Skip to main content

.22 TCM Load Data

Because the .22 TCM is a proprietary cartridge, not a SAAMI cartridge, and no published load data and information exists, handloading it is much like working with a wildcat.

.22 TCM Load Data

The .22 TCM is a short, bottlenecked case with case head dimensions that are almost identical to the .223 Remington. It is a proprietary cartridge produced by Armscor, and it was designed by Frederick Craig (www.atomitronx.com) to be fired in a Model 1911 pistol. Topped with a 40-grain JHP bullet, it will deliver approximately 2,000 fps from a 5-inch barrel. For more about the cartridge's heritage and to see what it can do out of a 22-inch-barreled bolt-action rifle, see the article beginning on page 36 of this magazine.

Because the .22 TCM is not a SAAMI standard cartridge, the component suppliers have not developed handload data specifically applicable for reloading the .22 TCM. They haven't produced components specifically for it, either.

So what you're about to read is strictly a summary of my experiences developing safe handloads for this round. I've treated it as essentially another wildcat cartridge. I began the project with several hundred once-fired cases I'd picked up at one of the InterMedia Outdoors editorial roundtables where I first fired a Rock Island Armory 1911 in .22 TCM.

Getting Started Reloading .22 TCM

The sole Armscor factory load contains about 10 grains of a noncanister propellant and a 40-grain JHP bullet made by Armscor. During my conversations with Craig, he suggested that W296 or H110 might be applicable, and he cautioned that loads consisting of a powder with a faster burn rate could be unsafe. The only bullets he noted as possibly being compatible with the round's overall length constraint (it has to fit in the Model 1911's magazine) were the Hornady 35-grain V-Max and the Hornady 45-grain JHP bullet specifically configured for the .218 Bee.


When little or no lab-tested load data is available for a cartridge, I try to find a comparable existing cartridge based on caliber, case capacity, and operating pressure. The .22 TCM has been compared to the 5.7x28 cartridge, but I determined that the .22 Hornet seems to meet all three criteria. The maximum average pressures and case capacities of the .22 TCM and the .22 Hornet are about the same, and the Hornet is typically loaded with 30- to 45-grain bullets.


I measured case capacities and found them to be almost identical. In fact, the TCM case held a few tenths more water than the Hornet case (Winchester brand). Of course, the two cartridges are shaped completely differently. The Hornet case is tall and skinny with essentially no shoulder compared to the relatively short, fat TCM case with its distinctly bottleneck shape. I decided I could safely use the Hornet's starting load recipes and work up from there.

I tried Barnes's 30-grain Varmint Grenade, Speer's 33-grain TNT, Hornady's 35-grain V-Max, and Hornady's 45-grain JHP Bee bullet. Based on reviewing various burn-rate charts, I decided on Lil'Gun, H110, W296, IMR 4227, Accurate 1680, VihtaVuori N110, and Alliant 300-MP powders. I based my starting charges on the results I had obtained by pulling bullets of some factory ammo and weighing the powder.

I had to determine just how long to seat the various bullets so they would still reliably fit and feed from the magazine, so I assembled a number of inert dummy rounds. I discovered the TCM's 17-round, staggered magazine would reliably function with the bullets seated out to 1.275 inches, plus or minus a few thousandths, depending on the specific nose shape.

Prepping the cases involved tumbling the brass, brushing the inside of each case neck, applying Redding Imperial wax before resizing, resizing the brass with a Hornady sizer die, wiping each piece to remove most of the case lube, cleaning and uniforming the primer pockets, and tumbling the cases again to thoroughly clean them before loading.


Because the .22 TCM does not require crimping the bullets in place, I only had to assure the case lengths were not too long. Since there aren't any official dimensional specifications, I measured a few factory rounds and set max OAL at 1.030 inches. I didn't trim any brass until after the second reload cycle.

When reloading a small-capacity, high-intensity cartridge, a few tenths of a grain of powder will significantly affect ballistic performance. Since I wanted to accurately assess the difference in performance between, say, 10.0, 10.2, and 10.4 grains of propellant, I weighed each charge.

I seated all of the bullets to 1.270 inches, +/- 0.005 inch. Case neck tension felt quite adequate to securely hold the bullet. Often the powder charge was compressed so the bullet was also supported from the base. The 35-grain V-Max handloads looked somewhat odd because the initial ogive ended up a bit below the case mouth, but if there was enough juice, the test loads fed and ejected without a hitch.


Handloading .22 TCM Results

During the first range session, I fired 20 rounds of factory ammo to check the gun function and establish a velocity baseline. I had also pulled a few bullets from factory rounds, weighed the charges, and reloaded them, substituting my selected component bullets. I fired those next to record velocities and to see if the gun functioned properly.

Handing .22 TCM test results
The author's .22 TCM handloads (center) surpassed the performance of the 5.7x28 (left) and the .22 Hornet (right).

Factory .22 TCM loads create a lot of muzzle blast and flash, but recoil is actually mild. As for my handloads, well, I quickly noticed that loads with the lighter bullets didn't always provide enough impulse to reliably cycle the action. I eventually abandoned the 30-grain bullet. I had one propellant (VihtaVuori N120) that didn't cause much muzzle flash at all, but it was a bit too slow to yield optimum performance.

I fired nearly 100 five-shot groups, including the factory load. Based on that experience, I found W296 and 300-MP to be the most suitable propellants. Lil'Gun worked well with the 45-grain Bee bullet. Unfortunately, my older sample of H110 did not deliver the same results as the fresh bottle of W296. This should remind you that different lots of the same propellant often exhibit slightly different burn rates. That variable alone can push pressures to unsafe levels in a high-performance cartridge like the .22 TCM.

The handload data chart lists only those handloads that I considered to provide safe and acceptable performance. Without extensive lab tests to measure actual chamber pressures, all one can do is be extra careful. The factory load delivers 2,000 fps, and meeting that performance level is a challenge, much less trying to beat it. If you just have to have more velocity, try the two lighter-weight bullets. Adding more powder can get you into trouble quickly.

.22 TCM Handload Data

.22 TCM Table

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Hornady 6MM Creedmoor

Hornady 6MM Creedmoor

Tom Beckstrand and Neal Emery of Hornady highlight the 6MM Creedmoor ammo.

Pinging Steel At Over A Mile Away

Pinging Steel At Over A Mile Away

Big bore semiauto or a lever gun? We look at the futuristic .450 Bushmaster and how it compares to the tried and true .45-70. ISS Prop House gives us the rundown on the guns used in Enemy at the Gate. We ping steel with a .300 WinMag at over a mile.

The Future Of Special Operations Small Arms

The Future Of Special Operations Small Arms

We're taking a look at what the Army's Elite Units are using for service rifles and what the future of SOCOM sniping looks like.

Skills Drills: 3-Second Headshot

Skills Drills: 3-Second Headshot

James Tarr runs through the 3-Second Headshot drill.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

With three versions, three barrel lengths, and three different finishes from which to choose, the Savage Renegauge is by definition a eumatic alternative for a variety of shooting situations.Savage Renegauge Shotgun Review Shotguns

Savage Renegauge Shotgun Review

Steve Gash - July 13, 2020

With three versions, three barrel lengths, and three different finishes from which to choose,...

While the 6mm-caliber cartridges that can be considered “great” are few in number, some have long and storied histories.12 Great 6mm Cartridges Ammo

12 Great 6mm Cartridges

Steve Gash - August 20, 2020

While the 6mm-caliber cartridges that can be considered “great” are few in number, some have...

The joys of handloading are many, and one of them is sharing the experience with a novice.Share the Handloading Experience Reloading

Share the Handloading Experience

Lane Pearce - May 19, 2019

The joys of handloading are many, and one of them is sharing the experience with a novice.

The .30-06 Hawkeye Hunter features a 22-inch stainless-steel barrel and a satin-finished walnut stock. Magazine capacity is four rounds. It is well made, accurate, and attractive. This is a fine rifle that is light enough to tote over hill and dale but heavy enough to hold steady for precise shooting in the field.Ruger Hawkeye Hunter .30-06 Review Rifles

Ruger Hawkeye Hunter .30-06 Review

Steve Gash - August 17, 2020

The .30-06 Hawkeye Hunter features a 22-inch stainless-steel barrel and a satin-finished...

See More Trending Articles

More Reloading

Because case prep is the most time-consuming step in the handloading process, we say any tool that makes it easier is a bargain.Case Prep Made Easy Reloading

Case Prep Made Easy

Lane Pearce - May 29, 2020

Because case prep is the most time-consuming step in the handloading process, we say any tool...

With the help of two longtime reloading mentors and one R&D manager, Lane Pearce clears up the murky situation of Ackley Improved cartridge headspacing.Ackley Improved Cartridge Headspace Reloading

Ackley Improved Cartridge Headspace

Lane Pearce - April 23, 2020

With the help of two longtime reloading mentors and one R&D manager, Lane Pearce clears up the...

Depending on the cartridge, you can still save money by handloading, and even though factory-loaded ammo is so good today, you can achieve improvements in performance.Best Reasons To Handload Your Own Ammo Reloading

Best Reasons To Handload Your Own Ammo

Lane Pearce - December 30, 2020

Depending on the cartridge, you can still save money by handloading, and even though...

The .350 Legend case is a straight-wall case with a slightly tapered body so that it will reliably feed in a bolt-action or semiautomatic rifle. It's also rimless and headspaces on the case mouth. According to its SAAMI specs, the maximum average pressure (MAP) is 55,000 psi, so unlike similarly shaped pistol cases operating at pressures up to 35,000 psi, .350 Legend cases are more likely to stretch when fired and resized.Reloading the .350 Legend Reloading

Reloading the .350 Legend

Lane Pearce - June 09, 2020

The .350 Legend case is a straight-wall case with a slightly tapered body so that it will...

See More Reloading

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Shooting Times App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Shooting Times subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now