First Impression: Tactical Solutions AR-22 Upper

Alright, I know it’s been forever since I’ve posted. Yes, I know, I suck. But winter was long, cold, dark, and free of anything resembling interesting shooting stuff to blog about. But that’s about to change. I’ve got at least a half-dozen good blog posts percolating inside my head, including equipment reviews, match reviews and video, and other general shooty goodness, including a new kind of game. But more on that later. So, the other day I open my inbox to an email telling me that my Tactical Solutions AR-22 upper was in. After doing the happy dance, I hopped in the car and drove down to pick it up. My first impressions are fairly positive. The fit and finish is well done, with the upper having a cool-looking aluminum float tube. The barrel is also threaded for a suppressor. The upper, like most .22’s, is a straight blowback design. The bolt does (presumably) lock back after the last shot due to the way that the follower interacts with the bolt, however it doesn’t engage the bolt catch. After removing the magazine, you can lock the bolt about half an inch open with the bolt catch; so basically enough to see an empty chamber.  Interestingly enough, the upper includes a traditional-style forward assist, but so far as I can see, it serves no actual purpose.

Tactical Solutions AR-22 upper and magazines.

After getting the upper out of the box, I wanted to toss it on a lower. My plans had been to use an existing rifle lower along with a red dot scope in my collection so I’d have a pretty much instant rifle setup for shooting the .22 rimfire division at Steel Challenge matches. Sadly, this is where I encountered my biggest gripe about the AR-22 upper. I tried it on multiple lowers and found that it didn’t mate seamlessly to the lowers. Attaching it to lowers from Rock River as well as JP was a lost cause. Even if I could get one pin through, I couldn’t get the other seated. Removing the upper required tapping the pins back out with a hammer and plastic punch. However, I did find that the upper fit tightly but acceptably on the lower for my Armalite service rifle. A call to a friend who’d also purchased an AR-22 upper, and I was told that he was able to get the upper mounted to an LMT lower, though it was a tight fit as well. So if you purchase one of these, expect that you may have to do some hand-fitting on the pin holes.

The upper mounted on a Service Rifle lower.

So, there’s my setup, the AR-22 with an Aimpoint Micro T-1. My hope had been to put the AR-22 on a Rock River lower that was built more for social work and practical competition, but that won’t be possible until I get the holes opened up a little bit more.

As stated earlier, the fit and finish of the upper are quite good, including the threads and thread protector on the end of the barrel.

If ever there was an excuse to purchase a .22 can, that's it.

The Black Dog magazines look to be a well-made product as well. Except for the screws, springs, and other small parts that hold them together, they are completely polymer. The smoked magazines are somewhat translucent, allowing you to see how many rounds remain.

Black Dog smoked magazines.

They also seem to fit well in belt carriers made for AR-15 magazines.

The mags seem to fit well in both Blade-Tech and Safariland mag carriers.

Overall, I am pleased so far with the Tactical Solutions AR-22. Hopefully I’ll be able to resolve the fitting issues soon enough, and hope to use it at this week’s local Steel Challenge match. With any luck, I’ll have a match review and videos up by next week.

4 thoughts on “First Impression: Tactical Solutions AR-22 Upper

  1. Pingback: SayUncle » Way of the multi-gun

  2. You’ve had this Tactical Solutions upper since May how Is It working out? Any Issues? I’ve been trying to compare the purchase of a Smith & Wesson MP 15-22 or purchasing the Tactical Solutions upper. What’s your opinion.

  3. Mine has run quite well, once I stopped trying to shoot ten-year-old bulk .22 ammo in it. With fresh ammo and Black Dog magazines, it has been averaging 2-3 stoppages in 300 rounds. I don’t think you can do much better with a .22LR semi-auto.

    I’m not familiar with the MP 15-22, but everything I hear about it is positive. The nice thing about the MP 15-22 is that it’s a turn key, ready-to-go package. The nice thing for me about the TacSol .22 upper is that I can pull the upper off my 3-gun rifle and put the .22 upper on it, thereby having the same stock, grip, trigger, and very similar handling. Like many things, it depends on what you want to do.


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