The STAG Arms. AR-15 .22LR conversion kit comes with the bolt assembly and one magazine. The long one is a 25 round size and for states where magazines are restricted, the ten round smaller size is available. Order the kit directly from STAG for $220 at http://www.stagarms.com.
To install the kit you pull the two AR pins as you normally would to take down the rifle. Then slide the bolt from the back of the upper.
The replacement bolt slides right in.
If you try to insert the .22 magazine before replacing the bolt, it will not click in. The replacement bolt is recessed to accept the plastic .22 magazine.
As with all .22s, the charging stroke is very short as compared to the normal operation of the rifle. It is probably the only ergonomic difference with practicing with the conversion kit.
The day was overcast so we didn’t have the shutter speed to capture the 4 to 5 rounds of brass in the air for this picture. The kit worked flawlessly and fired the .22LR as fast as you could pull the trigger.
One of the tips for the kit is to make sure to put the original bolt back in the gun when you are done with the conversion kit. No mention is made of why, but it is better to just follow directions sometimes, so that is what we did.
Practice, Practice, Practice! That is what just about every article you read on how to improve your shooting will say. But how do you do that at upwards of a buck a round? There is no cheap surplus .ammo around anymore, so if you really want to punch paper or clang steel a lot you pretty much have to either be a trust fund baby, marry a trust fund baby, or find a way to shoot .22s. At pennies a round and available pretty much everywhere (under normal market conditions), there is no better tool for honing your shooting skills on the cheap than .22 Long Rifle ammo and a gun that shoots it well.
You can of course just go out and buy a regular garden variety .22, like a Ruger 10-22, Remington Nylon 66, Beretta NEOS, and numerous examples from Henry that are very affordable and shoot really well.
The problem with this approach however is that when you practice, most of what you are practicing is muscle memory and natural point of aim. Both of these will be different with a standard .22 than they will with your self defense or competition rifle. You can buy a gun that looks like yours, or even feels like yours, but there will be no substitute for being able to shoot your actual gun with .22 ammo.
That is why, as the popularity of the AR-15 class of rifle has exploded over the last several years, .22 conversion kits have also become very popular. The bore of the .5.56 NATO or .223 Remington AR-15 is the same diameter (or .001 inches off)), as the .22 Long Rifle cartridge. If you can alter the internals of the gun to accept .22s, they shoot very well in an otherwise stock AR.
Conversion kits come in one of two forms. Either they are an entire upper that clips into your lower, or they are a bolt that replaces the bolt in your rifle. The latter is of course more desirable, because retaining the weight of your upper and the sight picture of your sights is extremely important when practicing for any type of accuracy training.
Unfortunately though, .22 conversion kits are famous for not working well. In concept they are great, but when you can only get 3 or 4 rounds out of a gun before it stovepipes a spent shell on you, it turns into just another exercise in frustration. Most of the .22 conversion kits are made by companies that have nothing to do with making actual guns, and they can be a huge disappointment.
That is why when I heard that STAG Arms was coming out with a .22 conversion kit, I thought it was exciting. If you don’t know this, STAG Arms is one of only a handful of companies actually making AR receivers in the US today. Many of the custom shops you see are using STAG receivers, and they are known for quality and consistency. STAG also makes the only left handed receiver for ARs, and a full left handed rifle system that goes with it, in addition to the full rifles they offer in both right and left hand. If anyone is going to do a conversion kit right, it is STAG.
The kit consists of 2 components. There is a drop in bolt and a magazine. The regular magazine is 25 rounds and there is a ten round option for states that still retain that restriction.
We found the system to be easy to install and it worked perfectly. It was installed on a STAG AR, so it should be almost guaranteed to work, but STAG ARs are made to the standard military spec, which is not true for all makers of AR receivers. The plastic magazines do come with a note attached that you may have to file or sand the guide rail to fit your magazine well and catch. On the STAG rifle we obviously didn’t have to.
You will note that we did not do accuracy tests on the kit itself, and there was a reason for that. Ultimately a .22 conversion kit is going to be a slave to the accuracy of the AR you put it in. Proving that out with our STAG test gun was pointless, because the conversion kit was made by the same company and there will be no difference in accuracy between the gun shooting .223 and the same gun shooting .22LR. There will be a difference in bullet drop, and possibly slightly less deviation between the two because of the wind bucking properties of the faster .223 bullet, but a difference in accuracy will not be a function of the kit. Also, unless we established a baseline with the accuracy of a particular ammo in known rifle, we would be comparing apples to oranges regardless. Overall it was outside the scope of this review, and ultimately would have little to do with shooting this kit in your gun.
The kit comes with an instruction sheet that enumerates some other tips for reliable operation:
- Clean the kit with a bore brush chucked in a drill, soaked with solvent, until it is warm to the touch..
- Clean every 500 rounds.
- Do not disassemble the kit itself.
- Keep the bolt lubricated.
- Use copper plated .22LR to reduce lead fouling.
- Do not use a notched hammer.
- Remington brand .22LR may not work.
- Underload the magazines at first.
- Don’t leave the conversion bolt in the gun after shooting, remove it immediately.
- Do not use the Precision Reflex Gas Buster charging handle.
You will see in the pictures how easy it is to install this kit from STAG. I was amazed that with very little effort we could drop this kit in and shoot .22 all day on the cheap, with a regular out of the box AR, then convert it back in literally seconds. Please check out http://www.stagarms.com for more information. They sell it direct to the public to public in both right and left hand versions for $220.