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Best AR-15 in .22 LR [Colt M4 .22 LR + Others]

Training, plinking, or fending off an army of squirrels -- an AR-15 in .22 LR has a lot of uses! From full rifle to conversion, we can help you find the one!

I’ll confess…I’m a dyed-in-the-wool fan of blued steel and fine walnut.

But despite my love for that style, most days you’ll find me toting a “dishwasher gun” — composite stock and stainless steel.

Pair of AR-15 Pistols
Pair of AR-15 Pistols

But you’ll also find me plinking and sniping at the occasional ground squirrel with an AR-style .22 LR.

A .22 LR AR gives you all the benefits of the AR-15 platform, but with the barely-there recoil of the .22 LR. And if you’re after varmint, they’re a great way to take care of small game.

Popular .22LR Ammo
Popular .22 LR Ammo

But what is the best .22 LR AR? Well, we’ve narrowed down some options, bringing you some of our favorites. So keep reading!

Table of Contents

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Best AR-15 in .22 LR

1. Walther Colt M4 Carbine

Looking at it, the Colt M4 Carbine, it doesn’t scream “.22 LR PLINKER.”

Colt M4 in .22 LR
Colt M4 in .22 LR

It sports a 16-inch Parkerized M4 pattern barrel with a flash hider and an anodized aluminum upper and lower.

The front sight fixture is all metal with an elevation adjustable front sight post and a bayonet lug if you are so inclined. 

Colt M4 .22 LR FSB
Colt M4 .22 LR FSB

The carbine has a traditional forend with no rails or slots for accessory mounting and the buttstock is a 5-position sliding affair common to most ARs today.

Up top is a traditional removable carry handle with an A2 adjustable sight assembly. Under the carry handle is the flat-top Picatinny rail for mounting scopes, red dots, etc.

Colt M4 in .22 LR ADS

The trigger is OK. My trigger scale showed a bit over 8lb for an average. There is a bit of taking up, then a pretty hard pull, and a bit of overtravel.

It is not the best for shooting precision groups from the bench, but then again — neither is the M4 Carbine.

Magazines are available in 30-round, 20-round, and 10-round configurations.

The little rifle is fun to shoot, unloading a box of .22 LR in short order.

Best M4 Clone in .22 LR
382
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Best M4 Clone in .22 LR
Colt M4 Carbine in .22 LR
$382 at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

What do you think of the Walther Colt combo? Rate it below!

Readers' Ratings

2.91/5 (149)

Your Rating?

2. Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22

As mentioned earlier, the Smith and Wesson M&P 15-22 launched the same year as the Colt M4 .22 Carbine.

The Smith and Wesson is a fine AR platform .22 Long Rifle option for shooters and is currently available in several variations.

These rifles feature a polymer upper and lower and as such weigh a bit less at just over 4-pounds. 

S&W M&P Sport II in a stump
The centerfire version is pretty similar to the rimfire version.

While there is no forward assist button on the Smith and Wesson and the bolt release button is fully functional.

Magazines are available in 10-round or 25-round models.

The S&W M&P 15-22 is supplied with Magpul M-LOK forends, 6-position buttstock, and Magpul MBUS folding sights.

This gives you a lot of options for optics, lasers, and lights to customize your rifle for your needs.

For all your plinking and training needs any of the S&W M&P 15-22 variations will serve you well. 

3. CMMG Mk4le

CMMG is probably best known for its conversion kits and upper, but they also supply rifles in .22 Long Rifle.

899
at Sportsman's Warehouse

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

CMMG MK4LE Rifle
$899 at Sportsman's Warehouse

Prices accurate at time of writing

The Mk4le is the basic model and features an M4 profile 16-inch barrel, front sight, forged upper and lower, 6-position buttstock, and MBUS rear sight.

This gun weighs in at 6.2 pounds. Magazines are available in 10-round and 25-round capacity.

4. Tippmann M4-22 Pro

Offering a solid .22 LR option for those who like that AR-15 style, Tippmann’s M4-22 Pro brings a 16-inch barrel length to an overall 31.25 to 34.5-inch length (depending on stock position).

In total, you get a .22 LR rifle that weighs in at 5.22 pounds.

499
at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Tippmann M4-22 Pro
$499 at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

The M4-2 Pro is mostly Mil-spec compatible and works alongside a variety of AR-15 stocks, handguards, and sights.

All in all, this rifle is a great addition to your rifle collection.

Best .22LR Conversions and Uppers

1. CMMG Bravo AR-15 Conversion Kit

As mentioned above, when one thinks about using their existing AR platform to shoot .22 Long Rifle, CMMG is often the first option that comes up in an internet search.

The Bravo kit consists of a stainless bolt carrier conversion and a 25-round magazine.

Simply remove your bolt carrier group from your upper, insert the CMMG conversion kit, load the mag and go.

Best AR-15 .22 LR Conversion Kit
220
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Best AR-15 .22 LR Conversion Kit

All in all, for a budget-friendly way to shoot and train with your AR the CMMG conversion kits offer a lot of bang for the buck.

Finally, CMMG and a host of other manufacturers offer dedicated .22 Long Rifle uppers to mate to your AR lower for low-priced plinking and training.

2. Palmetto State Armory .22 LR Complete Upper

PSA is well known for its quality and budget-minded AR-15s, AR-10s, and AK-47s — and this dedicated .22 LR upper is no different!

369
at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Palmetto State Armory .22 LR Complete AR-15 Upper
$369 at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

For the money, it’s a great way to turn any AR-15 into a plinking king or make training with your standard rifle a lot cheaper.

It comes fully ready for the range with a dedicated .22 LR barrel, BCG, and charging handle.

3. Mk4LE Upper

The Mk4le upper is identical to the full rifle offering with the exception that no rear sight is supplied.

You simply remove your .223 upper, pin on the .22 LR upper, load up your magazines, and hit the range.

450
at Optics Planet

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

CMMG .22 LR Upper Receiver
$450 at Optics Planet

Prices accurate at time of writing

With a dedicated upper you will likely see an improvement in accuracy because the barrel is specifically bored and rifled for .22 Long Rifle bullets.

A .223 bullet is actually .224-inches in diameter whereas the .22 LR is .223-inches. In some AR barrels, you may not get quite the accuracy because of the bore diameter and twist rate.

5.56 vs .22 LR

But with a .223-inch bore and the slower twist specified for .22 LR, you will likely see much tighter groups.

Conclusion

Hopefully, this glimpse into the world of .22 Long Rifle ARs gives you some ideas on your options.

From fully dedicated rifles to conversion kits to uppers, there is a way for everyone to get more practice and training with their AR platforms.

5.56 AR-15 (Top) Colt M4 in .22 LR (Bottom)
5.56 AR-15 (Top) Colt M4 in .22 LR (Bottom)

Regardless of the option or options you choose, get out there and have some fun shooting your .22.

What kind of rifle do you plink and train with? Let us know in the comments! If you’re looking for more great AR-15 information, check out our Definitive Resource!

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25 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    Paul Sanders

    Tippman Arms.

    November 24, 2021 10:59 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Robert E. Flynn

      I am running a CMMG Conversion kit. I can train it across all of my AR platforms. I can do active traing for a fraction of the cost, only problem is that Ref dot changes between the .22 LR and use of the actual .556/.223 rounds other than that. I love being able to plink with the .22 LR

      December 21, 2021 6:30 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Ted

    I recently purchased the Hammerli TAC R1 in 22lr
    Doing several reviews of other AR 15 style rifles, this was my choice

    OVERVIEW

    Walther Hammerli Tac R1 22 Long Rifle 16.1in Matte Black Semi Automatic Rifle - 22 Long Rifle - The HAMMERLI TAC R1 22 rifle offers the best precision, quality, and value of any .22 L.R. AR-Style rifle on the market. Featuring a 13” M-LOK handguard, flip up back-up sights, removable flash-hider, and ergonomic stock & grip, the TAC R1 22 rifle is the most versatile .22 rifle available. All of these features, in addition to the all-aluminum construction of it’s receivers and handguard, set a new standard for performance and value which made me feel good about this purchase.

    September 23, 2021 6:30 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Arthur

    We chose the Tippmann M4-22 - not the cheapest but works exactly like the AR-15

    July 4, 2020 1:32 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Eric Frederico

      Is that an airsoft rifle? Or a 22lr caliber rifle??

      February 15, 2021 1:32 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        Patrick Martin OToole

        .22 LR

        November 11, 2021 7:00 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Johnny

    Would you use a CMMG conversion kit on your AR15 self defense rifle for practice?
    Would you have concerns about messing up your self defense rifle?
    Is there a concern about .22LR fouling the gas port?
    Is there a concern about .22LR fouling/leading the barrel?

    April 4, 2019 9:15 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Stephen Johnson

    What about the Kriss DMK 22?

    September 26, 2018 11:52 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Alex Wilson

    I did plenty of research and finally settled with the Tipmann M4 22 lr. Other than propriety mags which aren't cheap- everything I read gave me confidence that for the money I was getting the best/more realistic AR trainer rifle available. Thoughts?

    September 17, 2018 3:56 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Kirby Foster

      I just picked up a Tippmann too. I'd say it's about a 2MOA shooter with standard bulk ammo. I have about 800 rounds through it now. I had 2 FTF but that was when I'd used standard velocity lead tip ammo. With high velocity or copper plated no problems. And all functionality is there just like on my AR15. Really nice rifle. It's better than the others I've seen that my friends have.

      I'll pick up some good ammo since so far I've shot stuff just laying around the house to see if it was picky about ammo. Now to try it out next weekend at a Project Appleseed shoot.

      The guy called 22 Plinkster has a really good review of it on youtube. He's a well respected shooter too.

      December 9, 2018 3:18 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        Alex Wilson

        Man I’m loving mine a little too much I’m not gonna lie.. I wanted a dedicated trainer for multi-gun so research said it had to be the Tippmann- but with few reviews out it was still a SWAG choice and I’m glad I chose it. I’ve put about 2k through it and other than a dozen or so primer issues I’ve had zero failure to anything. I have not found a bulk ammo or non-match ammo that performs how I’ve read it optimally can-but that would kindness if defeat the purpose of an expensive 22 that chews 5.56 priced ammo lol. I’ve used mostly American Eagle 40gr copper plated hollows and was very meh through the whole 1300. Remington Thunderbolt 40s and CCI mini mag 40 and 36 supers and still eh but the CCI has been in low enough numbers that I’d say inconclusive thus far. It sure isn’t fun with some subs (or supers really) and a decent can. Either way it does exactly what I needed it to-and after some dress up and one of those fake can shrouds (I couldn’t help myself) that sits partially inside the free-float guard I call it the Honeybadger :) Thing is a blast-no regrats.

        December 21, 2018 8:07 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Arthur

      I agree best trainer available

      July 4, 2020 1:33 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Duke Aquaro

    I have owned the S&W 22 version since they were introduced. I installed a 4 pound Timney trigger, (3.5 will NOT work) and all Magpul furniture. The gun is awesome. It likes CCI MiniMags, and CCI Tactical, but Eley force just knocks the accuracy out of the ball park. It carries a Vortex 3x9 scope. I shoot it frequently. I truly enjoy this rifle.

    June 24, 2018 6:15 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Joe Mara

    how about the sig 522? it shoots a lot better than any colt style m4 rifle

    June 22, 2018 6:32 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Ken

      Well, this is an article on the "Best AR-15 in .22", and the 522 isn't an AR-15 in .22, so....

      July 11, 2018 7:53 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Dave

    My kids both run the DPMS .22 upper. Very reliable dedicated .22 upper. Family participants in Project Appleseed with the DPMS versions. Please be aware Appleseed has temporary prohibited the Smith and Wesson M&P 15/22 for open battery detonations. Smith and Wesson has been quite about the issue.Fyi.
    https://appleseedinfo.org/how-to-prepare/

    "** Effective immediately the use of Smith and Wesson M&P 15/22’S at and Appleseed are hereby temporarily prohibited due to recent safety issues."

    June 22, 2018 8:49 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Duke Aquaro

      I have had mine since Obama was re-elected. Maybe 5000 rounds through it and never a hick-up except with the 3.5 pound Timney trigger. Timney took it back, sent a 4 pound single stage trigger and never a problem. I have not heard about anyone having an issue. Two of my friends have had theirs as long as I have. Same results. They really like them. Is there a re-call?

      June 24, 2018 6:23 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Tano

    Seems like you also missed another fun pinker, the umarex HK416D.

    June 22, 2018 3:13 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Steven Fine

      Isn't that an Airsoft gun?

      June 22, 2018 10:08 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      AIRSOFT Hater

      AIRSOFT??? You are joking I hope.

      June 25, 2018 7:45 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    BoxingChump

    No Kriss Defiant?

    Working bolt release, forward assist and last round bolt hold open. Accurate, takes 10/22 barrels and most of your favorite furniture/triggers from your AR15... All metal too...

    June 21, 2018 9:02 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Steven Fine

    I shoot rimfire steel plate matches and by far the go to gun is the M&P 15-22. It is light, reliable and easily customizable. Many of the other competitors start with other guns but almost always end up moving to this platform. Out of all my rifles it's my favorite gun and most fun to shoot.

    June 21, 2018 8:02 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Duke Aquaro

      I totally agree!

      June 24, 2018 6:25 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Alex Hall

    Nice read. The Colt sounds like I need one. I have a Tippman arms M4 22. Fairly new to the market. y’all should review that one. Another AR clone but doesn’t feel like a toy. Quad rail is nice for my unnecessary furniture! Lots of plinking.

    Best.
    Alex

    June 21, 2018 7:58 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Jesse Brown

    Tippmann Arms M4-22 ...why does no one know about this gun yet!?

    I have wanted a .22 AR for a while and the Tippmann Arms would be the one I would go with if I had the $$ !

    June 21, 2018 4:23 pm
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