While it’s true that .22 Long Rifle ammunition is hard to find these days, it is still available and it’s still cheaper, even at today’s inflated prices, than 9mm, .40, or .45. I’ve always been an advocate of .22 rimfire training and I have several rimfire versions of the centerfire guns I use. Not only is rimfire ammunition cheaper than centerfire, it can also be a tool in teaching pistol shooters better trigger management.
Most shooters never reach their potential with the pistol because they simply never learn to manage the trigger. The natural reaction is to try to manage recoil before the trigger is pulled and the result is flinch and poor accuracy. Shooting a rimfire allows the shooter to learn trigger management sooner because there is less recoil to manage and with proper training, the rimfire shooter can progress to the centerfire without spending years trying to overcome a problem with flinch.
There are several 1911 conversions and dedicated rimfire 1911s on the market. Likewise there are several AR-15 rimfires and conversion upper units. Tactical Solutions makes a .22 LR conversion for the Glock 17, 19, 22, and 23 pistols called the TSG-22. The conversion unit I tested consists of a rimfire slide/barrel unit and a pair of magazines in a carry case. The installation is as simple as the first steps in field stripping any Glock. Check to ascertain the gun is unloaded, push the slide back slightly, pull down the disassembly bar, and snap the trigger to allow the slide to come forward off the frame. The rimfire slide/barrel can be installed just as you would reassemble the pistol. Load and insert the magazine and you’re ready to go.
The sights are just like the standard Glock sights, the weight is comparable, and the holster fit is identical. Accuracy is reasonable, not match level, but similar to a service grade centerfire. The finish is so good that you have to look at the end of the barrel to tell if the conversion is on the gun. The magazines are plastic but very good and they are easy to load. They drop from the gun as they should and have a capacity of 15 rounds.
So far, everything seems good, but the system has imperfections. Since the sear is in the frame and the striker is on the slide, the consistency of the trigger depends on these two surfaces meeting at the same place every time. There is enough vertical play in the slide/frame fit that the trigger pull is erratic, depending on the position of the slide. The result is a trigger that breaks at six pounds one shot and three pounds the next. This makes fast and accurate shooting difficult. In all fairness to Tactical Solutions, this isn’t a problem with 1911 conversions because both surfaces on the 1911 are on the frame, so interface with the conversion isn’t an issue.
The other issue is reliability. Tactical Solutions advises using CCI Mini Mag ammunition but this is not easy in today’s world. With Mini Mags, it performs reasonably well, but there are still malfunctions. With other brands, the number of malfunctions rose to about one per magazine. If the clearing process of tap/rack worked on this gun, this could be a great training exercise but rimfire ammunition is harder to clear and a tap/rack rarely works.
With the 1911, there are great dedicated guns like the GSG and Colt Gold Cup Rimfire. There are also great rimfire conversions like the Kimber, Iver Johnson, and Marvel. The rimfire S&W M&P is a great little pistol, but the Tactical Solutions TSG-22 simply needs more work.
Image by Dick Jones