Colt’s Short Lived .22 Cadet Target Pistol


It will surprise exactly no one to know I had that same sweatshirt at the time. And the Colt cadet.

In the 1990s Colt came out with a .22 rimfire pistol. It was no doubt intended to compete with the ultra popular Ruger .22 pistols and be an affordable plinking and target pistol.

The Cadet was the shorter barrel version with fixed sights. The gun had a heavy barrel and it was accurate. I owned one for many years and a close friend has the longer barrel model with adjustable target sights. The pistol is very easy to field strip and clean and has excellent ergonomics and a magazine that is reliable.

Many chipmunks bought the farm under my Cadet and my first AR15 with the Colt 22 conversion kit installed. In decades past a boy would have had a Winchester model 67 or 69 and a 22 revolver, GenXer’s like myself used Ar15s and semi auto 22 pistols with polymer frames. The looks may change but the idea never does! Though I doubt few people now a days would do anything but call 911 and head to their feinting couch at the sight of a teenager walking around the woods with an Ar15 and pistol shooting squirrels. we have lost so much.. Anyway Back on topic.

The Cadet was very simple and tough. It was as reliable as man can make a semi auto rimfire handgun. I never had trouble with it, even with subsonic rounds. At the time I wished it had the adjustable target sights though. Even with the fixed sights I was able to shoot sycamore balls off of the tree limbs on the side of the mountain from the yard about 25 yards away.

As you can see above, the Target Model had the top sight rail that allowed mounting of optics.

The gun was discontinued though. it didn’t sell enough to justify keeping it around much like the Colt Cowboy. Another case of buyers screaming about how much they want something, then when actually brought out, they find some reason or other to not buy it because – “it isn’t ..X enough.” Same with the Cowboy. Buyers claimed they wanted a Ruger vaquero equivalent from Colt. Once they got it, they didn’t buy it. Just like I personally believe will happen when Colt finally succumbs to a relatively small minority and brings back the python.

The Cadet wasn’t the Woodsman was its biggest sin for many. it didn’t have that old world craftsmanship and blued steel and all that stuff, and it wasn’t as cheap and plentiful as the Rugers. Maybe it never stood a chance. It is a good pistol though and if you want a really solid fun 22 rimfire pistol for camping or plinking or whatever and see one used some where for a good deal I would certainly get it.


  1. “Once they got it, they didn’t buy it. Just like I personally believe will happen when Colt finally succumbs to a relatively small minority and brings back the python.”
    This article didn’t age so well, huh?

    Also that’s one hell of a bull barrel.

    • Give it time, tge number of people who both want and can afford a $1,500 revolver js a relatively small one. We will see how it goes.

      I had one if those Colt .22s I bought it and shot it alot for 4 or 5 years before, foolishly,, deciding I wanted somthing else more. It was a very good little pistol and I regret selling it.

      Side note: Colt bought tye design from the husk of Hi-Standard. It was called the Duramatic and was meant as a lower cost offering to compete with Ruger. It didn’t save the Co. Colt sold the design to Beretta and that gun is now the Neos. With relatively little modification the mags are interchangable. Colt is a better gun IMHO.

      Only the early guns were called the “Cadet”. CZ, then new in the US, had patented the name first. Colt dropped the moniker and called it the “Colt .22” after that.

      • it’s not as small a number as you , and at one time me, think it is. Im not allowed to tell you how much but Colt is selling so many revolvers now that you wouldn’t believe it if I did tell you. SO many are being sold that they are going to release some later wheel guns that you would never guess of Colt doing.

    • Colt didn’t bring back the Python. They brought out a double-action revolver in stainless steel that they call the Python.

      Where’s the Royal Blue finish? Not in evidence. Where’s the hand-fitting of the lockwork? Not there.

        • I can see them bringing out the Diamond in .38 and .22.
          It would also be nice to see them make .22 conversion kits again – if the could be affordable. People have shot mine and they really like it.

        • Show me that you can drop the new parts into an original Python, and I’ll believe it is a Python.

          That’s why gunsmiths don’t buy marketing hype. Using a classic model name on a “new on the inside” gun just makes our jobs harder, not easier. Examples abound in the gun world, Colt is hardly unique.

          The result is always the same from customers: “What’s taking so long? Can’t you call up the company and get parts? They’re still making them!”

          • I hate to tell you this but its better to hear it from me than some stranger on the street . What gunsmiths think or approve of doesn’t change factory designations. THe new gun is a better factory gun than the originals.

            THe blue models isnt coming back. I can save everyone the suspense on that one.

          • Yea, I know both of those things. And the result is that at gun trade shows, gunsmiths tend to treat gun company reps with disdain. Most of us view them for what they are: hucksters, trying to con gun buyers out of their hard-earned dollars for ever-less impressive pieces of crap.

            ps – I think it could be interesting to try to blue the modern stainless Python.

  2. I already had a a Ruger slabside with a 7.5″ barrel that is absurdly accurate and completely reliable.
    The only thing I have done to it was fire lap the barrel.
    I handled a few of these at Gun shows when they came out and nearly bought one, the balance and grip angle were close to perfect for me with the shorter barrel.

  3. I still have and shoot my 4.5” Colt .22 – just as pictured above. I wish I could upgrade the sights, and really wish I had bought more magazines back when they were available.

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