In his now-classic The Principles of Personal Defense, the late Col. Jeff Cooper observed with his characteristic straightforwardness, “You are no more armed because you are wearing a pistol than you are a musician because you own a guitar.”
Far from the cowboy gunslingers portrayed by mainstream media, modern advocates of armed self-defense take their craft seriously. Great firearms instructors like Cooper understand that using a handgun requires what all skills require: first, training; then, practice, practice, practice.
But unlike basketball or dominoes, practicing with a firearm requires money… cheddar… moo-lah. Sending $50 of 9mm downrange twice a month isn’t in the cards for some gun owners, which is why a .22LR training pistol is an invaluable asset in anyone’s firearms collection.
I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that the Taurus TX22 may have eclipsed all other budget-friendly training handguns in this category. Released earlier this year, the TX22 holds 16 rounds in each double-stacked magazine, is insanely comfortable to shoot, maintains reliability after hundreds of rounds, and has a great trigger, to boot.
If you’re looking for a .22LR trainer pistol at a reasonable price, look no further than Taurus’ new offering.
- FRAME SIZE: Full
- CAPACITY: 16 rds
- ACTION TYPE: SAO
- CALIBER: 22LR
- HEIGHT: 5.44″
- WIDTH: 1.25″
- WEIGHT: 17.30 oz.
- BARREL LENGTH: 4.10″
- OVERALL LENGTH: 7.06″
- FRONT SIGHT: Fixed White Dot
- REAR SIGHT: Adjustable White Dot
- SAFETY: Striker Block, Manual Safety, Trigger Safety
- MSRP: $349.00
Competition or Training?
I’ll say upfront that I love the TX22, but I think Taurus overplayed its hand a bit. The promotional material announcing the pistol and the description on Taurus’ website both claim that the TX22 “feels every bit like a custom-tuned competition model-without any costly upgrades or modifications.”
That’s a bit of a stretch.
The Taurus does indeed have a nice trigger (more on that below), and it’ll no doubt perform well at competitions like the Steel Challenge. If you’re looking to dive into the wonderful world of competition, the TX22 would be a good place to start. But I wouldn’t put it in the same category as a “custom-tuned” race gun from a company like Volquartsen. Taurus may not have meant to compare their $300 handgun to a $1200 work of art, but if that’s the case, the promotional material should have been clearer.
Still, for all the reasons I describe below, the TX22 is worth every penny as a training handgun. It may not live up to Taurus’ own hype, but if you’re tired of spending money practicing with your 9mm (or, heaven forbid, a 45ACP), the TX22 is the way to go.
Fits Like a Glove, With Room to Spare
The first time I picked up the TX22 at this year’s NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits, I thought to myself, “This feels like a Walther…” For those unfamiliar with the German handgun company, that’s a good thing. The TX22 features excellent ergonomics, from the shape of the grip to the rough-but-not-too-rough texturing.
Its full-size handgun dimensions help, too. The TX22 approximates compact-to-full-sized pistols more closely than most other semi-auto .22’s, which makes it a perfect trainer for those larger handguns.
Taurus designed the grip to accommodate the two 16-round polymer magazines that accompany the TX22. Slimmer handguns like the Ruger SR22 or the Smith & Wesson MP22 are good trainers, but their 10-round magazines make for constant reloading. The six extra rounds in the TX22 allow shooters to maintain focus longer and work through more repetitions.
If you’re practicing for Steel Challenge, for example, you can make three runs with the TX22’s magazine rather than just two. It’s a small difference, but it reduces the time spent loading and reloading, which is nice during a long trip to the range.
Trigger = Happy
After the ergonomics, the trigger is the next thing I noticed about the TX22. The 5-pound break is clean after about 1/3” of takeup, and the reset is short and tactile. We’re spoiled for triggers these days (even in striker-fired polymer guns), and Taurus’ Pittman Trigger System (PTS) is keeping up with the times. Riding the trigger’s spring-assisted reset made it almost too easy to burn through a full magazine, and it helps land shots on target, too.
The fire control system also utilizes an ambidextrous thumb safety that can be engaged while racking the slide, which new shooters (and parents of new shooters) will no doubt appreciate.
“At the onset of the TX22 developed, we went back and forth on what type of trigger mechanism it should be,” Olivier Coulombier, Taurus’ Director of Engineering, told me via email. “It was originally planned to be a double-action-only. When I started with Taurus, I thought since .22LR pistols are mostly used for plinking, it should be fun to shoot so I steered towards a single action mechanism.
“Jason Pittman (design engineer) has a lot of experience working on precision rifles. He used his experience and knowledge to design a trigger mechanism for a pistol that is inspired by precision rifles trigger mechanisms. This resulted, in my opinion, one of the best triggers on the market right now out of the box when compared to guns in similar class (polymer semi-autos).”
Pittman also told us at this year’s SHOT Show that the design of the firing mechanism also makes the TX22 totally safe to dry-fire. Most manufacturers do not recommend dry-firing .22LR firearms, but the TX22 is different. Users won’t damage the firing pin or the mouth of the chamber if they want to take advantage of the trigger-control training dry-fire offers.
It feels good, but how does it shoot? Accuracy and reliability are among a handgun’s most important traits, and the TX22 doesn’t disappoint. I used five different kinds of ammunition to test both categories. For the accuracy testing, I set the gun on a rest and shot five, five-shot groups from 10 yards.
Accuracy testing a handgun without a Ransom Rest (or similar tool) leaves more room for human error than does rifle testing. I’ve provided the data below, so you can draw your own conclusions. But knowing my limitations as a handgun shooter, I took the smallest group with each load as a measure for the TX22’s potential – using that metric, I was pleased.
|Cartridge||Bullet||Avg. Velocity (FPS)||Smallest Group||Largest Group||Average Group|
|Aguila Super Extra||40g||987||0.7”||1.8”||1.3”|
|CCI Green Tag||40g||897||0.7”||2”||1.4”|
|RWS Target Rifle||40g||853||1||2.5||1.4”|
Shot-to-shot consistency is important, but you probably won’t be entering any Olympic competitions with the TX22. In a training pistol, reliability is key. There’s nothing worse than planning to spend a productive afternoon at the range only to be frustrated by a jamming, malfunctioning handgun. The TX22 will hit what you’re aiming at (if you do your job), and it’ll load another in the chamber – every time.
I’ve put about 1,000 rounds through the TX22 between all the loads you see above, along with Remington’s 36g “Golden Bullet” cartridge. I experienced a grand total of two malfunctions, both of which might not be connected to the gun.
I had one light primer strike with Federal’s Champion ammunition. After examining the case, I saw that the firing pin did strike the primer. Federal makes great ammo, so I hesitate to blame the cartridge, but one bad round here and there isn’t unheard of. I’ve had great success (both in terms of accuracy and reliability) with Federal’s BYOB ammunition, but it isn’t match-quality stuff.
In the other malfunction, the slide failed to strip the first round from the magazine. I soon realized that I had likely loaded the magazine incorrectly. It’s possible to load the final round so the nose points down, which keeps it from sliding up the feed ramp and into the chamber. To avoid this problem (along with sore fingers), I used the provided speed loader for the rest of the magazine loading. I never experienced the problem after that.
Other than those two hiccups, the TX22 ran… and ran and ran. I shot full magazines. I shot with both hands, strong hand, and weak hand. I shot rapid-fire, and with a limp wrist. I shot from a rest and while standing, and the gun never stopped.
I can’t even say I cleaned and oiled it first. That’s not best practice, but it does demonstrate that the TX22 isn’t picky about its state of cleanliness. (Plus, once you do plan on cleaning it, the quick takedown mechanism makes scrubbing the internals a snap.)
Is There Anything Bad to Say About It?
I love how the rear sight adjusts for both windage and elevation. Precisely tuning the sights is a simple process with a small flathead screwdriver, and I didn’t experience any issues moving the sight vertically or horizontally.
The sights aren’t impressive otherwise. Both the front and the rear are constructed of polymer, and the front sight isn’t dovetailed. Polymer sights are less durable than irons, though they’ll work fine unless you drop them on a concrete surface. The rear sight is easy to replace, but the fixed front sight requires more know-how to swap out.
The three-dot design is a classic, but not my favorite. That’s a personal preference, of course, and for a $300 gun that runs perfectly and feels great to shoot, I’ll take it.
More concerning is the fact that I had to adjust the rear sight all the way to the left to get on target. I have no reason to believe this is a design flaw, so your TX22 likely won’t have the same issue.
The sights may not be perfect, but I still think Taurus hit this one out of the park. While the Brazilian company has enjoyed a spotty reputation over the years, they obviously did their due diligence while developing the TX22. Reliability and accuracy combine with great ergonomics and a clean trigger to make Taurus’ new offering a joy to shoot. And given the cost of .22LR, almost any gun owner can afford to spend a day at the range honing their skills and having a blast.
I’d say that’s $300 well-spent.