Once you have been around firearms for awhile you may start to notice that you grow tired of certain guns or calibers. Maybe you have shot something enough and you do not feel the excitement. Whether you know the experience I am talking about or not, this was starting to become the case for me with .22s. I have shot them enough and have enough that I don't find them as fun as they used to be. I do not underestimate the versatility and affordability of .22s, but it seemed as if the fun with them had almost worn off.
Luckily, I was given the opportunity to try out the M4-22 from Tippmann arms. The configuration I was trying was their AR pistol and I thought that a company making AR pistols chambered in .22LR was already different and cool- ARs in .22 are abundant, but not AR pistols. The M4-22's receivers and M-lok handguard are all aluminum unlike many other popular ARs chambered in .22 that are often polymer. You will notice that many of the features on the firearm are identical to a standard AR. You receive a working forward assist (though I doubt you will ever use it), a bolt that reliably locks back on the last shot, and everything else a normal AR will have. Being a .22, the charging handle is a very short pull and this will be the biggest operational difference from other firearms of this nature.
First, a little background on Tippmann Arms- many may recognize Tippmann as a name in both airsoft and paintball. This is true, but originally Tippmann was creating rimfire firearms for some time. Now they are back in the game creating rimfire rifles and are certainly doing it right.
To test out the pistol I went to the range with a full ammo can, and other guns to work on skills while I was out. I wasn't anticipating much as I thought it would just be another .22. For a function test, I took the gun out of the box without lubrication or cleaning (yes, I know some of you are cringing at that statement) and ran the firearm in its current state to see how long it would last. Out of the box I was able to run twenty-two full magazines through M4-22 before I had my first malfunction. Already impressed, I remembered that I was shooting a random ammo can of .22. This was the catch all of ammo left over from trips to the range. Hollow points, copper, and lead all fed through the firearm flawlessly. The first and only malfunction of the day was a failure to feed- once it was cleared no further issues persisted.
After the first range day I was already impressed. I had fired nearly 500 rounds through this gun out of the box before a malfunction occurred. Mix in the factor that I was shooting a catch-all of ammo and this is even more impressive. Anyone who has a good amount of experience around semi-automatic .22 platforms knows that they can occasionally be picky. This was far from the truth for the Tippmann. It ate any ammo it was given. While this is impressive, it also saves me the struggle of standardizing ammo for it.
Attention to detail always something to strive for. Magazines for the Tippmann look like your standard 5.56/.223 magazines with one more feature. Press a button and you can slide out the internal magazine where a slider is available to help load the twenty round magazine easier. Before shooting, simply slide the magazine shroud back into place and your ammo is now better protected from the elements. This isn't groundbreaking, but it is enough to show that thought was given during creation of this firearm.
The next trips to the range I wanted to change things up. I added a brace from Pistol Storage Devices onto the Tippmann and a SilencerCo suppressor. As stated, most semi-automatic .22 are finicky- add subsonic ammo into the mix and a suppressor and this AR should have turned into a malfunction prone firearm. After a few hundred rounds of subsonic ammo I did not have a single malfunction. It was starting to look very well for this little .22. Not to mention, I hadn't cleaned the gun at all in between trips to the range.
So just another .22 right? For me, I was pleasantly surprised and actually enjoyed shooting the Tippmann M4-22. There wasn't anything too special about it except that they built the gun right and it functions much better than the competitor's guns I have frequently fired. If you are looking to save money in the long run then this Tippmann would be one way you could train manipulation on a standard AR platform without the cost of the ammo that goes along with it. It would also be perfect for introducing first time shooters into the realm of modern sporting rifles. The functionality of the Tippmann M4-22 ended up surprising me as it was not just another .22 AR you see for sale. Being able to reliably suppress the firearm also made it incredibly enjoyable to take to the range.
Though Tippmann may be recognized most widely for paintball and airsoft products, I believe they deserve recognition for a reliable and well built rimfire platform. I can't say enough about how impressed I was with minimal issues out of this semi-auto platform. It took all brands of ammo I could run through it, and continued to let me ring steel targets at the range all day. As an overall package the M4-22 was very clean and well machined. If Tippmann released more firearms in the future then I would not hesitate to try one out and support this American company.