Tactical Solutions AR-15 .22 Long Rifle Conversion Upper Receiver


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

March 16th, 2009




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The AR-15 is currently one of the hottest items in the USA. It is definitely a seller’s market, and has been since our Presidential election last November. Everything semi-automatic has been selling like crazy, as shooters are taking our new President at his word, and are concerned that he will indeed push have these firearms banned. It makes no difference to gun ban supporters that the semi-auto has been around for well over one hundred years, and that the action design is one of our most common and most popular. The truth is, they want to ban the private ownership of all firearms, and the semi-auto is just the easiest target at this time. When we are disarmed, we become subjects instead of citizens. We are already headed down that road at high speed, with the government grabbing a bit more control over our lives each day. If we protest our government’s deeds, we are labeled as right-wing loons. If we speak out against our new President, we are labeled as racists. One thing that our new President has done, is spark a nationwide interest in stocking up on guns and ammunition. Since the election, firearm sales are at an all-time high. Guns are selling out faster than they can be produced, with waiting lists at most gun shops to buy the most popular items, such as semi-automatic rifles, shotguns, and handguns. Ammunition sales are topping the charts as well, as shooters are buying ammunition that might later be banned or greatly restricted under government control, as there is a movement in the US House of Representatives to place stricter controls upon the purchase and possession of ammunition. Most gun stores and ammunition shelves in discount stores like WalMart are pretty bare of ammo supplies. Powder and primers are selling at record levels. Ammunition for popular semi-auto rifles is hard to find, and expensive to buy if you can find any. 

That brings us to the subject of this piece, the Tactical Solutions .22 Long Rifle conversion for the AR-15 rifle. I like Tactical Solutions products, and I like the folks that work there. I have tried many of their products in the past, and every one of them has proved to be superior to the competition. They have recently become an advertiser on Gunblast.com, and we are glad to have them aboard. We are pretty picky about our advertisers, and have turned some down in the past. We welcome Tactical Solutions. They make good products and treat people right. I like their products, and have used them for many years. If I am pulling the trigger on one of my own .22 pistols or rifles, chances are that bullet is heading down the bore of a Tactical Solutions barrel.

Good 5.56mm and .223 Remington ammunition, which was once both cheap and plentiful in the US, has become expensive and hard to find. For many years, 5.56mm ammo could be purchased for about twenty cents per round, and that was really good brass-cased boxer-primed ammunition. Today, if you can find any for sale, good 5.56mm surplus will cost over twice that, and more. However, it is scarce and hard to obtain, at any price. A day at the range can cost a couple of hundred dollars in ammo, and the cost is not the only thing to consider. If you shoot up your 5.56mm ammo, will you be able to replace it? Maybe not. A much cheaper alternative is a .22 Long Rifle conversion unit. These have been popular for centerfire pistols for many years, but it makes even more sense for a rifle. Currently, good hollowpoint .22 LR ammo costs about two and one-half cents per shot. There are a few different brands available, but my favorite is the Federal hollowpoint high velocity stuff sold in bulk boxes of 550 rounds at WalMart. Even this stuff is getting hard to find, as shooters are buying it up as fast as they can, but it is a much less expensive alternative than shooting up good 5.56mm or .223 Remington ammo in an AR-15. For what it costs me to buy a twenty-round box of good 5.56mm ammo, I can buy a 550 round box of .22 LR. The upper conversion makes a lot of sense, if it functions well. The Tactical Solutions unit functions well. About a year ago, I tried one of their early prototypes, and it would sometimes fail to fire, not setting off the primer in the cartridge rim. Their production units do not have that problem. They redesigned the firing pin, and the unit that I show here functioned one hundred percent of the time. The Tac-Sol unit uses the superb Black Dog Machine magazine. This is the same magazine that works so well in the Kel-Tec PLR-22 and SU-22 firearms. The magazine is the heart of a semi-auto firearm, and is usually the weak link in a semi-auto .22 conversion, but the Black Dog works perfectly in every firearm in which I have ever tried it.  In fact, the owners of Tactical Solutions along with Kevin from Black Dog Machine have just formed a new company, Black Dog Magazine, and Tactical Solutions will be handling the sales of all Black Dog magazines.

Tactical Solutions offers three different conversion uppers. One has a lightweight barrel, as Tac-Sol is famous for manufacturing. The second style wears an integrally sound suppressed barrel with removable baffles, and the third is the one that I show here. It is their M-4 style, and is made to replicate the appearance, feel, and handling qualities of the M-4 style of AR-15 carbine. These uppers will fit on any AR-15, M-4, or M-16 standard lower receiver, and installs without tools in about one minute, if you take your time. A good operator can do it in half that time. The Tactical Solutions AR-15 conversion comes with everything needed, including a stainless steel bolt, the Black Dog twenty-five round magazine, barrel, handguards, everything. Slide out two pins, remove your 5.56mm upper, and replace with the Tac-Sol unit. Simple. One feature of .22 conversion units that is seldom mentioned is that you will shoot more, becoming a better shot and more familiar with your rifle. At today’s ammo costs, you will pay for the Tactical Solutions upper conversion in about 1500 rounds of ammunition, and much sooner of you are shooting the really good stuff. Three Saturdays at the range will pay for the conversion, plus, it will allow you to shoot more, as recoil, noise, and ammo costs are vastly less using the .22 Long Rifle conversion. It is also a great way to train a new shooter. I believe that every citizen should know how to use their country’s main battle rifle, and using the Tac-Sol conversion on an AR-15 will allow you to teach your children and other young folks how to use a rifle that might one day be thrust into their hands to defend our nation.

For accuracy testing of the Tactical Solutions upper, I mounted my most-trusted target scope, the Leupold Mark 4. The Tac-Sol upper wears a flattop Picatinny rail, which makes mounting a scope or dot sight very easy to do, using Picatinny or Weaver compatible mounts. The barrel is made from chrome molybdenum steel, and has a one-in-sixteen inch twist, and a birdcage style flash suppressor. Accuracy testing was done using a variety of ammunition, with the accuracy results listed in the chart below. Groups were fired using a Target Shooting, Inc. Model 500 rest. This rest has twin rails at the bottom which allows the use of long magazines. Groups were fired on a clear day, with an air temperature around fifty-five degrees Fahrenheit, at an elevation of approximately six hundred feet above sea level. Bullet weights are listed in grains. HP is hollowpoint. S is a solid lead bullet. Group sizes are listed in inches, measured center-to-center. Groups were fired fifty yards from the shooter’s position.

Ammunition Group Size
Federal Bulk 36 grain HP 0.75"
Winchester 40 grain Dynapoint 1.25"
PMC 40 grain Match S 0.875"
CCI Mini Mag 40 grain S 1.125"
Olin White Box 40 S 1.75"
Federal Spitfire HP 1.125"
Winchester 40 grain Wildcat 2.50"
Remington Bulk Cyclone 36 grain HP 1.25"
Aguila 60 grain SSS 2.125"
Federal Hi Power 40 grain S 1.275"
Remington Hi Speed 40 grain S 1.50"
Winchester Xpert 36 grain HP 2.25"
PMC Zapper HP 0.625"
Wolf 40 grain S Match 0.625"

The Tactical Solutions upper proved to be very, very accurate with most ammunition. Even the least expensive ammo tried, and one of my favorites, the Federal Bulk Pack hollowpoint grouped into three-quarters of an inch at fifty yards, repeatedly. Almost every ammo type was under two inches, and four types were under one inch. Reliability was excellent. Feeding was perfect. The rifle fed every type of ammo flawlessly. The only ammo that failed to fire was traced to the ammo, and was no fault of the rifle. Sometimes rimfire ammo just does not go off when it receives a solid hit on the primer. There were three failures to fire during the tests, all traced to a bad cartridge. Ejection was also flawless.

The Tactical Solutions upper receiver proved to be an excellent performer. It feels like an M-4, handles like an M-4, but costs far less to shoot than an M-4. As it assembles on your lower receiver, there is no special paperwork required, and it does not have to ship to a firearms dealer. It is a great accessory for an AR, and will pay for itself in ammo costs in a very short time. As a training weapon for law enforcement, this Tac-Sol unit is a great way to get in a lot of training without straining the budget. For the rest of us, it is a no-brainer. If you have an AR, you need one. Tactical Solutions products are made of quality materials, made right, and made in the USA.

Check out the entire line of Tactical Solutions products online at www.tacticalsol.com.

Jeff Quinn





Tactical Solutions upper uses the superb Black Dog magazine.



Target Shooting, Inc. Model 500 rifle rest allows the use of long magazines, and provides a very stable shooting platform.

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Click pictures for a larger version.


Tactical Solutions AR-15 .22 Long Rifle conversion upper receiver.



Flash suppressor.





M-4 style front sight & bayonet lug.



Stainless steel bolt.



Action locks open on an empty magazine.





Accuracy testing was performed using the excellent Leupold Mark 4 scope.



Laserlyte Kryptonite bore sighter saves a lot of ammo.



Fifty-yard groups show the Tactical Solutions upper is capable of tack-driving accuracy.