Rock Island Armory Revolver Series
Even in 2020 when we are surrounded by more than a dozen different versions of polymer hi capacity pistols there is still a place the hearts and gun cabinets of many for a trust old wheel gun. The problem seems to be that the market for revolvers particularly in smaller calibers like .22LR , .38 Special & .357 Magnum has dried up or is left largely in two groups, the old and broke or the new and ridiculously expensive. The average Ruger or Smith & Wesson .22LR double action revolver will run you north of $600 easily. Thats where our pals at Rock Island Armory have stepped in and launched their new Revolver Series.
Calibers, Sizes , Specifications
The pistol that we were sent for our test and evaluation period was the AL22, a full size blued revolver that features a 4″ barrel and a 9 shot capacity. Even in spite of the recent shortages of .22 LR ammunition we agreed to break into our own stockpiles in order to give this new revolver a decent amount of range time. We only chose to run around 200 rounds through it but so far it’s delivered interesting results, but before we dig into that lets handle the basics of the AL22
Manufacturer: Rock Island Armory
Country of Origin: Czech Republic
Capacity: 9 Rounds
- .22 LR
- .22 Magnum
Dimensions & Notes :
- Overall Length: 9.57″
- Barrel Length: 4″
- Weight: 2.42 lbs
- Overall Height: 4.09″
- 4.36 lb Single Action Trigger Pull (5 shot average)
My initial impressions of the AL22 were mixed to some degree and I will explain why I phrase it that way. Before I received the pistol I was aware other more well known gun reviewers had some previous issues with RIA products but wanted to try them out for myself. What I found with my sample pistol was a very well built, heavy and reliable .22LR that i enjoyed very much. I’m not a paid shill since this pistol has to be returned it does me no good to lie about it’s qualities.
The pistol weighed in at a hefty 2.42 lbs which is note worthy for a .22 LR revolver but not if it was a .38 or a .357. This weight to me is comforting in any revolver and posed no issues to me but to some it might be a concern or an area to complain about. There are lighter revolvers on the market but none of them that I found were double action revolvers which makes the weight discussion rather invalid. The AL22 is clearly built on a larger frame most likely to accommodate the existence of it’s larger brothers chambered in .38 & .357 Magnum.
FIT & FINISH
The fit and finish was slightly better than what I had expected from RIA based on previous models I have reviewed. A previous .22TCM semi automatic I had reviewed featured a more utilitarian rougher finish than the AL22, the new finish is perfect for this pistol. This finish sports a nice even bluing that showed no imperfections or light spots. All the markings were even and showed consistency in their engraving process. Thats where I noticed the “Made in Czech Republic” markings which we will address further in the article.
This is one area that completely took me by surprise in a good way. We all know any double action pull on a revolver is usually 10+ lbs which is higher than my Lyman digital gauge is able to capture. It was no surprise to me when this was the case with the Rock Island Armory AL22. HOWEVER when we switched to single action that is where I saw the surprise. Over a 5 shot spread the AL22 averaged 4.36 lbs, which was on average 1.3 lbs lighter than my Smith & Wesson Model 66. I realize one is a .357 the other is a .22 LR but they are roughly the same size, weight and both revolvers so initially I was curious how the affordable AL22 stacked up against the full price Model 66.
As nice as the trigger is there is one thing on it that I would change. The texturing on the face of the trigger exists as shown in the below photo is rather light. I would like to see the grooving a little more pronounced, but in reality this is a minor complaint on my end but I felt I should mention it.
MADE IN CZECH REPUBLIC ?
This one line on the pistol intrigued me so I began to ask questions of my contact at Rock Island Armory on who, what , where and how this pistol ended up being produced in the Czech Republic. What I found out was that RIA works with Alfa-Proj a manufacturer in the city of Brno to produce and import the pistols Alfa-Proj has been in existence since 1993 and is no stranger to making both revolvers and automatics. What I also learned is that Rock Island Armory uses Alfa-Proj to produce their full line of revolvers and might be expanding into the .44 Magnum market in a few years, so that means another affordable pistol not named Taurus in the .44 magnum world.
SIGHTS & GRIPS
As much as I like this pistol for its price, build quality and simplicity there is one thing that I don’t like about it that can easily be remedied by the end user and that is the grips. The pistol comes with a set of rubber grips that are covered in small stippled dots which is comfortable in the hand but still found a way to be slippery under certain conditions. Here in Alaska most of the time at the range our guns become cold, wet or both. In these conditions I found the factory grip to be somewhat more slippery than I expected.
This grip situation is not a lost cause as RIA’s parent company Armscor has a growing web site to support the new line of imported revolvers (www.advancedtactical.com) and according to the staff I spoke with the site is ever evolving and soon they will feature G10 grips for the entire line of RIA revolvers. It’s always nice to see companies that are proactive rather than reactive to the needs of their customers.
SIGHTS & RANGE TIME
The sights on the Rock Island Armory AL22 where functional and the high viability orange accent on the front helped greatly in lower lights in terms of target acquisition. As shown in our photo the top of the sight and the barrel sports some texturing which keeps with the aesthetics of the gun and adds to the curb appeal but lacks function. It’s a pleasant detail on a pleasant gun. The rear sight on the AL22 featured a simple noticed style without at dots or markings aside from some vertical ribs from the factory. It’s purpose is plain and uncomplicated which I can appreciate, simple works best for many.
Due to the great ammo shortage of 2020 we were only able to run 200 rounds of Federal bulk pack 40 grain ammunition through the Rock Island Armory AL22 for testing. I can proudly say that we had zero firearms related issues with our testing session and at 10 yards all of our fired rounds struck our time tested Defense Targets RST steel target. The trigger pull on both single action and double action was consistent and repeatable during our session. We noticed no change in the single action trigger pull measurements according to the Lyman gauge across our 5 shot spreads, this was also expected but recorded.
FINDINGS & THOUGHTS
I know some people might have heard bad things about the Rock Island Armory firearms over the years but I can say with 100% certainty that the T&E guns I have received from them have been amazing in terms of build quality, accuracy and reliability. The staff I have interacted with have been professional, courteous and responded to all of my questions no matter how bizarre they were. That level of dedication shows to the end user of their products as well.
Is the Rock Island Armory AL22 a revolver I would purchase if I was in the market for a double action .22LR revolver, I would have to say that depending on the MSRP and market price when Yes, with a caveat attached. At the time of this article I can’t tell you the MSRP because I honestly haven’t been told yet. These pistols are new to the market and I fully expect RIA to adjust their pricing and accessories as these pistols get into the market. In a much shorter response YES , I would take a hard look at these if you are in the market for a .22 LR and don’t want to spend $600-800 for other brands.
I want to take a moment to thank Rock Island Armory and Armscor for helping us with this review and allowing us to test and evaluate your products. Its a big thing for any manufacturer to allow reviewers like our site to get a first look at new products before they hit a wider market. Thank you again.
Merry Christmas 2020 to all our readers and lets hope 2021 is better. Remember stay active, and be involved with the 2nd Amendment struggles we are sure to face over the next 4 years.