by Rod Pascoe
German Sport Guns (GSG) has been manufacturing self-loading handguns and rifles in .22 Long Rifle since 2002. Why in .22 calibre? Probably because the emerging Rimfire Tactical discipline in Europe has created a demand for faithful reproductions of historic and current military and police force firearms in .22 Long Rifle (LR).
Also, the cost of ammunition makes the .22 rimfire calibre a viable alternative when training for some of the centrefire events such as IPSC, Service and Action matches. Under licence from other manufacturers, GSG has been making .22 replicas of some of the popular centrefire handguns from around the world. The legendary Colt 1911, also made by GSG in .22 LR, is available in a number of configurations and was reviewed in issue 15 of Australian and New Zealand Handgun.
While there are other markets for medium-frame self-loading pistols in various parts of the world including personal protection, Australian regulations only approve handguns for target shooting purposes. The FireFly is patterned on a 90 per cent scaled version of another iconic German handgun: the Sig P226. In fact, until recently, Sig did market its own version of the FireFly, the Mosquito, that was reviewed in Australian and New Zealand Handgun issue 10. The Mosquito and the FireFly are virtually identical, which is not surprising as they were both made in the same GSG factory. The FireFly has taken over from where the Mosquito left off.
There are a number of FireFly models manufactured by GSG. However, only the Sport version is available in Australia and it is distributed through NIOA. Australian Shooter had the opportunity to review the FireFly in its black-frame version. The Sport model with a pink frame is also available.
Opening the presentation box revealed the firearm itself, spare magazine, kit of tools and spares and instruction manual. On closer examination, the bag of bits and pieces contained, what appeared to be a spare recoil spring, but was actually a spring of a different weight to suit heavier recoiling ammunition. The instruction manual does recommend using high-velocity ammunition but, as will be evident later, most target or standard velocity versions tested performed satisfactorily.
Stripping the firearm exposed nothing unusual. The barrel block is fixed to the frame and incorporates the blowback system of firing and recycling. This is unlike the bigger centrefire models where the barrel unlocks from the slide after firing. The muzzle has a cap to protect the threaded end. At 4.9”, or 124mm, it is the same barrel used in the Silencer version of the pistol that is not available in Australia. Interestingly, the barrel carries the Sig Sauer trademark, presumably a carry-over from when GSG was making the Mosquito.
The grips are suited to small to medium hands, hence its appeal to junior shooters. In the hand it feels and performs like its bigger centrefire counterparts, especially when using high-velocity .22 ammunition.
The left side of the frame houses the slide release, the magazine release and the familiar de-cocking lever as featured on the Sig P226 on which the FireFly is modelled. All these controls are within easy reach of the right thumb. However, unlike the centrefire counterpart, the FireFly incorporates a safety catch on the slide. This can be useful when coaching or practising for some of the disciplines where drawing from a holster is required. The FireFly is a double-action pistol, meaning the trigger can be pulled with the hammer down on a loaded chamber ‑ from which point it is fired in normal, single-action mode.
A key is supplied to operate a lock located at the base of the grip behind the magazine well. This locks up the trigger and hammer mechanism during transportation and storage. An orange snap-cap is also provided to prevent damage to the firing pin during dry-fire practice.
The front-sight is mounted on a barrel counterweight assembly that elegantly disguises the extra barrel length which extends beyond the slide. This is held in place by a single grub screw, the end of which seats into a flat machined into the bottom side of the barrel. It is advisable to check this screw with the supplied hex key to ensure it does not work its way loose. There are three front-sights included of different height as the rear-sight only provides windage adjustment. The plastic blades simply snap into place and are easily removable. Because the front-sight is mounted on the barrel weight, it therefore extends the sight radius of the pistol from 6.5 to 7.2” or 183mm.
After a thorough clean and a once-over with some lubricant, it was off to the range. I tried a selection of standard-velocity target ammo to validate the manufacturer’s recommendation for the use of high-velocity ammunition. These softer loads included CCI Standard, Eley Sport, SK Rifle Match and Lapua OSP among others.
This was one notable difference to the Sig Mosquito that I had owned previously. Standard-velocity ammunition was not as reliable in the Sig, which I attribute to a heavier recoil spring; hence, the two springs offered with the FireFly. The second spring appears to be heavier for hyper-velocity ammunition although there is no mention of it in any of the supplied literature.
The sights pretty much shot point of aim with standard ammunition and the fitted front-sight blade although I did adjust the rear-sight windage screw a tiny bit to compensate for my having to deal with a heavier-than-expected trigger.
I fired five-shot groups with 10 different ammo types from 25m, employing a rest to overcome the somewhat spongy trigger release. Using this method I achieved the following groups:
CCI Standard Velocity 30mm
CCI Mini Mag 32mm
Eley Sport 36mm
SK Rifle Match 38mm
Federal 714 41mm
Eley Club 45mm
Geco Semi-Auto 49mm
Lapua OSP 51mm
SK Standard Plus 53mm
RWS Target Pistol 55mm
The big thing that sets the FireFly apart from the Sig Mosquito is the price. Where the Sig retailed for more than $600 when it was first released, the GSG FireFly is available from most gunshops for less than $400. That makes the FireFly an excellent option for pistol club training along with readily available and relatively cheap .22 Long Rifle ammunition.
The use of .22 calibre handguns is a legitimate and economical training alternative for the centrefire pistol disciplines. As such, the GSG FireFly fits rather well into that role. From a technical point of view, the trigger leaves something to be desired. On the other hand the price is very attractive. These then are the two factors that you must decide between.
Despite its precision construction and engineering, the FireFly is not a precision shooter; nor is it intended to be. The pistol is an ideal training aid for centrefire pistol events where a practical or service-style, as opposed to bullseye target-style, pistol is required. The pistol is somewhat lively when using high-velocity ammo. Therefore the felt recoil is substantial which is a good thing when training for centrefire pistol shooting.
Manufacturer: German Sport Guns
Model: FireFly Sport
Calibre: .22 LR
Action: Self-loading Single-Action Blowback
Magazine capacity: 10
Barrel: 124mm long, six-groove, 1:15 twist
Sights: Three dot system, three interchangeable front-sight blades and adjustable windage rear-sight
Sight radius: 164mm
Overall length: 209mm
Overall height: 134mm
Overall width: 37mm
Finish: Matte black
Distributor: NIOA Australia