No one had to twist my arm to do the review featured here. This test was just plain fun.
I recently experimented with Tactical Solutions’ TSG–22, .22 Long Rifle Conversion for Glock pistols. I am a fan of sub-caliber training to improve shooting skills. Recently I recently began playing with a Crosman MAR-177, a PCP (Pre-Charged Pneumatic) upper in .177 for an AR-15 lower. It was designed as a serious trainer for service rifle competition and has all of the accuracy and twice the fun for practicing with the service carbine. The TSG-22 is a similar concept for Glock handguns.
The TSG–22 is a complete kit, which replaces the Glock slide assembly. It is a slide, barrel, recoil spring and complete upper operating system for a Glock receiver. As a drop-in solution, it does not require tools, fitting or adjustments for the end user. One simply removes the centerfire slide from the Glock 17, 22, 34, 35 and 37, and replaces it with the TSG-22. The .22 LR magazines have the same form factor and similar operating system as the centerfire version.
The TSG-22 slide has the same fixtures and dimensions as original Glock sights, allowing the law enforcement officer to configure this slide the same as the duty slide. My personal preference is XS Big Dot Sights (you can find this review in LET’s September 2012 issue.)
The barrel on the TSG-22 is heavy, a result of maintaining similar dimensions to the original with a much smaller chamber and caliber. It also has a recessed target crown, which ensures accuracy is protected from abuse. Since it is a .22, the ejector is attached to the barrel using an Allen screw. This ejector should not be removed for any reason, in fact removal will void the warranty. Anyone who shoots .22 LR often will testify that fixtures like ejectors rarely wear out, and this one leans toward the over-engineered side. The TSG-22 can be purchased with a threaded barrel (1/2 inches x 28 TPI), if the agency wishes to train with suppressors on this product.
The recoil shield area, where the base of the cartridge contacts the slide, is part of the firing pin housing, which captures the firing pin, an assembly similar to Glock’s striker assembly. The Tactical Solutions version does a fine job engaging the “cruciform” shaped (trigger bar) Glock firing mechanism. The finish of the inner parts is meticulous.
When reassembling the firing pin housing, I kept losing the firing pin safety spring, which is teeny. I use a protective mat and keep a magnet nearby for just this purpose. Field stripping and routine cleaning is all this product needs during normal use. I recommend that shooters remove the firing pin housing assembly every few maintenance sessions, not every field strip.
The TSG-22 field strips like a Glock slide, except with an additional recoil guide rod fixture. This fixture gives the barrel just a little more clearance for the steep angle of the barrel when pulling it from the slide. This allows for tighter tolerances, which means tighter groups on the range.
Tactical Solutions has several similar products, including an AR-22 conversion, which is a .22 LR complete upper for the AR-15, and a .22 LR conversion for 1911 style handguns. Eventually, I will get a new AR-22LT, the lightweight 22 LR conversion, suitable for plinking and training.
The TSG-22 slide has a nitride coating that gives it the subdued look consistent with Glock products. For a .22 LR product, the durability of this finish is tested a lot more than a centerfire counterpart. After all, a Winchester 555 (.22 LR 555, a bulk pack of 555 rounds 36-grain HP) is about the cheapest afternoon of training in the industry. That’s several times more training one would do on a centerfire gun. My holster use and shooting sessions did not cause any wear to the finish.
Keith Feeley of Tactical Solutions told me that the TSG-22 has specific ammunition recommendations, which are 40-grain round nose-high velocity cartridges like CCI Blazer and Mini Mags, and Federal 710 Game-Shock loads. True to form, I grabbed a couple Tactical Solutions magazines and loaded them with whatever I had in my cabinet. Keith was right. Every copper plated medium to high velocity round nosed 40-grain cartridge worked flawlessly. Anything target velocity jammed at least one round per magazine. Winchester 555 cartridges work just fine. Since I can get them at Bass Pro Shops, Brownells and Wal-Mart for pennies a round, practice just got perfect.
The TSG-22 polymer magazine has the same size and shape of the Glock magazine, but one pinches the follower and pulls it down to load it. Since the cartridge base of a .22 LR is rimmed, the feed angle has to be correct every time, lest the rim overlap causes a misfeed. The magazines are sturdy and worked without a hitch. I found I could hold the magazine body in my hand and lower the follower with just my thumb on one side, filling it faster than I can a centerfire version. Like any magazine, I would be cautious about dropping them directly on the lips, and encourage using carpet sections in likely magazine change areas.
Not only is the TSG-22 accurate, with some cartridges this upper is exceptional. When I clearly determined its favorite loads, I shot it rapid fire, stripping and reloading. From the bench I could almost cover my groups with a quarter. It shot point of aim from the installed sights and loosely coincided with my Lasergrip, which I left installed on my Glock for this test.
There are several reasons why sub caliber training is important, but the foremost is trigger time. Since the TSG-22 allows the shooter to use the same holsters, shooting manipulations, techniques and range distances, an agency can literally use this product for regular training and pre-qualification.
What’s the best application for the TSG-22? Force decision making and manipulation drills. I recorded a short video for iPad users to give an idea of the lack of recoil in this product, and to give readers an idea that I need to use the product to practice my draw stroke.
The Firearms Training Unit in our agency did what your agencies do; we used our limited budget to build scenarios as realistically as possible. My favorite was the one we made from fencing, door frames and discarded materials including an old freezer display case. The interior was punctuated with remote controlled pop-up targets.
The range master was able to switch between the kid-with-a-mop and the kid-with-a-gun behind the freezer. The scenario was not a call. The officer was instructed to simply stop by the convenience store for coffee. He would have to go through the doorway and do as he would while getting his coffee. Sometimes he would be presented with a target rich environment, sometimes he walked away without firing a shot. TSG-22 officers can run this scenario dozens of times in its many combinations. Even though I put this one together I nearly shot the kid with the mop, by the way.
In these scenarios, one should occasionally overlay a silhouette target over a second for that hostage shot target practice. Run it with the TSG-22, and then follow up with the duty slide.
What else should the officer do with the TSG-22? Well, in civilian terms, we call it plinking, which is different from training, unless the activity has a specific improvement goal. Get one, get a brick of .22’s and head for the range. Don’t come back with unexpended cartridges.
Lindsey Bertomen is a retired police officer who teaches administration of justice at Hartnell College in Salinas, California.