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Old March 31st, 2019, 06:10 PM #1
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Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: PG County, MD
Posts: 410
KYFHO KYFHO is online now
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Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: PG County, MD
Posts: 410
Tippmann M4-22 Review

A rimfire-only Appleseed tends to have a lot of more traditionally stocked semi-automatic rifles on the line: Ruger 10/22s and similar platforms, Marlin 795s, and occasionally a CZ, Remington, or Mossberg. This can give the impression that "black rifles" are frowned upon. That, of course, couldn't be further from the truth as folks who attend centerfire event can attest to - ARs dominate those events.

We do see AR rimfire conversions (and I have a good one to review later) and dedicated uppers on the line and some are capable of great accuracy and reliability. However, we have also seen some start to malfunction after a several hundred rounds which can be a great source of frustration when the most important targets (AQTs and the final Redcoat) come at the end of the day. I am not going to comment on the M&P 15-22, for obvious reasons, but there are other dedicated 22LR black rifle platforms out there and they can do just fine.

Tippmann Arms, best known for its paintball markers, recently released a line of M4-22 semi-automatic tactical rimfire rifles with aluminum upper and lower receivers and all the features of a centerfire M4 - functional forward assist, bolt catch (with last round bolt hold open not linked to an inserted magazine, unlike other styles), mil-spec fire control group, etc. The M4-22 is largely mil-spec compatible and will accept most AR15 stocks, handguards and sights without adapter kits. And, of course, a standard thread muzzle that will mount a rimfire suppressor with ease.

They released an Appleseed Edition rifle of their M4-22 PRO model with sling, mounts, Appleseed logo, and 2 10-round magazines. Call me a homer, but I ordered it immediately with 2 more magazines for 4 total.

It is a very nice rifle out of the box, but there were some things I thought could be improved:
  • While it came with a traditional M-lok rail-mounted front sling loop mount I prefer a push-button QD sling attachment point to make it easier to get in and out of the sling. I also replaced their nylon sling with a cotton GI sling equipped with push-button QDs.
  • The trigger wasn't heavy, but it was very gritty. I tried to install two other high quality aftermarket triggers (LaRue MBT and Geiselle G2S) but neither would work with the proprietary safety. I finally found a mil-spec nickel teflon hammer and trigger set ($40 from Brownells) that not only worked but kept the trigger pull at a reasonable weight (5 pounds) and took away all the grit with a crisp reset.
  • The OEM stock was a bit wobbly and I wanted a stock with better area for cheek-weld and a push-button QD attachment point for the standing hasty sling. I chose the Magpul MOE-SL Mil-Spec Collapsible Stock, which is just the right kind of tight on the buffer tube.
  • I like shooting iron sights but I felt like a scope would benefit the most from the flattop and adjustable stock (managing proper eye relief can be difficult with a traditional fixed stock). I had a Primary Arms 6X SFP Rifle Scope with ACSS 22LR Reticle on a fixed stock, short integrated rail T/CR-22 and it was hard to find the right head position behind it. I added a low cost cantilever picatinny scope mount and had to mount it pretty far forward to get the eye relief right. But now it is perfect for me.

Ok, that was a lot of work and $135 (not including the scope and sling) before even getting it to the range. With my trust Appleseed mat, I went to the 25 yard lanes of Elite Shooting Sports.

Tippmann M4-22 Appleseed Edition at the Range with Mods

The magazines are easy to load thanks to a button that exposes a load-assist knob. Opened up, they load very similarly to the aforementioned M&P 15-22 and I didn't have any issues with rim-lock.

I loaded two magazines with 40gr CCI AR Tactical, which tends to be highly reliable across semi-auto rifles, and 2 with CCI Standard Velocity (SV), which tends to be the most accurate non-match ammo. Rimfire rifles tend to like certain ammo more than others, but a thorough evaluation of other ammo will have to come later.

I put up an Appleseed Squares target (1-inch black squares and 1 MOA grid at 25-yards) and was within 2MOA right away with the CCI AR Tactical from the prone position. The CCI SV provided a wee bit tighter group, so I switched to that exclusively.

After a couple more sighters just to confirm zero, I switched to the Redcoat target. One thing I learned from the squares target was that the non-illuminated black dot on the PA scope could get lost in the black of the square. But it popped on the Redcoat target, which made it easier to shoot. And shoot it did - the first Redcoat with the rifle was relatively easy to clear, although they were not my best groups of the day.

Cleared Redcoat Target

The only way to truly evaluate how a rifle will perform at an Appleseed clinic is to shoot an AQT in all of the positions. One note - while I did all the positions, I didn't time them (hard to do alone) and didn't do transitions (don't want to make RSOs nervous). But I shoot in my standard cadence for the stages in the rapid fire stages. So this process is more to understand what the rifle can do rather than the shooter.

A couple of observations:
  • The full-length magazine (a bit longer than a 30-round PMag, even though it only holds 10-rounds) gets in the way on my normal standing position with the hasty sling. It was causing me to cant the rifle a bit and fight against it for the first couple rounds. But I finally found a way to tuck it consistently against my slung support arm and my groups tighted up. But cant was something I had to think about in all positions more than a traditional stock due to the mag length. Note that incidental pressure on the mag did not cause malfunctions, as it can on other rifles.
  • The $40 trigger and hammer replacement was worth every dollar - very smooth pull and positive reset without reducing weight or reliability. I was zeroing a T/CR-22 right after this and the reset was so mushy that I appreciated this trigger even more.
  • The adjustable stock was great - in dry fire practice I had it closer but moved it back a click at the range. I still shot with my nose right on the charging handle - and no gas blow back or anything. But being able to adjust was a nice change from fixed stock rifles.
  • I used a slight 6'clock hold on the prone targets due to my experience with the squares - using the top of the dot rather than the center. It helped me get a more repeatable sight picture and worked very well.
  • It has the AR "sproing" - if that annoys you, it will with this rifle as well. Yet another feature to make it like a real M4 I suppose.

So how did it shoot? Brilliantly - 242 out of 250!

First AQT: 242!

Remember, this is the first time I have ever shot and zeroed the rifle (although I have shot ARs for years). But using the six steps, trusting my NPOA, and staying in cadence, it was all very natural once I get past the unique quirks of the rifle. This is a rifle that can shoot distinguised and maybe even a 250 if the shooter does his or her part.

I had no malfunctions at all through 83 rounds, mostly standard velocity. Certainly not an endurance test, but I have had new match-barrel 10/22s fail to extract and blow a timed course of fire. Let's call it a good start.

The Tippman M4-22 is an excellent rifle. I look forward to shooting the hell out of it!
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