The Rock Island Armory TCM TAC Ultra FS HC is the latest offering in the Rock Island’s double stack .22 TCM series. It comes loaded with all the features you expect in a high end competition 1911.
Rock Island Armory (RIA) is a company based out of Pahrump, Nevada, and is known for making some of the finest 1911s for the money. Their pistols are manufactured in the Philippines using high quality materials, which are held to even higher quality control standards. Over the years, RIA has earned itself a well-deserved place among the top 1911 manufacturers in the world for their long track record of offering some of the most solid, well-built 1911s that are friendly to almost all budgets. All RIA pistols are constructed of 4140 ordnance steel, which is known to strike the balance of being strong and relatively inexpensive. In fact, 4140 is a popular metal for making barrels, and the whole pistol is made with this. Every pistol they produce is hand-fitted to ensure tight, but functional tolerances out of the box. You can tell by how smooth the slide is that a person put this together by hand with pride and commitment to delivering the best product, for a price that makes other manufacturers sweat. You would be hard pressed to find a deal like this, even on a used 1911 of the same quality. It comes with two double stack mags, made by Mec-Gar, with a capacity of 17+1 that can be used for 9mm and 22 TCM interchangeably, and a 9mm conversion Barrel and recoil spring (also test-fired at the factory). All of this is secured in a black, lockable case with the RIA logo presented on the front.
To explain the .22 TCM, first understand that Armscor is ISO 9001 certified for ammunition production, which is done in the USA. To get this certification, they had to prove that they maintain strict compliance with any specific standard like SAAMI, CIP, etc. This requires them to maintain very strict QC standards for velocities, pressures, and consistency of every last round manufactured. The .22 TCM, to put it simply, is an extended 9mm casing, necked-down to accommodate a 40 grain(39 grain for the 22 TCM 9R) .22 hollowpoint that more resembles a semi jacketed hollowpoint. This caliber was originally designed to rival the 5.7 in armor penetrating capability, yet these rounds don’t quite have that capability in the current loading. Ever since its introduction to the civilian market in 2013, it has only been available in a hollowpoint format. The 40 grain bullet is advertised to leave this 5” barrel at around 1900FPS. Its 39 grain brother is advertised to reach velocities around 2000FPS from a 5” barrel. Now this ammo is going to be about $15/box at the least, so it isn’t quite a cheap plinker, and Armscor is the sole maker of these rounds. Now with that in mind, it is a good price for being so cool and mesmerizing to shoot. The first time you shoot the .22 TCM out of a pistol, you will feel like you own a hand held dragon. The fireball is ridiculous and is accompanied by a boom that will make you swear it’s destroying the pistol with every shot. And every shot is like the last, without a noticeable change in sound or performance. You won’t want to stop shooting after two mags. Now I cannot speak for the .22 TCM 9R, because I never shot it, nor was I able to locate any.
Being a Double stack 1911, this pistol comes in at 3lbs empty. You wouldn’t guess it just by handling it, though, due in large part to the excellent balance. It was not difficult for me to get an immediate and proper grip, even with my smallish hands. The texture of the thin G10 grips is also a nice touch. It is a natural pointer, even in spite of its obvious “big bertha” grip. I managed to squeeze 19 rounds in the mags, making it a 19+1 9mm/.22 TCM 1911 that stands at about the same height as a Glock17 (5.5”). I did have an issue with the safety on the right hand side. I tend to get a very greedy and high grip on my 1911s and the wide safety on the right side just dug into my hand and pounded my knuckle on every shot, which did affect my shooting quite a bit. For this reason, I have never been a fan of ambi safeties. The remedy in this situation would be to contact Armscor for a single sided safety.
The front sight being very bright red helps you pick up its’ belligerent presence in your peripherals very quickly. This allows you to let off your shot right when you see that this brightly colored dot, whatever the color, is on your target. This also makes it perfect if your shooting suffers due to poor eyesight. This is why fiber optic sights are such a hit among shooters throughout the shooting sports. It is a clear win-win for all parties involved. The rear sight is an RSA adjustable sight, which means you can dial in your point of impact wherever you darn well please.
The trigger is light and crisp (4lb 5.9oz avg. from 5 pulls from a Lyman digital gauge) with room for improvement with strategic oiling and some trigger time. It comes with an overtravel adjustment screw so you can pick your preferred distance of travel after the shot breaks.
The magwell on this pistol gives it that added “race gun” look and feeling of being overbuilt. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite speed up my reloads, enough to make a noticeable difference. But this is a competition race gun and the magwell suits it well for that purpose. I will say that if I practiced more on my reloads with this setup, I’d probably notice a difference. With that said, these magazines will not shoot out of the gun like other pistols we are used to. It will need to use gravity and let them fall out or they will need to be pulled out. But you can fix this and adjust to it by incorporating a “flick of the wrist” to get it to eject. This is just simply using inertia to fling the mag out. but it isn’t always reliable.
The light recoil and instant feedback of the 9mm was a pleasant surprise. It feels like the slide briefly moves back a short way and then is shoved back forward. The pistol does recoil of course, and that is obvious if you limp wrist it. But if you hold it right, the sights will snap right back on target. The best part of shooting the .22 TCM is that its felt recoil is like what you’d probably expect if you shot a +P+ .22 lr. Now I can only speak of the felt recoil because I never saw the pistol not go back on target, even with a loose grip. Let’s just say that when I shot this pistol for the first time with the .22 TCM barrel in it, I felt the boom and the recoil barely registered. I checked the pistol because I thought it may have malfunctioned. My brain couldn’t make sense of how there was all that flash and boom, yet there was little feedback on the recoil. It’s like if you step on the gas while your car is in neutral. You’ll find yourself anticipating the rearward jolt and leaning forward, while all you get is the rumble of the engine revving up.
This pistol is a blast to shoot. But not JUST because of the huge fireball you get every time you pull the trigger. I personally don’t see 22 TCM as being a good home defense or carry caliber after seeing some third party testing. I opt for more penetration than this seems to offer, not to mention the boom and dramatic flash is a bit much for that role. Though at range, I would say this round would be a natural competitor at long distance pistol shooting competition. The FMJ loading, if Armscor ever does release it, would probably be a good loading for animal defense. But at this point, it just seems like this caliber is going to be sitting in the same class as other novelty rounds that are fun for me to crank off for fun. But then again, you do get a 9mm barrel that comes with it…FOR FREE! Overall, I must applaud RIA for making such an amazing pistol and combining all these desired features, without the anticipated loss of range funds in the process. This pistol, with all these features, has a mouth-watering MSRP of $960.
Check out my short shooting review. Be sure to put any questions or requests you have in the comments section below and we will get back to you.
Photo courtesy of Armscor/Rock Island