Help me choose a .22 caliber centerfire assault-style rifle.

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Bernie Lomax

Oct 13, 2010
I'm wanting to buy a .22 caliber center-fire assault-style rifle in the under $2000 price range and am coming to the disconcerting realization that my options basically all suck. Here is what I've discovered during my research:

AR15: They're fragile, break easily and won't run reliably unless you keep them clean. A rifle needs to run reliably even when you don't have time to clean it--like when people are shooting at you. I could get a piston-driven version and ameliorate most of the reliability problems, but it would still be not very rugged or durable. Do not want.

Galil: The only ones I've been able to find were assembled by Century. These are the same idiots who put 5.56 caliber barrels on their 5.45 caliber AK74s. It's no wonder that the Century Galil is going for only 600 bucks brand new. Do not want.

Sig 551: Excellent concept, shoddy execution. This gun is a cheap imitation of the venerable Sig 550. Most reviews are negative. Do not want.

Sig 556: The first-generation models are very unsatisfactory. The second-generation models are said to be better, but, still I'm not sure I wanna take a chance. The Sig 551, which we've already established sucks, costs several hundred dollars more than this model, so I can only imagine how much worse this one is. Do not want.

Steyr AUG: Functionally I'm sure they're fine guns, but, damn are they ugly. I'd have to put a bag over my head while shooting this one. Do not want.

FN SCAR: Everything I said about the Steyr AUG goes double for this gun. And, anyway, it's way out of my price range. Do not want.

Benelli MR-1: Everything I said about the Steyr AUG goes triple for this gun. Ugh...just ugh. If a rifle could have Down's syndrome, this is what it would look like. Do not want.

Mini-14: They break easily. Too fragile. Do not want.

AK101: the AK was designed for steep-walled cases and doesn't work well with straight-walled cases like the 5.56 NATO. I've heard these are not very reliable. Do not want.

AK74: It's reliable as the day is long and nearly indestructible. It's not a tack driver, but is still quite accurate enough for any use that I intend to put it to. This is everything I'm looking for in a rifle. It's what I really want but since Uncle Sugar has banned the most effective ammo for it (7n6) I'm not sure I want it anymore.

Anyone have any advice for me?
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AR15: They're fragile, break easily and won't run reliably unless you keep them clean. A rifle needs to run reliably even when you don't have time to clean it--like when people are shooting at you. I could get a piston-driven version and ameliorate most of the reliability problems, but it would still be not very rugged or durable. Do not want.

AR15 is a broad category. There are dozens of different manufacturers with varying degrees of quality. Even the worst of them are far better than your synopsis. The better versions are as good as anything else.
Bernie. I am afraid you are operating under some seriously flawed assumptuons here. Plus, of course, you're dead!

AR-15s are extremely reliable. If you get to know them you will marvel at what a piece of genius they are. There is a simplicity to them that is quite astonishing given their sylishly high-tech appearance. I mean you don't even have to care if the hammer is cocked or not before taking it down (do of course make sure it isn't loaded!!!). In fact, when you look at the thing and compare it to the various cogs and cams and things that one sees in revolvers and lever actions, I never fail to wonder why it wasn't invented a lot sooner that it was! The early M-16s had rather fragile stocks, but that has long since been corrected with newer plastics. No, I don't suppose you could deliver the same sort of vicious butt stroke with an AR-15 that one could with a Model of 1917 or a Mauser 98 but I hardly think that puts them in the fragile category.

Since looks seem pretty high on your checklist (which is kind of odd given the tractor implement look of all AKs) maybe you need something like a nice Swedish Mauser. Pretty guns, in your price range, NOT .22 but at 6.5mm still more or less "small bore" with modest recoil, with lots of commercial ammo. Find a nice wooden M-1 Carbine or Garand. Decidedly not small bore...but they are rough, tough, and pretty...and they are semi-automatic.

Mini-14. You got that all wrong too. They are very nice guns. I personally think they are a little too pricey but they are noted for rediculous reliability and, with that wooden stock, they're purty too! No body is shooting matches with them but they get the job done. Prior to the popularity and availability of so many good AR-15 rifles and carbines, the Mini-14 was the gun to have for hard work around the ranch etc. Probably as many cowboys in the 70s and 80s with Mini-14s as there were with Winchesters!

You've got some learning to do Bernie! You don't seem to understand (or want) much in this category.
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At this point, I wouldn't bother. We aren't going to try to talk you into any of those choices seeing as you've already found reasons to decline each.

Lots of other types of guns out there, might as well stick with those.

(Of course, there ARE reasons most of us choose one or more of those options and run the heck out of them without problems, but THR doesn't exist as a platform from which to argue you out of the things you've already decided.)
I think a good idea is to look at what the majority of others are using. That gives a good idea of what has been successful for a particular purpose. The big 2 that come to mind are the AK and AR rifles. AK used all over the world for a very long time and has a reputation for reliability. AR is used all over the western world by the military, and by the US police departments all over the country. It has also become the most popular rifle platform in the US. amongst civilians for defense and sport.

In other words, the best advice comes from the actual users. When there are this many users of these 2 rifle platforms, then I'd say they must be good rifles. If they weren't, then the majority of people wouldn't choose them. Pick either one and you'll probably do fine.
AR15: They're fragile, break easily and won't run reliably unless you keep them clean.
Not so.



That guy didn't clean that until waaaaaay after the design life of the bolt...that is after 15,000 rounds of cheap Russian steel-case .223, with no cleaning, just squirting some oil in there. It was still running, but he needed to replace the bolt (and probably the barrel) by that point.
Try researching harder....many of your conclusions are wrong

As has been pointed out before many special operations groups around the world choose AR-15 derivatives, even when their main line forces use something else.
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Everything you listed you mentioned "Do not want" on everything but the AK74 so didn't you answer your own question? Pay your money and take your chances.
Like Grunt said, it is America. You owe it to yourself and capitalism to buy something and get your own experience rather than believe all the internet crap. Obviously you don't know much that is reality.
BTW, what are you planning on using it for? An Axe handle? Hammer? Rocks are pretty reliable and last a long time.
Both direct impingement and piston driven AR's are extremely reliable under 99.9% of operating conditions. Unless you plan on firing at least 1,000 rounds without cleaning or lubrication, you'll be served well by any decent AR. There's no amount of ammo you're going to fire in a defensive situation that is going to make your rifle so dirty that it is unserviceable.

Moving on to the AK. Describe inaccurate. I'd say that center mass hits at 300 meters with iron sights should be plenty accurate enough for almost any defensive situation. While they aren't as accurate as a scoped AR or bolt gun they are definitely 'minute of man' which is good enough to save your skin. I wouldn't enter a 1,000 yard competition with an AK but I wouldn't hesitate to have one in my hands if the SHTF.

As far as the Sig 550's where in the heck are you getting your information? They are every bit as reliable as the AK or AR. I'm also baffled on who doesn't like the SCAR. You've literally taken the most reliable military rifles in the world that have been used by dozens of countries across the globe and said they are all junk. I'm honestly confused by this one.
Josh Billings had a great quote that seems appropriate somehow:

"It ain't ignorance causes so much trouble; it's folks knowing so much that ain't so."
Saiga .223 might fill the bill
"Assaulty" looking, reliable, simple, tough enough to use as a canoe paddle or club and shoots pretty good too.:cool:
Let me just chime in to say that I didn't much care much for the AR platform or 5.56 until I ended up with one. Now I both love the AR and highly respect the 5.56 cartridge. The BS that I heard about them was shortly recognized for what it was... BS.

The AR isn't fragile or unreliable except under ideal conditions, as I was told by equally misinformed people at the time.
And the 5.56 is a nasty little round even from a carbine, especially when considering the OTM type bullets so plentiful these days.

Give the AR a chance like I did and I strongly suspect you'll lay your misconceptions to rest in short order just as I have.
Good lord benEzra, I feel like I need to take a shower after seeing that bolt...

I'm not going to pile on the OP, but sometimes it's better to lurk for a while and read up on a topic before posting some erroneous assumptions.
Bernie, you sound like a zombie shooter to me. What do you REALLY want this thing for. Not to sound condescending by you kinda sounds like another wannabe.
To the OP: Do not use the term "assault rifle" as a synonym for a modern semi-automatic rifle. That is a trick used by politicians and the media to fool the ignorant public into believing that fully-automatic assault rifles and modern semi-automatic rifles are one in the same. They are most definitely not.

Also, most of your assumptions about the rifles you listed are incorrect.

A quality AR-15 is not "fragile," will not "break easily" and is quite capable of running reliably when dirty. Reference the "Filthy 14" test. A quality AR (Colt, BCM, DD, Spikes, LMT, etc.) will run reliably for thousands and thousands of rounds dirty as long as you keep it properly lubricated. The AR platform is very durable. There is not much on it at this point that is prone to breakage. Bolts may occasionally need to be replaced after many, many, many thousands of rounds, but that is typical for many designs.

Century Golanis (Galils) may be hit-or-miss (as is typical of CAI products). Some run great. Some do not.

There are plenty of reports of newer SIG 551 and 556 rifles working very well, and apparently SIG QA/QC for these has improved dramatically. Agreed that earlier 556s sucked.

As far as the looks of the AUG or SCAR, most people care more about function over aesthetics for this type of rifle (and these two designs are known to function well), but to each his own. Yes, the SCAR 16 is over-priced.

The Benelli MR-1 and Mini-14 are commercial rifles designed primarily for civilian hunting use, and their features reflect this. This is the first time, however, I've ever heard anyone refer to the Mini-14 as "fragile."

With quality magazines, 5.56mm AK variants will run very well. Reference the Polish Beryl or Israeli Galil. Saigas in .223 also tend to run great.

It sounds like you already want an AK-74 and there is nothing wrong with that (so I'm not sure why you posted all the whiny diatribes about the other rifle designs). There are still plenty of sources of quality 5.45x39mm ammo available, even after the banning of corrosive surplus 7N6. The main reason people liked 7N6 was because it was cheap, not because it is some kind of uber-cartridge.

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Sig 551: Excellent concept, shoddy execution. This gun is a cheap imitation of the venerable Sig 550. Most reviews are negative. Do not want.

No. You're thinking of the Sig Sauer 551-A1. Totally different animal. The Swiss made Sig 551's are identical to the 550 in everything except barrel and gas system length. The Sig Sauer 55X rifles have improved dramatically over the years, and are now quite good. Maybe also consider the 556XI.

You also seem to not want a .223 semi-automatic carbine. You found a way to nitpick everything, including the looks. AR's and AK's are very broad categories as well. Many AR's are extremely tough and reliable, and many AK's are very accurate.

Other options for consideration are the Bushmaster ACR (and despite what the Internet says, it's a well designed and manufactured rifle, IMO it's a better rifle than my Sig 550... The real deal too, not an American copy), IWI Tavor, HK 91 and VZ 58.
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I advise you to do some research. You know a lot of things that simply aren't true.

Or just look for something else, since you've already determined that you pretty much don't want anything.
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