Gun Review: Umarex/Colt AR 15 – 22

As you may have gathered from my piece on .22 LR, I’m a bit of a fan. I’m willing to bet that most of our loyal readers learned how to shoot with some sort of .22 LR firearm and have shot more .22 LR than anything else by a long shot (pun quite intended). It is perfect for the recoil adverse, those on a budget, or folks who just like to shoot a lot. As such, I think a compelling case can be made for using .22 LR as a viable training aid. Several firearm manufacturers agree . . .

In the past few years, “tacticool” .22 rifles have emerged from the likes of Mossberg, Smith & Wesson, Ruger, and Umarex/Colt. The latter is our topic of discussion today. Built by Walther, marketed and supported by Umarex, and licensed by Colt. If two heads are better than one, three certainly can’t hurt. I’ve had the pleasure of having one of the Umarex/Colt M4 Ops rifles on loan for about a month now. And it truly has been a pleasure. Unfortunately, the real world gets in the way of my trips to the range and I’ve only been able to shoot it on three separate occasions. However, in three trips, I’ve been able to burn through about 1000 rounds of several types of ammo. And unlike other tests, this one hasn’t driven me to the poor house getting to the 1000 mark.

 Fit

The Umarex/Colt AR fits like a glove thanks to a collapsible stock and ergos nearly identical to the full sized AR on which it cloned itself. It is of similar weight and balance to any other AR I have ever shouldered and if handed off to an unknowing party, I am confident they could not tell the difference between the two while shouldered.

 Form

Said unknowing party would immediately know they weren’t in 5.56 territory anymore as soon as they used the charging handle, loaded a magazine, or moved from safe to fire.

First and foremost, the charging handle has the world’s shortest travel. Makes sense when you realize that the .22 LR cartridge could fit inside the powder chamber of any given 5.56 round out there. Why move the bolt any further than necessary? It even has a working dust cover.

But say you wanted to lock that bolt back for safety’s sake? Like any time you walk into your gun store? Or range? Or home? Or really anywhere that it is prudent to show clear? That is simple work on any AR in existence. Pull the charging handle, engage ye olde bolt release, and confidently show clear. Not so with Mr. Umarex/Colt. To perform the same action, you’d have to insert an empty magazine, pull the charging handle, remove the magazine, and then show clear. Not exactly my favorite activity to perform around the safety conscious. It is nice however that the bolt locks open when the magazine is empty.

Let’s talk magazines. I’m jealous of these and quite a bit upset that I can’t use them in my 5.56 AR. Made of polymer, they are hell bent for stout. I dropped them a few times for um… testing purposes. I swear it wasn’t because I’m a clumsy doofus. Not a scratch or dent or other problem. And check out that sweet little checkered thing that you can use to depress the magazine spring. Loading is a snap. Just pull down slightly on said checkered thingy and load to your heart’s desire. I wish I could do that with my standard AR mags. Speaking of standard AR mags, you will never confuse the two. The Umarex/Colt magazines are quite a bit longer and are clearly made to only take .22 LR.

While the robust plastic err… polymer mags will make you smile, the safety selector will make you cry. After reading Leghorn’s review of the BAD-ASS Safety Selector, I had myself quite the giggle. Here is a company that thinks a 90-degree safety throw is too much. Would they wet themselves at the thought of a 180-degree safety throw? Because that is what the Umarex/Colt has. Which I guess takes the whole “safe” thing to a new level. Because you’d have to have the thumb of a concert pianist to fully manipulate the safety with your right hand. In most cases, you need to flick rotate the safety with your meaty other hand. A mild PITA on a rest at a climate controlled range, it becomes a ludicrous issue while standing and firing or practicing for some sort of competition. I would argue that it actually compromises safety because it might dissuade the less than safety conscious among us to just not return the gun to safe upon completion of fire.

 Function

Like some sort of rabid monster from the deep, it eats everything. In 1000 rounds, I have yet to have a FTF or FTE beyond the random sampling of dud primers that plagues nearly every .22 LR round. Here is an approved feeding list

  • CCI Mini Mag 36 grain 1260 FPS
  • CCI Stinger 32 gr 1640 FPS
  • Remington 22 Target 40 gr 1150 FPS
  • Remington 22 Thunderbolt 40 gr 1255 FPS
  • Federal Lightning 40 gr 1240 FPS

It will also take all sorts of value box ammo that Wal-Mart can offer. I have not tried subsonic ammo, but I suppose it is possible because you can tune the bolt return spring for different loads. Future tests shall see.

Cleaning

Field stripping is a breeze if you watch the extremely handy YouTube video on Umarex’s channel.

However, if you were to read the manual that comes with the gun, you might find yourself scratching your head. The manual neglects to mention the part about loosening the flash hider to release the tension on the takedown pins. If you don’t do that, those pins aren’t coming out without a hydraulic press of some sort. Even with the flash suppressor sufficiently loosened, the pins are wicked tight and require a soft punch and small hammer (screwdriver handle) to remove.

Once you have the upper assembly removed, you can run a bore-snake or cleaning rod down the barrel. The action needs a nylon brush and some Hoppes #9 to be returned to former glory.

This is what 1000 rounds without cleaning looks like. Once clean, apply a little oil to the spots recommended in the instructional video and resume gratuitous amounts of firing.

Speaking of firing, shooting this gun has been the only time that I have ever hollowed out a target at the range. It is just a hoot n’ coot to shoot.

With such a large volume of fire, I did have a bit of an issue with my trigger finger getting tired. The trigger isn’t particularly bad, but it isn’t particularly good either. My trigger gauge only goes to 8 lbs so I was unable to get an accurate reading. The book says 6.6 lbs to 9.9 lbs. My guess says between 10 and 11 lbs. While it is a stout trigger, it does not stack, creep, or otherwise do evil things. It is like pulling a brick across a tabletop with your finger. Sqeeze, squeeze, squeeze, and then it breaks cleanly. After about 250 rounds, I had to switch to using my middle finger.

The forward assist, like the bolt release, is there just for show. I guess it keeps it authentic or something. I would prefer to just not have it. In fact, I would gladly give it up to get a bolt release that actually worked.

 Accessories

It has a quad rail that is milled to 1913 specs and a flat top upper. The front sight pinned in place, but could be removed if you so desired. Speaking of desires, attach whatever lights, lasers, vertical grips, kitchen sinks, or bipods you want. Umarex/Colt even sells some accessories.

For those of us in love with the Magpul grips, too bad. The Umarex/Colt has a second hole in the grip for the firing mechanism that means you can’t use it without some Dremel work.

I was able to install an ambidextrous single point sling mount on the “buffer” tube. It requires a little bit of creativity to get it to stay centered, but it seems to work. If you aren’t comfortable tearing your gun apart, one of those clamp on adapters will work fine. If single point slings aren’t your cup of tea, there are sling attachment points fore and aft.

Other accessories like stocks, triggers, and various other furniture bits will not fit either.

Accuracy

I’m pleased with the overall accuracy of this gun. It is by no means a tack driver, but 100 yard accuracy isn’t something you should be pursuing with a  .22 LR. With open sights at 25 yards, I was able to put 10 rounds in a 1.5” square.

Keep in mind that my parents were kind enough to gift me with terrible eyesight and an aversion to open sights. A scope or a more competent shooter could surely do better. At 50 yards, I was able to keep everything within a 2.5” square.

Overall thoughts

Judged as a standalone gun, I think this is a fine firearm. It seems to be of solid construction, functions flawlessly, and for the most part is user friendly. I plan on purchasing this particular gun from Umarex/Colt if that gives you any indication of my feelings. This will be replacing my Ruger 10/22 in the truck gun/varmint control arena. I won’t feel bad about throwing it in the truck or dropping it in the dirt. Durale, easy to load thirty round mags and an appetite for any kind of ammo certainly don’t hurt the case for ownership either. If you have a young one in the house, this might even be a good first gun. It is fairly light, has zero recoil, and just looks really cool (the kids like that I hear).

Judged as an AR clone or viable training aid for those looking to become better shooters with their AR, I think it falls short. The lack of interchangeable parts and issues with control functionality prevent me from recommending this for the 3-gun shooter on a budget. If you are serious about having the exact same muscle memory inputs while saving money by shooting .22 LR, I would recommend a dedicated .22 upper.

However, if you take trips to the range with your buddies and do mock “tacticool” plinking like a lot of guys in my office, this might be a really good primary gun. And if you aren’t worried about shaving tenths of a second off your time, I can guarantee that shooting an extra 10,000 rounds a year will make you a better shooter if you are practicing correctly.

I have three more items I want to test on this gun before I close things out. First, I want to see just how fast it will cycle the bolt. My indoor range doesn’t take too kindly to me shooting as fast as I can. Second, I would like to make an attempt at shooting subsonic ammo to see if the bolt return spring can be adjusted enough to let it cycle. And third, I want to mount a decent piece of glass to see what kind of accuracy can actually be achieved. Part 2 to follow. For now, here is where it stands . . .

SPECIFICATIONS

Colt M4 OPS Item No. 2245051
Caliber                            .22 L.R.
Capacity                          30-round Detachable Magazine (10 and 20 rounds mags available)
Mode of Fire                  Semi-Auto
Barrel Length                16.2 in (412 mm)
Barrel Twist                  1 in 13-3/4 in
Rifling Grooves            6
Rifling Length              13.78 in (350 mm)
Front Sight                    Adjustable – Elevation
Rear Sight                      Detachable, Adjustable – Windage & Elevation
Overall Length              31.1–34.4 in (790-875 mm)
Overall Height              9.1 in (230 mm)
Overall Width               2.6 in (65 mm)
Stock Style                    Adjustable Telestock
Trigger Type                 Single-stage
Trigger Pull                  6.6-9.9 lbs
Safety Type                   Manual
Muzzle Thread             M8x.75
Length of Pull              13-7/8 inches
Sight Radius                 14.8 in (375 mm)
Weight w/out Mag      5.9 lbs (2830 g)

Price: MSRP $639 but can usually be had in the $400’s

RATINGS (out of five)

Accuracy:  * * * * (pending)
I haven’t thrown a scope on it yet to compensate for my old man eyes, but I think given that it is a semiautomatic rifle chambered in .22 LR with a 16” barrel, it is very accurate.

Ergonomics:  * * * * *
Fits everyone from my 5 foot nothing fiancée to the six footers with the seven foot wingspans. Light and easy to move around, it definitely gets 5 stars.

Reliability: * * * * *
Dead nuts. ‘Nuff said. 1000 rounds with 1 barrel cleaning and no action cleaning (not even fresh out of the box) and zero gun related FTF or FTE. 5 stars came easy.

Customization: * * *
If you want to tack things on to it, the world is your oyster. If you want a different stock or smaller mags, you’ll have to get it from Umarex/Colt.  If you want different grips, a nicer trigger, a different safety lever, or something else like your current AR, tough shit.

Resemblance to your current AR * *
Thanks to a 180 degree safety and non functioning bolt release, this isn’t your normal AR. More like a second cousin. The resemblance is there, but a twin it is not.

Overall Rating: * * * 1/2
I’m giving 3.5 stars with some qualifiers. As a rifle chambered in .22 LR, this gun is pretty awesome. If it cycles while eating subsonic ammo, and is more accurate with a scope, I’ll give it 4 stars. For what it claims to be, it is pretty darned good. A lighter trigger could have definitely pushed this to 4 stars, but to be fair, it was pretty much in line with my stock AR trigger. I’ll be buying one for plinking, critter control, and the occasional trip to the range with the “tacticool” guys.

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About Tyler Kee

Tyler Kee is a small town kid trying to make it in the big city of Austin, TX. A salesman by day, he is an avid motorcyclist and aspiring chef out of the office.

28 Responses to Gun Review: Umarex/Colt AR 15 – 22

  1. avatarTaurus609 says:

    Tyler, purchased one of these back about two years ago, actually I have the M4 carbine, not the M4 Ops, but basically the same gun. I liked it for it’s fit and feel compared to a regular AR, and considered the M&P AR 22 but it felt like a toy. As were you, I was disappointed with the lack of a bolt release and the 180 degree safety. As for ammo, maybe they have made improvements since I bought mine, as I had multiple problems with ammo sensitivity, especially anything Federal. In fact they included a coupon for $10.00 off 10 boxes of CCI Mini Mags. But now, after shooting probably over 1000 rds through it, I can go through mag after mag without a problem. And having more than one mag makes it even more fun. And yes the Youtube video sure does make breaking it down and cleaning it, much easier than going by what the instruction say. Hope they clarify it more in future sales.

    • avatarZach White says:

      My grandpa purchased two of these rifles and we took them out to the gun range several times and one malfunctioned and quit working and Umarex claimed they would fix for a nominal fee , well the second rifle broke and he called and they put him on hold for 15-20 minutes plus and kept giving him the run around that the malfunctions were caused by Remmington ammunition. What ever you do, do not buy anything from these guys cause they will not back of their warranty or products and lastly don’t treat you like a customer.

    • avatarblake says:

      These feel like a toy because they pretty much are with all there plastic parts. If you want a real 22lr ar check out CMMG. The cmmgs are real lowers so you can swap out your 5.56 upper onto the gun and it will work perfectly. Then all you need is a suppressor and your gtg check out this video of one http://www.youtube.com/v/RJNhVFGDTYg

      [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJNhVFGDTYg&version=3&hl=en_US

  2. avatarRKflorida says:

    I guess it’s personal taste, but for $199 I’ll take the Ruger 10/22 instead of this rifle for $435 (cheaper than dirt). To me, the Umarex/Colt looks like junk, maybe Bling would be a better word. Yup, that’s it! Rifle Bling. Seems like ever since these “Tactical” thingies have come out, every wannabe swat/special ops guy has to have one. These things are the equivalent of sneakers with lights built in.

    I fully expect to have my head handed to me with this comment.

    BTW I also posted this comment to the wrong thread, sorry

  3. avatarTaurus609 says:

    RK, everyone has their opinions, and it seemed easier and cheaper to buy a dedicated AR 22 like the Colt, than to buy a Ruger 10/22.
    Everything I’ve seen regarding the Ruger is, no one is happy with the stock, mag release, magazine capacity, trigger or barrel, so what is left with the 10/22, the action. Doesn’t say much for a $199.00 gun, if no one likes much about it once they get it.
    And I would bet, that once they get it the way they like it, it’s about twice as much as the Colt or any of the other knock offs. So I’ll stick with my Colt, and have fun shooting my two 30 round mags, and yeah, it looks cool too!

    • avatarRalph says:

      The Ruger 10/22 is probably the most popular .22 rifle in the world, so somebody must be happy with it.

      • avatarScottA says:

        I think it’s also one of the most modified rifles in the world. The ruger 10/22 is a hell of a gun and it’s on my list of guns to have but the point is it really isn’t a $200 gun. I think lots of people get it because they can turn it into practically anything. New sights, bullpup conversion kits, and the endless assortment of different stocks are cool but a $200 dollar gun that I immediately put a new set up sights on and a new stock bring the total a lot closer to some of these tacticool .22′s.

        • avatarrosignol says:

          It’s one of the most modified guns in the world because so many people find the stock parts unsatisfactory. ;-)

  4. avatarSam says:

    I’m watching my buddies’ S&W 15-22 while he’s off at basic. Having handled (but not shot) the competition, I’m a huge fan of the 15-22. When he gets out and I have to return his gun, I’ll be buying one for myself.

    The colt is good, but the S&W is better.

  5. avatarSlowburn FYI says:

    It’s not necessary to use a magazine to lock the bolt in the held-open position.
    With no more than two hands, the following info and your finger ( or fingers if you prefer ) you can impress yourself, entertain your family and amaze your friends with this one simple trick.
    To lock the bolt in the held-open position without use of a magazine:
    With mag out…
    Pull back on the charging handle with your right hand, insert a finger, ( or two or three if you prefer ) of your left hand into the magazine well, sliding it ( or them ) along the inside of the mag well on the port side. You’ll feel an extrusion, and immediately above it is, THE LEVER.
    Simply push THE LEVER further up ( toward the bolt ) and while holding THE LEVER in that position, release the tension on the charging handle.
    Like magic, the bolt will remain in the held-open position and you may now remove your finger, ( or fingers ) from inside the mag well.
    ( At this point you may now go on to doing whatever it was you were up to before you felt it necessary to have the bolt in the held-open position. )
    To release the bolt from the held-open position, just pull back on the charging handle.
    Rinse and repeat as necessary.

    “Evil is an absence of Conscience, Hell a place devoid of all Reason.”
    Gw

  6. avatarTom says:

    I have had my Umarex/Colt M4 carbine for more than a year now. Still refuses to cycle properly with the Remington Golden Bullet but will chamber everything else I have tried. Called Umarex about the Rem GB and was told that specific ammo was deliberately oversized in manufacturing. I can believe it since everything else feeds fine. I use a scout scope and a telescopic on the detachable handle. Target or tactical, it is a ton of fun to shoot. Paired with the .22 conversion kit on my Springfield 1911 Mil-Spec, you have an inexpensive entertaining day at the range without breaking the bank.

  7. avatarChuck says:

    I bought the Colt m4/m16 SPR at Cabela’s recently. I have only had it at the range once and shot 500 rnds of M22 without a single FTF/FTE. The rifle is extremely accurate with blade/aperture sights. At even 100 yards shooting 10 meter targets I was able to group in 4 inches. My eyes are 58 y.o. so I was going strictly by sight picture which was faint at best. Is there an adapter available to convert from the fixed stock on the SPR to the tactical adjustable stock? I can’t tell if what Umarex has will work on the SPR.

  8. avatarFrank says:

    i have had my colt .22 ops for about a year and i would say it is one of the nicest guns i have owned. i have a complete customization of it from the barrel to the butt stock. the pistol grip is the only thing that i have not changed to me it is a 5/5 for the way its built to the way it handles, i have put about 10000 rounds through and not one miss fire and yet put a 30 round mag down range in around 4.35 seconds. I would recommend this gun to everybody. I prefer it over then the 10/22 in almost every aspect.

  9. avatarPeter W Bokkean says:

    I bought my Colt AR-15 M-4 about 5 months ago. I was a little leary at first after reading all the negative reviews. It seems the earlier weapons had some issues. But the newer models are fine. I have fired over 1,000 rounds without a single misfire. I’ve been using Federal Ammo that comes in a 550 round brick and cost around $17.00. A buddy of mine bought the same weapon around the same time and it’s the same with him. No issues at all. I would give it 5 stars.

  10. avatarJimmy Presto says:

    I just bought the MP4 22 and noticed they have changed the safety to 90 degrees from 180. I will go to the range today and see how it will perform using Winchester rounds.

  11. avatarelchucko says:

    I also have a 22 cal Colt M4 OPS. Bought it in November 2012. Works fine for me. I’ve read mostly negative comments about this gun but I believe many come from using the earlier model.

  12. avatarJim Culp says:

    Had my M4 for a few months . No issues at all, ran about 1000 rds through it with no proublem. To clean it I justt run a bore snake a few times and drop ao oil here and there.

  13. avatarLynn says:

    I’ve had my m4 ops for about 6 months now. Mine is the newer model, so it has the 90 degree safety. I love this gun. I am not particularly nice to it, and let it get pretty dirty before I clean it. Even when it is so filthy you can hear the dirt and unburnt powder grinding in the action, it still functions perfectly. Today I had my first misfire (dud round). Other than that, it has shot everything I’ve given it. I don’t buy anything special, mostly federal bulk ammo, and it eats it up.

    Reloading magazines is a breeze. You can keep the spring advanced about an inch and drop the ammo in. With a 10/22 I never shoot more than 100 rounds a trip without a speed loader because it hurts my fingers too much. On this, I’ve loaded over 500 rounds in a trip and not had it bother me at all.

    My only gripe is the trigger. Mine is about a 9 pound pull, which isn’t bad for the first one or two hundred rounds, but after that my finger does start to find it irritating. I’m going to take it apart and see if I can soften it up a bit. The S&W 15-22 has a much nicer trigger, but is mostly plastic so it felt like a toy not a gun to me.

  14. avatarrick says:

    Biggest piece of shit gun ever
    Mine jams ever 5th shot even after cleaning and has been returned 3x for inspection. avoid at all costs

  15. avatarMike Blackstone says:

    I just dropped of my M4 at Scheel’s after about 500 rounds fired. The extractor and spring popped out and left a round jammed partway into the chamber. When I called Colt/Umarex I was essentially told “many things” could cause it and it probably wasn’t a defect (translation: you have to pay to fix). Scheel’s says they will fix it free if sent through the store. Accuracy was great when it worked. We used the same ammo in an M&P22, Walther P22, and a Sig with no issues. My $199 9mm High Point carbine is just as accurate and has not failed yet. We shall see about the M4 when it comes back.

  16. avatarDon says:

    High bidder, gunbroker, for a Walther Colt M4 22. $380 plus $60 shpg and FFL. Haven’t recieved it yet, but was researching the best ammo for it. From what I can determine maybe anything but Remington, Federal 40 gr.must be the overall choice. Thanks for the postings.

  17. avatarjack says:

    friend has the colt 22 seems to jam ( f t e) tried several kinds of ammo same problem how ever tried cci stinger s and no more problems not sure if the bolt tension is weak (im not a gunsmith) or if the stinger has a bit more powder thus better gas to cycle the bolt (start cheap and work up) fun little rifle.
    and as for the 10/22 it looks like a 22 shoots like a 22 dirty like a 22 pain in the ass to clean over priced bought mine when they were only a 105.00 new. going on second barrel now. everything else original except for owners eyes.
    Have a great week

  18. avatarAllan says:

    I have had my Colt/Walther m4 for 1 year. 5 stars, all the way. Not a single issue, and have used CCI mini-mags, Thunderbolts, and just about anything else, and never a single misfire. Don’t listen to the detractors. Would not give this up for 2 10/22′s. Have removed the carry handle, and added Red Dot sights, with laser, and flip up iron sights. Incredible gun, and I am a gun collector. Have 5 – 30 rd mags, and can shoot to my hearts desire. Well worth every penny.

  19. avatarKen says:

    Bought the M4 a couple of years ago. Had some FTF and FTE’s out of it but nothing major, maybe one out of 300 on (what used to be) cheap.22 ammo. Last year at the range, it fired a cartridge that was only half inserted in the barrel. Blew the ejector and half a piece of brass out the side and scared the crap out of me, Called Umarex, they sent me a packing slip. I boxed it up and sent it to them. A couple of weeks later, I received my rifle back and now I can fire anything out of it. I mean these guys basically did a custom shop job on it. If anyone has issues with Umarex, you are talking to the wrong people…

  20. avatarDop says:

    What other magazines would it take? I’m hoping to find cheaper ones. I can only find the one same with the factory magazine and they go for around $30++.

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