Photos by Michael Anschuetz
Testing the new Taurus TX22 left me speechless. Those of you who may have a bad taste in your mouth for Taurus products shouldn’t try to predict the fate of this rimfire by stereotyping the brand. If you’re a skeptic of print and only think that YouTube provides more honest reviews, allow me to encourage you to watch David Nash, a rising YouTube star better known as “22plinkster.” Guns & Ammo’s staff also tested two TX22 samples for 30 days and everyone who shot it said the same thing: “This pistol deserves an open mind.”
The TX22 is a full-size, polymer-frame, blowback-operated and striker-fired semiautomatic. Its primary competitors include the Beretta U22 Neos ($325); the new Kel-Tec CP33 ($475); the hammer-fired Ruger SR22 ($440); the Smith & Wesson M&P22 ($419) and M&P22 Compact ($390); and Walther’s P22 ($320). With exception of the CP33, which has a 33-round magazine and the S&W M&P22 which features a 12-rounder, all of the other mentioned models come with a 10-round magazine. The TX22 ($350) comes with two, 16-round magazines in case you’d like to start noting comparisons. (You may also note that its price has the TX22 near the bottom of the list, so it could be a great bang for your buck.)
Get a Grip
The frame is molded for the human hand, one that’s sized medium to extra-large. Taurus released a statement that the grip “was crafted over a two-year period to ensure optimal wrist alignment, control and overall conformity to almost all hand sizes.” I can believe it.
The grip frame features an impressive texture that wraps around its circumference and measures 6 inches around the widest points. Slightly smaller than the average double-stack 9mm pistol, it’s very similar to an HK VP9 grip. The texture isn’t like stippling or cubits either. It feels more like worn sandpaper.
I can agree with Taurus that the grip contours seem sculpted. A finger ridge protrudes slightly below where the middle finger goes, and the backstrap arches prominently to fill the palm of the hand then curves in to accentuate the benefits of a beavertail that doesn’t extend beyond the back of the slide. There’s a high cut at the back of the triggerguard, a trait of modern pistols that encourages a high grip in relation to the bore’s center axis.
The magazine release is reversible. It’s obvious that care was taken in designing the grip around this button because the lines of the triggerguard (on both sides of the TX22) flow up and into the grip to offer protection to the serrated stainless-steel release. Additionally, the magazine release button is only as tall as this line’s ledge. The line that goes above the trigger mirrors the same intent and guides the trigger finger and opposite thumb, preventing them from unintentionally engaging the slide-stop on the left side.
Unfortunately, the grip contours also make it difficult to access the thumb-activated safety lever, which appears on both sides of the gun. Though the lever is long, its location isn’t ideal for use in the way that thumb safeties positioned here typically are. Many shooters will have to break their grip to engage it. Interestingly, there is no red dot to indicate the pistol is ready to fire, but safe is with the lever in the up position.
During an interview with a Taurus representative, I was told that a TX22 version will also be offered without the manual safety lever. Even without a manual safety, there is still a passive striker block and an internal trigger safety. More on that later.
With a rimfire pistol that weighs 1 pound, 1.3 ounces, the pistol doesn’t move in the hands. Felt recoil is almost absent, especially when the weight of a suppressor is added at the muzzle.
At first glance, you wouldn’t know that the TX22 is suppressor ready because the muzzle is flush with the end of the slide. However, in the box is a threaded adapter for attaching one.
With an unloaded pistol, lock the slide to the rear and remove the protective thread cap by unscrewing it counter clockwise. If assistance is needed, there are four flats for wrenching on it. Screwing on the adapter gives the barrel an extended appearance, as well as offering 1/2x28 threads. There are also wrench flats on the adapter’s ring as well. We evaluated this feature using a Gemtech GM-22 (2.5 ounces) and a Surefire Ryder 22-S (5 ounces). Adding a suppressor enhances the experience and minimizes muzzle flip.
Function & Accuracy
If an affordable firearm doesn’t operate predictably and reliably, then it’s just cheap. Guns & Ammo’s Special Interest Publication’s (SIP) editor, David Faubion, was first turned on to the TX22 after shooting a couple hundred rounds of Aguila, CCI and Remington. “There were no malfunctions, no issues,” he reported, “which is surprising for any new rimfire since ammunition quality varies.” The same results were experienced with a second pistol used while filming a segment for Guns & Ammo TV.
For this review, I endured several hours in zero-degree weather and fired 500 rounds, the sum of two 50-round boxes of five different loads. There were no malfunctions, and no lubricant was involved. The pistol just ran.
The TX22 also shot accurately. From 25 yards the average five-shot group size for all loads was 2.74 inches.
One group stood out from the rest. Using CCI’s new 22-Clean featuring a red polymer-coated 40-grain projectile, a single cluster measured an unbelievable .94 inch. (The stars aligned.) Remember, this came from a 4-inch barrel aimed with a set of three-dot polymer sights. Taurus nailed the tolerances.
The rear sight is low profile and adjustable. No adjustment had to be made on our test pistols, but I noticed that my sample’s had already been adjusted to the far left. That said, it shot point of aim from a sandbag rest at 25 yards with high-velocity loads. CCI’s Clean-22 Sub-Sonic load with blue polymer-coated projectile grouped 2 inches low.
If you want this pistol as a practical .22 trainer due to its capacity, striker-fire trigger and similar proportions to a defensive polymer handgun, then you can exchange the sights for several TruGlo tritium-powered fiber optic sights used by the Taurus G2 series.
Meet Jason Pittman
The trigger is an achievement, so much so that Taurus is giving credit in name: Taurus Pittman Trigger System (PTS). Designed by engineer Jason Pittman, describing it starts with the trigger safety. Though it visibly lacks the dingus safety lever that’s often found in the shoe of many striker-fired pistols, there’s still a hidden safety in the trigger’s design. This means that your finger has one continuous surface to contact, which won’t be irritating when you’re shooting through volumes of .22LR ammo.
“A traditional striker-fire design has the trigger bar contacting the striker,” said Pittman. “This means that the striker spring will influence the trigger pull weight. A rimfire cartridge actually requires a lot of energy to set off the round and this could result in a heavy, mushy trigger. To break the connection between striker energy and trigger pull weight, I incorporated a design that is common in bolt-action rifles. The striker is fully energized when ready to fire. The sear simply prevents the striker from being released. To release the sear, we have a rotating sear trip that the trigger bar contacts."
To fire the TX22, there are three trigger stages. The first stage is the rotation of the trigger shoe to release the trigger safety. The second stage is used to raise the striker block. (Most of the trigger movement is found in this stage.) The last stage is when the trigger bar pushes the sear, which releases the striker. This is a short stage defined by a pronounced wall. The trigger pull is around 3 pounds until you hit the third stage where it jumps to 5 pounds. Once the striker is released and the slide cycles, the trigger only needs to get in front of the sear to reset. This allows you to burn down targets without tripping on your split times.
Most of the parts your hand touches on the TX22, including the manual safety lever, magazine release and takedown crossbar, are stainless steel given a Melonite finish. The breech block is left in its natural stainless-steel finish and the steel barrel has a black oxide coating.
Disassembling the TX22 is easy, but it does require that you pull and release the trigger first. Be certain that no ammunition is in the gun or present when taking the gun apart. Pinching and pulling a lock bar pulls down a lug within the central block. The central block is made of steel held to the frame by a roll pin. It has the job of holding the barrel with the inner rails, and has two outer rails that the slide rides on. This design is part of the pistol’s accuracy “secret sauce.” The action assembly at the rear includes the two rear rails.
The TX22 is light, weighing slightly more than a pound. Besides the inherent weight savings earned with a polymer frame, Taurus achieved incredible handling by machining the slide from 7075 aluminum anodized in matte black. Worth noting are the front and rear slide serrations and the angled cuts at the top-front of the slide are a similar treatment as a CZ P-10C and SIG Sauer P320 series of pistols.
The TX22 features a right-side ejection port, unlike most of its rivals that feature top ejection. This means that the internals such as the ejector, extractor, transfer bar, striker block and striker have more design fundamentals in common with striker-fired centerfires than other .22 semiauto pistols.
Feeding the TX22 16 rounds of .22LR is accomplished with a double-stack arrangement. A stout spring drives the follower at the front, while several guides ensure the rounds go up. Dimensionally, this magazine is similar to that of one used in a tall, single-stack 9mm. There are two round tabs that you pinch to pull down the follower when loading. However, the magazine spring is so strong that this becomes a challenge when loading more than a few rounds. If you pull it down too far, the rounds can rotate directions, which requires you to unload it and try again. As Nash noted during his YouTube review of the TX22, it’s easier to load this magazine as you would a centerfire mag by pushing one round on top of another.
The preferred way to load is with the plastic loader tool supplied with the TX22. It’s well made and even has serrations for your thumb at the top, which is a detail I’ve not seen on another loading device. This loading tool makes quick and easy work in loading each magazine to capacity.
More Than A Plinker
Shooting the TX22 is a joy as it invites you to keep shooting. It feels like a full-size centerfire pistol, if it were not for its light weight and low recoil. It’s an absolute reliable tackdriver, too. If your sights are aligned, you’re going to hit what you’re aiming at. It responded even better in terms of accuracy when using more expensive supersonic .22LR loads.
The word “cheap” suggests that a pistol is of questionable quality, so it’s not the right descriptor for the TX22. “Affordable” is more like it because this pistol runs, and runs accurately. The TX22 is qualified as a legitimate and affordable training pistol that deserves strong consideration. I suppose it’s good for plinking, too.