“Looks like a gun, performs like a flamethrower”
RIA’s tagline: ‘Looks like a gun, performs like a flamethrower’ may have the uninitiated scratching their heads, but let me assure you, upon firing this little cutie, there was a huge amount of muzzle flash and blast (loud report) but very little perceived recoil. Basically it behaved like a little fire-breathing dragon that knows how to sit, stay and lie down! So nice, in fact, that my petite wife of 31 years wasn’t discouraged one bit by the “sturm und drang”; in fact, she was able to hit quite well with it and happily grabbed the box of ammo and charged more magazines for herself!
I’ve owned and trained with many 1911’s over the years in competition as well as for defensive carry, and without fail, the genius and durability of John Browning’s original design shines through. Rock Island Armory’s TCM Series 1911 is no exception.
Once you make friends with this particular fire breathing dragon, you’ll never want to put it down…the 22 TCM barreled 1911 is fun to shoot!
What’s a 22 TCM?
So what’s up with that “meteoric” .22 TCM cartridge? It’s a non-SAAMI caliber; a proprietary bottle-necked cartridge created from shortened .223 Remington brass. Made only by Armscor, the parent company of Rock Island Armory. Reportedly, there’s a up-coming 22 TCM bolt action in the works as well. TCM stands for Tuason Craig Micromagnum a cartridge developed by Fred Craig and Rock Island Armory. The 22 TCM case is a shortened, necked down .223 case and loaded to the overall cartridge length so that it’s approximately the same overall length as the .38 Super cartridge.
The 22 TCM delivers almost 2000 fps (actual 1993 fps) from the 5″ barreled RIA 1911 platform pistol and offers light recoil with no sacrifice in muzzle energy and penetrating impact abilities. Ammo is readily available: Cabela’s sells 50 rounds for $25.99. And if all that wasn’t exciting enough, the TCM series 1911 includes a drop-in 9mm barrel and appropriate recoil spring adding versatility and variety to one firearm.
Both the 22 TCM and 9mm barrels have integral ramps and offer fully supported chambers. The 9mm cartridge is a popular defensive pistol cartridge and John Browning’s 1911 platform pistol remains a proven and popular design for more than 100 years. The 22 TCM would probably make a dandy small game cartridge, but make sure that you wear your hearing protection.
It’s a simple matter to change between the two cartridges; swapping the barrels and their respective recoil springs.
Comparing the pound ratings of the recoil springs gives some clue as to the “tameness” of the 22 TCM. The 22 TCM requires a 7 lb. recoil spring while the 9mm requires a 12 lb. spring. As a comparison, a standard 1911 pistol chambered in .45 ACP requires a 16 lb rated recoil spring in order to properly function with standard pressure ammunition.
The pistol came with two 10-round capacity magazines that worked flawlessly with both the 22 TCM and 9mm cartridges. The magazines have removable polymer floor plates with extended bodies which allow for 10 cartridges to be charged into the magazines for a total 11-round capacity. A standard Colt manufactured .38 Super magazine that I have performed without a hiccough when charged with either 22 TCM and 9mm rounds.
My RIA 22 TCM 1911 came factory “fully loaded” with a number of useful and sought after options: ambidextrous thumb safety, G10 grips by VZ Grip (the texture kinda looks like dragon scales!), Ed Brown type grip safety, slotted hammer, ambidextrous thumb safety, magazine well extension that “hooks” to the lower grip screw bushings and held inplace by the beautiful VZ grip panels, checkered steel flat main-spring housing, durable Parkerized finish (a personal favorite!) and a full-length Picatinny rail system which extended to the front of the slide.
Unfortunately, because of the rail length, none of my large assortment of 1911 holsters would accommodate the rail, so I couldn’t do any holster work. I did appreciate the fully adjustable rear sight and a red fiber optic front sight. The rear sight blade sported the popular two dots. I personally do not care for such a “busy” sight picture so a black marker can easily mask the rear dots.
This 22 TCM 1911 pistol weighs in at 42.5 oz unloaded (with no magazine) which is a bit heavier than a standard, non-railed 1911 pistol which generally weighs in at 39 oz.
I fired 200 rounds of the supplied Armscor 22 TCM cartridge and had one “failure to extract”. It occurred in the first 50 rounds fired and never reoccurred thereafter. I fired over 800 rounds of various 9mm ammunition including 250 rounds of Armscor 9mm 115 grain FMJ plus MagTech 115 FMJ, CorBon’s flagship 115 grain JHP, Corbon’s all copper DPX 115 grain +P and their proprietary 100 grain Pow’RBall ammunition. On top of that, I fired Black Hills Ammunition 115 +P 115 JHP. All of this 9mm ammunition cycled and fired flawlessly through this RIA 1911 pistol!
Rock Island Armory builds a 1911 platform pistol that Browning himself would be proud of. In my experience as an instructor, not every maker’s 1911 is built to stand up to serious defensive handgun work, I’m pleased to note this Rock Island Armory 1911 would certainly “run the course”.
Price tag on the TCM 1911 with both barrels is usually less than $900.00. I have found them for sale locally in the $800.00 to $850.00 range. Rock Island Armory delivers a lot of pistol for the money!
The Rock Island Armory 1911 22 TCM proves once again how John Browning’s ergonomically elegant design is a winner in a cartridge he never would have dreamed would be fired from his 1911 pistol. Obviously, the interchangeable barrels extend the value and versatility of this particular firearm. The fast hard hitting 22 TCM cartridge would be excellent for small game and both my wife and I found it fun to shoot. The added value of the 9mm barrel extends the RIA 1911 usefulness as a light recoiling, accurate, reliable and durable small game hunting, IDPA competition or defensive carry pistol.
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