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Thread: .22LR trainer: conversion bolt vs dedicated upper vs 15-22

  1. #1

    .22LR trainer: conversion bolt vs dedicated upper vs 15-22

    As the title suggests, I am looking at getting a 22lr for the sole purpose of cost-effective training to acquire skill with my ar-15. I'm looking at all the different options, and would like feedback from those who have already gone down this road.

    My current thinking is to buy the CMMG conversion bolt, a few cmmg/blackdog mags, and the Borebuddy reliability upgrades. I'll also be getting a Primary Arms red dot that I will zero for 22lr. That should allow me to switch fairly quickly at the range between 5.56/.22lr, and the handling characteristics would be identical to my normal AR except for no recoil.

    Down the line I figure that I will buy a 22lr barrel and collar to improve the accuracy and turn my upper into a dedicated .22lr upper. That would happen after I build a 2nd 5.56 upper, which at current prices I could afford to do after shooting <2000 rounds of 22lr instead of .223. That is my thought process / justification.

    The S&W M&P 15-22 seems like it will be the most reliable and easiest solution. However, by the time I buy furniture and a trigger to replicate my real gun, the cost would be the same as buying the conversion kit and then a complete upper down the road. For all that it will be much lighter and balanced differently so I don't feel it will translate over to 5.56 skill as easily.

    Thoughts/suggestions?

  2. #2
    Site Supporter Suvorov's Avatar
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    I have a dedicated CMMG upper receiver that I built into a .22LR AR. This was largely done because in the state of Kalifornia a rim fire rifle is NOT considered an assault weapon and therefor I can configure it as I want. I also did it because the better accuracy potential of a .22LR barrel versus running a conversion bolt with a .223/5.56 barrel. All in all I have mixed feelings on the build and am not sure I would do it again. The pros are that the rifle feels every bit like a full caliber AR and I can configure it exactly how I want (rails, stocks, ect that may not fit on a M&P 15-22). The downside is that it has not been as reliable as I would like. The big issue here is it's inability to extract an unfired round from the chamber. I have tried to polish the chamber and tried several different types of extractors that are supposed to solve the problem but to no avail. Short of reaming the chamber I'm at a loss. Additionally I have not had good luck with all the CMMG add-ons that add AR functionality like the last round bolt hold open, are not worth their trouble and only add to the rifle's unreliability. I have found that good ammo and black dog magazines will give me almost acceptable reliability. I really never did notice an huge improvement in accuracy over using a conversion bolt although I'm sure it is there.

    If I were to do this again, I would probably go the route of an M&P 15-22 or if I lived in a state that didn't have asinine gun control laws, probably stick with a conversion bolt as the one I had had no issues with extraction.

    Thanks for the link about the bore buddy upgrades - another rabbit hole for me to spend money on

  3. #3
    Site Supporter rob_s's Avatar
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    IMO the trigger and stock are irrelevant. I might concern myself with the grip at most. Might.
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  4. #4
    Site Supporter John Hearne's Avatar
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    I'm not sure how the price comparison works compared to a quality dedicated upper, but the all metal Tippman gun continue to intrigue me as a dedicated training gun. I like the 15-22 and it is fine for manipulations and gross marksmanship but it seems to lack the accuracy of a 10-22.

    https://tippmannarms.com/tippmann-ar...actical-rifle/
    • It's not the odds, it's the stakes.
    • If you aren't dry practicing every week, you're not serious.....
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  5. #5
    Did you try the Borebuddy weights and buffer plug @Suvorov ? My initial research suggests those may be necessary for good reliability:

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=EmYgZrUQpxQ

  6. #6
    #LowLife4Life Bigghoss's Avatar
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    I went with the M&P15-22. It's really lightweight which might be an issue but at least it has a last round bolt holdopen. Granted, you have to clip a coil or two off the spring for it to work, but it's there and it does work. I had also considered the Tippman line of .22lr AR rifles/pistols. I went with the S&W just because it was easier to get at the time and so are the mags.
    Does anyone like pineapple on their pizza guns?

  7. #7
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    The scarcity of ammo and components led me to build a dedicated 22 SBR build, plus I had a Huntertown Arms Kestrel suppressor that I regret buying. It was my first centerfire can, and the features that make it subpar for 5.56 are great for a 22LR trainer that mimics the handling of its big brothers. I used the 8" barrel and BCG from Right To Bear, which are just rebranded CMMG at a lower price, and the Boonie Packer mag adapter for 15-22 mags, which provides real LRBHO and cheap mags. I just finished it this week, but haven't had a chance to take it to the range.

  8. #8
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    Madison, Wisconsin

    S&W AR-15-22 in .22 LR caliber

    I bought an S&W 15-22 in November of 2009.

    I used various models of the M-16 in the service, and have accumulated a number of them since. My first was an SP1 that I bought in 1977.

    I bought an Atchisson converter back in 1982 from Bro-Caliber International. I couldn't get it to work at all until I had it tuned by John Norrell in Florida late in 1985. After that, it worked GREAT and has been very reliable and NOT ammo sensitive.

    The converter works well, but I was interested in the Colt and Smith & Wesson ARs in .22 as soon as they came out. I have a friend who bought one of the Colt .22s, and I shot it and enjoyed it, but it's complicated to disassemble to clean and the external controls don't work the same as on a "real" AR -- in particular, the bolt catch/release doesn't work at all, and the safety works differently than on the original rifle.

    So I bought the S&W M&P 15-22. Best function has been with CCI Mini-Mags or the CCI AR Tactical Rimfire ammo, but if kept clean and lubricated the gun works fine with standard velocity LRN .22. After I had the gun a couple of months, I was firing Winchester Expert .22 ammo and had a round go off out-of-battery. It blew the extractor off. The case was ruptured. We found the case, but not the extractor.

    The guy at S&W customer service said that was a common problem at that time (2010). I shipped the gun back (at their expense) and they repaired it and I had it back in two weeks or so.

    A few years ago I got a Safariland RLS light & mount to put on the rail of my M&P 15-22. It attaches on the rail at the 9 o’clock position, and the mount curls up and puts the light at about 11 o’clock, which is a convenient place for me to activate the tail cap switch with the thumb of my left hand.

    I just got a Vortex Crossfire RDS to put on that gun, but I haven't mounted it yet.

    I’ve been real happy with the M&P 15-22 and I’d recommend them to anybody.

  9. #9
    Site Supporter Suvorov's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TicTacticalTimmy View Post
    Did you try the Borebuddy weights and buffer plug @Suvorov ? My initial research suggests those may be necessary for good reliability:

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=EmYgZrUQpxQ
    No, actually your post was the first I've heard of them. I kind of gave up trying to figure the gun out a few years back when I decided that given the limited range time I had, I really wasn't doing myself any good by using sub caliber guns and just shot 556 instead. So it only comes out a couple times a year now when I go shooting .22s with my boys. Things may change however if the dems take the White House and the boot of gun control drops to the point that 9mm and 556 stay up close to $1 per round (I've already invested in a .22lr Beretta conversion). Again - thanks for bringing them to my attention.

  10. #10
    Site Supporter
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    I picked up a CMMG conversion kit with magazine on sale a few years ago. Admittedly, I only have a few hundred rounds through it, but it seems to function fine. That said, I only stock plated high-velocity 22lr (typically 40gr CCI Minimags, although I've shot some Remington through it as well). Accuracy has been fine at the relatively short ranges I shoot it, and the only reliability issue I can recall is a single light strike.

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