Skip to comments.Do the Math [.22 LR conversion kits for the AR-15]
Posted on 08/16/2010 5:17:02 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
Ammo prices being what they are these days, I find myself looking into .22 LR conversion kits for guns I like to shoot regularly. Currently, my preferred load for AR-15s is running just over $0.40 per round, while .22 LR is running about $0.03 per round. So I was obviously interested in Brownells AR-15 .22 LR Conversion Kit. I reasoned that, after one 550-round milk carton of .22 LR, the $199 kit would pay for itself. The other option would be a dedicated .22 LR upper, which costs more and Id have to purchase additional optics and other accessories to make it comparable to my other AR-15s. The kit seemed like a no-brainer, presuming it worked.
The kit now ships from Brownells with three, 26-round magazines. Its a drop-in unit that replaces the entire bolt-carrier assembly. Installation is easy and no gunsmithing or fitting is required. Pop out your bolt-carrier assembly and drop the kit in. It operates via direct blowback and has an insert that looks like a 5.56 NATO shell. It also came with a rubber sleeve that holds the unit. You should hang onto this for safe storage.
The ammo recommended is high-velocity, round-nosed ammo. Brownells recommends you lubricate the kit prior to shooting and says the kit requires a break-in period. So, I lubed it up with some Rem-Oil and loaded up a few magazines with Federal ammo and dropped the unit into my daughters pretty AR-15 to see how it would do. Her AR is a J&T Distributing Lightweight Upper with a chrome-lined, 1:9-inch-twist barrel.
Magazines fit snuglythere were no issues with wobble. And the fact the mags allow you to see your ammunition is a plus. When installed, the charging handle doesnt move as far rearward as an AR shooter is accustomed. That took some getting used to. At 25 to 50 yards, I was hitting steel plates and clay pigeons with ease. On paper, I found it was slightly less accurate than firing 5.56 NATO through the same gun. An AR-15 barrel isnt designed with a twist rate for .22 LR, so that was expected. I was getting about 1.5-inch groups at 25 yards standing. I consider that sufficient accuracy for the kits intended purpose. There was virtually no felt recoil, which was also unsurprising.
The magazine holds the bolt open on the last shot. Ejecting the magazine releases the bolt. While its a nice visual check to verify youve expended a magazine, it doesnt lend itself to practicing speed reloads.
In nine magazines, I had zero failures to fire and zero failures to feed with the 550-round milk carton of Federal .22 LR. Though round-nosed ammo is recommended, I had no issues with the hollow-point Federal rounds. It doesnt seem to me that the kit required a break-in period. Firing a .22 through the AR-15 sounded very quiet, and I could have easily shot this configuration all day. I see myself doing that, regularly.
If you want to inexpensively practice sight alignment, trigger squeeze and some drills with your AR-15 rifle, this is a fine product. But, bear in mind, there are a few things with which it doesnt help, practicing magazine reloads being the most important. The light recoil doesnt lend itself to perfect practice for follow-up shots either, but shooting ammo less than 1/10 the cost, I see getting a lot of use out of this kit.
At one time, Colt AR-15’s regularly came with a .22LR conversion kit. Around 1988 I had a friendly dealer trade me several Colt H-Bars for various other guns. They all came with the conversion kits.
I only tried the .22 unit once and was pleasantly surprised how well it worked. Since the H-Bar at the time had a 1-7 twist which is way faster than the 1-16 the .22LR normally uses, the accuracy really did surprise me.
All in all tho just more trouble than I wanted to go to since I had a bunch of other .22 rifles and could really see no reason to shoot them in the AR.
It would be better to test the rifle and the shooter separately. Otherwise what should we conclude - that the kit has accuracy of 6 MOA? That would be pretty bad, unless the sound is the only desirable effect of the exercise :-)
Thanks for posting this. I was wondering about this conversion kit. It would let me shoot at my local pistol range rather than taking a much longer trip to a rifle range that doesn’t much like EBRs.
Local gun dealer here is getting about 40 Rock River AR-15s in on a one time buy. I have to see which model it is, but I think that at $695 I’m gonna go for it.
I want an over-under .308/.22 barrel setup. Do any exist?
What I have never understood about these conversion kits is that (as you point out) they do not provide you with the full shooting experience. For example, putting one in a Model 1911 just gives you a heavy pistol shooting an anemic round. No recoil, no muzzle creep, yuck. You’re not really shooting a Model 1911.
Why do it? Yes, I know, the savings in ammo. Why not shoot less but when you do, shoot the real thing.
If the SHTF of an apoplectic nature, like maybe an EMP attack, one of the most practical guns for survival will be a 22LR. Not so much for protection of the homestead, but for hunting the small game that you will soon have to rely on for food. The large game would soon be depleted in such a global disaster, so dont plan on refer full of venison. Thats if you even have power for the refer. Rabbit, squirrel, opossum, birds of all kinds, even roaming domestic animals if it came down to it.
You could stock up on years worth of 22LR now for not that much money, and a good 22 is also very accurate and the sound doesnt travel far incase you had to do your survival hunting on someone elses land.
Bullets of all kinds will also be a top bartering item if cash was no longer of value.
How bout a Ruger 10-22?
I have one of these kits. Well worth the money.
Make you own.
That’s the basic gun everybody should have at least one of.
I agree with you and the same reasons hold true for several high powered air rifles and a lot of pellets. Even cheaper than .22 LR. Also even quieter.
The kits look fun, but they usually cost more than a dedicated .22 rifle would cost. I have always come down on the side of having two fully functional firearms rather than a rifle that can only work as a .22 part of the time.
Of course, if you live where it is really difficult to legally own more than one rifle, it would have its advantages.
That is a great one, and if you want it to look scary, conversions kits flood the market.
When I bought my AR-15 it was a choice between it and the Ruger, but I ended up going for the AR-15. It was $440. Sold it 13 years later for $650 to pay for my Wife’s engagement ring. And I've been kicking my self in the but ever since, because they have nothing but gone up up up in value. Now I just have handguns.
Looking now for a 22LR for my son who will be turning 9 soon. Maybe get a pair of them so we can do some father son plinking.
Ruger SR-22. No conversion kit necessary. Costs $499.00. Can be outfitted with any AR-15 accessory. This gun is so much fun to shoot at the range, and ammo is so cheap.
The first reloaded round is VERY expensive!
Might makes just as much sense to own an air rifle. Deadly to small game but a very low report. If the SHTF it may be wise to not let your neighbors know you are around. Just a thought.
.22LR is under appreciated IMO.
If I had and guns anymore, I might have several 10-22 and Mk IIs. Maybe even a .22 revolver and a Marlin and a Savage. And lots of rounds. Lots.
But I don’t.
I agree with you and the same reasons hold true for several high powered
air rifles and a lot of pellets. Even cheaper than .22 LR. Also even quieter.
I’m only a customer of Cabelas for footware and other outdoor hardware.
I noted something like a double-page of what I’d call high-end air rifles
in the latest catalog I received.
If I was a nusiance squirrel, rabbit or other small critter,
I’d be afraid, very afraid.
Of any human that availed themselves of one of these premium air rifles.
Heck, even the greenies next door might never know you were getting
rid of some pain-in-the-@$$ critters.
Hence, no calls to city/county officials and local enviro-activist groups.
I went through Lackand in 1977 and at that time we were still shooting 5.56 NATO.
By 1980, however, annual re-qualification was with .22LR conversions at miniature targets at 25 yds, supposed to be a simulation of a full size silhouette at 100 yds.
I never had a malfunction, but the instructors said the kits didn't last very long.
Damn, another boating accident...
There is a great book where the S does hit the fan, that covers pretty well what could happen in just a years time.Its written as a fiction, but when you read it you find yourself taking notes, and underlining.
One Second After
I bought the same kit last month for my M&P. I only had a couple of FTF/FTE while going through about 200 rounds. I had way too much fun!!!
I agree, which is my my pistol and 3 rifles all shoot .22 LR, and why I have 10,000 rounds. I need to pick up another brick this weekend.
Good advise, I believe I am going to check on getting me one this weekend. I think 1000 pellets will be a good start for it. I also have a crossbow and extra arrows.
Add a suppressor and a box of subsonics and you’ll be very happy.
can LR be reloaded or is that rimfire?
Rimfire cartridges cannot be reloaded, so .22 LR is single use.
Part of it is getting used to the trigger, sights and general operation of the weapon. I have an old High Standard .22 that is supposed to have the same grip angle as a .45, but the difference in trigger and general operation are so significant, the only useful similarity is the grip and sight picture.
I like good air rifles and have owned a few. I still own a couple of decent ones. I learned to shoot with one. But, it is very hard to beat a .22 LR. The .22 is 5 times as powerful as the most powerfull .22 air rifle that you can easily obtain. A good air rifle and 10,000 pellets will cost as much as a good semiauto .22 and 10,000 rounds of ammo. The .22 will reliably kill deer and larger game, and has 3 times the effective range of the air rifle.
If you have a .22, and want the special purpose of the air rifle, by all means get an air rifle. If you want all around effectiveness for a low price and do not have a .22, buy a .22 and ammo first.
It’s rimfire, so I don’t think so.
Thanks for the advise. I already own a crossbow for the silent kill, so if the price is too high, I’ll just get some more .22 ammo.
Two weeks ago our local Wal-Mart closed out a bunch of air rifles. I bought a Beeman which has two barrels one in .22 and the other in .177. I generally prefer .177 but the .22 has it’s uses. That one included a nice scope all for $64.
Also bought a Crossman which also had a scope for $54. Both the Beeman and Crossman are rated at 1000fps with standard pellets and 1200 with special light pellets which I will never use. They seem to perform similarly tho the Beeman is better finished.
I also bought a cheap plastic Crossman model 760 for only $10. It is a pump up model and is quite accurate fir a ten dollar airgun.
I will try to eventually replace my Dianas, RWS model 34, 45, and 48 and a little gem made by Haenel. The Haenel is only rated at 760fps but is light, cocks easily, is more accurate than any other one I have owned and is beautifully finished. It is the only one I have ever seen. I had to sell them all while in grad school.
very well said NCD. but.....do not forget the air rifle as a ‘pot getter’. sound signature next to nothing....’ammo’ cheap and easy to stash. then again.... .223......22LR.......45acp....357 mag....have ‘em all. I’m Ret., living up in a small town/city in the mountains. hang in there!!!
Crossbows are fantastic. Accurate and quiet.
You could relate well with this guy
The I Like Guns music video....
My wife will only shoot a .22LR. I love to build AR-15’s so I built her an SP1 style rifle with a light barrel then put a Ciner conversion bolt in there. She loves it.
FTF/FTE’s are very rare with her rifle and usually occur due to a lack of lubrication. Every 50 shots or so I give it a blast of Remoil and it keeps humming along.
Remington is making a .22LR CB round that’s as quiet as a powerful air rifle out of a rifle length barrel. And they feed manually from a 10-22 magazine, which CB longs will not do.
OK...only question the article didn’t answer for me was whether this was blowback or gas operation. I’d think there was potential for serious crap building up in the gas tube either way.
Boating accident? Something like that.
One should never try to transport several firearms, ammunition, and reloading equipment in a jon boat. Dammit. I feel so foolish in retrospect.
Neptune and his minions sure are lucky.
They're blowback. Note that some of the .22 pistol versions of the AR, such as S&W's MP15.22, work just fine without a buffer tube or carrier rweturn spring. the same is true of most of their full-length brothers, excepting the USAF M262 training conversion, which indeedc has provision for the miniscule amount of gas from the .22 round to be vented through the barrel's gas port into the front of the conversion.
The .22 conversion units work very well in the Vietnam-era M16A1 and Colt commercial SP-1 AR-15s with a 1:12 twist barrel. I put a couple of dozen of our local Civil Air Patrol cadets through a qualification program with them, and the top four were then treated to a session at the Small Arms Firing Course at the national matches at Camp Perry, Ohio, One's gone on to become a USAF sniper and another's qualified expert while at the USAF Academy at Colorado Springs.
Not bad for a bunch of zoomies....
One should never try to transport several firearms, ammunition, and reloading equipment in a jon boat. Dammit. I feel so foolish in retrospect.
See! If you'd only slit the end of a 2-liter plastic pop bottle with a hacksaw, then hoseclamped the bottle on tightly onto an AR15s flash suppressor, it would have kept your rifle afloat. and happily, the high sight line of an M16/AR15 keeps the sights more-or-less clear, depending on the bottle configuration and brand of liquid used.
Of course with the .22 kit, it'd also function as a sound suppressor, but then there'd be a hole in the end of the bottle and it wouldn't serve as a float so well....
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