Small and Large Frame Pistols and the 22TCM, 5.7FN, and 7.62TOK

The majority of modern semi-auto pistols are built around the size envelope of the 9mm Luger cartridge. These 9mm Luger sized pistols are commonly referred to as Small Frame pistols. Other cartridges which fit small framed pistols are the 40SW, 357SIG, and 45GAP.

There are also Large Frame pistols which are most commonly found in 45ACP, although there other large frame cartridges such as the 38 Super Auto and 10mm Auto. The 22TCM, as originally designed, is a large frame cartridge developed specifically to work in the M1911 and its double stack variants.

Note that Larger Frame and Small Frame designations are separate from those that describe the overall size of a pistol such as Full Sized, Compact, Sub Compact, Government, Commander, Officer’s, etc.

As you can see in the attached image the 7.62 Tokarev is longer than the Large Framed 38 Super Auto and 22TCM cartridges. And the 5.7FN is longer still than the 7.62 Tokarev. The 7.62 Tokarev is just able to be shoved into in a Large Framed pistol’s 38 Super Auto magazine and function; provided one is willing to live with a few limitations. The 5.7FN is an absolute no-go in any and all small frame or large frame pistols.

The 22TCM was originally designed as a large frame cartridge. Rock Island Armory wanted to increase sales potential, and thus by loading a lighter, very short ogive bullet into the same case the 22TCM 9R variant was born. The 9R variant exists to fit within the magazines of the common small framed pistols on the market such as GLOCK 17, Beretta 92, etc.

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