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Thread: Dedicated .22LR AR: the tactical trainer

  1. #1
    Mafioso of da Apocalypse The War Wagon's Avatar
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    Lightbulb Dedicated .22LR AR: the tactical trainer

    As this qualifies more as a "snap-together," than a build, I thought I'd post it here, as opposed to cluttering the AR -BIY thread. I'm a newb here, so move it to wherever it's supposed to be, if it's in the wrong place.

    I started this project in the fall of 2010 - it took until March of 2011 to finish. I'll fill you in on some of my mistakes , as well as my positive experiences with it.

    So I'd had this project in mind for a while. With 4 hungry 5.56 AR's, I knew there HAD to be a CHEAPER practice/range solution (particularly for CQB drills; working on stance, hold, trigger control, etc.), than even BULK .223 can provide (and Homey DON'T do steel cased .223 in AR-15's - Homey don't play dat!).

    So I've known about conversions like the Ciener for years, but reviews were always a mixed bag on them. Besides which, if I'm DOING CQB drills, I'd like a LITTLE accuracy for my efforts, rather than have the .22 round come bouncing out of a 5.56 bbl!

    So I priced a few of the factory .22LR AR's, like the S&W M&P15-22, and the Colt .22 AR. Both can be had for around $500 - $600 after sales tax, which ain't bad, BUT... I'm one of THOSE people, who always has an extra lower or two laying around anyways - why NOT check into a dedicated .22LR upper? With that in mind, I looked into the offerings that were out there, & at the Tactical Solutions M4-style upper in particular. After MUCH reading & research, I decided that summer of 2010, that they had the best DEDICATED .22 upper around (I believe Nordic System's dedicated .22 upper is even BETTER, but it was not available when I built this one. Only problem is, good LUCK finding a Nordic Systems upper NOW...)

    Moreover, I wanted to build as realistic a trainer as possible, vis-a-vis my other AR's (all middys), and TacSol seemed ideal. Of course, I was gonna need rails, an optic, AVG, light, sling, and other such goodies, to make it match. And it was about this same time, I decided to sell my POF-415, so I stripped a LOT of the gear off of it, to build this project. Made it a lot cheaper too.

    So of my two spare lowers at the time (Colt 6920 and an Aero-Precision), the A-P made the most sense, MAINLY because it comes with a full hammer. TacSol's do NOT like notched hammers for some reason. Since the Colt has one, that pretty much settled it!






    I'd bought this lower NEW, off someone on another board some time ago, for only $200 - WITH the ARF-X stock, no less!!! A Magpul enhanced trigger guard and Ergo grip later, it was good to go!

    Addax Tactical in Los Angeles cut me a good deal on an upper, so I ordered it in October. Only problem was, it was backordered... 'til mid-December... ouch. I couldn't complain, because Chris got me a GREAT deal, so my patience was eventually rewarded.

    Here's how TacSol's goodies look from the factory...







    With Addax being in CA, I was afraid I was going to get stuck with a 10rnd CA-compliant mag. But since it was just passing THROUGH Chris' shop to me, I got a nice Black Dog Machine 26rnd. smoke-colored mag instead!

    I had originally bought some MI Carbine 2-piece rails for it, but then I realized, I don't actually OWN another carbine-length AR! It was going to affect the placement of my AVG, light, and optic, which wouldn't be any help at ALL, compared to my other AR's. Shortly thereafter, I got some gently-used OmegaX 12.0 FSP rails, which would allow for my sight post to be retained, & give me a platform similar to my other ARs for gear mounting.

    Naturally, this would necessitate removing the delta ring, spring pack, & the sight post/gas block, which is a SNAP, right? I mean, the post/block is for 'decoration' basically on a .22LR - there is NO gas tube, so you punch out the roll pins, and it falls right off, no?

    NO.

    Tactical Solutions, in its infinite wisdom, decided to Loc-Tite the whole assembly to the bbl. No problem- I don't like the A2/3/4 style sight post ANYWAYS. So I'll take a hammer and KNOCK it off (which is WHEN I discovered the Loc-Tite).

    OK... BAD move on MY part, but there's nothing in the instructions, nor anything I've ever read on-line, about the FREEPIN' sight post/block, being LOC-TITED on the ^&%%$&%^$&%$ barrel!!! So I'm posting it HERE, for the WHOLE WORLD TO SEE - your sight post/block on a TacSol upper is LOC-TITED ON - HANDLE WITH CARE.

    That's because, when you hammer it off (and the Delta ring is installed by a 900lb gorilla, too! Be SURE to have a vice and block, in order to loosen/remove it PROPERLY!!!), THIS is what happens to the barrel, inside its chamber sleeve...




    It ROTATES... and the bolt WON'T close... ^&%&%^$%^#%$$^$&*#$!!!

    Ok... do I send it back to Addax, or do I send it back to Tac-Sol? I actually call my buddy, Kevin Johnson, (formerly) of Johnson Tactical, LLC over in Monroeville (just east of da' 'BURGH - he moved to Seattle with a new job in August of 2011), and ask him what HE thinks? He says, "Bring it by, and I'll see what I can do."

    So I run it out to him just hours before Christmas, and over his Christmas/New Year's holiday no less, he does that voodoo, that he do, so well upon it. I go to pick it up, and not only has he UN-screwed it up for me, he does it for for less expense, than I probably could have shipped and insured it!!! He's test-fired it, smoothed out where I roughed it up, & reassembled it with my "ARMS" front sight and DD rails installed!

    Now speaking of my "ARMS" sight, here it is.




    A VERY slick little piece of work, the B-41 Shilouette, no? Look closer...




    Because confession is good for the soul, I must confess - it's NOT an ARMS B-41. It's... Airsoft.

    Because I live near Amped Airsoft here in Pittsburgh, I have gotten Magpul ladders, and some other genuine Magpul gear there. They carry the REAL deal, in addition to Magpul's Airsoft line, and can order anything else I need. I'm not into Airsoft, but was impressed with the quality & likeness of some of the Airsoft replica stuff these days (I did Paintball in the late '80's - stuff's come a LONG way since then!). Out of curiosity, I asked how much that sight went for, when I saw it in the case. New, it was all of... $30!

    Hmmm... $153.50 for the REAL deal, or $30 for an Airsoft replica, that's going on a .22LR anyways? NOT a tough choice there! And YES - I'm the FIRST to bi-otch about cheap, Airsoft knockoff stuff going on an AR, BUT... not only does this work, it's also the right weight, and what the heck do I need a GAS BLOCK on a .22LR anyways?!?! Here's the ONE TIME, you can legitimately cut a corner, I think, AND get away with it. Especially for a realistic .22 Trainer.


    So here's my FUNCTIONAL upper, after Kevin UN-screwed it up for me.





    Time to fold flap 'A', into slot 'B'!




    Everything fits, test cycles, and dry fires just fine. Now time to install the goodies.




    From left to right - TacticalLink 2pt. sling, Trijicon RX30-23, Magpul MBUS rear sight & DD rail mount QD sling swivel mount, Black Dog Machine 26 rnd. BLK mag (got three of these from Gunkings.com - GREAT price, in-stock, and FAST shipping! First time I ever used them, and they were outstanding to deal with!), G&R Tactical closeout special - PentagonLight X2 Xenon (not a terribly bright light, but 1) it was cheap, and 2) the weight is 'correct.' This is a TRAINER, not a 'response rifle' anyways!) in a Vltor Scout mount, & Magpul rail ladders (Amped Airsoft, again). NOT pictured - my Magpul AVG.

    SOME assembly later, and... VOILA!






    NOT too shabby, huh?

    I haven't WEIGHED it yet, but it seems comparable to my BCM middy, for reference. Can't wait to get out and shoot it a bit, and especially work on my trigger control with this.

    This project turned out to be a MUCH bigger headache than I'd planned for. I've BUILT my own 5.56 AR's, but this .22 is a VERY different cat to work on. Plan accordingly, if you want to undertake one....


    UPDATE:

    Now since the idea was to mimic my other AR's as closely as possible, when I finally got bifocals, and transitioned from Trijicon Reflex optics (BEST optic out there, for those with untreated/untreatable astigmatism, I might add!!!), to Aimpoints, I decided to go the same route with my trainer as well.

    Mounted in an ADM absolute co-witness Mount, is an Aimpoint PRO. Has rubber lens caps and a flash kill - the dot & the controls are also identical to my Comp M2 and Pro optics on my other rifles. I've also switched over to a Troy folding rear BUIS as well, as I run Troy BUIS on all my rifles.



    Surefire E1B in a Gear Sector offset mount - TacticalLink 2-pt. sling (waaaaaay too expensive for a .22LR AR, but it was a leftover from my POF!), and it's good to go!

    It's a breeze to wield, cycles Hornady 36gr. fodder with ease, and is a hoot to shoot! It also has a much more solid feel to it, than the polymer S&W M&P.22, for instance. I've run at least 4k of ammo through it the past 5 years, with nary a hiccup (INCLUDING Thunderbolts, which they recommend you DON'T shoot through it. I usually save Thunderbolts for my bolt-action Marlin 935, or Ruger Mk.III, but I decided on a lark, to run some through it. I've run over 500 rds., & they work as well as anything!). Much easier to clean than a standard 5.56 AR, too!

    For MY money, the dedicated .22 AR is the way to go. Besides which, if a lower from one of my 5.56 AR's goes down, I pop the upper off this one, pop a 5.56 upper ONTO this lower, and - VOILA - you're back in the game with a BIG BOY AR in seconds!


    When I say I'm an OLDbie to the board, I shiite you not. I bought my first AK (I Polytech Legend) in 1988, my first AR-15 (a crappy Pac-West Armory [PWA] hunka junk) in 1991, and have been building and modding them ever since. I'll post up some other stuff as I think about it, but for those considering a dedicated .22LR AR, I thought this might be an interesting take on it, for your consideration.

  2. #2
    Rcovering tangentialist stalker1's Avatar
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    I actually handled the S&W mp-22 long enough to note the molded in stock tube. No thanks. I'm doing a cmmg conversion unit on an actual full sized AR for much the same reasons you describe. Just on a regular AR rifle in case I want to swap bcg's out and clean out the gas system with 5.56 to keep the option available,ya know?

  3. #3
    Rcovering tangentialist stalker1's Avatar
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    And no offense meant nor implied but the PWA receiver hosts my oldest and favorite AR I assembled with colt everything on it except the bushmaster 14.5 in.barrel from the original M-4 run for the military back then. That colt stock,bcg and the bushmaster barrel were very hard to get back then. Added the vortex fh tigged on and i've been offered mucho dinero since but it's for my kid.

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    Mafioso of da Apocalypse The War Wagon's Avatar
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    Exclamation

    PAC-West receivers are worth a FORTUNE in NY state (as are all pre-'94 receivers), and are probably GTG... but I'd GUT IT for a modern LPK, and I'd certainly toss the original, antimony firing pin. I NEVER knew one back in the day, that didn't get bent after 5k rounds.

    Such lousy firing pins did lead to what my college wingman called, "the ACCEPTABLE malfunction" - an un-intended 2-shot burst. One, when you squeezed the trigger, and the second, when you released the trigger!

  5. #5
    Rcovering tangentialist stalker1's Avatar
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    Note I said receiver ehh? The upper was literally blown out of the side and it now is colt everything except the aforementioned barrel. Getting an original M-4 buttstock was difficult to say the least back then as well as the military first run contract barrel. Good ole days!

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