The Nordic Components AR22 10/22 conversion kit was designed to replicate AR-15 geometry for cheap training.
To control costs, we're stuck with either limiting round count in practice or reducing the ammunition cost for the same amount of training. Target shooters have long used .22 LR trainer rifles and pistols to work on basic marksmanship. While .22 LR can't replicate the recoil or range of larger calibers, there's no substitute for putting rounds on target.
Until recently, I hadn't shot more than a few hundred rounds of .22 LR since I was a kid. There's nothing wrong with the .22, and I spent a lot of time growing up shooting soda cans, rocks, and old skateboard wheels with a 10/22. I shoot a lot of practical matches and tactical training, so the .22's have been off my radar until recently. However, in the last six months, as a result of
The AR22 kit comprises a receiver cradle (center), the Picatinny optics rail that screws to the top of the 10/22 receiver, and a handguard retaining nut bracket (right). Also shown is the Hornet trigger pack (bottom).
Nordic Components (N.C.), originally a Finnish company manufacturing telecommunication parts, moved to the U.S. in 1997. As that industry started to move its production off-shore, the move to firearms parts seemed natural in light of the owners' interest in the shooting sports and especially three-gun competition. Nordic Components has put together a top-notch team who shares a passion for shooting. Part of that team is Engineering Manager Tim Ubl, who was instrumental in the AR22's design.
Tim came up with the idea of taking a Ruger 10/22 barreled action and wrapping it in a chassis that replicates the geometry of the AR-15 as closely as possible and accept AR-15 stocks, grips, float
The kit went together smoothly, with no surprises; a Trijicon TA11 ACOG was used at first to replicate the author's 3-Gun rifle setup.
There are other .22 LR conversions for AR-15's on the market. The most well known is the Ciener, which normally replaces only the bolt carrier group with one for the .22 LR. It uses special magazines designed for the Ciener kit that fit the regular AR-15 magazine well. The advantage of the Nordic AR22 kit is that it leverages all the parts for the Ruger 10/22 along with the knowledge that has been built up about how to make them run reliably, but makes the outside of the gun replicate the AR-15 geometry for training continuity.
A Magpul UBR stock, MIAD grip and a PRI GenIII free-float tube completed the build; Tactical Innovations 25-round magazines were used for reliable feeding.
With the 10/22's barreled action removed from its stock, you simply drop the action into the AR22 lower chassis like you'd drop an action into a conventional stock. The regular 10/22 trigger group is left in place. Depending on the size of your particular 10/22 action, a rubber mallet may be required to get the receiver seated. My brand-new receiver required this rubber-mallet persuasion; I didn't mind because a tight fit is better than a loose fit. Once the action is seated in the chassis, three nylon screws are tightened to keep it in place. Next, the forward barrel nut block is slid over the barrel and tightened to the chassis using two long hex-head cap screws. An action screw on the bottom of the block connects the 10/22 receiver to the now-unified AR22 chassis. Finally, the elevation 1913 rail is mounted on the top of the 10/22 receiver.
Two competition "race guns" (top bottom) are complemented by .22 LR counterparts (center) to enable inexpensive practice sessions.
To start the project, I bought the cheapest Ruger 10/22 I could find, and immediately removed the original stock. The barrel was cut down to 17 inches to match my three-gun rifle and the muzzle was threaded 1/2-28 for standard AR-15 muzzle devices and .22 LR suppressors. I set up the AR22 using a new carbon rifle-length fiber float tube from PRI, a Magpul MIAD for the grip, and a Magpul UBR stock. Since the stock trigger was poor, I bought a complete trigger pack from Hornet Products. It drops right in with no gunsmithing and provides a short and light trigger pull with just a hint of creep for under $100. To get started, I put an extra TA11 ACOG on the AR22's optics rail to
The factory 10/22 barrel produced decent groups at 50 yards using a variety of ammunition; Remington Subsonic shot the best with dime-sized ten-shot groups.
All together, the AR22 turned out looking dead sexy. Using the same components, it feels almost the same as my competition AR-15 except a little lighter. The controls are obviously different: the 10/22's charging handle is still on the right-hand side; the safety on the trigger guard; the magazines seat differently and the magazine-release operates differently. Shooting the AR22 feels like shooting my competition rifle, except with obviously a lot less recoil.
Since all my AR-15 optics reside on LaRue Tactical quick-release mounts, switching optics is easy. Switching optics, for example to an an Aimpoint M2, is useful to utilize the AR22 for practicing with different sighting systems in use on my other AR-15's. The AR22 is also a good platform for evaluating other optics, with the caveat that .22 LR does not work for long-range training. In this regard, I tried a Burris 1-4 XTR scope to see how it might work for three-gun competition or tactical shooting.
A low-cost training platform such as the AR22 is ideal for practicing skills like shooting accurately while on the move.
Since then, I've put another 5000 rounds through the AR22-converted 10/22. The AR22 kit is solid, with no affect on the 10/22's action reliability and only positive effects on accuracy. The AR22 free-floats the barrel and the sight is connected to the sight rail which is screwed directly to the 10/22 receiver. Thus, an AR22-converted 10/22 will be at least as accurate as it was in the original Ruger stock.
The only downsides to an AR22-converted 10/22 must be blamed on the Ruger 10/22 design and not the Nordic Components' kit. Neither standard nor high-capacity 10/22 magazines seat in the receiver exactly like AR-15 or AK-47 magazines, and dropping magazines with the magazine release isn't as slick as the AK or AR.
A suppressed .22 rifle shooting subsonic ammunition sounds like an air rifle, and may be ideal for pest control.
Sound suppressors, also called silencers, are legal in 35 states with the proper paperwork and are one of the best accessories for a .22 LR pistol or rifle. With regular high-velocity ammunition, all you hear is the "pop" of the miniature sonic boom, while with subsonic ammunition, the report sounds like a pellet rifle or staple gun. With the suppressor installed, you can truly shoot without hearing protection. This is perfect for teaching new shooters, a day or plinking, or stealth pest control. Varmint hunters are excited about the suppressors because prairie dogs aren't scared off by the muzzle report.
This Ruger Mark III was completed with a Tactical Solutions Pac-Lite upper, DrSight red dot optic, Thunder Beast Arms Corporation silencer, and various internal parts from Volquartsen.
The array of choices can be overwhelming, but you can break them down by looking at: size, weight, materials and construction, ability to disassemble, price, and compatibility with .22 WMR (.22 Magnum) and .17 HMR. Most .22 suppressors are based around a one-inch tube diameter, although some are a little thinner. Most of the suppressors are between five and six inches long, although a few are shorter, and a few are longer. For a suppressor average size, the weight will make more difference in how handy it feels. The lightest .22 LR suppressors weigh around three ounces and are made of aluminum or titanium; any are between four and five ounces. The heaviest are made of stainless steel and weigh up to nine ounces. Some suppressors come apart for cleaning, while others are sealed and welded together.
The TBAC model 22S sound suppressor reduces the report of subsonic ammunition so it sounds almost like a staple gun.
I also have a Ruger Mark III for practice and training. The advantages of rimfire for training are not limited to rifles. Pistol ammunition has also painfully increased in price over the last couple years. A .22 pistol is a good tool to work on basic marksmanship skills; a suppressed .22 pistol is a great platform for new or out-of-practice shooters to work on the fundamentals without the risk of developing bad habits due to recoil and muzzle blast. I often find that the loud report causes as much flinching as the recoil itself.
Since the Pac-Lite upper came with a 1/2-28 threaded muzzle, I can unscrew the TBAC 22S from the AR22 and install it on the Pac-Lite Mark III in just a few seconds. With the fine red dot in the DrSight, no coffee can is safe at 100 yards. While some high velocity ammunition won't break the sound barrier from the 4.5-inch Pac-Lite barrel, some will. Hyper-velocity ammunition like CCI Stingers produces a distinct crack which subsumes all action sound. However, with subsonic ammunition from CCI or Remington, the suppressed Mark III sounds just about like a hand-held Arrow T50 stapler.
I shoot a lot of "practical" matches along with tactical training, so the .22's have been off my radar. However, since setting up the AR22 and the Pac-Lite Mark III, I've shot about eight thousand rounds of .22 LR in just a couple months. I'm kind of embarrassed to say that this is about ten times the .22 I've shot in the last eight years; that's a lot of missed opportunity for cheap practice and fun plinking.
If you've put off shooting .22 LR because it's not "serious" enough or because surplus .223 or 7.62x39 used to be cheap, now is the time to start. Due to rising ammunition costs, .22 LR provides a huge savings in training costs. There are some really slick .22 LR products available now from Nordic Components, Tactical Solutions, and others, and more in development.