There is quite a bit of obscurity regarding the .22 TCM cartridge, when it came out, what you can use it for, what are the ballistics of an Armscor .22 TCM, etc. It is a relatively new cartridge being only a few years old and is Armscor’s answer to FN’s 5.7X28. About one month ago, I was sent a Rock Island Armory 1911 combo, capable of shooting both .22 TCM and 9mm with nothing more than the swap of a barrel and spring.
I thought that, in anticipation of that .22 caliber handgun review, which is in the works, I’d share some facts about this little cartridge, so we’re all on the same page when I publish that review.
.22 TCM’s lineage:
This quick little 22 handgun cartridge is essentially a shortened down .223 case. How short? Well, it’s about as tall as a .45 ACP with similar casing dimensions as a 9mm parabellum. Those similar casing dimensions allow for the .22 TCM cartridge and the 9mm Luger to use the same magazines when feeding your hungry 1911.
I do want to say here, that while they both use the same mags, the barrel and spring are totally different, for hopefully obvious reasons.
Many folks falsely assume that this cartridge is a necked down 9X19. While the dimensions are similar, it’s actually a shortened, necked down .223 Remington cartridge. As you can see from the above photo, the 9mm and the .22 TCM are about the same height with the 22 cal ammo edging it out just slightly.
What does TCM mean?
Glad you asked. So this guy named Fred Craig (the “C” in TCM) decided that he wanted to design a new pistol cartridge. So, he put his brain to work and came up with this shortened, necked down .22 cal ammo that’s similar in case-size to many handgun rounds. Armscor got wind of what he was doing, wanted in, and that’s where the “T” comes from: The Armscor company president, Mr. Tuason.
That just leaves us with the “M” in the name. This should be obvious, but in case it isn’t, it stands for micro-magnum. This little sucker is cruising at speeds in the neighborhood of 2,000 FPS at the muzzle. For reference, the average 9mm parabellum travels between 1,100 and 1,200 FPS at the muzzle.
How does it shoot:
This was the surprising part for me the first time I shot one, because I wasn’t expecting the result. While felt recoil was set at a minimum, the muzzle blast was effing atrocious for a 22 handgun. To say it was loud is an understatement and the poor sap next to me about jumped out of her britches on the first shot. But as far as having a range toy is concerned, having the ability to shoot balls of flame from your 22 cal pistol just makes things more interesting from my own point of view.
That being said, if you can get used to the muzzle blast, and I assume you’re here because this stuff excites you, it is quite pleasant to shoot, considering the felt-recoil is minimal allowing for quick target re-acquisition. Overall, besides the Coonan Classic chambered in .357 Magnum, this is some of the most fun I’ve had in a 1911 style gun. And I have to admit that I am a 1911 fan. I can’t wait to bring this .22 handgun back to the range again, and plan on smiling with it the whole time.
What is the .22 TCM good for?
This is potentially the most interesting part of this article because I’m sure I’m about to confuse some of you. For certain people, the Rock Island .22 TCM guns will be a decent self-defense tool. Before you lose it on me for suggesting a 22 handgun for SD, hear me out.
There is a relatively large population of folks who are unable to pull the slide back on guns with a stouter recoil spring. Because the Second Amendment also applies to them, they, too, have the right to self-defense.
Once these poor people learn that they cannot pull a slide properly to the rear, they scour the WEB or the local gun-store for advice. What are they told? To get a revolver with a long, heavy DAO trigger that gets rid of the slide, altogether. Is that the best advice for someone who has hands that are so weak that they can’t pull back the slide on a semi-auto?
Is it likely that their hands are also weak enough that they cannot correctly (and accurately) pull a long, heavy double action only trigger? I’d say the chances are good that they cannot. Especially when you consider that many of these revolvers kick like a mule with their small frame.
Now, I would personally not use 22 cal pistols in self-defense, but if I had weaker hands that were unable to pull back the slide on a semi-automatic pistol or if I was tremendously recoil resistant, I would feel comfortable enough using a gun chambered in .22 TCM (or 22 magnum) for self-defense. Being that the .22 TCM doesn’t recoil that hard, its spring is lighter and easier to manipulate.
On that Rock Island .22 TCM 1911, I can pull back the slide with one finger. That’s how easy it is. Of course, I can only do it with one finger when the hammer is cocked, but that still shows how light of a spring that 22 cal pistol uses.
Therefore, because it’s so light, I call this a great self-defense option for some people. After all, the gun you’ve got on you is better than the one you’ve got in your sock drawer.
Would it be my first choice since I am quite capable of handling recoil and can certainly pull back a slide with the man-mitts I call hands? No, not likely. However, this cartridge moves at 2,000 feet per second out of the Rock Island Armory 1911 and transfers about 350 lb.ft of energy to your target.
I don’t have any testing data on it, but this lady does a great job showing off some ballistics gel testing, and the first half of the wound channel is fearsome: