Working the Reising 22 Long Rifle semi-automatic target pistol.
by Kevin Baxter
In the second of what I hope to be my continuing series of articles concerning the amateur resuscitation of oddball and/or old firearms (the first being “1871 Vetterli Conversion”, July 2017) I offer here an overview of the Reising 22 Long Rifle semi-automatic pistol. The Reising name is generally known for the ill-regarded M50 submachinegun chambered in 45 Automatic Colt Pistol disliked by the Marines of Guadalcanal among other places, however, Eugene Reising was also a highly respected competitive pistol shooter and engineer who worked with John Browning on development of the Model 1911; over the course of his life he amassed over 60 firearms patents.
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The Reising rimfire pistol was first patented in 1916 and again in 1921. A few thousand were produced at Reising’s factory in Hartford, Connecticut with around a thousand built at his later factory in New York City for a total of something over 5,000. The pistol has a reputation for accuracy and reliability, although the slide is delicate and prone to cracking at about the midpoint of the rail, where it meets the bolt face. Nonetheless, it is a lovely little pistol – not unlike the Colt Woodsman in size and heft, well made, nicely balanced and uncommonly simple in operation and normal maintenance.
My Reising was probably bought new by my grandfather, I suspect for use at his fishing camp in northeast Ontario. Sometime in its past the slide cracked on the left side, on the thin rail immediately forward of the main body of the slide. My grandfather welded the crack and ground down the weld, although it was never re-finished. As the pistol is designed for low velocity 22LR ammunition, the danger of metallurgical changes is low – it seems to be a common failing and repair. It does not appear as though the crack propagated completely through the slide rail, so all of the dimensions are correct and the slide works fine. I remember shooting the pistol as a kid, crack and all with no issues. However, as time went on my memory of the pistol’s performance is that it started doubling, with the incidences of doubling increasing to the point that we finally stopped even trying. However, I have a need to make things work, so while waiting for supplies for my Broomhandle Mauser project, resurrection of a Belgian Frontier Army 44-40 Winchester, and a Mauser switch barrel project, I decided to clear a space on the workbench to see about returning the ancient Reising to its duty.
There isn’t much available by way of literature regarding the Reising pistol, but I found a nice article about it by MacGregor Scott in iiiAmerican Handgunner magazine online (“The Reising .22 Semi-Auto Pistol”, Bit.ly/37h0Jd1). Most fortunately, there is a company called Cornell Publications (CornellPubs.com) that offers reprints of old firearm manuals and catalogs. I ordered a copy of the Reising 1924 catalog which upon arrival proved to have a good cutaway diagram as well as the illustrated parts breakdown. Numrich Gun Parts also has this on their website (GunPartsCorp.com). Thus armed with a clue regarding disassembly and possibly even successful reassembly, I resolved to take the pistol apart to troubleshoot.
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