We wanted to take a look at pistols that are capable of centerfire-caliber conversions. A pistol with the ability to train in a more affordable caliber, or have the ability to increase power, speaks to our practical side since multiple pistols in multiple calibers can be expensive. We also like that a shooter is essentially using the same grip, sights, and trigger, so he doesnt have to adapt to a pistol with different grip angle, sights, or trigger weight and pull. We also think having a pistol that can adapt to different calibers means ammo is easier to find for your pistol. With these thoughts in mind, we acquired a SIG Sauer P226 Nitron in 9mm ($1087) and a Caliber X-Change Kit in 357 SIG ($370). The total setup cost $1457. If you own a pistol capable of caliber conversion, then you just need to opt for the caliber-conversion components. The total for the 40 S&W Glock G35 Gen3 ($560), Glockstore Double Diamond 9mm conversion barrel ($160) and Magpul 27-round magazine ($22) set us back $742. The Rock Island Armory (RIA) TCM TAC Ultra MS HC comes from the factory capable of firing both 9mm and the hot-rod 22 TCM round; total cost is $960. Part of our evaluation was to also see how difficult it was to convert between calibers, and we found it was as easy as field-stripping the pistol and dropping in replacement parts. Across the board, we found that no gunsmithing expertise was required, and you can swap back to the factory caliber easily.
For accuracy testing we benched all three pistols in their paired calibers and fired at targets set at 25 yards. We performed speed drills at 10 yards, firing a magazine as fast as we could while still keeping hits in an 8-inch-diameter-or-smaller target. During close range work, we also performed a variety of magazine reloads and tactical reloads. Overall, we found a lot to like with the conversion kits, and in the case of the Glock, you could be firing 9mm out of a 40 S&W Glock for less than $200. The cost of a new Glock pistol in a separate chambering is nearly three times that amount. We also discovered that swapping calibers poses point-of-impact issues with the Glock, but not with the RIA. The SIG, set up with separate slide assemblies and magazines, was the best choice because there were no point-of-impact issues. The RIA had us very happy in 9mm, but in 22 TCM, we had numerous failures to eject 22 TCM cases a no go, in our opinion. Here are the details.Read More