Torture is living five minutes from a gun store that you only see before 9:00 and after 6:00 on your daily commute. Last week, I shucked the chains of my cubicle and left the office at 5:00 so I could go to my local toy store before they closed. They say advertising doesn’t work. The sign said “Colt AR 15 .22LR 10% off.” I had to be there. I wanted to see what it looked like. And my local store has them out in the main display area . . .
My Mom bought me an ArmaLite AR-15 two years ago as a present. I love it like a man loves a rifle. With the exception of some extremely cheap steel cased ammo-related issues, it has been utterly reliable and a blast to shoot. Unfortunately, the go button gets away from me and before I know it, I’ve dumped $100 down the barrel and all I have to show for it are the crippled bodies of some cheap soda cans.
Sure it’s accurate. And yeah, it looks REALLY cool. But it doesn’t do much more than that. Maybe I’m just biased against 5.56 NATO. She’s a great round for killing enemies of the state, but it has never instilled confidence for killing four legged critters. I will probably take it out this season to kill a deer just to prove it can.
I just like .243 WIN better for that job. Stepping out to 500 yards on the weekend is certainly possible. But there are bullets that are better suited to the job. I’m sure I could take it varmint hunting, but it seems a bit overpowered for rabbits and coyotes. .204 Ruger and .22-250 were designed for just such a thing.
For what I do, an AR-15 chambered in 5.56 NATO is just not the best fit. So I find myself with a gun that that does most things well, but nothing really great. That is the definition of frustration.
If you’ve seen my mini-bio on any of my articles, you know that I like motorcycles. I love riding and have for well over a decade. My family is actively involved in the motorcycle community as well.
Growing up in that environment, I saw quite a few people piss away a small fortune buying the newest liter bike every year only to wad it up in the third corner of their first track day. Or even worse, stuffing their brand new bike, themselves, and about thirty pounds of stupid into a guardrail on a secluded road 45 minutes from the nearest hospital.
Meanwhile, I happily cruised my way through my first licensed year on a Kawasaki Ninja 250. Top speed 92 m.p.h. Downhill. With a tailwind. With power output approaching anemic, I learned quite a bit about proper form and conservation of momentum. At 70 mpg wearing tires that would go for 7500 miles between replacement (instead of 2000), I laid down a LOT of miles.
When I made the jump to the 600 cc bikes, I was putting the spanking on guys who had been riding their big bikes longer than me. Simply put, I had more miles under my belt, and a better understanding of riding smooth.
This is where the Umarex/Colt AR-15 comes in. This is a gun shaped just like my AR, only purpose built to shoot the .22 LR cartridge. With the same weight, same trigger, and same general feel as my AR, I can burn ammo at any speed I want.
.22 LR is CHEAP. Even the good stuff is cheap. And at ranges less than 50 meters, it puts holes in roughly the same place as my big boy gun. And while the idea of burning through 1000 rounds of 5.56 NATO would have most people clutching their heart and wallet, it would cost me less than $50 chambered in .22 LR.
Just like my little Kawasaki taught me to hold speed through a corner, the Umarex/Colt in .22 LR could teach me quite a bit about running and gunning. Speaking of dollars, there are three ways that I’ve seen to shoot .22 LR out of an AR.
- Buy a drop in bolt replacement kit. There are a few places online that sell them, but usability is suspect, they aren’t cheap, and I’m not the biggest fan of running mismatched bullets down the bore of my fancy gun. And after reading Foghorns review of the AAC Element, I don’t particularly want .22 LR gunk in my gas tube.
- Buy a dedicated .22 LR upper. Again, these are expensive and not the easiest to find. And for that kind of money, you could…
- Buy a dedicated AR in .22 LR.
I’ve been shooting a few times with some tacticool guys I know, and while I know this will get me flamed into oblivion, I’ll say it. What they do on the weekends is glorified plinking. They just have cooler holsters and vests. And they spend a lot more money.
If you are serious about shooting, you should be shooting A LOT. But shooting a lot just isn’t cost effective for most people. I really think that traditional guns chambered in .22 LR could really be a game changer. My local gun store seems to agree. They work hard to keep the shelves well stocked.
And just to stoke the fires, Umarex/Colt offers a 1911 clone in .22 LR. What do you make of that? I make it a useful training gun and a fine weapon in its own right. Oh did I mention the new breed of .22 self-defense ammo? Another time . . .