CMMG 16" M4LE WASP .22LR Dedicated AR Upper mini-review & range report


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Fishbed77
July 17, 2012, 07:18 PM
Folks,

I thought I'd share this because I haven't seen a great many reviews of the CMMG dedicated .22LR upper, just the .22LR conversion kit for 5.56mm NATO AR-15s.

Anyway, I had been researching .22LR uppers for a while and finally picked this up (along with a Black Dog Machine X-Form .22LR magazine) at one of Palmetto State Armory's brick & mortar stores in Columbia. I initially was intending to get the variant with the railed gas block, but PSA had none in stock (despite their website showing them available - not the first time this has happened). No biggie - the main reason I was considering the railed gas block variant was becasue it was a few bucks cheaper, and I would be mounting an optic anyway.

In addition to the F-marked front sight base, the upper I purchased has the optional stainless steel chamber collar (which should be easier to clean) and the standard black oxide-finished bolt & bolt carrier. It did not include the optional forward assist (just a plastic plug its place) or the optional bolt hold-open adapter. I currently have no intention to add either.

First impressions were good. The upper reciever and barrel finish is nice and the bolt & carrier appear to be quality pieces. The standard handguard is your typical carbine fare with heat shields, but nothing special. It was a bit loose and was very quickly replaced with a Magpul MOE set.

I also attached a Vortex StrikeFire red dot optic (was on sale for $119 online from PSA!) to more or less mimic the Aimpoint PRO I have mounted on my Spikes upper/PSA lower 5.56mm NATO carbine setup. I couldn't justify the price of an Aimpoint for this upper, and the StrikeFire seemed like a good compromise. It's clearly inferior to the PRO in terms of glass clarify, dot sharpness, construction, and especially battery life, but seemed nice enough, and much better than almost every non-Aimpoint red dot I've ever handled. The fit of the CMMG upper to my PSA lower was excellent - almost no play at all.

I was able to take it to the family range last Friday. After loading up the one mag I had (several more were on order) with CCI "AR" high-velocity bulk ammo, I pulled the charging handle (which has a much shorter range of motion with the .22LR bolt), and... JAM. The round had hung up on the feed ramp. I ejected the round and tried to feed another, with the same result. This time, I pushed the bolt forward with my finger (remember - no forward assist!) and the round fully chambered. I silently prayed that it was just a break-in issue...

...and it was! After that, the CMMG upper ran like a top. Within just 6 shots, I had the red dot zeroed at 25 yards and proceeded to shoot for the rest of the afternoon. In all, I shot over 300 rounds without a single malfunction. Every round from a fresh magazine loaded flawlessly after the inital mag.

Even more impressive than the reliability of the CMMG .22LR upper is the accuracy. I can honestly say that, of all the stock, out-of-the-box .22LR semi-auto rifles I've shot (Ruger 10/22, Marlin 60, Winchester 77, Remington 552 Speedmaster and 597, Thompson Center R55, etc., etc.), the CMMG is easily the most accurate. At 25 yards, and without really taking my time, I put an entire magazine (25 rounds) into a single hole in the bullseye of a paper target not much larger than my thumbnail (sorry - that target is still stapled up at our range - I didn't think to bring it with me because I didn't anticipate writing this little review). At 50 yards free-standing, it was quite easy to ring a small (3" diameter) metal swinging target, provided I did my part. Remember - this is all with bulk ammo!

All-in-all, I have to say I am very pleased with this AR upper. It is without a doubt, one of the most fun firearms I've ever shot. I also have to give a little kudos out to the Vortex StrikeFire - it is a perfect companion to a rifle like this. I can't wait to take this one out again and run a wider variety of ammo though it (I am confident it won't have any trouble with any copper-plated high-velocity ammo).

In a nutshell...

PROS
-Accuracy, accuracy, accuracy - Just plain steller.
-Reliability - 100% from the first round fired
-Fit & Finish
-Price - Much less expensive than .22LR uppers from Spikes, Tactical Innovations, etc.

CONS
-No standard forward assist
-No standard bolt hold-open - From what I understand, the available device can be finicky, but I have no experience with it.
-It would be nice if CMMG threw in at least one mag. You literally get a box with the complete upper and nothing else.

Anyway - on to the photos!

Here is the upper with the MOE handguard set and Vortex StrikeFire installed (along with the stock handguard set):

http://i1235.photobucket.com/albums/ff427/Fishbed77/DSC_0006.jpg


The melonite-finished .22LR barrel:

http://i1235.photobucket.com/albums/ff427/Fishbed77/DSC_0009-1.jpg


A photo with my companion Spikes M4LE 16" upper with BAR free-float quadrail and PSA lower:

http://i1235.photobucket.com/albums/ff427/Fishbed77/DSC_0016.jpg


The CMMG 16" M4LE WASP .22LR Dedicated upper on my PSA lower:

http://i1235.photobucket.com/albums/ff427/Fishbed77/DSC_0021.jpg

http://i1235.photobucket.com/albums/ff427/Fishbed77/DSC_0018.jpg


A close-up of the bolt & stainless chamber collar:

http://i1235.photobucket.com/albums/ff427/Fishbed77/DSC_0028.jpg

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68wj
July 17, 2012, 11:08 PM
Glad yours performed well. Interestingly, mine was a black collar with chromed bolt. Waiting to hear back from CMMG if they were able to fix my issues.

saenzrich
July 18, 2012, 12:40 AM
I have the same one as you minus the MOE handguard...great gun, eats everything, and accurate as can be. I currently have a nice 1-4x24 and it groups great at 25 and 50yds.
http://i1067.photobucket.com/albums/u431/saenzrich/IMG_7193.jpg

Here's a pic with its .223 PSA M4 big brother...Its nice to have a .22 version to practice with...on the cheap
http://i1067.photobucket.com/albums/u431/saenzrich/IMG_7210.jpg

Fishbed77
July 18, 2012, 10:51 AM
Glad yours performed well. Interestingly, mine was a black collar with chromed bolt. Waiting to hear back from CMMG if they were able to fix my issues.

Interesting... what were your issues?

Sky
July 18, 2012, 11:16 AM
I have 2 CMMG .22s 16" and 20". Strikefire on one and a Nikon 223 on the other with both having the plumcrazy lowers. Great fun accurate shooting rifles. Glad you are enjoying yours..We have shot the heck out of ours and they just keep on chugging!

Orion8472
July 18, 2012, 12:40 PM
What do you have to do to your lower to get these to work right? Anything with the buffer tube spring? Will they work with JP single stage trigger?

Fishbed77
July 18, 2012, 03:46 PM
What do you have to do to your lower to get these to work right? Anything with the buffer tube spring? Will they work with JP single stage trigger?

You don't have to do anything to your standard AR lower for the .22LR dedicated upper to work correctly.

I believe the buffer and buffer spring have to stay installed to hold the bolt carrier in place (at least I leave mine installed), but the weight of the buffer or spring doesn't matter, since the .22LR bolt moves on its own rails within the bolt carrier and has it's own recoil spring.

If you want the bolt hold-open feature of the AR to work, you have to use an optional adapter that is a drop-in part that goes in the the mag well. It is not necessary, though, and I don't have one.

As far as your question about the aftermarket trigger, I'm not sure. I have heard that the standard "mil-spec" (which we know is not really mil-spec since it's not full-auto! :) ) triggers work best because they smack the firing pin pretty hard and you're less likely to get light strikes on recalcitrant rimfire primers. But I don't know aything about the JP trigger specifically. My guess is that it would probably be fine.

Orion8472
July 18, 2012, 03:50 PM
Thanks for the reply. :)

ForumSurfer
July 18, 2012, 04:26 PM
Hmmmm, looks familiar...
http://i128.photobucket.com/albums/p188/johnnnyhgmail/AR22/8bf69faa.jpg
http://i128.photobucket.com/albums/p188/johnnnyhgmail/AR22/757909a8.jpg

I purchased this one from PSA, also. I'm extremely impressed. I added a primary arms red dot and it is just stupid fun shooting steel and reactive targets with it. It is really reliable (after I figured out my hammer spring was worn). Lately it has seen quite a bit of use letting family members shoot it on my property. Honestly I'm probably around 3000+ rounds with nothing more than a run down the barrel with a bore snake. Call me lazy...but it still runs like a champ. It's the basic, no frills model with no upgrades.

I did use one of these to mount my vickers sling on the moe handguards...neat little product:
http://www.brownells.com/.aspx/pid=42438/Product/SLING-MOUNT-N-SLOT

Now I just need to get my kydex-happy friend to mold me some mag pouches for these ugly cmmg mags. They could use some duracoat or krylon for sure.

Fishbed77
July 18, 2012, 05:47 PM
Honestly I'm probably around 3000+ rounds with nothing more than a run down the barrel with a bore snake.

That's pretty impressive. After 300 rounds, the innards of my upper and lower recievers were MUCH dirtier than they've ever been firing 5.56mm NATO/.223.


Now I just need to get my kydex-happy friend to mold me some mag pouches for these ugly cmmg mags. They could use some duracoat or krylon for sure.


Ha - that's exactly why I got the smoke-colored translucent Black Dog Mags. I couldn't stand the look of the CMMG mags. Supposedly durability and reliability is good with both brands, though the Black Dog mags won't work with a bolt hold-open adapter unless you replace the followers.

I hear the CMMG mags take black Rit dye very well, though, which won't wear off like Krylon.

Dr.Rob
July 20, 2012, 12:17 AM
I ran 300 + rounds through mine today.

Remington Vipers Hyper velocity 36gr truncated cone
40 grain (Sorry I forget the brand) rated at 1300 fps
and Federal Bulk pack 36 gr HP.

All bullets were plated.


At 50 yards it still shoots like a shotgun.. irons or scoped.

At pistol distance it's fine... but every 22 in my safe outshoots this upper at 50 yards.

Fishbed77
July 20, 2012, 09:45 AM
At 50 yards it still shoots like a shotgun.. irons or scoped.

At pistol distance it's fine... but every 22 in my safe outshoots this upper at 50 yards.


Very strange... this is the exact opposite of my experience.

I wonder if CMMG is doing something defferent with the barrels since you purchased yours (of if your particular barrel/upper has a manufacturing defect)? It sounds like you should contact CMMG - supposedly they have great customer service.

I believe my example has the newer "Evolution" bolt and carrier, but I wouldn't think that would have that much of a positive effect on accuracy.

1911WB
July 20, 2012, 10:52 AM
I've got over 2000 rounds thru mine now and have been very pleased. Except for some finicky behavior with certain types of ammo when new my experience has been similar to Fishbed's. With CCI Minimags it's been perfect from the start, but Fed. bulk yielded some stovepipes early on. Now it doesn't seem to have a problem with anything I feed it.

Another thing I like about the CMMG setup is that the firing pin is held in the bolt by a cotter pin similar to a "real" AR-15.

The CMMG is quite popular at the range- everyone wants to shoot it, and they all have big grins on their faces when they finish.:) WB

Fishbed77
July 20, 2012, 03:58 PM
saenzrich,

Just curious - how do you like the PEPR scope mount on your rifle?

Fishbed77
July 22, 2012, 11:45 PM
One more question to anyone in the know... I've heard that only copper-washed or copper-plate rounds should be fired in these CMMG 22LR uppers. Does anyone know if this is true, and if so, why?

saenzrich
July 23, 2012, 01:09 PM
It has been great and returns to zero when I remove it. It came with both rails and smooth tops. I chose the smooth cause there is no way I could force myself to put anything else on top of my scope...maybe one day if I get tacticooler...for the price it is a great and sturdy mount and puts my 1-4 at the perfect height. For my Cmmg wasp upper I got this.. http://swfa.com/Optisan-1-4x24-Mamba-EAR30-Mount-Combo-P51887.aspx comes with the EAR30 mount which is the same exact mount as the burris peper non qd just different company name. Overall very pleased with the setup it put the scope at the perfect distance for great eyerelief.

Fishbed77
July 25, 2012, 12:14 AM
Thanks - was just curious for a DMR-style 5.56mm build I have in mind for the future.

Fishbed77
August 26, 2012, 04:14 PM
Just an update...

I went ahead and built an additional lower from a PSA parks kit so that the the CMMG Dedicated .22LR Upper could become a rifle of it's own. I slapped on a Magpul MBUS rear sight as well, not so much because there is any real need for one on this rifle, but more because I was curious about the polymer sight. I've come to the conclusion that the MBUS is just OK for a BUIS, but certainly isn't suited to being a primary sight. The polymer seems durable enough, and I like the spring-loaded operation, but the aperture (which is chunky and square-shaped around the outside) is pretty terrible. The sight picture is nowhere near as crisp as that of a traditional carry-handle sight or the superb Troy folding Battlesights on my 5.56mm carbine. A nice thin round aperture (out of aluminum or steel) would vastly improve this sight.

Anyway, back to the .22LR upper...

I've taken this rifle several more times to the family range and gave it a good workout with various types of hi-velocity ammo (including Federal American Eagle, Federal bulk HP, and Game-Shok). I'm pleased to report that the performance is much the same - still very reliable and still incredibly accurate. At some point I might attach a scope (probably the Mueller APV off a 10/22 build of mine) to try to squeeze out every bit of accuracy, but for now, it's just too much fun ringing the steel at 50 yards.

Here's a crappy cell-phone photo of my wife doing just that...

http://i1235.photobucket.com/albums/ff427/Fishbed77/TAR1.jpg

CraigC
August 26, 2012, 05:05 PM
I want one. :)

Fishbed77
September 6, 2012, 12:46 PM
Highly recommended.

A few months ago, they seemed to be everywhere at about the $320 price point. They they vanished for a while, and when I found mine the price everwhere seemd to have jumped about $50. Now they seem to be tough to find again. I get the feeling that the next time we see lots of them in stock, the price might jump again.

Sky
September 8, 2012, 10:23 AM
I took some high temp black paint and sprayed the CMMG mags. They look one heck of a lot better. The only part of the mag I painted was that which would show outside the mag well when inserted. So many black mags it is really easy to identify the .22 mags in a range bag when digging around in low light. The smoke-colored translucent Black Dog Mags are nice also.

CharlieDeltaJuliet
September 8, 2012, 11:45 AM
I have the Quebec-A ( same thing just whole rifle). Mine has a gas block insted of a fixed front sight. I love mine. The only ammo mine has spit on is federal bulk, it still shoots just not as good as the CCI I normally feed it. I Duracoated my mags.... I have written Magpul, trying to get them to design a mag for these.... To no avail yet...lol. Great looking rifles guys, enjoy.

Fishbed77
October 11, 2012, 04:35 PM
I have written Magpul, trying to get them to design a mag for these.... To no avail yet...lol.

I will say that, despite the lack of last-round bolt hold-open, I really do like the Black Dog magazines. They have been 100% reliable, I like the ability to visibly check the ammo count, and they are very easy to load.

Sky
October 11, 2012, 05:36 PM
Funny how when I used to go occasionally to the range it was always with some higher calibers usually to sight in something for an upcoming hunt. Now when we go there it seems that the only thing that gets shot are hundreds of rounds of .22.

Last time we went there 550+ rounds of .22 shot in the CMMGs and GSG1911. Only 40 rounds of 7.62x39 in an AK simply because of rearranging a red dot on it; didn't even shoot the higher caliber ARs.

I am so pleased I bought the CMMGs; great intro for people who want to shoot.

We shoot golf balls out to 50 yards with both of mine and occasionally on a no wind day We will pop steel at 325 yards with the Nikon 223 1-4 scoped .22 CMMG. Once you have the hold over figured out "it ain't that big of a deal".

Fishbed77
October 12, 2012, 01:08 AM
Now when we go there it seems that the only thing that gets shot are hundreds of rounds of .22.

I think that's part of what makes it so much fun. No guilty feelings about ammo costs! :D

Fishbed77
June 5, 2013, 06:00 PM
Since I've seen so many posts here lately about .22LR AR-15s and AR replicas (such as the M&P15-22 and Umarex "Colt" M4-22), I thought I would post an update of my CMMG Sierra.

At this point, I've shot approx 4000 rounds through this set-up (unfortunately, the ammo craze and unavailability of .22LR has certainly put a damper on my shooting).

All the previous praise still applies. In all this time, I've only had 2-3 fails to fire, all of which were certainly ammo issues (the rims showed good firing pin strikes). Most ammo fired to this point has been bulk copper-washed Federal or Federal American Eagle (mostly copper-washed HP, but also some lead round nose). Nothing any pricier than that, and never Mini-Mags (which so many folks seem to need for their semi-auto .22s).

Accuracy is still excellent as well. With bulk ammo, this rifle is every bit as accurate as my accurized 10/22 with bulk ammo (the Green Mountain-barrelled 10/22 can really put up some groups with match ammo though).

There's a lot of talk about steel-lipped versus polymer-lipped Black Dog mags. All I can say is that both have been excellent so far.

Boy, I sure am glad I got this upper when I did. When I purchased it in July 2012, I paid $370, which I thought was high, since I had seen them for under $320 a few months earlier. The last one I saw for sale locally a few weeks ago (the new uppers now seem much more rare than complete rifles) was a whopping $530! That's a $200 price hike in just one year!

Anyway - the obligatory photo. Not much has changed with the exception of a rear MBUS back-up sight, which has seen use thanks to a dead battery in the Vortex StrikeFire. The StrikeFire is a nice red-dot, but the poor power button location (it can easily be turned on when the rifle is stored in a case) makes it a dealbreaker if used in a defensive rifle.

http://i1235.photobucket.com/albums/ff427/Fishbed77/DSC_0021-1_zps106907a1.jpg

ForumSurfer
June 5, 2013, 06:10 PM
Alas I sold mine. You resurrected this thread to rub it in just in case I was suffering from seller's remorse, didn't you? :)

Black dog mags are still going cheap for them...with metal feed lips!

I ran countless rounds through mine and never experienced any non-ammo related failures...except for a pesky hammer spring on my lower that caused issues. That was in no way related to the CMMG upper.

ForumSurfer
June 5, 2013, 06:13 PM
I'd also like to add that I love the black dog machine 15 round mags. Those give you the profile of the 20 round ar mags. That's handy as well as just plain ol' cool.

Fishbed77
June 5, 2013, 06:44 PM
I'd also like to add that I love the black dog machine 15 round mags. Those give you the profile of the 20 round ar mags. That's handy as well as just plain ol' cool.

I haven't tried the 15-rounders yet, but maybe I'll have to give them a try.

ForumSurfer
June 5, 2013, 09:37 PM
I haven't tried the 15-rounders yet, but maybe I'll have to give them a try.

http://img.tapatalk.com/d/13/06/06/nasusuqy.jpg

jmorris
June 5, 2013, 11:12 PM
I picked up a used one form another member here last year. Ran like a top from the first shot.

The last shot bolt open adapter actually sits on top of the lower and the upper holds it in place. The forward assist part is pretty simple and unneeded.

I have lots of other .22's I like better but kids absolutely love the AR.

B!ngo
June 6, 2013, 12:43 AM
So I took a similar route. I had an opportunity to purchase a New Frontier polymer complete lower early this year and so placed an order for a CMMG Evo upper (.22LR/left-handed). I came rather quickly so I assembled it all with a SPARC site and an ambi charging handle.
Nice piece of kit. But one weekend day, while perusing the net I saw that New Frontier was recommending a new trigger hammer optimized for .22LR but compatible with everything else. I presume it is trimmer and more focused to hit a small piece of a rimfire cartridge with more psi at the contact point.
I haven't installed it yet, but does anyone have any info on the value of the change? Does it cure any yet unfound ailments?
Thx,
B

Fishbed77
June 6, 2013, 12:03 PM
The last shot bolt open adapter actually sits on top of the lower and the upper holds it in place. The forward assist part is pretty simple and unneeded.

I keep telling myself I'm going to get a BHOA and hold-open followers for my Black Dog mags, but haven't done it yet. I'm not keen on having to potentially cut coils from the hold-open spring in my lower (though I understand this isn't always necessary).

jmorris
June 6, 2013, 07:59 PM
The lower on this one is just a BM. 223 lower, nothing special about the springs.

happygeek
July 28, 2013, 02:33 AM
I've had good luck with the pair of CMMG uppers I have. The wife got the first one along with a RRA lower from a gun store back in early 2008, I got the 2nd one online directly from CMMG in late 2010, paid $350 if I recall correctly. As others have stated the Black Dog magazines are great, and don't cost much.

I've got just over 17,000 rounds through the two of them. The first upper wasn't all that great initially, but I got a replacement stainless bolt for it, plus a new recoil spring and barrel collar, and it's run great ever since. CMMG seems to have tweaked the bolt design a bit since 2008. I'd say now my 2 uppers average about 1 failure every 1,000 rounds.

I've got irons on the first upper and put a Burris 2-7x on the 2nd one. Took the scoped one to Appleseed in late 2010 and it performed well despite me.

http://i183.photobucket.com/albums/x297/fdhs_runner/Firearms/IMGP0008.jpg

If you enjoyed reading about "CMMG 16" M4LE WASP .22LR Dedicated AR Upper mini-review & range report" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!