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Reviews : Police Product Test

Police Product Test: Plinker Arms .22LR Upper Conversion Kit

This kit converts your 5.56mm AR-15 to a .22LR so you can train without breaking the bank on ammo.

August 31, 2014  |  by A.J. George - Also by this author

Photo: Plinker Arms
Photo: Plinker Arms

If you're training with an AR-15 platform rifle, the 5.56mm ammunition is not only expensive, but also hard to come by. So how do you keep up trigger time without the cost? I think .22LR conversion kits are a good solution.

Plinker Arms has recently released a line of complete AR-15 upper receiver kits that convert your 5.56mm to a .22LR. They sent me the short-barreled rifle version with a 12.5-inch barrel, free-float handguards, and threaded flash suppressor.

My initial impressions of the fit and finish were positive. The blowback-operated upper was packed securely alongside one of Plinker's proprietary 35-round magazines, a loading tool the company calls a "load assist," and a handful of rail covers. The upper itself includes the bolt group and is ready to be mated to any AR-15 lower right out of the box. The free-floating 1913 quad rail extended the full barrel length, allowing for mounting real estate, and the threaded flash hider is removable to allow for a variety of aftermarket options or even a suppressor. Really the only thing the upper lacked was a sighting system. Most of us are particular about our sights, so I understand why they didn't include them.

A few days later the Plinker Arms upper was mated to one of my registered lowers (don't forget the NFA rules if you're opting for the SBR version) and I was headed to the range. The upper fit securely to my lower with almost no play between the two. If anything it was a little tight getting the take-down pins to fully engage but I'm sure that'll ease up over time. I added a small amount of lube to the bolt group and loaded up 35 rounds of .22 LR into the magazine. As I see this as a training tool, I tried my best to keep my manipulations the same as with my 5.56mm configuration. I wanted to see if the gun would still function as it was designed with the reconfigured upper. I added a set of Troy flip-up iron sights and adjusted them to a mechanical zero to get started.

The first round down the pipe brought a smile to my face. I then zero'd the upper for 25 yards. This is considerably closer than I would zero a 5.56mm, but I see this Plinker Arms upper serving as more of a CQB training aid anyway. Once zero'd I was able to shoot groups of under 2 inches at the 25-yard line, in part due to the light recoil of the .22LR round but also as a testament to the quality of the Plinker's barrel. The .22LR round isn't known for accuracy so I was pretty impressed with this grouping.

After almost 200 rounds I had experienced zero malfunctions with the Plinker Arms upper and felt I stayed true to my standard 5.56mm training regimen. At a retail price of $499, it is a very economical option for those looking to reduce their ammunition cost without sacrificing valuable training repetitions.

A.J. George is a patrol sergeant with the Scottsdale (Ariz.) Police Department who also serves as the SWAT team’s crisis negotiation supervisor.


Plinker Arms .22LR Upper Conversion Kit Specs:

  • Compatible with any MIL-SPEC AR-15 lower receiver
  • Compatible with most AR-15 upgrades
  • Dedicated forged 7075 T6 alloy upper receiver
  • Anodized, aluminum Picatinny-style rail system
  • Plinker Arms patent-pending magazine, featuring a bolt hold-open on the last round
  • 1:16 twist, free-floated barrel with integrated feed ramp
  • Military-style Parkerized finish
  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • Price: $499

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Comments (1)

Displaying 1 - 1 of 1

Officer Williams @ 9/22/2014 12:53 AM

Thank you for this article. I think that this is a great tool that not only an individual officer could use for trading, but individual departments. Think of the savings in ammunition. Convert that savings to a low order request which does not give much of a brake on financial purchase power. Take that and pass it to the department. You would more then likely be able to hold at lest two more live fire training session. Thus giving the department the ability to hold at the least one tactical session for active shooter roles, stand off's etc. Finally the low cost would allow special teams units the ability to purchase this item at a low cost giving them more active roles in training either with or without the team.

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