May 11, 2020
By Layne Simpson
Burger King, the nationwide fast-food chain, used to advertise with great eagerness that you could order one of their burgers and “have it your way.” The introduction of the .22 LR Taurus TX22 in five different variations reminded me of those TV commercials.
You can get an unthreaded barrel or one that’s threaded. A thread protector and a suppressor adaptor are included with the latter. The pistol comes with two magazines, and you have the option of both holding a maximum of either 10 or 16 rounds. Then we have the safety system—or, I should say, systems. The model I have has an ambidextrous safety lever within easy reach of the thumb along with what is described by Taurus as a “trigger safety” (more on the trigger later). You can also get a TX22 with the same type of trigger but without the manual thumb safety. Regardless of the variation you choose, the price is the same, and at $349, it’s quite reasonable.
At first glance, the TX22 appears to be just another polymer-framed, striker-fired wannabe 9mm autoloader, but instead, it was designed from the ground up for the .22 Long Rifle rimfire cartridge. It is blowback operated, and the weights of its recoil spring and aluminum slide were calibrated and fine-tuned to the point where functioning is trouble-free with all standard-velocity, high-velocity, and hyper-velocity ammunition. The carbon-steel barrel has a sporting chamber.
With a rather slim diameter of 0.40 inch, the barrel is 4.1 inches long, and its 1:16 twist is standard for the .22 LR cartridge. A polished integral ramp at the rear of the chamber ensures reliable feeding of ammunition loaded with bullets of various nose profiles. Examination with a Lyman borescope revealed extremely smooth lands and grooves with no tool marks to collect fouling. Flats machined into the sides of the thread protector and suppressor adaptor make their installation and removal with a small adjustable wrench easy.
The slide is Type 7075 aluminum with a black hard-coat anodized finish, and it weighs 4.2 ounces with sights. As the slide slams into battery against the barrel during a firing cycle, the impact is absorbed by a steel insert that also contains the extractor and its spring. Farther back, the striker and its spring are contained by a sturdy steel housing. A fixed, blade-style ejector located in the lower assembly bumps spent cases out through a port in the side of the slide. Deep, forward-slanted grasping grooves at the front and rear make the slide easy to retract, and they are easy on the hand and fingers.
On the model with a manual safety, the slide can be racked for loading and unloading the chamber with the safety in its engaged position. The safety is designed to block the trigger from moving to the full extent of its rearward travel. With the safety engaged, the trigger will travel through its first two stages, but the safety prevents it from reaching its sear-release point. All TX22 models have the exact same trigger, and their cost is exactly the same. For those reasons, I cannot imagine why anyone would choose the model without the manual safety over the model that has it.
The polymer frame contains several steel parts. One, identified as the “central block” in the parts diagram of the instruction manual, has rails for the slide and lugs that hold the breech end of the barrel in a stationary position. It and another steel housing located farther back contain various parts of the trigger mechanism and the internal safeties. The dustcover of the frame has a dual-slot accessory rail. The trigger guard is plenty roomy for a gloved finger.
Separating the upper assembly from the lower is as easy as it can get. Remove the magazine, retract the slide, visually make sure no cartridge is in the chamber, lower the slide, point the gun in a safe direction, and squeeze the trigger to release the striker. If the gun is the manual safety model, the safety lever will remain in its lower, disengaged position. Then while holding the pistol in one hand with the thumb wrapped around the rear of the grip and the fingers resting over the top of the slide, retract the slide about a half-inch, pull downward on both sides of the disassembly latch with the other hand, and hold it in that position while allowing the slide to move forward. The upper is now free to be lifted from the lower. The barrel and the captive recoil spring and its polymer guide can then be lifted from the slide. Going in the opposite direction is just as easy. Insert the barrel and recoil spring back into the slide, align the rail opening of the slide with the frame rail, push the upper down on the lower, slightly retract the slide, and the latch will automatically engage. Cycling the slide several times with no magazine in the gun will ensure correct assembly.
Except for its follower spring, all parts of the magazine are polymer. Cartridges are held in a staggered fashion, but the magazine narrows at the top, and its feed lips hold the top cartridge centered and in precise alignment with the chamber. A small follower-depressor-style magazine loader comes with the gun, but the magazine is so easy to load I never got around to trying it. Simply engage one of the follower tabs exposed on both sides of the magazine with a thumbnail, pull it downward in its full-length slot in the side of the magazine, and slip each cartridge home at the top. There is a short learning curve as the top cartridge should be lowered just enough to allow another to slip beneath the feed lips of the magazine. The magazine is disassembled for cleaning by depressing its spring-loaded floorplate latch with the nose of a cartridge and sliding the floorplate forward.
Punch the serrated tab of the magazine latch located just behind the trigger and an empty magazine gravity-drops completely from the gun. The pistol will fire with the magazine removed.
So you shoot a handgun from the other side? As clearly explained in the instruction manual, the latch is easily reversed for a left-handed shooter. That along with the ambidextrous manual safety makes the TX22 as southpaw-friendly as you will find.
The sights on the TX22 are better than I have seen on some centerfire autoloaders costing several times more. Pinned securely to the slide, the front blade is 0.156 inch wide, and it is black with a white dot. The notch in the fully adjustable rear sight is 0.158 inch wide and flanked by a pair of white dots. The rear sight is dovetailed to the slide, and it has two small slotted-head adjustment screws on its right-hand side. Turning the rear screw clockwise increases elevation; turning it counterclockwise lowers it. The front screw shifts windage right or left.
According to Taurus, the TX22 has a “Safe Trigger.” Prior to examining the gun, I expected to see a central blade-style safety in the trigger as introduced by Gaston Glock in his Safe Action trigger back in 1982. That feature has since appeared on numerous other pistols from various manufacturers, including the G3 9mm pistol recently introduced by Taurus. I had questions about functioning of the TX22 trigger mechanism and its internal safeties and was told that it contains the same safety features as the Glock but is different. So let’s take a brief look at that pistol.
The Glock has automatic, independently operating mechanical safeties. Rearward movement of its trigger is blocked until its pivoting blade (called the trigger safety) is fully depressed by the finger. This prevents the gun from firing should either edge of the trigger snag on something as it is being holstered. The trigger safety is also designed to prevent the pistol from firing should it be dropped. The firing pin safety mechanically blocks the cocked firing pin from moving forward until the trigger is squeezed. All safety mechanisms reengage when the trigger is fully released.
The TX22 trigger does not have a pivoting safety blade in the trigger, and while it feels like single-action-only with considerable take-up prior to the break, it is not quite that simple because unseen things are going on inside. As best as I could measure, total trigger travel is 0.37 inch. There are three stages of trigger travel, with the first two stages traveling a combined 0.23 inch and pulling 3.1 pounds on a Lyman digital scale. As the trigger rotates through those stages, the safety is released, and a block is elevated from the path of the cocked striker. At that point, pull weight increases to 5.8 pounds and pressing the trigger another 0.14 inch releases the sear, allowing the striker to move forward and fire a cartridge in the chamber. I may be off a bit on those movement measurements, but they are close enough to illustrate the trigger pull of the TX22. The trigger reset is short and easily felt, and all safety mechanisms reengage when the trigger is fully released.
Ergonomic, Reliable & Accurate
On a scale of one to 10, with 10 being excellent, I give the TX22 my highest rating in ergonomics. It probably won’t be 100 percent compatible with the hands of all shooters, but it nestles into mine like a custom fit. Due to an elevated intersection between the top of the frontstrap and the trigger guard, along with a high-sweep beavertail at the rear of the grip, the pistol rests quite low in the hand. It is perfectly shaped for the high, both-thumbs-forward grip the Model 1911 pistol is famous for, and it does that gun one better by having a shallow ledge on both sides of the frame for resting the forward thumb.
The magazine release button, slide latch, and safety tab are easily reached without shifting the grip on the gun. The right- and left-side safety levers are located a bit farther back than on some guns, but that presented no problem for me. In addition to being a fun-to-shoot plinker, the TX22 is a great, inexpensive practice gun for IDPA competition.
My efforts to make the TX22 malfunction were soundly defeated. I started by accuracy-testing the pistol from a rest with a dozen standard-velocity, high-velocity, and hyper-velocity loads with a variety of bullet shapes. Whether the gun was held right-side up, upside down, left-side down, or right-side down, it refused to miss a lick. As I said earlier, the TX22 is blowback-operated, so holding it with a limp wrist (and I do mean an extremely limp wrist) may cause it to bobble with some standard-velocity ammo, but the pistol I shot kept on percolating with high-velocity and hyper-velocity ammo. Fouling from .22 rimfire ammo builds up rapidly, and when my supply became exhausted at just over 700 rounds, the TX22 was still singing its sweet song and begging for more without a single cleaning. Through the decades I have shot autoloading .22 rimfire pistols from many manufacturers, and the TX22 ranks among the very best in reliability.
While Taurus is not promoting the TX22 as a target-grade pistol capable of winning at Camp Perry, accuracy is not bad considering its price. Even so, I believe group size would shrink if the barrel locked up a bit more precisely during each firing cycle. When the slide returns to battery, its fit with the muzzle-end of the barrel is quite loose, and for that reason the barrel could conceivably end up pointed in slightly different directions between shots. The looseness is easily felt by making sure the gun is unloaded, placing a thumb on the muzzle of the barrel, and pushing left and right as well as up and down. The barrel wiggles in all directions. The difference in barrel and slide opening diameters is 0.025 inch, and shrinking the fit between the two might improve accuracy without having a negative impact on reliability.
There was a time when all Taurus firearms were designed and made in Brazil. The TX22 was designed by American engineers and is manufactured at the Taurus USA facilities in Bainbridge, Georgia, and Miami, Florida. This new .22 autoloader serves as an example of many more good things to come from Taurus.
Taurus TX22 SpecsManufacturer:
.22 Long RifleMagazine Capacity:
10 or 16 roundsBarrel:
4.1 in.Overall Length:
5.45 in.Weight, Empty:
Integral to polymer frameFinish:
Three-dot system, adjustable rear, post frontTrigger:
5.8-lb. pull (as tested)Safety:
Ambidextrous manual thumb safetyMSRP:
Taurus TX22 Accuracy & Velocity