August 10, 2022


Angled rear view of the RIA MAPP MS 9mm handgun

Unwinding the initials in the name helps tell the story of this delightful little gun. Let’s start with TCM, and I’ll add the “9” in a minute. “T” is for Tauson, the family name of the owners of Rock Island Armory (RIA) in the Philippines. “C” is for Fred Craig, the gunsmith who helped develop the caliber. “M” stands for Micromagnum. Craig and Tauson unveiled a cartridge around 2015 that was simply 22TCM which used a shortened .223 to make a .22 cartridge that would fire in a Rock Island 1911.

Later, this cartridge was modified to use a 9mm magazine by adjusting the shoulder length of the 22TCM case to exactly match that of the 9mm. The pistol that is the subject of this article is the one RIA modified slightly from an existing pistol design to shoot this new cartridge designated the 22TCM9R. The 22TCM and the 22TCM9R are not compatible, though they look similar. The difference in shoulder length of the case ensures they cannot be used interchangeably.

RIA MAPP MS 9mm pistol with weapons light attached to the dust cover
A rail on the dust guard invites the use of a light or laser or a combination such as this Streamlight TLR 4

Rock Island MAPP

When I was first introduced to the MAPP MS (medium size) pistol, it was like meeting an old friend. When teaching the Texas Concealed Handgun License Course to new shooters, I often introduced them to the EAA Witness P as a suitable concealed carry pistol, at an affordable price. I had a couple of them available as loaners which allowed the students who didn’t own a gun to shoot them during the shooting proficiency stage of qualification. There were other, more expensive models in the bag as well, but invariably those who shot one of the EAAs came back after class and bought one.

It is said by those who have traveled abroad, the CZ 75 is in Europe what the 1911 is in the U.S. Naturally, there are a lot of clone manufacturers for the CZ 75, as there are for the 1911. The fact that Armscor is producing this particular polymer version means a proven design lives on and at an affordable price.

Most CZ clone manufacturers alter the design slightly, especially for the polymer models, but I always felt the EAA Witness version was as good as they come. When I first held the MAPP in my hands, my suspicion was confirmed. The only discernable difference between it and the Tanfoglio pistol was the word “Philippines” on the right side of the frame and the Rock Island logo on the slide. I did a little investigation and learned the parts for the MAPP are manufactured in Italy by Tanfoglio and shipped to the Philippines for final assembly. Mystery solved.

When you hold the MAPP, you understand immediately why the CZ 75 and its clones have never needed interchangeable backstraps. Like the 1911, it’s a model that just fits your hand naturally no matter the size of your hand. The gun weighs 28 ounces. A loaded 16-round magazine adds 8 ounces. The barrel length is 3.66 inches with a 1-in-16 twist.

There is a Picatinny rail — handy should you wish to use this as a home defense handgun. Trigger pull on the evaluation model averaged 6.2 pounds, single action. The double-action trigger pull was 14 pounds. You can carry this gun cocked-and-locked, so the double-action trigger pull would not be a factor. The LPA sights are snag-free with three well-defined white dots. These sights are dovetailed and could easily be exchanged for fully adjustable sights, night sights, or sights of another color. The gun came with two 16-round magazines.

rear quartering view of the RIA MAPP handgun
The three-dot sights are boldly visible and dovetailed should you wish to upgrade.

The stainless-steel slide on the MAPP fits inside the polymer frame. This is in keeping with the original CZ design. The entire top side of the slide is rounded except for the last two inches where the gripping serrations are located. The slide racks easily, even with my old arthritic hands and shoulders, and the slide lock lever is easily pushed up with your thumb when the slide is fully to the rear. The other controls, on the left side, include the safety which firmly snaps on/off giving me complete confidence in cocked-and-locked carry, and the magazine release which can be reversed for left-handed shooters.

Takedown for cleaning is pure CZ. Remove the magazine and eject any round in the chamber. After triple-ensuring the gun is unloaded, and with the slide in battery and hammer cocked, grasp the gun in your right hand with your thumb underneath the beavertail. Wrap the fingers of that hand around the top of the slide, and with them, pull the slide back about a quarter-inch until the little dot at the rear of the slide and the corresponding dot at the rear of the frame are in vertical alignment. Using the base of the magazine or another flat object, push or tap on the protruding part of the takedown pin on the right side of the frame until it’s flush.

You should then be able to remove the takedown pin from the left side of the frame. Remove the slide from the frame by pushing it forward on its rails. Compress the recoil spring and remove it, and its guide rod. You can then lift the barrel from the slide. The gun is now ready for inspection and cleaning. Reassembly is straightforward, essentially reversing the steps.

leftside controls on the RIA MAPP MS 9mm pistol
The slide lock, safety, and magazine release are all easily reached and easy to operate.

While the gun is apart, it is interesting to make note of how the internal trigger block safety works. It’s just the opposite of how many of them work. The safety button inside of the slide is held up to block the firing pin from moving forward until the trigger is in its full rearward position.

Accuracy and Reliability

Inside the case was an orange warranty information card with a note saying that due to the fit and tightness of the firearm, RIA recommends a break-in period of 500 rounds. I bought the gun as a 22TCM9R, and just to test my hypothesis about it being the same gun as the EAA Witness, I ordered a 9mm barrel from EAA. The barrel fit the gun perfectly, and I now have two guns in one. Both calibers use the same magazine. It’s nice to be able to shoot 9mm ammo in the pistol in times when the Armscor TCM 9R ammo might not be available.      

I saw no evidence at the range of this gun needing a 500-round, break-in period. On my first trip to the range, I shared the shooting chores with several others, including new friends I met at the range. As we continued shooting, we all continued to get good results.

Field Stripped RIA MAPP 9mm semi automatic pistol
Easy takedown and cleaning make the MAPP an excellent first pistol or personal defense pistol.

Switching to the 9mm barrel, I had several brands of 9mm, including Novx 65-grain ARX, Browning 147-grain BXP, Hornady 115-grain Critical Defense, and Fiocchi 124-grain JHP. After shooting at least one entire magazine with a particular brand, we started mixing and matching. All in all, we shot over 500 rounds that afternoon and had absolutely no malfunctions. Five-hundred round break-in or not, we now had a broken-in gun to put to the test at 25 yards. This would require another range trip.

Back home, I cleaned the gun for the first time. A couple of days later, I headed to my favorite outdoor range for some 25-yard shooting. That day, I fired 5-shot groups with Armscor’s TCM9R ammunition, then switched barrels and continued firing these 9mm cartridges: Armscor 124-grain FMJ, Browning 147 Grain BXP, Federal Hydra-Shok 115-grain, and Inceptor ARX 65-grain. The Armscor gave me one group of three inside 3 inches with the other two 5 and 7 inches away. The ARX all grouped within 5 inches and all rounds fired landed within a 9-inch circle regardless of the brand.

Confident in the accuracy and reliability of the handgun, my big question was whether to carry it with 22TCM9R ammo or with 9mm ammo. The only reason I can think of to carry it with 22TCM9R instead of 9mm would be just to say you have. It’s much like 5.7×28 ammo. Both make a lot of noise and spit a lot of fire, so they may scare the bad guys away.

The MAPP draws easily and aims naturally. I’ve always loved that about this design. After the first week of becoming reacquainted with the gun, I rummaged around and found an Alien Gear holster set up for a Springfield XD that fit the MAPP quite well. So, for another week, I carried it in the Alien Gear holster. Just for the heck of it, I carried it as a 22TCM9R for that week, then switched back to one of my regular 9mm pistols for EDC.

Orange and white paper target with a RIA MAPP 9mm handgun and Armscor 9mm ammunition
This first-shot group from 15 feet was done with no break-in period.

Conclusion

What are my conclusions? I’m glad to see Rock Island has kept this model alive in both 9mm and 22TCM9R. The MSRP on the MAPP MS 9mm is $492 with street prices around $400. Checking around, I found several retailers who, just like I had done, had overlooked this gun. But we all remembered the EAA Witness P. Here it is again, and from a company that is realistic with its pricing, and relentless about quality and standing behind its products. I suspect I’ll be keeping this one.

RIA MAPP, CZ 75, EAA Witness, Tanfoglio — All are great choices with strong followings. The question comes down to steel or polymer, a few aesthetics, availability, and cost. Which one(s) would you choose? Share your answer in the comment section.



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