Educational Zone #174 – The .22 TCM Pistol

My friend Liem recently obtained a new pistol and he graciously invited me to test it with him. It is a Rock Island .22 TCM. TCM stands for Tuason Craig Micromagnum and it is a proprietary cartridge developed by Fred Craig and Rock Island Armory.


Some folks have mistakenly said it is a 9mm necked down to .22, but that is not correct. It is actually a .223 case, shortened and necked down to .22 with ballistics similar to the 5.7×28 FN cartridge.

It normally is loaded with a 40 grain JHP bullet in factory loads. Liem had some Armscor factory ammo.


Liem has also obtained reloading dies and has loaded some with a heavy load of WW 296 powder and 40 grain bullets.

One thing for sure…… Liem didn’t let us lose any brass, and was retrieving brass like it was made of gold.

Here’s the .22 TCM cartridge next to a normal 9mm pistol cartridge.


As you can see, the case is about the length of the 9mm before it is necked down to .22. That makes the total length about as long as a .45 ACP.

If you compare the bases of the cartridges, you will find that the .22 TCM is slightly smaller than the 9mm case head.


Estimated velocity ranges from1,850 to 2,100 fps out of a pistol barrel. That is pretty fast.

The pistol is pretty common looking for a 1911. But when you look at the barrel, you realize it is something different.


The magazines are similar to a .38 Super mag, and they are double stacked. They hold 17 + 1.


The pistol even comes with an extra 9mm barrel and spring so that you can shoot 9mm out of it if you want too. Doing so will, however, require you to re-set the sights.


The barrel for the .22 TCM is the tapered barrel type for solid lock up.


Well, it was time to shoot.

Liem started out and encouraged me to try to catch a picture of the muzzle flash, but even though I tried many times, I wasn’t able to catch it on camera. But it is impressive and has a fire-ball about a foot in diameter.


A few of impressions:

1. The muzzle flash would make you expect heavy recoil. But there is none. It is more like shooting a .22 than a 9mm.

2. It is very loud, but again, that doesn’t transfer into recoil.

3. The recoil spring is very light and makes charging the pistol seem almost less than a normal .22 LR pistol.

4. The lack of recoil makes accurate shooting easy.

5. The trigger was smooth and crisp.

Here is a group Liem shot at 8 yards.


Of course, I had to give it a try.


Here is my group.


We wanted to see how terminal performance looked, so we made another trip to the range to test the rounds against some water jugs.

Here’s Liem shooting them with the pistol, and I caught them as they exploded.


It blew the first 2 gallons up like they were loaded with explosive.


The bullet penetrated through two gallon jugs of water and stopped in the third jug. That adds up to around 16 inches of water, or about 8 inches of penetration in ballistics gelatin. That is short of the FBI minimum of 12 inches penetration. But the bullet expanded just like it was supposed too.


We decided to try a second shot and I caught them as he fired.


We got the same penetration as the first round and the same expansion. Here are the two fired bullets.


We agreed that even though it did not make the FBI minimum penetration standards, it would be a heck of a varmint round.


1. The pistol ran 100% with no problems whatsoever.

2. It is loud and has a big fireball, but almost no recoil.

3. The good sights, good trigger, and no recoil makes it an accurate pistol to shoot.

4. At 2,000+ fps, that 40 grain bullet sure busts up the gallon jugs well.

5. It’s fun to shoot stuff.

14 Comments on Educational Zone #174 – The .22 TCM Pistol

  1. I’ve got a .22 TCM as well and it’s actually my second one. My first one kept jamming due to the fact that the brass would he t stuck in the cylinder after firing and wouldn’t eject. Stuck to the point it would take a rod to push it out. It wouldn’t happen all the time but enough I wouldn’t classify it as reliable. I sent it back and actually got a different one, check numbers, and it does the exact same thing. I figure I must be doing something wrong, although I have no clue what, since I’ve had two of them and the both do the same thing. You’re like other people that absolutely love them. Thoughts?

  2. Had same problem with failure to eject. Was tild to try ammo marked as “Recision” .. made in Phillipines vs ammo marked USA which is manufactured here. The new ammo appears to work.

  3. It’s now recognized that there is little difference in stopping power between different handgun cartridges and that all of them are inferior to rifle cartridges. I wonder if the .22 TCM is fast enough to be more like a rifle than a handgun. Although penetration is insufficient, that could be fixed by redesigning the bullet.

  4. Purchased the rifle and am able to print 2MOA at 100 yards. Would love to see a heavier bullet around 50-75gr be manufactured. Right on with the loud report though.

    • Probably won’t see anything heavier for the foreseeable future. The guns are rifled 1 in 16″ so it would be unlikely that it would stabilize anything above 40- 45 grain. Besides this bullets “thing” is velocity so why slow it down. I’ve got dies on the way and I’m thinking lighter and faster. Maybe 27 grains at 2400fps

    • That’s an asinine statement as most rounds have different terminal results. Ask a triage surgeon. Secondly this article has it a bit wrong. This round penetrates 16″ of ballistics gel

  5. The statement that the penetration is insufficient is totally not true. Please check youtube for actual results.

    I can say from experience, after over 2000 rounds through my 22 TCM, I would and DO carry it as a personal protection weapon. Yep, it’s heavy, but there is max comfort in being able to apply 18 rounds, in rapid succession, accurately, with this superb hand-held, wireless device. I have NEVER had a single malfunction and have only ever experienced the legendary toughness and good manners of the 1911 platform.

    In fact, I have, unscientifically, attempted to determine the “stopping power” of this awesome little round. I have blasted everything from watermelons to car parts to sides of beef to boston butts, you name it, but ALL were dispatched with something akin to a hit from my AR rifle. I can tell you that the 22 TCM will penetrate a vehicle door and glass with ease. In fact, every watermelon, hit by the 22 TCM, EXPLODES, even better than being hit by my .223! I reduced a 6 pound boston butt to shreds in just three rounds. You just have to try it for yourself.

    In any event, in 2000 rounds, many, many in low light conditions, I have never, ever had the beautiful fire ring this gun puts out, have ANY effect, whatsoever. I can tell you that this round drops a wild hog like it was hit with a sledge hammer, never needing more than one round. In fact, I would actually be afraid to shoot a rabbit with it, unless I could make a head shot, if not, the remains would be too sloppy to be appetizing. OH! Did I mention that this fantastic little bullet easily defeats Level III body armor?


  6. .22TCM ,personal protection carry firearms or not

  7. Gene Gallaugher // August 24, 2016 at 10:39 am // Reply

    Make a “kit” for Ruger LC9s?????

  8. Can someone tell me if There Is a lighter handgun chambered for This round.Thanx

    • RIA is making the MAPP TCM9R now, which is lighter, though it is chambered in TCM9R which has a slightly shorter tip to accommodate feeding from converted 9mm. This is a Tanfoglio Witness Compact in Polymer so it comes in at 2.2 lbs.

  9. I too had the failure to eject problem with my first magazine. I took my TCM to my local gunsmith, who is very skilled, and he said he had dealt with this particular problem on TCM’s three times before. He knew just what to do. He tuned the extractor and polished the chamber and now it runs like a Swiss watch ever since. No ejection problems or any problems whatsoever after many many rounds. I take my TCM out in the woods and and destroy fruit and water bottles. It is very impressive to watch whatever it hits just explode! A 24 oz pop bottle refilled with water and capped will literally jump 10 feet in the air and land shredded. It’s almost scary!

  10. Rumble Strip // April 15, 2017 at 6:09 am // Reply

    I have been cutting down 55 gr8. Fmj. To about 47 gr8. Work well with 10 gr8 of H110.

  11. Interested in the 22tcm. In 1911 base model. Also seen the TCM polyurethane mode . Need to know if there is much difference in recoil. I mean obviously the heavier gun would have substantially less recoil. Im assuming about hal . But IMA bit of an amateur compared to some of you Olympians , on the target shooting. I would very much appreciate the feedback from a elder who carries his weight is wisdom ….
    Much appreciated

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