Rock Island Armory XT .22 Magnum: A Hard-Hitting, All-Purpose Rimfire Pistol

A .22 Magnum-chambered semi-automatic pistol that is reliable, accurate and which holds plenty of rounds has long been on my personal wish list—and if you are serious about your guns, chances are it is on yours too. Luckily, Arms Corporation of the Philippines (Armscor) is aiming to please like-minded Pistoleros with its recent introduction of the RIA XT-22 pistol chambered for the potent .22 Magnum (aka .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire or .22 WMR) cartridge.

General Specs

The XT-22 Magnum is deceptively similar in appearance to the M1911 pistol. In truth, however, it is a very different pistol in both design and dimensions. So, forget about caliber swaps using alternate slide assemblies. This all-steel pistol is no lightweight at 35.3 ounces, unloaded.

XT22 Mag right
R.I.A. XT-22 Magnum: This is one rugged and powerful small bore pistol that may redefine the “kitgun” concept. Its stainless-steel magazine is specially made for this particular model by Mec-Gar of Italy. (Photo by IGG)

Slide assembly. The XT-22 Magnum is of an open-top slide design somewhat similar to the upper half of the Berretta 92 or Taurus 92 series pistols. Its barrel is a two-piece assembly consisting of a grooved inner lining—and a hollow outer tube. The inner lining inserts into the outer tube to jointly form a heavy profile barrel. The gun comes standard with fiber optic front sights, which contrasts nicely with the fixed, plain black rear sights.

Frame assembly. The XT-22 Magnum frame looks and functions like that on any M1911 pistol. However, it is slightly longer around the grip area in order to accommodate the longer .22 Magnum cartridge. This slight difference in measurement requires that most parts be especially made and therefore, not interchangeable with those on a standard M1911. Only the hammer, grip & thumb safeties as well as the mainspring housing are compatible with a true M1911.

Magazine. Armscor engineers revealed that designing the magazine turned out to be the most challenging part of the whole project. Designing a double-stacked magazine (15 rounds) to accommodate the long yet thin .22 WMR and make it feed reliably was no easy task, they said. Curiously, at first glance the XT-22 Magnum magazine resembles the single-column magazine on a .38 Super, but a closer inspection will reveal that it is something else entirely.

XT22 Mag left
The .22 WMR’s awkward profile–which is long, straight-walled and with a very pronounced rim, has long been a hindrance to reliable feeding in semi-auto pistols. Armscor seems to have solved reliability issues with the XT-22 Magnum. (Photo by IGG)

How Potent is the .22 Magnum?

When fired from the 5-inch barrel of the XT-22, the best .22 Magnum loads should generate a muzzle velocity in the vicinity of 1,400 fps—when launching a 40-grain projectile. This translates to about 180 foot pounds of muzzle energy, or thereabouts. Roughly, that puts it in the same league as a standard-pressure (non +P) .38 Special when shot from a snub-nosed revolver. I am, however, in no position to answer how such respectable performance on paper translates into real-world stopping power.

XT-22 Mag open slide
The XT-22 Magnum’s fixed sight set-up is rugged and user-friendly. Its feed ramp is well polished to prevent feeding hang ups. The pistol’s slide is an open-top design. (Photo by IGG)

At the range

Our test gun was the very first perfected prototype, bearing the serial number XT001. Its construction seemed pretty solid with no play between slide and frame. Also, it was nicely finished with deep Parkerizing and there were no noticeable tool marks to ruin this handsome piece. We instantly got the impression that this was a well-made pistol with no unnecessary frills.

Our first attempt to empty the 15-round magazine was marred by three almost consecutive stoppages! Deeply concerned, our hosts at Armscor quickly rushed in to investigate the cause. As it turned out, the test gun was recently field stripped and then incorrectly reassembled with a key component missing! It must be said that a gun that can successfully fire 12 out of 15 shots while missing a component is worthy of praise not contempt!

XT-22 Mag bore v1
The XT-22 Magnum’s “bull” barrel is actually a 2-piece assembly consisting of a grooved inner lining and an outer shell, which is readily apparent in this photo. (Photo by IGG)

The technical staff simply installed the missing part (something in the slide assembly) and told us to try the pistol again. And try it again and again we did. For the remainder of our extended session the pistol fed and ejected with absolute reliability—through hundreds of rounds! We used Armscor’s generic 40-grain JHP loads exclusively during this test.

Accuracy-wise, our range session revealed the XT-22 Magnum to be more than sufficiently accurate for its intended purpose. At the 10-meter line offhand, keeping all shots inside the target board’s “A zone” was no trouble at all. When we stepped back another 5-meters, similar results were achieved with a minimal increment in effort. Remember, the fixed sight format gives it away as a no-nonsense general-purpose working gun and not a dedicated target/competition pistol.

XT-22 Mag bore
The XT-22 Magnum is a good fit for most holsters made for the M1911 pistol, including the author’s Fobus. (Photo by IGG)

Perceived recoil on the XT-22 Magnum, while not exactly non-existent, was very mild indeed. And it is apparently this lack of recoil that prevents the slide from locking back after the magazine is emptied. One must simply accept this as part of the overall design. On the other hand, pulling back on the slide’s 8 or 9 pound recoil spring to chamber a fresh round from a newly-inserted magazine took little effort.

PLAY:  Our evaluation session with XT-22 Magnum which took place at the Armscor range in Marikina City last August 18, was made possible through the efforts of overall range boss Bob Sajot and Marketing/PR officer Lina San Diego—both of whom we would like to thank again.

Home defense?

When I was a kid (and fledgling gun nut) in the early 1980’s, elder shooters often compared the .22 Magnum to the .38 Special, telling me that it was just as lethal. Back then, civilians had fewer choices in caliber, and so a majority of them selected the popular .38 Special revolver for home/personal defense. But also during this period, .22 Magnum revolvers had a steady following among private citizens as well as private security agencies seeking a cost effective and easy-to-master defensive handgun. The .22 Magnum was then seen as a practical alternative for the non-gun enthusiast.

Armscor .22 Mag empty shells
Team HDJ gave the XT-22 Magnum test gun quite a work out! Armscor’s .22 WMR ammunition ( 40-grain JHP) proved to be quite reliable, with no misfires or catastrophic case failures during the evaluation. (Photo by IGG)

Today, as an older gun nut, I have come to realize that the .22 Magnum is probably not “as lethal” as a .38 Special when fired from similar barrel lengths. A .22 WMR fired from a handgun simply cannot produce velocities needed to create the hydrostatic shock associated with centerfire rifle cartidges. Meanwhile, the now-often-neglected .38 Special still has a much larger frontal area than any .22 caliber. Still, there seems to be enough evidence to suggest that the effects of both calibers downrange are close enough.

Armscor technical staff w. HDJ
The staff of Armscor’s New Product Development Department were on hand during HDJ’s product test session to answer any questions and remedy any issues with regards to the XT-22 Magnum. (Photo by IGG)

The RIA XT-22 Magnum appears to provide a strong argument in favor of the .22 WMR—with its 15-shot magazine, compared to the 6-shot capacity of most .38 Special revolvers. Armscor seems to have solved all the technical issues that make the .22 Magnum so hard to reliably chamber in auto pistols. So, what you have in the XT-22 Magnum is a reliable, accurate, high round capacity pistol whose mild manners make it easy to shoot well. I certainly want one!

 

SRP of XT-22 Magnum: Php 28,000.00

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “Rock Island Armory XT .22 Magnum: A Hard-Hitting, All-Purpose Rimfire Pistol

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s