I’m a big fan of odd guns. When I started reading about the 22 TCM (Tuason Craig Micromagnum) cartridge, a 223 Remington case shortened to 38 super and necked down to 22 caliber, I was absolutely intrigued. Not only is the Armscor M22 TCM BA chambered in pistols, but it is also chambered in a bolt-action rifle. That rifle, the M22 TCM BA is special because, unlike most other rifles, it uses pistol magazines!
The 22 TCM is a nifty little cartridge. The image above shows it in a line up next to some of its peers. From left to right, 308 Winchester, 223 Remington, 9mm Luger, 22 TCM, 22 TCM9R, and 22 long rifle. The 22 TCM9R is a modified version of the 22 TCM. It uses the same case but a different profile bullet to enable it to fit in smaller magazines. When I reached out to Armscor, they told me it is safe to fire the 22 TCM 9R in a 22 TCM rifle, however, it may not feed well from the magazine due to the difference in geometry.
The M22 TCM BA comes with a solid wood stock, 22.75″ barrel, 5- round detachable magazine and is manufactured in the Philippines. The checkered stock is attractive, especially for a rifle at this price point. Its steel surfaces are nicely parkerized and the aluminum is anodized.
The rifle is fed with a pistol style magazine system from a bottom metal system. It uses a magazine release similar to a pistol.
The magazine is constructed of metal and looks like a short pistol magazine. My understanding is that full sized, 17-round pistol magazines will work with the rifle.
The rifle is equipped with a bolt handle that has a round knob. The geometry of the handle allows it to clear the scope, A two position safety is located on the right side of the receiver. The rear of the bolt has a tactile and visual cocking indicator.
The bolt is retained by a side bolt release lever along the left side of the action. Also note the cam surface located above and behind the bolt release. This surface provides primary extraction for the cartridge. Note how high the handle has to be lifted for it to begin engaging it.
Armscor provides a Picatinny scope rail with the M22 TCM BA. I chose to mount a TRACT TORIC 3-15 scope on it in Warne rings.
The bolt is configured differently then most rifle bolts. Unlike its larger peers, the M22 doesn’t have lugs on the front of the bolt. Instead, it locks with the bolt handle in the rear of the receiver.
The bottom of the bolt is recessed to allow it to override the magazine. Also note the cam towards the rear of the body that is used to cock the firing pin.
The front of the bolt is a simple recess with a claw type extractor. The groove in the bottom of the bolt is a clearance cut for the ejector.
The barrel has a nicely formed recessed crown.
I was pretty impressed with the construction of the rifle for the price point. I’ve grown accustomed to the injection molded world that seems to permeate this industry. The stock is dense, giving the rifle a hefty feel. I couldn’t wait to shoot it.
I headed to the range with 50 rounds of Armscor 40 grain jacketed hollow point ammunition and my M22. I equipped the rifle with a TRACT TORIC 3-15 scope and a bipod. I fired all shots from the bench with the bipod and rear bag. Chronograph data was recorded for the first 25 rounds with a MagnetoSpeed V3 barrel mounted ballistic chronograph, then it was removed.
Armscor advertises this rifle pushing the 40 grain bullet 2800 feet/second from this rifle. My Average velocity was 2,693 with a standard deviation of 15.3 feet/second. I was shooting at sea level at a temperature of 81F. Consistency wise, the ammunition exceeded my expectations. When you get into smaller case capacities with factory ammunition, normally the numbers get bad quick. This wasn’t the case with the Armscor 22, I consider an standard deviation of under 20 feet/second with any factory ammunition good, with such a small case I consider it excellent.
I started at 50 yards, zeroed the rifle, fired a few five-shot groups then moved back to 100 yards. The groups are shown below.
At 50 yards, 5-shot group sizes ranged from 1.044″ (1.994 MOA) to 2.166 (4.138 MOA) with an average size of 1.399″ (2.672 MOA). At 100 yards groups sizes ranged from 2.601″ (2.484 MOA) to 4.424″ (4.225 MOA) with an average group size of 3.186″ (3.043 MOA). Average group size for all nine groups was 2.878 MOA.
The 50 yard target.
The best 50 yard group.
The 100 yard target.
The best 100 yard group.
While I was impressed with the physical attributes of the rifle and the consistent muzzle velocities of the ammunition, I was disappointed with accuracy hovering around 3 MOA. I would think it may be addressed through hand loading or other minor tweaking, but I’m unsure if I could get this gun to shoot better without major work.
Firing the 22 TCM was a pleasure. Recoil was mild. While there was some perceived recoil, it wasn’t much more than a 22 Magnum.
Bolt lift, especially for the first 20 rounds, was noticeably heavier than a traditional bolt action rifle. I’m used to using the first two fingers of my firing hand to manipulate the bolt, this wasn’t happening on the M22. I had to firmly grab the handle to cycle the bolt. I attribute this to the design of the bolt. In the image towards the top of this post, you’ll notice the handle has to be lifted quite a bit to engage the primary extraction cam.
The trigger broke at a fairly consistent 5 pounds 8 ounces. While it wasn’t a Timney 510, it was certainly good enough for this price point and better than a factory Remington 700 trigger.
The stock was solid and well made. The cheek-piece allowed perfect head alignment behind the scope.
The 3-15×50 TRACT Optics TORIC scope was absolutely exceptional on this rifle. The glass was clear, eye box generous and the magnification range perfect for this rifle.
So what do I think of the M22 TCM BA?
- Fun to shoot but not very accurate. I enjoyed the design of the rifle, however the accuracy could have been better, 3 MOA from a center fire 22 caliber cartridge isn’t cutting it nowadays.
- Dripping with potential. If this rifle shot 1-1.25 MOA it would be a winner. It is one of the few bolt action rifles that can be fairly easily converted to 9mm or 38 super… how’s that for cool?
- Well made. Besides the mediocre accuracy, the rifle was well made for the price. I liked the quality of construction, metal finishes and wood stock.
- I’m glad I bought it. Besides its shortcomings in the accuracy department, it is a nice little rifle.