With the price of ammo remaining high, I am interested in training tools that can help me maintain perishable skills without breaking the bank.
I recently purchased a 22lr conversion kit for my Rock Island Armory MAPP FS in 9mm. It allows me to train with the grip and trigger of the MAPP with less expensive 22lr ammo instead of 9mm. It is also a lot of fun to shoot.
Back in the summer of 2000, riots rocked many major and not-so-major cities in the United States. My friend, “Hawkeye” decided it was time for him to buy his first firearm. He asked me for help. I arranged a couple of range sessions to introduce him to firearms basics, and to expose him to some potential handgun choices. That process is described in a two-part article on Survivalblog: Part 1 and Part 2.
While helping Hawkeye search for a firearm, I borrowed an MAPP FS in 9mm from Rock Island Armory for testing and evaluation. I liked it so much that when Hawkeye chose something else (a SIG SP2022), I bought the MAPP. I can shoot the MAPP more accurately than any other 9mm handgun that I have used.
The MAPP is a Philippine-assembled, Italian-polymer-clone of the Czech CZ75. It is identical to the EAA Witness Polymer 9mm. Both are manufactured by Tanfoglio in Italy. Europen American Armory purchased the fully assembled handguns from Tanfoglio, and imported them into the United States. Rock Island Armory purchased the component parts from Tanfoglio, assembled them in the Philippines, and then imported them into the United States.
I must admit that ammo prices for the past couple of years have reduced the amount of live fire training that I have done with the MAPP. Ammo prices are still running about 85% higher than pre-pandemic levels.
The Conversion Kit
I put off purchasing a conversion kit for a while because they are not cheap. The kit was running $307 from CheaperThanDirt.com at the time of this writing. For about $100 more, one can buy a complete Smith and Wesson SW22 Victory, which in my opinion is one of the finest 22lr handguns ever made. But the SW22 doesn’t have the same grip, same trigger, and same safety as the MAPP, making it less valuable as a training aid than the EAA conversion kit.
I eventually did some math, and discovered that after less than 1,200 rounds through the pipe, the conversion kit would pay for itself, assuming that 9mm ammo cost roughly 37 cents a round, and 22lr about 10 cents a round. The return on investment will vary, of course, depending on the fluctuating relative costs of 9mm and 22lr.
I first bid on a conversion kit on Gunbroker.com. Someone else wanted the kit I was bidding on just a little more than I did, so I did not get it. Then I bit the bullet, and placed an order for the kit with CheaperThanDirt.com. Less than a week later, the conversion kit arrived.
Small Frame Versus Large Frame
Online users have reported using the conversion kit successfully with a host of other CZ75 clones such as the Magnum Research Baby Eagle II/IWI Jericho 941, the SAR B6P, and the SAR K2P. I cannot independently verify these reports.
One key factor to a proper fit is knowing whether to order the small frame or the large frame version of the kit. The MAPP takes the small frame version of the kit, as do most EAA Witness models chambered in 9mm or .40 SW. The .45ACP and 10mm models of the EAA Witness take the large frame version of the kit. The major difference between the two models is the size of the mag well, and thus the size of the magazine.
This detail came back to bite me when I decided to purchase a second magazine for the kit. I accidentally ordered a magazine that is compatible with the large frame kit, not the small frame kit. I knew the difference, but remembered the part number incorrectly. I should have taken the time to verify the number prior to placing the order. I subsequently ordered two of the correct-sized magazines directly from EAA.
In any case, my carelessness may benefit an enterprising Survivalblog reader. I will send you the magazine I mistakenly ordered for the large frame kit if you meet the following criteria:
- You own a handgun that utilizes the large frame kit.
- You have a large frame kit for that handgun.
- You are the first to contact me at [email protected] to verify that you meet these criteria and request the magazine.
- You are willing to write a short paragraph for submission to the weekly Snippets column in Survivalblog telling me how well you like (or don’t like) your conversion kit.
The conversion kit consists of a case, manual, slide, barrel, guide rod, recoil spring, and magazine. The kit also includes a lighter slide stop spring and pin, but the manual makes no reference to these items, and I did not elect to install them. In addition, there is a cleaning brush and a small Allen wrench. The slide is made of aluminum, and has adjustable sights. The manual indicates that custom fitting may be necessary. This was not the case with my kit. I just removed the take-down lever from the MAPP, slid off the 9mm slide assembly, slid on the 22LR slide assembly, and replaced the take-down lever. The conversion kit slide assembly fit perfectly.
At the Range
I took the kit to the range behind my pole barn for some testing. I began by loading a magazine with 10 rounds of Federal 38-grain copper-plated hollow point ammunition. This is a fairly generic 22lr load that works well in a wide variety of firearms. I then locked back the slide, inserted the magazine, and pulled back and released the slide.
The slide did not fully return to battery, and needed to be pushed forward. This same failure occurred with every magazine I subsequently inserted. The conversion kit was never able to successfully chamber a round from a fully loaded magazine without manual assistance. This suggests that the recoil spring is too weak to overcome the resistance of a fully compressed magazine spring. It is possible that with further use the magazine spring will weaken, and the slide rails will smooth out, overcoming this failure.
The second round also did not fully return to battery. Subsequent shots all cycled correctly. This second round failure did not recur throughout the remainder of the range session.
Firing from rest, the first group was about three inches high and two inches to the left of the point of aim from 15 yards. Adjustments to the sights over the next few magazines brought the windage to the center of the target. The elevation remained about 1.5 inches high from rest even with the sights at maximum depression. However, when I fired off-hand, the rounds grouped nicely around the center of the target. This suggests that I have a tendency to pull down a little when I fire. This will tend to bring my shots down a little when firing off-hand, and may even push my shots up a little when firing from rest.
I next tested the conversion kit with Browning 40 grain lead round nose ammunition. I got the best group of the range session firing this ammo.
The next ammo that I tried was MaxxTech 40 grain lead round nose. This tends to be a lighter load, which many semi-autos cannot cycle well. I was surprised and pleased when the conversion kit handled it well, except for one round that had a light primer strike.
The Gun Cleaning Mat
Following the range session, I cleaned the MAPP frame and the conversion kit on my new gun cleaning mat. I made the mat from a yoga mat that I bought from a thrift store. I trimmed the yoga mat down with a pair of scissors so that it exactly fit the end of the kitchen table where I usually sit when I clean my guns. I made the change because I wanted a surface that was less permeable to solvents and oil than the beach towel that I previously used. I wanted to make sure that nothing would leak through to the tablecloth below, and thus possibly disturb the domestic tranquility.
I felt that the mat did a good job of protecting the table. One fringe benefit is that the mat came with a case, so I have a good container for storing the mat in between uses.
The EAA Witness Small Frame 22LR Conversion Kit did an adequate job of equipping my Rock Island Armory MAPP FS in 9mm to fire 22LR ammo. It successfully cycled a wider range of ammo than I expected, and was reasonably accurate.
I am hoping that with further break-in, the kit may begin to better chamber the first round from a full magazine. Even if it does not, giving the slide a slight push when chambering the first round is a minor inconvenience.
The slide is not designed to lock back after the last round in the magazine is fired. This makes counting the rounds one fires helpful at preventing unintended dry firing when the ammo in each magazine is expended.
Rock Island Armory loaned me an MAPP FS in 9mm for testing and evaluation in preparation for an article that I wrote in 2020. I subsequently ended up buying that firearm from Rock Island Armory. I did not receive any other financial or other inducements to mention any vendor, product, or service in this article.