The popularity of Eugene Stoner’s ArmaLite rifle seems to grow by leaps and bounds each year. Indeed, this design holds the current record for the longest-serving infantry rifle in U.S. history. It is accurate, reliable, tough, lightweight and effective. Another attraction to the rifle is its supply of aftermarket parts and accessories that allow owners to personalize their guns just so.
However, owners of these rifles are also discovering that lots of practice with .223 Rem. ammunition can be expensive. Enter Chiappa Firearms with its new M four-22 carbine, which mimics the appearance, feel and function of a standard AR carbine but fires much cheaper .22 Long Rifle ammunition. Chiappa is an Italian-based company known for its reproduction firearms and the innovative Rhino revolver.
The M four-22’s upper and lower receivers are made of high-strength polymer with a matte-black finish and built to mimic the M4’s dimensions. The polymer construction contributes to the rifle’s feathery 4 pound, 7 ounce-overall weight. The lower receiver does not accept an AR buffer and its pins are compatible solely with Chiappa’s dedicated .22 Long Rifle upper receiver.
To maximize the rifle’s utility as a training tool for AR practice, Chiappa recreated all of the familiar controls; however, some are non-functional. The forward assist does not touch the bolt. The bolt stop lever is a non-moving solid part of the lower receiver, and its bayonet lug is not compatible with any bayonet. The cuts on the steel flash hider are incomplete, leaving it solid and non-functional. It is attached with a set screw, and there are no threads on the barrel or flash-hider.
Although appearing to be collapsible, the polymer stock is fixed. It features multiple sling slots. These items may appear to be purely ornamental, but they can assist in training and education to highlight the controls’ normal functions.
The steel trigger pins are retained with circlips to prevent walk-out. The stock and pistol grip are made to standard AR-15-style dimensions so they can be replaced with any standard aftermarket grip and stock, although doing so requires a new buffer tube. Also sized to AR dimensions, the safety catch and magazine release are both polymer.
The trigger assembly is steel, and the trigger has a highly polished blued finish and a smooth, rounded face. As is standard on most AR-15-style rifles, the M four-22 has a single-stage trigger. There was minimal creep, no stacking or overtravel, and it broke cleanly at 5 pounds, 8 ounces. The floor of the trigger guard is integral with the lower receiver and cannot be replaced or rotated downward.
Chiappa ships the rifle with two 28- or 10-round magazines, depending on the buyer’s legal jurisdiction. The polymer magazines have similar dimensions to standard AR magazines, but are slightly longer and feature witness holes on the right side of the magazine body that guide the magazine’s loading assist button. Although the follower on an empty magazine acts as a bolt stop, once the magazine is removed the bolt closes.
The dedicated .22 Long Rifle upper receiver is available separately and can be installed on any standard AR-15-style lower. It features a flattop with M1913 Picatinny rail for mounting accessories, including an available carry handle. There is also a functional metal dust cover and a full-size front sight assembly adjustable for elevation.
The carbine-length black polymer handguards have no aluminum heat shields, as they are unnecessary for this rifle. They are standard-size and can be easily replaced with any commercial aftermarket handguards or quad-rail fore-end. The metal charging handle mimics the size and function of the original but has no hole for the gas tube. The latch can be replaced with one of the many extended varieties.
On the range the M four-22 experienced no mechanical malfunctions. The 16-inch steel barrel, which features a stepped M4-style profile and an even black finish, stayed fairly cool during an extended range session. Heat from the chamber area, however, was noticeable. All fired cases exhibited a bulge at the rear bottom since the chamber appeared slightly flared at the bottom. This may be to aid in reliable feeding, and indeed there were no failures to feed using a variety of ammunition types.
Handling this lightweight rifle was easy, and the familiar controls were comfortable. For accuracy testing we equipped the rifle with a 1-4X 24 mm Designated Marksman Scope from Millet with a one-m.o.a. dot and 18-m.o.a. donut-illuminated reticle, which offered the appropriate versatility. Hits were clearly visible at 50 yards. Accuracy at this distance was acceptable with the best group measuring slightly larger than 1 inch.
Less expensive shooting means more practice, and proper practice leads to improvement in accuracy and firearms handling. The Chiappa M four-22 can provide training and enjoyment to juniors, beginners, and experienced shooters alike in a convenient and versatile package.
Manufacturer: Chiappa Firearms; (937) 313-5928; www.chiappafirearms.com