August 18, 2023
When Taurus unveiled the original TX 22, it was met with great enthusiasm. Being an affordable blowback rimfire pistol that proved reliable and fun to shoot, it earned the 2019 Guns & Ammo Handgun of the Year award. Since then, the TX 22 family grew to include competition models and, for 2023, a red-dot-ready Compact.
The TX 22 Compact offers many of the same features that impressed everyone with the original, including the striker-fired blowback operating system that’s perfectly balanced to handle most .22 LR ammunition. Though it may seem simple to develop a reliable blowback rimfire, gun makers know that it’s actually quite complex. There are so many variations in bullet profile and velocities between types that it’s often possible to find only one or two loads that effectively cycle a blowback action. Very few semiautomatic rimfires function reliably with as wide range of ammo as the TX 22. Ruger’s Mark series and Browning’s Buckmark share this positive reputation, but the TX 22 increased capacity to 16 rounds. (The TX 22 Compact has a capacity of 13 rounds.) Will this new version handle the challenge of firing rimfire ammo with disparate velocities? I will tell you now that Taurus didn’t disappoint, but more on that later.
To make the Compact version of the TX 22 run efficiently, engineers had to reduce slide mass. They did so by adding a lightening cut in the slide overtop and to the flanks of the 3.6-inch alloy steel barrel. The matte-black anodized aluminum slide is something of a design marvel, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a firearm that made such efficient use of so little space. Even though it is just 6.4-inches long and less than an inch wide, the slide accommodates the lightning cuts, iron sights, front and rear slide serrations, as well as an optic cut. That’s called “making the most of small real estate.” One thing that is noticeable, however, is that the Compact version eliminated the full-length topstrap as seen on the full-size TX 22 (but also absent on the Competition model).
Inside, there’s a fixed ejector that drives cases up and away from the shooter’s face. Steel components such as the slide stop, ejector, and the barrel are treated with a Melonite finish, which rearranges the surface composition of the substrate steel and protects against corrosion. Nitride finishes like this also offer increased lubricity, improving function.
Suppressors are extremely popular. For most pistol manufacturers the simplest way to accommodate them is to add threads to the barrel’s muzzle for mounting. Then, they install a thread cap. It’s simple, but some have argued that the extension of the barrel beyond the slide detracts from the aesthetics of the profile or attracts unwanted regulation. So, Taurus did it differently with the TX 22 Compact. Like the TX 22, it has a threaded barrel that is capped, but the threading and cap are flush with the muzzle. Taurus includes a short adapter that makes it easy to mount a can on this pistol later, but if you decide to shoot without a suppressor, it’s not immediately apparent that this gun even has a threaded barrel. (There may be a percentage of owners who are never even aware that their TX 22 Compact has a threaded barrel.)
Taurus broke new ground with the original TX 22, but one aspect of that pistol that was exceptionally well executed was the grip design. The contours of the black polymer grip allow it to sit comfortably in any hand, and the sharp angle at the top of the backstrap slides the grip into a high position under the ample beavertail. In other words, Taurus promoted a high handhold. The microtextured surface was well executed, also, and surrounds the grip.
I’m a big fan of the triggerguard’s rear undercut, which is angled to help lock the middle finger in position for comfort and control. The grip widens slightly under the thumb and middle finger and the backstrap is aggressively curved to match the contours of a human hand. There are flat, smooth side panels behind the trigger, too, to accommodate the shooting finger and the thumb, and the contoured grip works well for both right- and left-handed shooters. Time and effort in the grip’s engineering is evident throughout.
The TX 22 Compact’s controls were laid out well and are easy for most to access. There’s a bar-style ambidextrous thumb safety, similar in concept to a Model 1911’s safety. The safety is triangular in cross-section and therefore easy to operate without the proclivity to hang-up on holsters or clothing. There’s also a serrated stainless-steel slide stop on the left side of the gun that’s tucked into a molded cutout on the polymer frame. The slide stop is small, but it is more functional and effective than on most striker-fired pistols. The trapezoidal magazine release is serrated, too, and tucked behind the trigger. It is reversible, also.
There’s more variation in rimfire pistol triggers than with any other subset of firearms (sans bullpups). The TX 22 Compact has a very good trigger in contrast, which is lighter and cleaner than many others. Labeled “Performance Trigger System,” or “PTS,” the design utilizes a rotating shoe that disengages the trigger safety, after which the trigger is pulled back farther to release the striker block safety, eventually tripping the sear. There’s some travel, but not as much travel or trigger weight as you’d experience with a traditional striker-fired trigger. Guns & Ammo’s test pistol displayed an average weight of 41/2 pounds.
The T.O.R.O. (Taurus Optics Ready Option) slide is a continuation from other Taurus products to accommodate a variety of small-footprint optics. Even without an optic, the standard sights are of contemporary thought: Dot at the front, all-black notch at the rear. The rear sight was also given glare-reducing serrations. I like the U-notch better than traditional square-notch rear sights more common on other .22 pistols. The front post sight is pinned while the rear is drift adjustable.
Unlike some .22s, disassembly of the TX 22 Compact is straightforward. With the magazine removed (and after making certain the pistol is unloaded), pull down on the breakdown tab inside the triggerguard and press the trigger. Pulling down on the tab unlocks a lug from a cutout in the underside of the barrel, which allows the slide to move forward. The rails are short, so it doesn’t move far, but the slide assembly can then be removed. This provides access to the steel block inside for cleaning, and the slide assembly as well.
The TX 22 Compact is standard with two 13-round polymer double-stack magazines featuring side tabs to assist loading by pulling them down to compress the magazine spring. Ten-round magazines are an option where required, also, and there’s a loader included in every box. If you were to experience a major issue with the magazine sticking inside the grip, a pair of indentions in the polymer frame allow the user to “grip and rip” a mag free.
With its 3.6-inch barrel, the Taurus TX22 measures 6.7-inches long and 4.9-inches tall. Slide width, as stated, is just less than an inch, and the overall width of the pistol is 11/4-inches. The unloaded weight is just 161/2 ounces. The TX 22 Compact lives up to its billing.
Pricing for the Taurus TX 22 Compact starts at a penny less than $400 without an optic. If you want one with the optional Riton 3 Tactix MRD, it costs $470. That compares favorably with the Ruger SR22; Smith & Wesson M&P 22 Compact ; and SIG Sauer P322. The S&W and Ruger pistols have 3.6- and 31/2-inch barrels, respectively, both hold 10 rounds to the TX 22’s 13. SIG Sauer’s P322 carries an impressive 20 rounds, but sports a 4-inch barrel and is a larger pistol overall. The P322 and SR22 both weigh between 17 and 18 ounces, which is more than the TX 22 Compact. S&W’s 15.3-ounce M&P 22 Compact is lighter, however.
At the Range
Given that the TX 22 Compact is cut for the popular Shield RMSc optic footprint, it was simple to find an electronic sight that fit this gun. I chose Crimson Trace’s CT RAD Pro green-dot sight ($325, crimsontrace.com), but there are a number of choices from Holosun, SIG Sauer, and others. The CT RAD Pro mounted directly to the gun and was secure throughout our range tests. The overall weight of the loaded pistol with optic attached was still less than 20 ounces.
The Taurus performed well with the optic in place, producing groups between 1.55 and about 4 inches. Averages spanned 2 and 3 inches when fired from a fixed rest at 25 yards, optic in place. That’s pretty good accuracy for a .22 pistol with a 31/2-inch barrel! Off the bench, the gun performed very well, too. At 7 yards, I shot 1-inch slow-fire groups. There’s no doubt that accuracy was aided by use of a reflex sight, but the excellent trigger and comfortable grip helped. It handled nicely and there was minimal recoil.
I added a Silencer Central Banish 22 suppressor and fired groups using Winchester’s Super Suppressed 45-grain black copper-plated round-nose ammunition. With the can in place, there was no perceived muzzle rise. The sound of the bullet thwacking against paper was as loud as the report of the pistol.
TX 22 pistols have an outstanding record for reliability. The new Compact model was no exception. The feed ramp is short, but that didn’t seem to be an issue. There were just a handful of issues, but I don’t know of any that could be blamed on the gun. Federal’s Punch ammunition did hang up “nose down” in the magazine, which prevented the slide from picking up and chambering the next round, but that only happened twice. When the magazine was loaded properly (i.e., compressing the spring just enough to add one round of ammunition), the pistol performed fine. Two of the Super Suppressed rounds failed to fire from light primer strikes, but it was interesting to note that the failure only occurred when the suppressor was attached. Overall, reliability was excellent. The slide stop locked open after the magazine was empty every time and the magazine dropped free when the mag release was pressed.
There’s little doubt that the TX 22 Compact is suitable for new and experienced shooters alike. It’s light and produces scant felt recoil. Therefore, I feel this new model merits discussions of the TX 22’s capabilities as a beginner gun or a defensive one for those faced with physical challenges.
The slide is light and easy to operate, which is necessary for those with minimal hand strength, advanced carpal tunnel or wrist issues. The manual safety is easy to find and disengage, too. However, there is no visual indicator for new shooters of the condition of this pistol such as a letter or color designation for the fire position. Plus, the safety is also difficult to engage without rotating the pistol in one’s grip.
Comfort and control are superb, and the gun is easy to work, disassemble and reassemble. The magazine isn’t difficult to load either, but the loader was found to be a welcomed accessory by G&A’s staff. The simple sight layout is also good for new shooters and the single white dot draws enough attention to the front sight.
There are also a subset of shooters who will only use a .22 LR for self-defense — no matter what trainers, tacticians, and carry experts advise. For those, a reliable, accurate, high-capacity, and concealable .22 makes great sense. So, here it is. Federal now offers its Punch round for .22, which was designed to penetrate and meet the FBI protocol standards in gel. (Although, it doesn’t expand. There is only so much ballistic engineers can ask of a 40-grain bullet.) If you’re going to rely on a .22 rimfire for self-defense, the TX 22 checks many of the boxes.
The TX 22 Compact is also an outstanding training pistol. As much as I love the Ruger Mark IV, it doesn’t mimic the look and feel of my 9mm carry guns. The TX 22 Compact does, and shooters who are familiar with the feel, operation and control of this pistol will have no trouble transitioning to a 9mm or a similar gun such as the Taurus GX4 series.
Ultimately, though, the TX 22 will generally be used for recreation. It’s a great plinker in the hands of most shooters, and it fills that role splendidly. The ergonomics are great, reliability is excellent, and the ease with which you can attach a suppressor or red dot only makes this gun more appealing. I expect big things from the smallest member of the TX 22 family.
FN 510 Tactical
- Type: Striker fire, blowback operated, semiautomatic
- Cartridge: .22 LR
- Capacity: 10+1 rds. or 13+1 rds.
- Overall Length: 6.7 in
- Barrel Length: 3.6 in.
- Width: 1.4 in.
- Height: 4.9 in
- Weight: 1 lb. 1 oz.
- Finish: Matte black, anodized
- Sights: Drift-adjustable U-notch (rear); white dot, post (front); optic ready
- Trigger: 4 lbs., 8 oz.
- MSRP: $400
- Manufacturer: Taurus, 229-235-4020, taurususa.com
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