Dedicated AR .22 Trainer

With the recent increases in ammunition prices and some calibers…

With the recent increases in ammunition prices and some calibers in very short supply, shooters have been rediscovering the lowly .22 LR cartridge. Even the “tacti-cool” guys are shooting more .22 LR than .223 through their black rifles. Conversion units are more popular and for serious shooters, showing that there is a clear interest within the shooting community for ways to train with more affordable ammunition in their rifles. Recently, I worked with a conversion upper and found it to be well-suited for law enforcement and military training.

At a 2008 gun show, Smith & Wesson teased those in attendance by displaying a prototype of what is now the M&P15-22. To make matters worse, it was locked in a glass display case and all we could do was look, not touch. The new rifle looked similar to a standard M4, but a close inspection found that the upper and lower receivers were made from polymer. While I was impressed with the concept, I had to admit I was skeptical of the implementation. Still, I asked to be put on the list for a sample, knowing I could send it back if I didn’t like it.

In August, I was invited to attend an event hosted by S&W at the U.S. Shooting Academy. There, a group of fellow gun scribes got a first look at the new 15-22. Smith provided four 15-22 rifles and several thousand rounds of ammunition for the event. During the two-day event, I estimated the four 15-22 rifles consumed more than eight thousand rounds of CCI Stinger and Federal bulk pack ammo.

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