Coltís New .22 Long Rifle M-4 Carbine

 

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

July 8th, 2009

 

 

 

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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 fast!

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.

Jeff Quinn

 

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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Click pictures for a larger version.

 

Colt's M4 .22 Long Rifle carbine.

 

 

Birdcage flash suppressor and bayonet lug.

 

 

 

 

Sling attachment loops.

 

 

 

 

M-4 style telescoping buttstock.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blowback action.

 

 

 

 

Very good magazine design.

 

 

Action remains open after the magazine is emptied.