Rock Island Armory
, a name that is most often associated with the production of Colt’s 1911-style pistols, has a history that actually predates the pistol with which the brand is most closely associated.
In 1905, the firm of Squires, Bingham & Co, was established in the Philippines, and after changing hands a few times, the firm came under the ownership of Don Celso Tuason in 1941. Following World War II, Tuason’s company, then known as Squires Bingham Manufacturing Inc., became the first licensed manufacturer of firearms and ammunition in the Philippines.
In 1980, Squires Bingham, then under the control of Tuason’s sons, was renamed Arms Corporation of the Philippines, or Armscor. In 1985, the company acquired the Rock Island Armory brand and began selling Philippine-made 1911 pistols in the United States. Since that time the brand has become one of the leading manufacturers of 1911-style pistols, worldwide. In 2011, Armscor opened a new production facility located in Stevensville, Montana.
Currently owned by the third generation of the Tuason family, Armscor has extended their catalog to include a number of modern and innovative 1911 models. One of those is the new TAC Ultra FS Combo, a full-sized 1911 that ships with two separate barrels and recoil springs. One of those barrels is chambered in the ever-popular 9mm Luger. The other is chambered for a cartridge of Armscor’s own development — the hot .22 TCM. This means that for less than $900, you can get your hands on a tried by the ages, solidly-constructed 1911 handgun that will fire both rounds.
Meet the TCM
The 9mm Luger requires no introduction, but the .22 TCM may not be as familiar to all shooters. Based on a .223 Remington case, the .22 TCM is the brainchild of Fred Craig. Craig shortened the .223 case to 1.025 inches, added a shoulder, necked the cartridge down to .22, and adjusted the rim and extractor groove so that the new round would function in 9mm Luger magazines. The length of the .22 TCM from the base to the bottom of the shoulder measures almost exactly the same as the 9mm. It’s therefore possible to reliably run .22 TCM ammo in 9mm 1911 magazines without concern.
Craig loaded his new cartridge, which he initially dubbed the .22 Micromagnum, with 40-grain, jacketed-hollow-point (JHP) bullets. The cartridge is very potent, producing pressures of 40,000 pounds per square inch (psi) and generating velocities above 2,000 feet per second (fps) from a 5-inch barrel.
At the time of the .22 Micromagnum’s development, Craig was working with Armscor and the company’s president Martin Tuason was impressed with Craig’s new round. The name was changed to the .22 TCM (Tuason, Craig, Micromagnum) and Rock Island began chambering 1911 pistols for the new round.
The TAC Ultra FS 1911 comes with a Parkerized finish, front and rear slide serrations and G10 grips. There’s a post front sight with an orange, fiber-optic tube and the dovetailed, fully-adjustable steel rear sight features two white dots. The 4140 slide and frame are CNC machined and operation is unquestionably smooth right out of the box. The safety is ambidextrous, both the hammer and trigger are skeletonized and the extended beavertail allows for a high-grip on this bullet-hose.
Additionally, the TAC version comes with an accessory rail on the dust cover along with a checkered mainspring housing, vertical cuts on the front strap and the letters “TCM” cut into the right side of the slide. Overall weight of the pistol is just over 40 ounces. Height is 5¾ inches with a magazine installed, length is 8¾ inches and maximum width is just under 1½ inches.
Each TAC Ultra FS Combo ships with a ramped .22 TCM barrel and accompanying .22 TCM recoil spring installed, and the case also contains a ramped 9mm barrel with a heavier spring. The .22 TCM barrel is flared at the muzzle for a proper fit. If you’re familiar with field stripping 1911 pistols switching from .22 TCM to 9mm (and back again) is a simple and effortless process: strip the gun, swap out the .22 TCM barrel for the 9mm barrel, change springs and the operation is complete. Each of these pistols ships with two 10-round stainless-steel magazines.
With the .22 TCM barrel in place, the Rock Island TAC Ultra FS proved to be both accurate and fun to shoot, provided, that is, you have a lot of .22 TCM ammunition. That’s because the TCM is a low-recoiling round and with so little muzzle rise, it begs to be fired quickly. Muzzle blast is substantial but the .22 TCM is a pistol that even the most inexperienced or recoil-sensitive shooter can run effectively.
Armscor’s 40-grain load produced velocities that averaged just under 2,100 fps form the 5-inch barrel and the average five-shot group at 25 yards measured just over three inches. The Rock Island TAC Ultra FS benefits from a very good trigger that has a smooth take-up and broke at 4.3 pounds in my test gun.
After accuracy testing was complete, I ran the .22 TCM as quickly as possible through the rest of the 200 .22 TCM rounds. A round generating the velocities it does generates a great deal of heat, so I wanted to see how the pistol would function when the barrel was branding-iron hot. After dumping one magazine after another in rapid succession, the gun continued to work flawlessly as 200 went rounds came and went quickly down range.
Switching to the 9mm barrel was fast and easy once I allowed the .22 TCM barrel to cool before I made the swap. Once the transfer was complete, I ran through 125 rounds including Armscor’s 124-grain FMJ and another 60 rounds of assorted 9mms off the bench without a single hiccup or issue.
Rock Island offers a two-for-one deal with their TAC Ultra FS Combo. For less than $900 you’re getting a functional, well-built, full-sized 1911 9mm as well as a .22 that offers considerably more energy than a .22LR. Expect to pay about $20 for a box of 50 .22 TCM cartridges. That’s still less than you would spend on .45 ACP ammunition.
The .22 TCM will work well for close-range work on varmints and predators. It also makes a great training round for 1911 fans with its modest recoil and high-fun factor. All that and it’s a bargain in the world of 1911s.
Rock Island TAC Ultra FS 1911 Combo
- Type: Single-action semiauto
- Cartridge: .22 TCM/9mm
- Capacity: 10+1
- Barrel: 5 in.
- Overall Length: 8.75 in.
- Width 1.48 in.
- Height: 5.75 in. (with magazine)
- Weight: 2 lbs., 8.6 oz
- Finish: Parkerized
- Sights: Adjustable two-dot rear, fiber-optic post front
- Trigger: 4.3 lbs. (tested)
- MSRP: $891
- Contact: Armscor USA and Rock Island Armory, 775-537-1444, armscor.com