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With the price of ammo these days, it is becoming more and more popular to pick-up an AR-style rifle chambered in .22 LR. AR-style rifles in .22 LR can be built from your existing AR-style rifle, or bought new.
Why get an AR style 22?
There are two routes that can be taken to get an AR-style or Tactical .22 LR into your hands. First, you can purchase a conversion kit. Secondly, you can buy a purpose-built rifle from the factory.
Conversion kits are used for changing the caliber of a firearm. For .22 LR conversions, they will usually consist of a new bolt carrier group (BCG) and a magazine that can fit into your existing AR-platform rifle.
There are many commercial conversion kits available on the market today. CMMG makes a great one which is highly recommended, although many manufacturers have their own versions.
We’ll cover commercial .22LR conversion kits in another writeup.
Installing a .22LR conversion kit into your AR requires some basic know-how of your specific rifle. It can be easier and more guaranteed to grab a tactical-style .22 LR right the shelf.
The SIG 522 is patterned off the SIG 55x series of rifles. Its upper is aluminum, while its lower is polymer, which is something to take note of. Although now discontinued, this tactical .22 LR has a large following and still holds value well.
Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24413771
The HK416 22 is patterned off the HK416, which is currently one of the most popular combat rifles among militaries worldwide. The HK416 22 is not actually made by Heckler & Koch, although it is the only “official” licensed 22 variant. The rifle is manufactured by Umarex, which is a decent manufacturer in itself (it also manufactures Walther branded firearms).
Image source: https://hk-usa.com/hk-models/hk416-22-lr-rifle/
Externally, the HK416 22 looks like a European AR-type rifle, which it is. Internally there are a few differences, although from the perspective of a .22 LR, it is largely the same platform. With its picatinny rail on top, it’s going to support most any accessory. The HK416 22 sports an aluminum upper and lower, which sets it apart from other popular rifles in this class.
The M&P15-22 by Smith & Wesson is patterned off one of the most popular AR-15 rifles, the M&P15. The M&P15-22 is chambered in .22 LR caliber and remains largely the same rifle. Its biggest difference is a fully polymer stock and receiver, which makes the gun much lighter, although some people don’t like this over an aluminum upper + lower job.
Image source: https://www.smith-wesson.com/firearms/mp-15-22-sport
The M&P15-22 is one of the most popular .22 LR tactical rifles on the market today, and you can find many, many reviews online. Many report having shot thousands of rounds through the rifle, without any defects.
The Bushmaster C22 is patterned from their popular C15 carbine. The C22 is very similar to any standard AR-type rifle. The rifle has a real AR-15 type lower on it, and you could in theory swap any standard upper on it. The C22 is fully carbon fiber, like many others, and it probably one of the closest matches for a .22 LR in the AR-15 pattern, with many parts interchangeable. The one downside of the C22 is that it doesn’t come out of the box with a rear sight.
Image source: https://www.cheaperthandirt.com/
Overall, the M&P15-22 and Bushmaster C22 are the only “tried and true” 22 caliber AR style rifles on the market today. Despite being largely polymer or carbon fiber, they have a large following and a good track record. The SIG 522 and HK416 22 have a difference in quality (largely metal construction), although their track record is not as strong.