Long-Term Gun Test: ATI VK-22

Back in September I tried to review the VK-22, a rimfire M4 clone that seemed to wear itself out after just a few hundred rounds of .22 long rifle. Its ATI-sourced lower receiver had a soft steel hammer which went full-auto on me, and the Chiappa-sourced upper had a floppy barrel and a weak bolt. After yet another catastrophic failure, I now declare this long-term gun test officially finished . . .

After a short day of shooting last weekend, the straight-blowback bolt assembly broke itself to pieces again and dumped most of its guts out the bottom of the mag well. The picture shows the entrails I could find in the gravel of the shooting pit.

Among the scores of guns I’ve shot, owned or tested, the VK-22 easily takes the gold medal for Worst Gun Ev-ar. After less than 1,200 rounds of .22 long rifle fed through it, here’s how it has fared:

Original Parts Broken and Replaced/Repaired

  • Bolt (broke and replaced)
  • Bolt (then it broke again)
  • Trigger/hammer assembly (went full-auto, replaced with Armalite 2-stage)
  • Barrel mounting (came unscrewed, returned to factory and repaired)
  • Buffer tube (not properly made or installed, fixed myself with a rat-tail file)
  • M4 stock (fell apart while shooting, replaced with fixed A2 stock)

Original Parts Still Functioning After Less Than One Year

  • Stripped lower receiver (with factory cosmetic blemishes)
  • Magazine catch
  • Bolt catch
  • Uncomfortable GI pistol grip (still works, but replaced by Magpul MOE)
  • Carbine-length handguards (no heat shields)

Almost every moving part has had to be replaced in less than a year. In fact, the retail cost of the replacement parts alone easily exceeds the purchase price of the gun by now. And the gun still doesn’t work even as a .22 range toy.

I guess it’s okay, because it’s given me the chance to build myself an accurate and utterly reliable AR with components and accessories from Magpul, Leupold, and ArmaLite. And now the broken remnants of the Chiappa-sourced upper will give me a little bit more shooting fun.

A Source Of Innocent Merriment, or, To Let The Punishment Fit The Crime (with Apologies to Gilbert & Sullvan):

The VK-22 stands accused of deserting us under fire. The verdict has been rendered, and the sentence shall be death by firing squad.

We’re going to tie what’s left of it to a post, give it a blindfold and a cigarette and shoot it. The polymer upper receiver won’t last long, but I’m curious to see how the barrel steel stands up to hotter rounds like jacketed 5.56, steel-core 5.45, and armor-piercing 7.62x54R bullets.

Any better ideas out there? We could probably think of something interesting involving Tannerite. If RF foots the bill (hint, hint).