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Rock Island NEW TCM Premium FS Pistol

There are very few pistols that are considered an American icon. The 1873 Colt and 1911 are two of the most truly impactful firearms designs in modern history. And of those, the 1911 has seen American military service since 1911 and still used by select military units to this day. It’s no surprise it has been updated, modified, and adapted for a wide range of calibers. Rock Island Armory has adopted the 1911 for their proprietary caliber, the 22 TCM.

Both versions of the pistol are identical, excluding the black barrel chamber

The 22 TCM itself is formidable. Its closest comparable cartridge is the 5.7×28. Each has their own benefits, but the 22 TCM tends to take a slight lead when it comes to penetration with a 40-grain projectile during independent tests. But that’s where the similarities end. 22 TCM is comparatively a cross between 9mm and 223 Remington. While designed from a cut down 223 Remington and necked to the appropriate diameter, the case head closely resembles a 9mm for easy extraction in a pistol, despite the longer overall case length.

What’s New

But enough about the caliber design and history. What about the actual pistol? Well, RIA is releasing a new, updated version of their TCM MS in 22 TCM within the ARMORSeries of firearms called the TCM FS. The original design was a huge success. The powerful cartridge mixed with low recoil in a 1911 means nearly every shooter, regardless of sensitivity to recoil, can efficiently manage the recoil to shoot accurately. Redesign of the TCM MS changes no ergonomics, function, or capacity. Internals of the slide, chamber, and barrel have been coated to ease extraction and cleaning. With a fast-flying caliber, like 22 TCM, the powder used requires fast ignition which can lead to excessive fouling a difficulty cleaning.

 In the Hand:

When comparing this model of 1911 to a standard 45 ACP, there are some significant differences worth mentioning. RIA designed this to be used with a double stack, single feed magazine. The magazine easily can accommodate 9mm and 22 TCM despite the 22 TCM being a couple hundredths of an inch longer. This all means two things: higher capacity and a larger grip. This isn’t a small difference either, compared to a typical single stack 45 ACP.

Slide serrations are deep, well defined, and sharp for excellent grip

What doesn’t change is the overall weight. 2.5 lbs (40 oz.) unloaded weight provides plenty for recoil mitigation. With such a small caliber pistol, despite the velocities, any recoil generated by the cartridge is significantly reduced even before taking the weight of the pistol into account. Firing both variants of the TCM-22 felt like a kitten or pet load. Each one takes a standard double stack 9mm 1911 magazine; however, the older model had a much lighter spring than the newer model.

Magazines can be swapped between the two pistols. While the older model had a 22TCM specific magazine with lighter spring, the newer FS model had a marked standard double stack 9mm magazine.

But let’s take a closer look at each version of the TCM-22. We had both the original TCM and the new TCM-22. Visually. The only noticeable change between the two is the black barrel chamber. The original model is uncoated and stands in contrast against the black slide. However, the new model has a darkened barrel, presumably the coating. When utilizing each, there is a subtle but noticeable difference between the slide motion between these two models, especially when lightly fouled.

After 100 rounds in each pistol, the new version showed less resistance with slide movement. Less ‘gritty’. While the older model still functioned flawlessly, there was a noticeable change in the smoothness of the action. This isn’t anything to be concerned about with the older model, just a slight improvement on the new. In addition, cleaning the newer production pistol was very easy and really required no solvent cleaners or scrubbing.

One of my favorite parts of each of these guns is the grips. While there are some changes because of machinery wear, they both held well with defined ridges and valleys to hold the hand firmly in place. They do not produce any hot spots in the hand so even the softest hands can shoot in comfort. With or without gloves, the pistol holds well with exceptional balance.

The grips differ slightly between the old vs. new, but can be attributed to machinery wear. Both offer excellent retention and ergonomics.

On the Range

I must preface this by stating I know I am not the best pistol shot, but I am a consistent pistol shot. Taking that into consideration, neither pistol performed as well as I had hoped it might. With a small 224 40 grain projectile moving as quickly as the TCM22, there might be some explanation as to potential loss of accuracy. This isn’t a massive amount of recoil to reset from, nor is there a usability issue for someone familiar with the 1911.

First struggles became evident with the rear sight on the slide. It has a high range of adjustment for elevation and sets into standard dovetails. Solid, strong, springy, and black. Very black. Getting a consistent sight picture was a bit difficult with the slotted and enlarged rear right. The front has a fixed fiber optic sight, which is easy to pick up visually. However, the rear sight, having no dot or notch guide, was an issue for me. While some prefer having it that way, it was probably my least favorite, part of each pistol.

A highly adjustable, but plain, rear sight allows for easy windage adjustment.

Firing into reactive steel targets was quick and easy at closer range. When reaching out past 10 yards rounds didn’t always seem to find their place even with consistent aiming. Passing the pistol to a competitive shooter, the groups closed but the outcome was the same. The TCM22 caliber, in this pistol, likes to have fliers. Perhaps, it will take some more time and practice to get it just right but unfortunately ammo is scarce. Regardless, the flared magwell, solid construction, and well-defined serrations really make the shooting experience enjoyable and efficient!


Realistically, with proper use and training accuracy can be improved. The only major drawback is the availability of ammunition. There is only one source for purchasing factory loaded 22TCM; RIA/Armscor itself. It is possible to reload the ammunition at home and utilize a wide range of projectiles instead of only the soft point RIA/Armscor carries. With a lack of load data, it’s not easy to find the perfect fit for every shooter.


22TCM is a unique and relatively new cartridge. Somewhere between the 22 Hornet and 5.7, the 22TCM has its place. The new TCM Premium FS makes cleanup easier, and fouling becomes a minimum. Smooth action, low recoil, and familiar ergonomics lead to a firearm that can be used by practically everyone. There’s no problem teaching a young man or young woman how to shoot the TCM FS. While my experience with accuracy wasn’t worth writing home about, that can be attributed to personal experience and training as well as a wildly powerful cartridge for the size. As velocity increases, so can the group sizes.

There is no doubt that Rock Island Armory is producing an excellently constructed firearm. They always have. With a new coating promoting clean and smooth use, there is little to go wrong. The TCM Premium FS comes with an MSRP of $949 while the standard FS and older MS is $749. While it’s an investment, it’s a unique and reliable investment well suited for various types and sizes of shooters.

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