April 03, 2023
By Stan Trzoniec
For small-game hunting, survival, plinking or just good ol’ target shooting, while still offering some personal protection, a good .22 rimfire revolver is a good bet. While there are plenty on the market today to satisfy most shooters, occasionally one comes along that just says, “Buy me!”
The new nine-shot stainless revolver from Rock Island Armory is one such gun. From its clean lines to its fine fit and finish, the gun has the feel and heft of a larger gun. And it should, as it’s built on the same frame as its .357 Magnum cousin. In fact, in its overall profile, it reminds me of the semi-custom guns of years past when gunsmiths combined the fine shooting qualities of the Colt Python barrels with a Smith & Wesson medium-frame gun for competition and called it a “Smolt” (Smith-Colt).
The gun checks in at 2.25 pounds, and while some may consider that a bit much for a rimfire revolver, it feels good in the hand. With the rubber grips, the larger cylinder and underlug barrel, the balance is spread over the entire gun.
Overall, the final finish is well done with a satin patina on the stainless with no burn marks on any part of the gun, especially on the barrel/frame juncture. That means both were polished separately and attached later for that custom look.
Additionally, all the hard-to-reach places for a polishing wheel to attack—like behind the recoil shield, trigger guard, top rib or cylinder flutes and crane—are done with precision. The only thing I object to is how prominent the names of the distributor and manufacturing locations are. In my opinion, this laser engraving below the cylinder release does not complement what is otherwise a handsome revolver.
The cylinder release has been improved with a bit of a curve on the forward part, which aids purchase—as do the serrations on its face. The cylinder measures 1.47 inches in diameter by 1.62 inches in length. Considering the average length of a .22 Long Rifle is only 0.975 inch, the cylinder is plenty long for the .22 Magnum, and such a gun is available as the AL22M. All the charge holes are recessed, allowing the rims to fit flush with the back of the cylinder.
The crane is well-fitted. The ejector rod allows the spent cases to eject fully with ease, and the lockwork is well-timed, as evidenced by the absence of a drag mark round the periphery of the cylinder.
The leading edge of the cylinder has been polished for easy holstering, and the cylinder spins easily and closes as solid as a bank vault. The cylinder bolt is off-center, allowing for smooth rotation during double-action trigger pulls.
The hammer is serrated for sure purchase, and under the hammer is the traditional transfer-bar arrangement that rises when the hammer is cocked for ignition and drops down on the release of the trigger.
Single-action trigger pull registered four pounds with a minimal take-up; double-action broke at 13 pounds and is adjustable via a cam screw under the right grip panel. The trigger face is serrated and has the width and curvature of a service-type gun. The trigger guard has enough room to accommodate a normal-size winter glove.
The fully adjustable target-style rear sight is plain black. Again, precision in machining is shown here, as the tang of the rear sight fits extremely tight within the top frame and should hold this position for years. The notch is just right and frames the red insert on the front sight with just a bit of light on each side when positioned correctly. The top of the barrel is serrated to help keep reflections at bay on bright, sunny days.
The barrel and shroud are two pieces that are secured at the barrel/frame juncture. The diameter of the host barrel is 0.668 inch; the shroud is 0.745 inch. The heavy 0.558-inch underlug is relieved to house and protect the ejector rod.
My sample came with rubber finger-groove grips with a knobby texture and a palm swell that will work for both right- and left-handed shooters. Both sides of the grips have their own individual screws to secure them to the frame.
Accuracy results are shown in the accompanying table. The best group of the day went to the 1.4-inch group produced by Winchester Power-Point.
While some may opine about the weight of this gun, overall I had no problems with gun in looks, finish, shooting handling and accuracy. I’ve always liked rimfire guns, and this Rock Island Armory AL22 is a quality revolver that certainly qualifies as a “real gun.” Try it. You’re gonna love it!
Rock Island Armory AL22 Specifications
- Type: Single-action/double-action revolver
- Caliber: .22 Long Rifle
- Capacity: 9 rounds
- Barrel: 4 in.
- OAL/Height/Width: 9.75/4.0/1.5 in.
- Weight: 36 oz.
- Finish: Polished stainless steel
- Grips: Textured rubber w/finger grooves
- Sights: Red-ramp front, fully adjustable rear
- Trigger: SA pull, 4 lb.; DA pull, 13 lb. (measured)
- Safety: Transfer bar
- Price: $659
- Manufacturer / Importer: Armscor USA, armscor.com