22 TCM/9x19mm Combo 1911 Semi-Automatic Pistol from Rock Island Armory

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

December 18th, 2012


Click pictures for a larger version.





Pistol comes with hard case, manual, one magazine, extra 9mm barrel & recoil spring.







9mm barrel & recoil spring.







Magazine release (top), slide lock (center), thumb safety (bottom).



Beavertail grip safety.











I first had the opportunity to fire a Rock Island Armory 22 TCM pistol almost two years ago at the 2011 SHOT Show media day, and then was again able to fire one back in September of this year while at a writer’s event in Lake Mary, Florida. Each time I have fired the weapon, I have been more impressed. The concept of the 22 TCM follows that of the FNH 5.7 (Five-seveN), but the 22 TCM takes it to another level. The TCM cartridge fires a 40 grain jacketed hollowpoint bullet at speeds exceeding 2000 feet-per-second (fps) from the muzzle of a five inch barrel. Over my chronograph, twelve feet from the muzzle, my actual results exceeded that speed by another fifty fps using Armscor factory ammunition.

The 22 TCM offers several advantages for the shooter, and also offers superior terminal performance when compared to conventional common pistol cartridges that are carried for defense. The 22 TCM has very light recoil, enabling the shooter to shoot repeat shots on target faster, when compared to the most common 9x19mm, 40, and 45 caliber cartridges that are carried for defense. The lighter recoil allows the pistol to function with a much lighter recoil spring, enabling shooters with weaker or crippled hands to easily operate the slide of the 1911-style pistol in which the 22 TCM is chambered. The Rock Island Armory pistol holds seventeen cartridges in the magazine for a total loaded capacity of eighteen of the fast-stepping cartridges, and that payload is also lighter to carry, compared to carrying that many 9mm or 40 caliber cartridges. Probably the only negative to the TCM cartridge for defensive use is that it has a brighter muzzle flash than conventional pistol cartridges, but even that is not a big concern in a real-world defensive situation. The fact that the shooter can rapidly put several bullets from the 22 TCM into his opponent far outweigh any concern over muzzle flash.

The Rock Island Armory 22 TCM is built on their double-stack magazine frame. While it uses a wide body magazine, the grip is not excessively large at all, and is easy to handle, feeling much like a Browning Hi-Power in my hands. The trigger is easy to reach, and has a superb trigger feel, releasing crisply at about three and one-half pounds. Perfect. The magazine release is of the slightly-raised profile, and drops the empty magazine freely when pressed inward. The beavertail grip safety is likewise very comfortable, and is slightly upswept for a positive grasp, guiding the shooter’s hand into place effortlessly. The manual thumb safety presses downward to fire, and is single-sided, for a right-handed shooter. The Rock Island Armory 1911 is made primarily of steel, and wears a matte black finish, except for the barrel, which is left in the white. The match trigger is steel, while the mainspring housing and grips are plastic. The pistol has no firing pin safety, nor does it have a magazine disconnect safety. It is designed to be carried with a loaded chamber and the safety engaged, cocked-and-locked, as should be any 1911 pistol. It is perfectly safe to carry a 1911 in this manner. To fire, the grip safety must be depressed by the shooter’s grasp, the safety disengaged, and the trigger pressed. The sights are made of steel, with the rear being fully adjustable for windage and elevation correction.

Disassembly follows standard 1911 procedure, and is easy to do without tools.

Critical dimensions are listed in the chart below. Weight is listed in ounces. Linear measurements are listed in inches. Trigger pull is listed as pounds of resistance. Height includes the sights and magazine base, with the rear sight set at its intermediate position.

Chambering 22 TCM
Weight with Empty Magazine 41.8 oz.
Trigger Pull 3.5 lbs.
Barrel Length 5.05"
Barrel Diameter 0.50" to 0.58"
Overall Height 5.57"
Overall Length 8.7"
Slide Width 0.911"
Grip Thickness 1.404"
Grip Material Black Checkered Plastic
Trigger Reach 2.62"
Magazine Capacity 17 Rounds
Magazines Supplied 1
Sights Adjustable Rear / Post Front
Finish Matte Blued Steel
Accessories 9mm Barrel & Spring, Hard Case
MSRP (as of December 2012) $742.19 US

I fired the Rock Island Armory 1911pistol with first the 22 TCM barrel and then the 9x19mm barrel installed. Accuracy was very good. Firing from a hand-held rested position, I would easily keep a full payload of eighteen rounds well-centered on the target, with a group measuring under two and one-half inches at twenty-five yards. Firing fewer shots, I could manage to get three shots touching at twenty-five yards, but not every time. I also fired standing offhand at steel plates from ten to one hundred yards, and most every time hit the mark. Functioning was flawless throughout the tests. Every cartridge fed, fired, and ejected perfectly, which speaks well of both the pistol and the ammunition.

In terminal ballistics, the 22 TCM performed very well in my tests, exceeding my expectations on penetration in ballistic gelatin. I fired the TCM into gel at a distance of twelve feet, and the average penetration slightly exceeded fourteen inches. As a control, I also fired Atomic Plus P 124 grain bonded ammunition into the gel, and it penetrated fifteen inches. The jacketed bullets did not come apart or fragment in the gel, and mushroomed perfectly to about 35 caliber.

One thing that works in favor of cartridges like this 22 TCM is their ability to defeat hard targets, such as car bodies and automotive glass. I fired the 22 TCM into a square tube that is made from 3/16 inch steel. The TCM blew through the steel easily, leaving 35 caliber holes. A 9mm Plus P failed to penetrate the same piece of steel. On hard targets, high velocity penetrates very well, and the 22 TCM would prove superior to conventional pistol cartridges if shooting through light cover, such as a steel residential door or a car body.

The Rock Island 22 TCM proved to be a dandy pistol. It is easy to operate, and easy to fire, with light recoil and a wonderful trigger. It comes with an extra barrel that is chambered for the 9x19mm cartridge, for cheap practice with readily-available ammunition. For 22 TCM ammunition, you can buy it from your Rock Island dealer, or order it online directly from Armscor.

To check out the 22 TCM and other Rock Island Armory firearms and accessories, go to www.armscor.com.

To order a Rock Island Armory pistol online, go to www.galleryofguns.com.

Jeff Quinn

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Click pictures for a larger version.











Seventeen-round steel magazine works with both the 22 TCM and the 9x19mm cartridges.



22 TCM cartridge (top) compared to 9x19mm (bottom).





22 TCM penetrates mild 3/16" steel plate easily, while 9mm ball does not.



22 TCM averaged 14 inches of penetration in ballistic gelatin.



22 TCM 40-grain hollowpoint bullet recovered from ballistic gel.