I remember a time when I could buy all the
5.56mm ammo that I wanted for one hundred dollars per thousand.
Blasting away at rocks and such was a lot of fun, and relatively
inexpensive. Those days are, regrettably, long gone. Now, 5.56mm
or .223 Remington ammunition is at least fifty cents per pop,
and that is if you can find any for sale. Since the Presidential
election last November, ammo in the United States has become in
short supply. Even those who voted for Obama are taking him at
his word, and are fearful of future restrictions or outright
bans on weapons and ammunition. This has been a boon for the
ammunition and gun makers, but the end result has seen severe
ammo shortages and much higher prices for shooters. The most
in-demand rifles right now are those which are patterned after
the AR-15 family of rifles, which includes the M4 and M-16 style
carbines and rifles. These have been hard to find for several
months, but the situation is getting better, and once again gun
shops have these arms in stock and ready for purchase. Still,
the ammo to feed them is expensive. Thankfully, there are some
pretty good AR-15 .22 rimfire conversions available, such as the
excellent unit from Tactical Solutions.
Just now hitting the market is the new Colt dedicated .22 Long
Rifle carbine that I first saw at the 2009
SHOT Show, and is the subject of this review.
The carbine shown here is patterned after the
very popular M-4 style, but there is an M-16 style rifle
available as well. Both use the same reliable blowback
operation, but differ in barrel length and stock configuration.
The M-4 is what I have here to review, and is the one which I
think will be the most popular of the two, as it is a handy
little carbine whose barrel length is perfect for the .22 Long
Rifle cartridge. .22 Long Rifle ammunition is relatively dirt
cheap compared to centerfire ammo. I can buy a box of 550
Federal hollowpoints at Wal Mart for under thirteen bucks. That
is less than two and one-half cents per shot, and it is very
good ammunition. This price differential between the .22 LR and
5.56mm allows me to shoot a lot more, and to save a lot of
money. Using the M-4 Colt, the operation and handling of the
weapon is pretty close to that of the 5.56mm version, and saves
me about $14.29 per thirty-round magazine of ammo. It costs me
fifteen bucks to load up a thirty-round magazine with 5.56mm or
.223 ammo, but only seventy-one cents to load a thirty-round
magazine of .22 Long Rifle. As you can see, the savings add up
The preceding paragraph outlined the monetary
advantages of the Colt .22 rimfire M-4, which allows the new
carbine to pay for itself in a weekend of shooting. That is a
very good argument to present for those of you who have to
justify the purchase of a new gun to the keeper of the
checkbook. You are buying the weapon for the financial benefit
of your household. For the ones of us who do not need to justify
the purchase of a firearm, there are other good practical
reasons as well.
I expected the new Colt to look like its
centerfire counterpart on the exterior, which it definitely
does, right down to its M-4 style handguards and bayonet lug.
There is even a dustcover over the ejection port. It even feels
and balances the same as its centerfire big brother, weighing in
at six pounds, nine ounces with an empty magazine. The barrel
measures 16.2 inches long, has the M-4 exterior contour, and is
fitted with a birdcage flash suppressor. The carry handle is
detachable, and houses the current military style of adjustable
aperture sight. The front sight is also military standard, and
is adjustable for elevation correction. The buttstock is of the
telescoping style, which is adjustable to fit almost everyone,
including youngsters. Being a blowback operated carbine, the
internals are nothing like the AR-15 weapons family, and are
unique to this rimfire Colt.
Shooting the Colt was a genuine pleasure. The
magazine design is a very good one. There are pads on both sides
of the follower to allow for the easy loading of the magazine.
These are pulled down as the cartridges are loaded, relieving
pressure on the spring-loaded follower. In other words, you will
not get a sore thumb loading this magazine as you will with some
other designs. It is as easy to load the thirtieth round into
the magazine as it is to load the first. The mag design is
perfect. The trigger pull is heavier than I prefer on a rimfire
rifle, but it does replicate the feel of most AR-15 rifle
triggers, which was the goal of the designers, I suppose. The
trigger pull on the test gun measured eight and three-quarters
pounds, which is within the factory specs of between 6.6 and 9.9
pounds. However, despite the heavy trigger pull, accuracy was
match-grade from this little carbine. I mounted a Leupold Mark 4
scope atop the Picatinny rail using an ArmaLite one-piece mount.
I was expecting plinking accuracy, but was genuinely surprised
by the performance of this Colt. I should not have been, as the
Colt is produced by Carl Walther in Germany, and they certainly
know how to produce very accurate weapons. With cheap bulk ammo,
the Colt grouped very well, and would be a dandy little squirrel
gun, offering plenty of accuracy and power, while probably
inducing a stroke upon the local game warden. With target ammo,
the accuracy of the Colt was superb, grouping into one-quarter
of an inch at fifty yards. That level of accuracy will take the
eye out of a squirrel in a tall hickory, or eat a small ragged
hole in the middle of a paper target.
At first, the new Colt had a reliability
problem. In every magazine full of ammo, I would get a few
failures to fire, using several brands of ammunition. I was
getting primer marks on the rim of the cartridge, but some were
pretty light. This condition corrected itself within about 120
rounds, and the carbine functioned flawlessly after that,
feeding, firing, and ejecting perfectly.
The Colt M-4 rimfire carbine is a dandy
little .22 rifle. It has plenty of accuracy to deliver at the
range, or in the woods. It is a fine stand-in for its centerfire
counterpart, offering cheap practice to gain familiarity with
the primary weapon at low cost. I also am a firm believer in
training youngsters to use our nationís battle rifle, and the
rimfire Colt is a fine way to do that. The adjustable buttstock
can grow with the user, and if the day should ever come when the
government places an M-4 into a young manís hand, he will
already know how to use it. Another seldom-mentioned use for a
carbine such as this is that, while not the perfect weapon for
such tasks, this rimfire Colt could do a dandy job as a home
defense rifle as well. The .22 Long Rifle has power way out of
proportion to its diminutive size, and a barrage of these fired
into someone who has just kicked in the back door should rapidly
change the mind of the most seasoned criminal. It is a fine
little all-around .22 Long Rifle carbine, and I highly recommend
it. The weapons are in production now, and as of this writing,
distributors already have them in stock.
Check out the Colt .22 rifles and carbines
online at www.colt22rimfire.com.
To order the Colt carbine online, go to www.galleryofguns.com.
|To buy this gun online, go to:
The Colt has very good, military A-2 style sights.
Detachable carry handle.
For accuracy testing, Jeff mounted a Leupold
Mark 4 scope.
50-yard groups show this little rifle is accurate!
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