The Rock Island Armory 22 TCM Combo – The 1911 Revised
The 1911 is an ancient weapon, at least by modern standards. It’s one of those guns people just love, and the market reacts to what the people love. 1911s are still produced in massive numbers and they come in almost any configuration you could want. A little company called Rock Island Armory produces tons of different 1911s at excellent prices. They’ve also been an innovative company in the 1911 world and produce a number of 2011 double stack designs, and they are even producing their own custom caliber called the 22 TCM. I got my hands on what is likely the most innovative 1911 on the market. It’s called the TCM TAC Ultra FS.
The TCM TAC Ultra FS is a double stack 1911 chambered in 22 TCM. The thing with new cartridges is when they fail they fail hard. Finding ammo can be downright impossible and many a good gun are now bricks due to the ammo no longer being produced. Smart companies will make the gun cross-compatible with a more popular caliber and that’s exactly what RIA did. The TCM TAC Ultra FS is also chambered in 9mm.
With a quick swap of both a barrel and recoil spring, we now have a 9mm double stack 1911. This gun comes as a combo kit so you get two cartridges off the bat. Since there are two cartridges we’ll review the gun almost as if it was two guns. TCM TAC Ultra FS is a bit long-winded so let’s call it the TCM.
The 1911 frame ergonomics don’t change between calibers so we can knock that out now. This gun is a double stack 1911 that puts a lot of focus into the gun’s ergonomics. The grip is somewhat wide, wider than a typical double-stack 9mm handgun. However, it’s still quite comfortable in my hands.
The 1911 grip angle is always outstanding and makes the gun point very naturally and fills the hand comfortably. The TCM TAC comes with a full-length rail, as well as front and rear serrations. The TCM also sports an ambidextrous safety, an extended beavertail, and skeletonized hammer and trigger. It’s topped off with G10 grips as well.
The front and rear of the grip are checkered as well to provide a tight and form-fitting grip. This gun isn’t going anywhere once you have a proper grip on it.
The 22 TCM
The 22 TCM is an interesting cartridge. It’s a 22 caliber projectile placed on top of a 5.56 NATO case that’s shortened to about the same length of a 38 super cartridge. It’s a bottleneck cartridge that sends a 40-grain projectile screaming forward at over 2,000 FPS from a 5-inch barrel. That’s remarkably fast for a handgun caliber. The rounds only come in a soft point design and I’d imagine a standard FMJ would go through a lot of level 2 and maybe even level 3 soft armor with relative ease.
17 of these fit in the 1911’s magazine this gives you a lot of lead to throw downrange. Price wise 22 TCM is not expensive, but it’s not cheap either. It’s roughly 20 bucks a box of 50. It’s typically about the same price as plinking 10mm ammo.
The 22 TCM is a very fun cartridge that can be confusing at time. From a 5 inch barrel, I am getting an explosive amount of muzzle blast. About a foot in length and width. On top of that, it’s incredibly loud. I typically associate loud guns and massive muzzle blast with heavy recoil, but that’s the odd thing. There is basically no recoil.
It’s incredibly soft shoot and almost recoil free. It really is shocking to see that much thunder and flash and then only feel something akin to a 22 LR. The 22 TCM is also very accurate and the gun comes with adjustable sights that make it easy to dial the gun in. The front sight is also a high visibility model that’s quick and easy to pick up.
It’s incredibly easy to produce very small groups at longer ranges. The 1911 platform is easy to shoot accurately and the single-action trigger is a major contributor to this gun’s accuracy. I backed off all the way to 75 yards and hit man-sized targets consistently. Admittedly I was hitting low with a 20-yard zero but I was still hitting in paper plate-sized groups.
The purpose of the 22 TCM is a bit muddy. The gun and caliber would be well suited for hunting coyotes and other small varmints. It would produce a very small hole in these animals and save both their coat and their meat. It’s a fun round and well suited for long-range shooting relative to a handgun.
It’s Not All Perfect
Reliability seems to be the biggest issue. The 22 TCM cartridges would occasionally get stuck in the chamber and fail to extract. To remove them I have to hammer them out with a cleaning rod and a heavy object down the barrel. I’m not sure if this is a bad batch of ammo or the gun, but it happened once or twice per magazine over 300 rounds of 22 TCM.
It’s frustrating because it’s not a simple fix, it takes time and effort before you can get back to shooting.
Converting the gun to 9mm doesn’t take much time or effort. Take the gun apart, drop in the barrel and recoil spring and you are good to go. The 9mm conversion utilizes the same 38 Super magazine and it still holds 17 rounds of 9mm. Oddly enough the inverse of the 22 TCM is true when it comes to noise and blast. The 9mm has very little muzzle blast and is just as loud as any other 9mm pistol.
However, it does recoil more than the 22 TCM, but it’s a 9mm in a 1911 so it’s a soft shooter no matter what. 9mm ammo is also much more affordable and well suited for plinking and self-defense. There are lots of different loads available for the 9mm and the 9mm is better suited for defensive use. With the 9mm barrel installed you have an excellent home defense weapon.
The 17 round magazine and the ability to add any light you need makes this a great home defense setup. Unlike the 22 TCM barrel, this set-up proves to be very reliable. I’ve yet to run into a single malfunction with the 9mm barrel and spring installed.
Oh, also between barrels you are going to have to move the rear sight around and that should maintain the gun’s accuracy. As you’d imagine a 147 grain 9mm flies differently than a 40 grain 22 TCM.
All in All
The TCM is a very well put together gun that is feature filled. Especially when you consider the price. The combo package is a must-have. You can’t build a gun like this from an 80 lower receiver. 22 TCM has been around for a few years now and it seems to be sticking around, but you never really know with new calibers. The 22 TCM is a cool caliber, but the 9mm is more affordable, more potent for self-defense use, and of course very common.
The TCM TAC Ultra FS Combo isn’t the only 22 TCM 1911, but it’s the top of the line model. It’s an awesome gun and a blast to shoot.