.

The best thing about the stingers was a noticeable flash through the compensator! They also had a much louder report, and much more recoil compared to the minimags. The other interesting note about the comp is that more than one time at the range, i’ve heard some newbie say “look at that guy! he has a silencer!” Oh man, that’s good stuff!

Loading Magazines is a pain!

The biggest pain of the breakin period was loading magazines. The springs in these colt magazines from marvel were super stiff. The first day i got these huge (huge!) blisters from loading mags. At one point i looked down, and saw that the thumb guide on the magazine was actually underneath the skin of my thumb! when i took my thumb off the mag, i expected blood to just pour out, but the blister formed instead. it was one of the creepiest things i’ve ever seen! After that, i started making sure i was wearing long sleeves and put my hand inside my sleeve to load magazines. That was a lot easier, but still was annoying. Loading 45 mags is so much easier.

Mostly Broken In

After going through all of the higher power ammo, the marvel was shooting very well. I’m no marksman, so the gun is a lot more accuare than i am! But it shoots great. with the red dot sighted in, point of aim is point of impact! Now if i could just point it at the same exact place every time i pull the trigger!

Easier mag loading

A few weeks ago i saw that Marvel was selling a magazine loader for the single stack magazines. If i would have seen that when i ordered originally, i would have gotten one! So i ordered another magazine and one of these loaders. A couple days later, it had arrived, again with the wierd email about a credit to my card. You’d think they might have shipping costs figured out by now :). The magazine loader makes loading these mags infinitely easier. It only fits on one way, and it has a hole in it that i put a keyring with a mini carabiner so i just snap it on to my range bag or a belt loop and always have it handy. With this thing i can load 10 rounds into the mags almost as fast as i can load a standard 7 round 45 magazine. The only thing that slows me down is how tiny the 22 rounds are!

Broken in!

Now that its all broken in, the marvel is shooting beautifully. In the last few outings, covering around a thousand rounds, it has only had 5 failures to feed/eject. I’ve been using almost exclusively CCI MiniMags, with a 50 or so rounds from a friend’s box of federal thrown in for good measure. After being very worried about its performance early on, i have had no real problems at all. The only problem i have now is that i’m considering getting another 1911 bottom half so that i have a dedicated 22 and can shoot the 45 without any changeovers. 😀

Paper target destruction

All of this is at the local indoor range (Wade’s, but at the moment, the site seems to be all messed up!), from a distance ranging from 21 to 50 feet. I think i have them labelled correctly with distance and ammo, but I should really be marking at the range somehow so i can remember which are which. In this case i was on my last target and i had some rounds left, so i just stuck a few shoot nc’s on there and finished the ammo i had left. I’ve only been shooting regularly for a year now, so i’m still picking up habits.

CCI MiniMags
CCI MiniMags
30′ ?
CCI Velocitors
40′ ?
CCI Velocitors
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14 comments on “Marvel Precision .22LR 1911 Conversion Review
  1. Mark G. Gale says:

    Bottom line at 25 yards what was the best your Marvel 22 conversion did.

    Thank you

    Mark G. Gale

  2. John Gardner says:

    At 25 yards? Dunno.

    The indoor range i go to maxes out at about 60 feet. I’ve done some shooting out that far with the red dot, and i could keep it on the paper, but at that distance I’m not that accurate myself.

    I’ve never tried it on a rest or anything, so i can’t address that either.

  3. David Tiller says:

    Well, My marvel keeps jamming just like yours did at the beginning. But I have already fired thousands of rounds through it. I have also replaced the springs and made sure all the screws are tight. It just keeps on jamming every third shot or so.

    Do you have any sugestions?

    David Tiller

  4. John Gardner says:

    What ammo are you using?

    even still today i have problems with some of the cheaper stuff. This weekend i went through about 120 rounds of mini-mags, and didn’t have any jams, but did have 2 light strikes, but pulling the hammer back and firing again worked. I think i might need a new spring somewhere for that (mainspring?)

    You might want to try various kinds of ammo (if you haven’t already tried that?) and see what works best. does it happen with all of your mags, or just one? i have one mag that works a little less than the other 2 i have.

  5. jimmyb says:

    Try some standard velocity ammo if you want tighter groups.
    It’s what the target shooters use…

  6. very unhappy says:

    why would you buy a gun before you looked at ammo prices? im just very unhappy you would turn a beautiful 1911 into a pea shooter.

  7. John Gardner says:

    I’ve had this gun for years, and bought it before i cared about ammo prices. even shooting 22 gives you time with the same trigger, practicing and creating muscle memory.

    I’ve shot it more as a 45 than a 22 lately, though. And it only takes a minute to switch it back.

  8. JonnyA says:

    I’m thinking about picking up a Springfield Armory 1911 Mil-Spec, which is obviously chambered in .45 ACP. The only thing that’s keeping me from running out and getting it now is the high price of ammo. I’ve been around guns my whole life, but haven’t owned a pistol. I’ve fired them, but haven’t ever field stripped one. When I get the 1911, I will eventually(sooner than later) want the .22 conversion. Here are my questions:

    Is it simple enough to do the conversion?
    When you say the cheaper ammo, what brands are you talking about? I used to use Winchester Wildcats in my .22 semi-auto rifle, have you tried those?

  9. John Gardner says:

    The conversion is trivial! You just take the slide off like you were going to do a standard cleaning, and put the conversion on instead.
    it has a special slide release, and instead of having the standard “push in” plug, its got a little bolt there that tightens against the slide release, locking the whole thing down.

    Basicly, if you can clean a 1911 (not detailed strip, just field strip), you can handle the conversion.

    The cheaper ammo i’m talking about is like that federal bulk pack/etc, where you get like a brick of 500 rounds. Depending on the shape/coating of the actual bullet i had issues. some of those have a smooth shape, others have little ridges or texture that made them not very reliable. Never tried winchester wildcats, but from the picture @ midwayusa
    i’d say they might give you trouble because of the shape of the bullet. that little “ridge” area might get caught up on the feed ramp?

    i’ve been using mini-mags almost exclusively:
    they have a similar shape, but are copper jacketed and pretty smooth.

  10. JonnyA says:

    thanks for the quick response!

  11. Justin says:

    I just got my Marvel Unit 1 yesterday and it won’t extract the first round. The extractor is not flush on a closed slide. It protrudes toward the front, which seems to keep it from hooking the shell when cycling. I won’t be able to contact Marvel for a while, so I’m looking for help elsewhere… Any advice?

  12. Scrap5000 says:

    I have an exact same one too and absolutely love it. Starts to jam from the crud after about 40 or 50 rounds, but hey, a quick spray and i’m back in business, and the accuracy is SICK

  13. Mike says:

    I shoot 50 foot Bullseye with my Marvel. It is very accurate and reliable with CCI Standard velocity ammo. I keep it well lubed with CLP about three drops along the breech face, extractor slide rails every 50/60 rounds, and a quick tooth brush on the breech face.
    The Marvel is working better then my old High Standard.

  14. wayne barry says:

    have had my marvel for about 6 months. Probally put 3000 rounds though it. CCI and Thunderbolt are about the only ammo that will feed with reliability. CCI is better but about $2.00 per hundred more. Can shoot other brands as long as you don’t mind a single shot gun..Accuracy is as good as I can hold at age 74. Unit sets on an old Springfield that is fitted with a Barstow barrel. IN 45 it is a tack driver. Really enjoy shooting it but reliability is an issue I am not used to dealing with.

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