The topic of .22 conversion kits still seems to be bouncing around, so lets explore that some more.
Pretty much any military arm, at some point, had a .22 caliber training version. Sometimes a dedicated gun, sometimes a conversion kit, but the reasons were always the same – economy and ease of training.
Nowadays, with .308 being around $0.45 per round, .223 not far behind it, and even 9mm being around $0.25, the notion of being able to practice at $0.05 per round seems pretty attractive. This isnt going to be an all-encompassing list, and it will surely have some personal bias in it, so, as always, your mileage may vary.
Seems like everyone has an AR of some type these days so lets start there. The earliest AR conversions that Ive found were the military (Air Force, I think) conversion kits (M231). I’ve no experience with them, and I’ve only seen a few out in the wild. Colt made a very nice conversion kit back in the 80’s and 90’s but it was hampered by a 10-round magazine. Much, much later, aftermarket mags would become available that held more rounds. Ciener conversions seem to be the style that is most popular. Everyone seems to have copied Ciener’s design but, unlike Ciener’s actual product, everyone else’s seems to work just fine. Ciener has something of a reputation, deserved or undeserved I cannot say, for a bad product and worse customer service. Maybe he’s a standup guy with bad people skills..beats me. However, I have had 2 of his kits that I purchased used that never worked right, and the local PD has a kit they use that is also hit-n-miss. I’ve had some people tell me their Ciener kits work great, and I’ve had others tell me otherwise. I’ll err on the side of caution and give Ciener a pass. What you do is entirely up to you. What .22 kit do I recommend for the AR? If you can find a Colt one and a couple higher-cap mags, that’d be a great choice. Otherwise, I have a CMMG conversion that I like a lot. I shoot mostly Federal bulk out of it and it works great. Im sure there are some other kits out there (Spike’s, etc) that are just as good, but I can only tell you what I’ve shot and my experience with it.
Note that the bullet diameter of a .22 LR and a .223 isnt identical. The .22 LR is going to rattle down your bore a bit. This means your accuracy is going to be pretty sketchy. I use .22 kits for gun handling practice, so accuracy is very relative. When I’m practicing with the AR mu aim is to bring the gun up, get a sight picture, flip the safety off, and get a round off where the sights are pointed in as brief a time as possible. Or I’ll be practicing transitioning to weak-side and doing the same. Or shooting from different positions. My target is usually a steel plate about the size of a cafeteria tray at 50 yards so pinpoint accuracy isnt really needed. If you want the most accurate .22 kit possible for your AR you’ll need to get a dedicated .22 upper. Its a nice way to go, but for my needs a conversion kit is just fine.
For .308, we have the PTR-91 series of HK clones. HK made a .22 conversion kit for the semiauto HK91 and the full auto G3. The G3 conversion kits are easier to find and can be found at places like Cheaper Than Dirt. The bad news is theyre about $500. The good news is they are genuine HK, work great, and are worth the money in the long run. Spare mags for the conversion kits were a bit tough to locate but aftermarket plastic ones are now available. The HK kit uses a replacement bolt, mags and a barrel liner. There are some minor functional differences when you use the G3 kit in a semi-auto, but they are easily mitigated. With the high cost of .308 these days, shooting .22 makes the $500 kit pay for itself pretty quickly. And the quality? Oy vey! It comes in a lovely fitted wooden case…HK may suck, and they may hate you, but they do make some really cool stuff from time to time.
For the Glocks, we just got the Tactical Solutions .22 conversion. You can read about it a few posts back. So far, we’re pretty pleased with it. There are a couple other conversions for the Glock out there these days and after researching them, the missus proclaimed that this was the one we were going to get. Looks like she picked a winner. We had a heck of a wait to get one from a dealer since demand is so darn high, but after about five months one finally came through. Again, not cheap, but worth it for affordable practice and keeping perishable skills up to date.
We dont have conversions for the 1911’s because, frankly, they’re a tertiary level of handgun for us. We shoot, and will carry, the 9mm probably more than we will the 1911 .45’s so we dont really need a .22 kit for them. However, if youre a 1911
dinosaur fan there are kits out there as well. Probably, and im just guessing here, the best would be the Colt kits that were made decades ago. The nice thing about them is that they used the ‘floating chamber’ system to approximate .45 recoil. And it worked…sorta. Ruger makes their 22/45 which, while having no resemblance to a 1911 in any way does mimic the grip angle and control location/functions so that may be a viable way to practice.
Other conversions? Well, if you choose to walk in harms way with the AK or the Mini-14 there are conversion kits available for you too…bad news is that theyre made by Ciener. However, if you shoot the AK or Sig, there are .22 caliber version of those rifles to be had. Uzi made a .22 kit for their carbines. CZ has a conversion kit for their excellent CZ-75 series of pistols.
To the best of my knowledge, there are no readily available conversion kits or .22 trainers for the FAL, M1A, Garand (although why you’d show up to the apocalypse with one is beyond me), HK 93, HK 94, Valmet, or AR-180. Interestingly, there are conversions for the 98 Mauser that turn up from time to time as well as full size .22LR Mauser rifles. There were, naturally, .22 conversion for the SMLE, Mosin, Springfield, etc, but they are rare enough to be collectors items…
Since Ruger is trying to be responsive to customer needs these days, you’d think someone in their R&D department would come up with a .22 conversion kit for their Mini-14. Or perhaps a conversion for their P-series of
doorstops pistols. (I kid, I kid…I actually have a grudging respect for those P-series…about as robust and durable as a granite boulder.)
When you cant get a conversion, you can get a .22 trainer version of your gun. There are .22 AR’s, AK’s, Sig’s, 1911’s, etc, etc. Keep in mind that almost universally they will not be the same size and weight as ‘the real thing’. This means your handling experience may not be as authentic compared to if you were using a kit.
There you have it. Less-than-everything you wanted to know about conversions. In a nutshell:
CMMG or Colt for your AR
Tactical Solution for your Glock
HK for your HK/PTR-91
One last thing, always check..some kits prefer certain types of ammo. If it prefers filet mignon ammo you may be better off with the kit that prefers ground round ammo. Happy shooting.