Drop in 22LR AR Conversions vs dedicated 22LR Upper vs dedicated 22LR AR


February 3, 2011, 05:38 PM
22LR is a good way to get inexpensive practice and introduce kids to the AR platform.

What are the pros and cons of using a drop in 22LR conversion kit vs a 22LR upper vs a 22LR AR-style gun?

I think the 22LR Upper would be the most expensive and most like an 5.56 AR.

The 22 LR AR-style guns (Smith and Wesson, Colt, Ruger, etc) all look fun but seem cheap (polymer frames, etc). I have read favorable reviews about the Smith+Wesson MP22.

The drop in conversion Kits (CMMG, etc) would be the cheapest. Are the drop in 22LR conversion kits problematic? Dirty? Prone to Jam?

What is your experience with these?

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February 3, 2011, 06:06 PM
I would be hesitant to run a 22lr bullet down the same bore that will later see a FMJ 223 round. The 22lr bullet is lead, coated with wax, and the wax (at the very least) will be deposited in the bore. The FMJ 223 round might not do well with this wax in the bore, both in terms of accuracy and possibly in terms of raising pressures.

February 3, 2011, 06:07 PM
Drop in bolt... Dirty? Very much so, especially the bolt itself. Problematic? Only when you find a box of weaker 22 ammo (one brick of Remington caused the most problems for me, but Federal ran fine, as did CCI). If you are thinking about picking one up I wouldn't hesitate, I shoot mine whenever I have a twitchy trigger finger so I don't burn 50 bucks worth of 223 ammo.

I don't know if I would jump on a dedicated 22 upper or a full gun modeled after an AR, simply because for a little more money you can get the real thing that shoots a 'real' round. If I had to, I would chose the drop in, but to each their own.

February 3, 2011, 06:25 PM
Drop ins are the cheapest, but they also are the least reliable. They can also be ammo-picky. They tend to break, as well... I know of several guys who have had the welds holding on the little round back plate onto the rear of the unit break off. Also, the twist rates on most 5.56/.223 barrels are faster than is optimal for a .22. I have heard that a 1/7 twist causes bullets to disintegrate mid-flight, or cause extremely poor accuracy. I have heard that rifle-length barrels have this problem worse than carbines, because the bullet spends a longer time in the barrel. They seem to work fine with 1/9 twist barrels, and reportedly work great in old A1-style 1/12 twist barrels. The other downside is that the bore on a .223 is about a thousanth larger than .22 LR, which causes accuracy to be less than it could be. however, I have seen several people shoot Expert on the Army Qualilification Tests we shoot at Appleseeds using .22 conversions, so the accuracy reduction probably isn't anything to worry about unless you need to do some serious precision shooting.

There really aren't any problems with a dedicated upper, as long as you buy a quality one. They have the right twist rate and bore size for .22, so accuracy might be a tad better than a bolt conversion. They tend to be a little more solidly built. Also, you use the same trigger and controls as on your AR, which makes for good training. They are more expensive than a .22 bolt conversion, but they aren't that much, if any, more than a whole .22 AR rifle, like the S&W.

The Ruger's controls aren't anything like an AR. It is just a 10/22 in a body kit. I would not recommend the S&W just from what I've seen of them... I have seen an inordinate amount of extractor problems with them on the Appleseed trail (Appleseed tends to bring out the worst in firearms, if they have weaknesses). I have no experience with the Colt.

I favor the dedicated uppers, myself.

February 3, 2011, 06:41 PM
I have the CMMG Drop in.

22lr ammo is dirty, nothing rags, patches, or a boresnake won't cure.

I've shot a brick of 22lr through my drop in checked the bore no leading and then proceeded to swap the BCG and shot 100rnds of 223 no issues.

Reliability: My kit runs great. The occasional dud same as if your shooting a dedicated 22lr. Even subsonics and standard velocity ammo cycle my drop in although high velocity ammo is recommended. I broke it in with Fed Bulk Ammo.

Accuracy: While 1-9 twist isn't ideal, the accuracy surprises me. My DPMS bull barrel AR shoots nickle size groups at 50yrds with Wolf MT with the CMMG drop in almost at good as my Savage MKII BV - Go figure.
The M4gery same twist shots 1-2 inch groups at 50yrds but with Fed Bulk - I didn't try Wolf MT in it.

I'd buy one again! Got mine on sale for only $199 with 2 25rnd Black Dog mags

Video of father in law shooting rock chucks at 200yrds (too windy that day target frames blowing away). Yes we managed to hit a few it was fun...

http://i124.photobucket.com/albums/p38/jpwilly/th_DSCN0311.jpg (http://s124.photobucket.com/albums/p38/jpwilly/?action=view&current=DSCN0311.mp4)

Before our target blew down 25yrds DPMS Bull Barrel Rifle 22lr CMMG Conv Kit. Were shooting the center right target ... notice the tight grouping despite the wind. Watch for the last shot - it takes out the 1" back shoot n c patch that we used to cover the previous group up with.

http://i124.photobucket.com/albums/p38/jpwilly/th_DSCN0309.jpg (http://s124.photobucket.com/albums/p38/jpwilly/?action=view&current=DSCN0309.mp4)

Maybe the naysayers can post of videos of their experiences? I won't hold my breath.

February 3, 2011, 06:44 PM
I hear it is a good idea on the conversions to shoot a round or two of 5.56 through the barrel after you're done shooting .22. This cleans out the barrel and gas tube.

February 3, 2011, 07:32 PM
I'd rather have a dedicated .22 and not worry so much about accuracy issues or wax in the .223 AR's barrel, etc. Many professionals seem to have started using AR analogs such as Smith & Wesson's M&P15-22 in training and have very high opinions about them.

February 3, 2011, 07:50 PM
YMMV, but...I have a Ciener .22LR kit with a couple of Black Dogs. Like previous posters stated, some .22LR feed is tastier than others...I keep mine well lubed, run a bore snake down every few mags and enjoy indoor range plinking, especially during this time of adverse weather.

Chris Rhines
February 3, 2011, 08:03 PM
I have a Tactical Solutions AR-22 upper that I use for a large percentage of my rifle practice. It's reasonably accurate (10 shots into an inch at 50 yards, prone) and reasonably reliable. It does not function exactly like an AR-15, the main difference being the lack of a last-shot hold open. Supposedly you can get a different bolt catch and magazines that will fix this oversight, but then you're pretty well stuck with a dedicated lower for the .22LR. I've been considering it...

Overall I like my AR-22, you just have to be aware of the limitations of practicing with a .22 rifle instead of a .223...


February 3, 2011, 08:14 PM
What are the pros and cons of using a drop in 22LR conversion kit vs a 22LR upper vs a 22LR AR-style gun?

cons for me were dirty gas tube and firing 556 rounds down a bore that was already dirty to "clean out" the barrel and gas tube. plus, the optimal twist rate between cartiges were not the same. seems like a waiste of time to me.

The drop in conversion Kits (CMMG, etc) would be the cheapest. Are the drop in 22LR conversion kits problematic? Dirty? Prone to Jam?

as near as i can tell yes... for some people. that's enough for me. i'd still like to give one a try but i would rather have a dedicated upper. they're not that much more expensive and have an upgraded potential from the start.

What is your experience with these?

none... i went with a rugar 10/22. the result of my research.

February 3, 2011, 09:14 PM
Seems like you can buy a rifle for the price of some of the dedicated uppers. You can but an upper for around $350, but chances are it won't have sights.

The conversion units require more cleaning but are by far the cheapest option.

The 'replica' 22's Colt/Umarex and SW both use proprietary magazines, unlike the conversions and uppers which mostly use Black Dawg mags. Both can be had for less than the cost of some uppers.

February 4, 2011, 08:15 PM
I run a USGI M261 kit in a 18" 1/12 twist cutdown A1 barrel. Accuracy is great at 200yds (can hit a man size torso all day long)

As for cleaning??? After about 2-3000 rnds I put the 5.56 bolt back in and the first round short stoked...second did as well then the third and following rounds were fine.

Oh and I haven't cleaned it during all that shooting...

February 4, 2011, 11:31 PM
Happy owner of CMMG's 22LR upper. I got this model: http://cmmginc.secure-mall.com/item/Sierra-.22-LR-Upper-Receiver-w-Low-Profile-Railed-GB-1514, which they'll sell you for $350. Apparently they'll sell you the same upper with one of their lowers for $500.

One of the cool things about it is that since the barrel starts inside the receiver, the 16 inch barrel looks like a 14.5 inch barrel from the outside and they put a faux forward assist on there too. The 25 round mags for it were going for $20 a few months ago when I picked up a bunch of em. It's at least as accurate as I am out to 50 yards, might still be more accurate than me at 100 yards. It ran fine and made rifleman at Appleseed.

It's nice being able to pick up 550 rounds at Walmart for under $20; that rifle is the reason I can afford to go to the range on a regular basis.

Edit: forgot to mention it prefers and the manual recommended high velocity ammo. It's been running great with Federal and Winchester bulk packs and CCI, tried standard velocity Federal and it wouldn't even cycle. The best it's done at 50 yards was about 3/4 of an inch, but the vast majority of its shooting has been at 25m. CMMG's 22LR upper is basically a 22LR barrel and a regular AR15 receiver so it weighs and feels like a normal AR15.

February 5, 2011, 10:56 AM
There is a thread on CO-AR15.com where a member blew up a BCM upper while using a conversion, and then following it with a 5.56, if I've got my memory straight.

That was enough to convince me to get a dedicated upper. I've got the Spikes and I love it.

February 5, 2011, 12:12 PM
The conversion kit is by far the cheapest option, vs a dedicated .22LR upper, or a .22LR replica like the Smith & Wesson. Cheaper Than Dirt had the Ceiner conversion on sale for $139 recently.

I put the Ceiner kit on my Colt 20" HBAR 1:9" with a BDC scope, and found that the point of impact of the CCI 40 gr. bullets at 50 yards matches up with the BDC setting for 55 gr. .223s at 200 yards. This made it easy to switch back and forth without having to rezero everything. The .22LR CCI rounds don't group as tightly as the .223 does, maybe 2" at 50 yards, but that's close enough for a plinking rifle. CCI ammo shoots pretty clean; I don't think the bore or gas system are any dirtier from shooting off 50 rounds of .22LR than after 20 rounds of .223. A couple of patches of Hoppes #9 through the bore, and a pipe cleaner through the gas tube cleans the rifle up just fine. The conversion kit I just wipe clean with a rag, and oil with a little CLP.

I haven't had any breakages with the kit, and not a significant number of jams or failures to feed, except with Remington 36 gr. hollowpoints. That's why I stick mostly with the CCI ammo. For what it is, a cheap way to get in more trigger time with my AR-15 and practice sighting, breath control, and trigger squeeze, it works just fine for me. A dedicated .22 upper or replica made specifically for .22LR might shoot somewhat smaller groups, but I'm not going to be shooting match targets for record with it. For the price, I feel I get more bang for my bucks with the conversion. YMMV.

Zach S
February 5, 2011, 12:33 PM
Conversion kits can be more ammo picky, are nasty, and you have to worry about the changing zeros when going back and fourth between .22 and .223. Expect AK accuracy out of a 1:7 bbl, 1:9s seem to do pretty well, with the surplus 1:12 doing better.

IMO the only drawback to a dedicated upper is the additional cost. I dont like the complete .22 carbines out there because they feel like toys and use proprietary parts (Colt, Smith, etc).

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