Rock River Arms LAR-15 right side

The 3 Best AR-15 .22LR Conversion Kits

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Do you want to get an AR-15 in .22 LR? But a brand new AR in .22 is a bit pricey? Well, then consider buying an AR 15 .22 Conversion Kit. I’ve converted quite a few of my rifles to different calibers over the years. These are a few of the better 22lr conversion kits that can get you shooting .22LR in no time.

The best AR-15 .22LR Conversion Kits:

Top Pick
CMMG AR-15 .22 LR Bravo Conversion Kit
  • Durable and reliable
  • CMMG Bravo stainless steel bolt carrier group
  • Compatible with most AR-15s chambered in .223 Rem/5.56 NATO
  • Reasonably accurate
$188 Shop NowClick to read my review
CMMG AR MK57 Conversion Kit with Magazines
  • Compatible with any AR15 lower
  • Magazines are excellent
  • Fit and finish is excellent
  • Durable
$229 Shop NowClick to read my review
CMMG Echo SS Arc Kit w/ 25 Round Magazine
  • Easy to install
  • Durable
  • Designed to fit .22LR or 5.56 NATO
  • Forward assist adapter
$230 Shop NowClick to read my review

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The Benefits of the .22 LR Round

As noted previously, the .22 LR round was first introduced in the mid-to-late 1880s, with most sources agreeing that the round was developed and released between 1884 to 1887.

Today, the .22 LR is one of the most widespread calibers in use. It shouldn’t be hard to see why. The .22 is very affordable especially if bought in bulk.

It is also a nice and small round. A box that holds 50 rounds of 9mm, for instance, can store hundreds of rounds of .22. To put that into perspective, you can carry a significant amount of .22 LR ammunition on your body as you travel on foot without it adding a lot of weight. Speaking of 9mm, we also have an article about AR 9 conversion kits.

.22 LR is also a low recoil round with less noise compared to other calibers. In other words, it’s very easy (and fun) to shoot and can cause less disturbance for anyone else in your vicinity.

Finally, the versatility of the .22 should not be discounted as well. Beyond being an excellent casual plinker, the .22 round is also adept as a general homestead round to kill varmints, a small game hunting round, and even for self-defense.

Why Should You Convert Your AR-15 To .22 LR?

So, why should you convert your AR-15 to .22 LR? Let’s just say this: there are more reasons than one.

As noted previously, .22 LR ammunition is usually low cost and can be bought in bulk. In other words, most people can afford to shoot it far more often than they can standard 5.56 rounds.

By shooting .22 LR out of an AR-15, you will be shooting a rifle that has the exact same manual of arms as your normal tactical rifle. In contrast, the alternative option would be to use a .22 rifle such as the Marlin Model 60 or the Ruger 10/22. While both of those are excellent rifles, non of them will improve your skills at shooting an AR-15 as much as an actual AR-15 will.

An AR-15 in .22 LR can therefore be an excellent training tool for when you don’t want to shoot the more expensive 5.56 ammunition (or any other caliber that your AR shoots).

You can, of course, always buy a brand new AR-15 chambered in .22lr, but that is going to cost you. A .22lr conversion kit is an affordable way to quickly and easily convert your existing rifle to take the .22 round.

In the next section, we’ll talk about the two primary types of conversion kits on the market today.

What Are The Different Types of AR .22 Conversion Kits?

There are many different kinds of .22 LR conversion kits that are available, but most of them are based off the same basic design. The existing reciprocating blowback bolt is replaced with a new blowback bolt optimized for the .22 LR rifle.

However, this design can come in two different primary forms: the Atchisson-style conversion kit (which is the most common) and the dedicated .22 LR upper receiver.

The Atchisson-style .22lr conversion kit

If you are looking to keep your existing upper receiver and are looking for the cheapest conversion option possible while maintaining quality, then the Atchisson-style conversion kit is what you are after. This is basically a drop-in .223 (or other caliber) to .22 LR adapter that is designed to fit into your existing upper receiver.

A typically Atchisson conversion kit consists of a bolt group assembly and a magazine chambered for .22 LR but that will also work with standard AR-15 magazine wells. Field strip your AR-15, remove the existing bolt group assembly (bolt and bolt carrier), put the rifle back together, and then use the .22 optimized magazine with this.

This method does not permanently alter your weapon, and no specialist tools or gunsmithing services are required. The magazines in an Atchisson kit are of the same size as a centerfire magazine, but have a follower and spring designed to accommodate the much smaller .22 cartridges.

However, you should take note that most Atchisson .22 magazines will not hold the bolt of the AR-15 open when the magazine runs dry. Instead, you’ll pull the trigger only to hear a CLICK to realize that the magazine has run empty (assuming that you’re not counting rounds).

The dedicated upper receiver

The alternative to the Atchisson is to go with a dedicated upper receiver chambered in .22 LR. A dedicated upper receiver in .22 LR can also be installed without the aid of specialist tools or a gunsmith as well. You just have to replace the uppers with your existing lower, use a .22 LR magazine similar or identical to what is included in an Atchisson design kit, and you’re set to go.

A dedicated .22 LR kit is more expensive than an Atchisson-style kit, and this is what keeps many people at bay from purchasing them. But on the flip side, the accuracy and reliability out of a dedicated upper are usually better. That’s because the dedicated AR-15 barrel, bolt assembly, and barrel collar are optimized to work with the lighter .22 projectile.

Just take note that a dedicated .22 upper can be very expensive and sometimes will cost well over twice what you would pay for an Atchisson conversion kit. At that point, it may just make more sense to buy an entirely new .22 LR AR-15.

Break-in Period for 22lr conversion kit

Also take note that regardless of which conversion kit type you go with, a break-in period is usually necessary. You’ll need to fire a couple hundred rounds out of your rifle in order to confirm that it functions properly. Furthermore, many .22 LR conversion magazines that ship with conversion kits often have tough springs that can be difficult to load rounds into at first. Of course, this all improves with lots of loading and shooting.

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Buyer’s Guide For The Best AR-15 .22 Conversion

These are the most important factors to consider when looking for a new .22 LR conversion kit for your AR-15:

Cost

For most of us price is a big consideration. After all, the whole reason to go with a conversion kit rather than purchasing an entirely new .22 LR rifle is to save money. As a golden rule, you should expect to pay around $200 to $250. All kits should come with at least one magazine. If you pay anything significantly higher than this, you may as well just buy an entirely new rifle.

Drop-In Design

Your conversion kit should be as easy to replace. Ideally you just break open your AR-15, remove the existing bolt and carrier, and then install the new .22 LR optimized kit. Then swap out the magazines, and you should be good to go. It shouldn’t take more than a few minutes, and you certainly should not need any extra tools or the aid of a gunsmith.

A Good Magazine

Last but not least, make sure that your kit comes with a good magazine that can reliably feed .22 LR ammunition. The best conversion kits will come with an included magazine (or more) so you can begin firing .22 LR ammunition right out of the box. If it’s legal, your magazine should ideally be capable of holding around 25-rounds of .22 LR ammunition.

Looking for more buying guides on parts? We also covered the best AR-15 pistol lowers and how to pick a good featureless grip.

The Best AR-15 .22 Conversion Kits

Now that we’ve covered why you need to convert your AR-15 to .22 LR and the main features to look for in a conversion kit, here are our top three choices for a conversion kit for an AR-15.

CMMG AR-15 .22 LR Bravo Conversion Kit

The CMMG AR-15 ,22 LR Bravo Conversion Kit is a solid choice to convert your AR-15 from 5.56 to .22 LR. It’s capable of loading 25 rounds of .22 LR ammunition with the provided magazines and allows you to convert the bolt and the bolt carrier to .22 LR in order to create a fully functioning .22 rifle. Take note that the spring in the magazine is a little stiff, and it can therefore be a little difficult to fit individual rounds into the mag.

This kit is an Atchission-derivsed type kit. It’s a one-piece drop-in unit making the conversion process nice and easy. If you know how the internals of an AR-15 work and how to field strip one, you can have this kit installed in minutes. The Bravo kit will replace the standard 5.56 bolt and the bolt carrier with a new .22 LR bolt that has new recoil springs optimized for the .22 LR as well.

Overall
All in all, if you’re looking for a relatively inexpensive and fast way to convert your AR-15 from 5.56 into .22 LR, this is one of the best conversion kits you can go with. You’ll have a new bolt and bolt carrier installed in your AR-15 along with a new magazine, and you’ll be ready to send .22 LR rounds downrange.

Pros
  • Comprised of very durable parts
  • Ideal for .22 LR rounds from 69 to 75 grains
  • Impact proof
  • Designed for direct gas impingement guns
Cons
  • Can be difficult to load the individual rounds into the magazine
  • Does not work with piston ARs

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CMMG AR MK57 Conversion Kit with 3 Magazines

If you want an AR-15 .22 LR conversion kit that is incredibly easy to install, you’ll want to take a look at the CCMG AR MK57 Conversion Kit. This kit is designed to convert AR-15s chambered in the 5.7x28mm round.

This kit has a drop-in conversion design as well. Consequently installation takes a matter of seconds, so long as you are using an AR-15 built to mil-spec configurations. Three black-colored 25 round magazines are shipped with it.

Overall
Overall, the MK27 Conversion Kit is one of the best 22lr conversion kits for converting an AR-15 chambered in 5.7x28mm. This kit has a quick drop-in design, and as an added bonus, comes with three extra magazines.

Pros
  • Very easy to install
  • Compatible with any mil-spec AR-15 chambered for 5.7x28mm
  • Comes with 3 25-round magazines
Cons
  • Not designed to convert 5.56x45mm NATO AR-15s

CMMG Echo SS Arc Kit w/ 25 Round Magazine

The CMMG Echo SS Arc Kit is designed to install as easily as possible into your AR-15. This kit is designed to replace the bolt and carrier with replacements that are optimized for the .22 LR round. Many users have reported that this conversion kit works the best with 36 grain .22 LR ammunition.

Something else you will notice about this kit is the steel gray magazine it comes with. Most magazines that ship with .22 LR conversion kits are usually black colored. While matte gray may not be the most appealing, this magazine can fit 25 rounds of .22 LR ammunition. This magazine is also easy to load, unlike several other conversion kits where a fair amount of pressure may be required to fit the rounds in.

Overall
All in all, the CMMG Echo is a solid pick for a conversion kit. It’s easy to load, comes with a drop-in bolt and carrier, and also comes with the addition of a forward assist adapter. This is the kind of carrier group that will easily last you for a lifetime.

Pros
  • Compatible with both 5.56 and .22 LR rounds
  • Very easy to convert
  • Easy to load
  • Comes with a forward assist adapter
Cons
  • Gray colored magazine is not the most appealing

Wrap Up

If you want to get an AR-15 in .22 LR, a cheaper alternative can be to purchase a conversion kit rather than get an entirely new rifle. My top pick is the CMMG AR-15 .22 LR Bravo Conversion Kit. Easy to install, reliable and a great price. But that is me, any one of the three conversion kits that we have discussed here will be a good option for you.

My favourite use for the .22lr is vermin extermination. Let me know what you use it for in the comments below.

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3 comments
  1. I just ordered the cmmg bravo kit from classic firearms for Christmas.
    Gunmagwarehouse also sells the 22 conversion mags on their website for around $20.
    Haven’t received it yet, but am excited for its arrival.

  2. I agree with your review Beau. I have to travel quite a distance to shoot Center Fire Rifle, almost 2 hours one way. There is a closer outdoor range, but the range fees are predatory (1 hour costs more than I pay for my yearly membership to the Indoor Range I’m a member of), an on a retiree’s income, it’s too much.
    I bought the CMMG Bravo kit about 6 months ago, and I wish I’d have bought it years ago. Functions like a dream in my DPMS Sport. I did get the 25 round mag, and yes, it can be a bear to load. I may pick up a 10 round just to see if it’s easier to load.
    That’s my only complaint, and it’s not a deal breaker.
    I consider it the best $175 Investment I’ve made. Easy to install and use. In my AR, the adaptor’s bolt does stay open after the last round. As soon as you remove the mag it closes, as it’s only the follower holding it open. Again, not a big problem.
    So I join you with encouraging AR owners to look into a .22 Conversion kit.

  3. I purchased a CMMG 22lr conversion kit around 10 years ago using it in a DPMS upper. Unfortunately it was not reliable. Granted it was fun to shoot but initially the main issue was spent rounds getting caught in the groove of the charging handle. After getting a jam free charging handle from CMMG this issue was eliminated but once or twice out of a box of 50 the kit would still malfunction. Then one day I found a dedicated 22lr barrel from CMMG at Brownells which used most of the bolt carrier from the conversion kit. I mated the barrel using the kit’s bolt carrier to an AR upper and oh my what a wonderful difference. This dedicated upper has been extremely reliable. To me it was worth spending the extra money of having basically a dedicated CMMG upper versus the conversion kit. Another benefit is not having to change the sights back and forth between calibers nor making sure your 223/556 upper is thoroughly cleaned after shooting 22 rimfire ammo (which can be very dirty).

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