Practicing with your AR-15 rifle can quickly become an expensive endeavour when you consider the price of .223-calibre ammunition. Converting your AR-15 to shoot the inexpensive .22LR bullets gives you the opportunity to hone your marksmanship skills with your rifle without the high cost. There are two styles of .22 conversion kits: drop-in conversions and dedicated upper receivers.
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Drop-In Conversion Kits
Drop-in conversion kits are basically replacement bolt assemblies modified to chamber .22LR ammunition. The .22LR bolt assembly can be quickly installed without having to modify the upper receiver of your AR-15 rifle. There are multiple manufacturers of conversion kits with costs averaging around £130 as of 2011. Generally considered the best is the CMMG drop-in conversion kit. The CMMG kit includes a replacement charging handle specifically designed to prevent spent shells from jamming the weapon. Variations of the CMMG kit include stainless steel versions and kits specifically catering to left-handed shooters.
Dedicated Upper Receivers
Dedicated upper receivers replace the entire upper half of your AR-15 rifle. Using these conversion kits is an excellent way to convert your rifle, though they are considerably more expensive, starting at approximately £292 and ranging up to over £650. There are numerous manufacturers, including some of the largest manufactures of AR-15 rifles, most of which offer high-quality products. Unique among the competition is the upper receiver offered by Spikes Tactical, which gives you the option of custom-ordering your receiver to your own specifications. This feature can be particularly beneficial if you have a customised AR-15 and would like a conversion kit to match.
Both drop-in and dedicated upper conversion kits are fed by modified magazines that are designed to fit like the .223 magazines, but feed the considerably smaller.22LR bullets. Magazines are available in 10-round or 26-round capacities and are typically produced by third-party manufactures such as Black Dog Machine. CMMG has also recently been begun production of conversion kit magazines.
Conversion Kit Benefits
The greatest benefit of using an AR-15 conversion kit, as opposed to practicing with a conventional .22-calibre rifle, is the consistency of using the same kind of rifle. An AR-15 rifle has a distinct feel and uses different sights than most .22 rifles (most of which use open sights). Consequently, having the ability to practice frequently with your converted AR-15 rifle can translate directly to using your rifle with the larger .223-calibre bullets.
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