.22 Long Rifle Conversions Part 1:
Drop-in Conversion Kits:
Read the history of the AR15 22lr conversions here
The drop in kits are the easiest and least expensive method of converting your AR15 to a .22 caliber plinker. The kits will range in price from about $160-$250 and take about 30 seconds to install. There is a few down sides to using the drop in kits. The bullet must travel a few inches in an unrifled tube before it reaches the barrel. The barrels on most AR type rifles will typically have a twist rate that is optimized for the 5.56 Nato (.223) with a 1:7"- 1:9" barrel twist rate and not the 1:16" that works well with .22 long rifle. There is also a few thousandths of an inch difference in the bullets diameter of .22LR (.222) vs 5.56 Nato (.224). Those differences can lead to less then match grade accuracy in an AR15 but the accuracy is perfectly suited for plinking. If that accuracy is not suitable you can purchase a complete .22 long rifle upper. The cost starts at about double of the drop-in conversion and can go upwards well over $1000. The choice is yours.
I purchased my Colt brand conversion kit part# R6222 back in the early 90's without much fanfare. The Colt and the Jonathan Arthur Ciener kits seemed to be the only ones around at the time, at least that was my findings in the Shotgun News and prior to the internet. Recently a good friend purchased his first rifle, a Bushmaster Modular Carbine. I explained to him the virtues of cheap practice ammo, getting to know the rifle and the ability to shoot at any indoor range. Eager to get a conversion kit he quickly hit the web with google and met a brick wall in a lack of availability. My friend got quickly frustrated so I decided to do some research the result of which you are reading here. A few things came to light very quickly. The Colt unit I own while listed as a current product offering is nowhere to be found. The Jonathan Arthur Ciener kits are being offered at several places for low prices but none are in stock even at his own site .22lrconversions.com. Jonathan Arthur Ciener has always had a long back order and a history of poor customer service. He also has quite a few complaints against him at the BBB. In fairness everybody seems to get their kits just be prepared to wait. In the end my friend ended up ordering a CMMG AR-15/M16 22LR BRAVO CONVERSION KIT from Brownells Update 2015:(When this article was originally written the word "Bravo" was not part of the name
.22 Caliber Upper Receivers:
Now if after reading the above you feel you need more from a .22 conversion a complete upper chambered for .22 long Rifle is exactly what your looking for. You will be able to achieve greater accuracy and superior reliability with these dedicated uppers. These units start at around $450 with the sky being the limit. The low end units typically will look like any other AR15 with a typical handguard and a carry handle or flat top receiver. What starts to drive the costs way up is the barrels. Some manufacturers offer custom match grade barrels. These barrels turn the AR15 into a fine precision shooting machine with accuracy on par with other top rifles in the .22 Long Rifle class. Take a look at this Lakeside Guns for what is probably the most radical 22lr dedicated upper to date.
- Keep the drop-in units cleaned and lubricated
- Inspect the gas tube for fouling before returning the weapons center fire bolt carrier.
- If you get failures to extract often, clean the area under the extraction claws. It has probably become dirty and the claws are not returning to their fully retracted position
- Failure too feed will be from the magazine and or carbon buildup on the neck of the carrier preventing it to fully seat in the chamber
- Failures to fire, see above. The carbon prevents the the .22 bolt from seating firmly. Energy is lost from the firing pin and light strikes can result
- Ammo - These things can be fussy and cause either of the two previous problems. I've found high and hyper velocity ammo to work best.
How easy is it to install a .22 long rifle AR-15 Conversion kit?
Brownells has put together a video presentation display how easy it is to install the CMMG Conversion Kit
August 22, 2010 - CMMG is growing their .22LR line up by leaps and bounds. They have added Stainless Steel and Left Handed versions of their popular AR-15 conversion units as well as dedicated .22LR Uppers and Complete Rifles ,22LR. There are also many more models to be released over the next few months. CMMG is also adding accessories unique to these .22's as well as possibly firsts in the shooting world. The first item is the Anti-Jam Charging Handle for Drop-In Conversion .22. The charging handle is machined much more shallow that that of an AR-15. This prevents a .22 case from getting jammed inside the upper.
The other items are hardware to enable the last shot hold open feature of an AR-15 to function with any Atchisson based .22 conversion unit.
The new conversion units are also incorporating forward assist adapter.
This is the brand new CMMG
.22 Long Rifle AR15 Conversion Kit. The kit includes the conversion unit and either a 10 or 27 round magazine. The magazines are manufactured by Black Dog Machine LLC.
Range Report: We received our CMMG kit approximately 2 weeks after ordering it directly from CMMG. The unit was well made and fit our brand new Bushmaster Modular Carbine perfectly. A quick trip to an indoor range for some informal shooting and we were very pleased. We put 300 rounds of inexpensive Federal American Eagle .22 through the Bushmaster with only one failure to fire. The rim of the cartridge was struck firmly so I fault the cheap ammo and not the conversion kit. Feeding and extraction were perfect with no failures. Accuracy was better then we expected at 25 yards with the Bushmaster sporting a 1-4x Millet DMS Scope. Shooting from a bench we could easily blast out the blast out a 1" circle all day. The kit is probably capable of better accuracy then that but the trigger on the Bushmaster is a little stiff. We will compile a real review at a later date.
Order the CMMG .22 Long Rifle AR15 Conversion Kit from Brownells for $229. Brownells stocks the 10 and 27 round magazines for the kits
CMMG M4 Dedicated .22LR Upper
"New CMMG M4 dedicated .22LR upper receiver. This kit is based on our standard .22 drop in conversion kit. Barrel is a 1/16" with our WASP finish. Barrel OAL is 16". Compatible with BDM, Ceiner or similar mags. Magazine not included but available in the pull down window."
CMMG 26 Round Magazine for .22 Long Rifle
CMMG has just released their own magazine for their .22lr conversion and upper receiver. These magazines should also be perfectly compatable with other .22lr conversions based on the Ciener system. These magazines look great and are priced very reasonably at $19.95. The bolt catch feature means the bolt will lock back after the last round just like it when setup in its centerfire form.
Specs: Polymer .22 LR magazine for CMMG .22 LR sub-caliber conversion kits. 26 round capacity with bolt catch follower. The full size design can utilize your existing magazine pouches and rifle case magazine carriers.
The Olympic Arms Rimfire Adapter (RFA) is a replacement bolt carrier assembly for AR-15 rifles, and includes a 25 round Black Dog full-size magazine that slides easily into an AR-15 magazine well. With the RFA, a user can enjoy an entire afternoon shooting cheap 22 LR ammunition for the price required to purchase a single, 20 round box of .223 Remington. Installation is simple, and requires no gunsmithing or permanent alterations.
About the RFA conversion system: The RFA is a conversion system, which allows the use of .22LR ammunition in a standard AR rife fitted with a .223 or 5.56 NATO barrel. This conversion system is based around the bolt group assembly and a magazine adapter insert. The RFA system was designed to be cost effective, simply to use, and easy to enjoy.
Read the owners Olympic Arms RFA owners manual here
Olympic Arms 22-17 Partner System
The Olympic Arms 22-17 Partner system can be used with any complete mil-spec lower receiver. Simply put the top end assembly on your lower. Insert the desired sleeve with bolt carrier assembly. Put an insert in your magazine and the system is installed. No tools, just a couple minutes.
The 22-17 Partner is a conversion system, which allows the use of
either .22 LR or .17 MK2 ammunition in a standard AR style rifle.
This system is based around the upper receiver. The upper receiver
is fitted with a specially made barrel. The barrel has been bored out
to accept chambered sleeves. The sleeves are interchangeable with
the 22-17 Partner bolt carrier group, which allows the use of multiple
types of ammunition in the same rifl e. The 22-17 Partner was
designed to be cost effective, simple to use, and easy to enjoy.
Download the Olympic Arms 22-17 Partner System's owners manual here
I couldn't find any info about the Kuehl.
The Atchisson MKIII from Jonathan Arthur Ciener. The unit consists of a sub-caliber bolt/chamber adapter/return spring and guide rod/receiver rail assembly and magazine in a fitted plastic case that replaces the standard bolt/bolt carrier assembly in the AR15/M16 family of rifles.
FITS: The unit fits all AR15 and M16 family firearms whose dimensional tolerances meet those of the U.S. Government prints including current post ban firearms.
AR15 Unit - Standard sub-caliber bolt/chamber adapter/return spring and guide rod/receiver rail assemble with 10 round magazine. The M16 unit's 30 round magazine is optional at additional $40.00 upgrade charge.
M16 Unit - Standard sub-caliber bolt/chamber adapter/return spring and guide rod/receiver rail assemble with 30 round magazine with the addition of the automatic trip and anti-bounce weight necessary to support the automatic fire mode of the parent firearm.
The V22 Complete upper receiver made by CZ, aluminum alloy receiver, 16.25" carbon steel barrel, black finish, super quality, see American Rifleman P.64, March 2005. Complete with 10 Round magazine and flat top Picantinny rail system, easy to install your rifle and does not permanently alter your weapon. This is a complete .22 upper assemble with barrel, hand guard, magazine, bolt assembly from the Czech Republic, model V-22, easily convert your .223 AR-15 rifle to shoot inexpensive .22 ammo. This is a Flat top upper for scope use, and does not include any sights, plain barrel but dressed with Picantinny rails front and back so you can add your own desired front and rear sight assemblies. May not fit some later production Colt Rifles, fits all the other Clones we have tested. This is NOT a complete rifle, just the upper forward assembly which allows you to convert your existing rifle to the .22-LR caliber. You can also find parts and info here.
I found this product description on a web site that used to offer the V-22
Get set for some serious fun with our new AR-15 .22 LR conversion! Make no mistake, this is NOT the cheap “blowback bolt and insert kit” offered by others (please read our warning about those): ours is a purpose built, precision machined assembly that replaces your entire upper, thus eliminating the problems experienced with discount-priced “kits” that use your existing upper and .223 Rem./ 5.56x45mm barrel.
In our continuing quest to bring you the best value for the money we have chosen Ceska Zbrojovka (CZ), whose long-established reputation in manufacturing quality sporting and military firearms is second to none, and imported their V-22 .22 LR AR-15 system. These complete .22 LR “uppers” boast all the latest features: hammer forged 16” heavy barrel, free-floating knurled hand guards, flat top receiver with integral weaver base, picatinny rail, and more!
You can also choose whatever configuration best suits your needs: just the complete CZ V-22 system itself, the complete V-22 with detachable carry handle, or – as an introductory limited time offer – the complete V-22 equipped with 4x28mm AR-15 scope with bullet drop compensator!
Bushmaster now offers a .22 Rimfire dedicated Upper Receiver/Barrel Assembly that will fit all Bushmaster Lower Receivers - as well as most all AR15 Type Lower Receivers from other manufacturers (as long as they are mil. spec in measurement. With an Upper specifically designed for .22 Rimfire, you can quickly switch out from your 5.56mm/.223 caliber Upper to hone your shooting skills with the economical .22 Long Rifle ammunition - which is acceptable at most indoor ranges due to its lower power and penetration. In addition to offering the advantages of more frequent training with your AR15 type rifle, the Bushmaster .22LR Upper adds versatility to the weapon system, and is a joy to use for plinking. The light weight and low recoil will be appreciated by women and younger shooters.
The Bushmaster .22LR Upper Receiver/Barrel Assembly is a complete kit which includes all pieces necessary to quickly convert your rifle over to .22 Rimfire. The Upper Receiver is chambered for .22 Long Rifle only, and operates in a semi-automatic "blowback" mode. Other parts of the kit include a 10 Round Magazine; a Recoil Spring and Buffer; and a Butt stock Insert which acts as a guide for the Recoil Spring and replaces the standard AR Buffer and Action Spring inside the Receiver Extension. The highly accurate 16" Barrel is rifled 1 turn in 16" for the .22 LR cartridge, and is machined of Chrome Moly Barrel Steel. A "blowback" operating bolt is machined from lightweight aluminum for great durability, and all parts are easily disassembled for cleaning / maintenance. The iron sights of the .22LR Upper feature a dual rear flip aperture (adjustable for windage), and a square front post type sight adjustable for elevation. On the Upper Receiver, a Picatinny rail offers easy mounting of any scope, optic, red dot or laser sight.
Here's a little info from the Compass Lake web site.
"We use the Army's M-261 kit because it has proven to be the most reliable of all the kits we tested. The M-261 kit will allow single loading as the bolt will lock back after each shot when used with a standard .223 magazine. The M-261 magazines are insert magazines that fit into a standard .223 magazine. The bolt will not lock back automatically on the last shot with the .22 insert magazine installed. The bolt can be manually locked back with either. The upper receivers are supplied with two magazines and one single round loading device (LED). This device enables you to insert a single round into the chamber to make it possible to single load the rifle.
We use Douglas stainless steel 1-16 twist rimfire barrel blanks. The cartridges chamber directly into the barrel. The chambering reamer is a JGS match reamer that is very similar to the Bentz reamer. The service rifle uppers are equipped the same as our .223 service rifle uppers with float tube and 1/2 moa or 1/4 moa match sights with interchangeable apertures and hood. Most shooters choose the 1/4 moa rear sight for the fine adjustment it offers. Space gun uppers are also available either in flat top/A4 or modified receiver configuration. Krieger rimfire barrels are available for an additional $112.20
The original DPMS conversion kit is the same as the Colt unit. It is no longer available. I cannot seem to locate if DPMS is currently offering a kit but they is offering complete uppers
Based on my research DPMS made at least two different dedicated .22lr upper recievers. From the images Ive seen thet look very good and appear to utilize the Colt style magazine and modified Colt bolt carrier. This would make sense as mentioned above DPMS once offered a DPMS branded Colt 22lr conversion for sale.
Spikes Tactical offers a few different variations of complete upper recievers as well as .22 LR conversion kits. The conversion kits look to be similar to the CMMG and Ciener units. Differences: notice the o-rings for a better chamber seal and chrome plating for smoother function and easier cleaning. The Spikes unit cost more then the competitors but its worth the premium in my opinion.
Something that sets Spikes Tactical apart from the others is they offer the parts to build your own .22 LR AR-15 starting with a caliber stamped ".22 long Rifle" stripped lower reciever. Pretty unique.
The ADCO V-22 is the same kit as the CZ V22.
This is the same kit as the CZ V22.
Accuracy Speaks manufacturers custompremium match grade .22lr conversion kits utilizing Douglas Cromoly free floating barrels. These are noted to be some of the most accuarate .22's anywhere. On par with competition bolt .22's.
The AR-15 .22 Conversion unit is the newest innovation from Tactical Solutions. It will work on any standard AR-15 lower and is sold as a self-contained complete unit (upper receiver and barrel). There are three model options available:
- AR-15 M4: This option is similar to the standard military
- AR-15. It features an A1 Flash hider.
- AR-15 LT: This lightweight option features a threaded aluminum barrel and Hogue forend.
AR-15 MC: This integrally suppressed conversion unit features a monocore unit with removable titanium baffles for easy cleaning.
Weight: 5 lbs 8 oz's
Features: - Standard A4 Flat-Top - Heat Treated 416 Stainless Steel Bolt - Tool Steel Bolt Rail - 16.5" Barrel Length - 1 in 16" Twist - 1/2-28 Threads (Standard with Thread Protector) - .920" Diameter Barrel - Aluminum Sleeve with Chrome Moly Liner - Lightweight Barrel - Hogue Mid-Length Fore-End
The AR-15 Conversion unit is sold as a complete upper receiver and barrel. It will fit on any standard AR-15 Lower. The Unit is self-contained, and is not designed for full auto use. All Models come with 1 25 round Black Dog Magazine (10 round magazine available for California).
Available at Brownells here
Atlantic Firearms offers on of the least expensive dedicated uppers on the market. If my research is correct the upper is injected molded and not aluminum to keep the cost down. Complete upper for AR-15 in 22 long rifle. The upper is completely interchangeable with a standard flat top upper receiver. These are dedicated .22 long rifle caliber with a chrome moly, 1-16” twist, 16” long barrel, and feature a Military type .22 long rifle bolt assembly for accuracy. This model also has a threaded barrel and has an A2 style flash hider with M4 hand guards. Include with this upper is a 27rnd black dog mag. These uppers will fit any mil-spec lower receiver.
Velocity Firearms offers dedicate uppers in aluminum and carbon fiber.
Ballistic Advantage offers match barrels and complete dedicated uppers that utilize the Spike's Tactical conversion unit.
Not much to choose from in this area. There's the Ciener's and a few aftermarket companies making Ciener compatible ones. The Colt and DPMS which are identical and not compatible with the Ciener's. Black Dog Machine is working on a magazine that will work with the Colt/DPMS drop in kits.
Below are some sources for the magazines.
I just spotted this deal at Brownells. You can purchase the CMMG Ar-15 .22LR Conversion Unit with three Black Dog Magazines for a good price. What a difference a year makes. Check it out here.