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Posted: 6/7/2003 4:57:15 PM EDT
Hi folks, I've been talking with a couple buddies of mine, one who has venture capital connections, and another who is connected to an experience machinist with manufacturing ties.

We're talking about developing an inexpensive plinker AR-15 upper capable of firing .22LR ammo. However, as we move forward, I wanted to do some market research.

Present design conception is as follows:

(a) Stainless 22LR bbl with .5 OD will be attached to alumninum or steel "skeleton" of an A2 upper that would have basically just a hollow tube and the lugs that would attach to the lower.

(b) The "rest" of the A2 upper profile, plus the handguard, plus the front sight block, plus additional material to bring the barrel to .75 OD with a mock f/s, would be injection moded around the metal parts in high impact glass filled nylon. Think of it as a design in which the receiver, handguard, and outer layer of the barrel are all one peice of injection molding over the steel parts. Basically a cost saving measure, with an eye toward doing this with one mold.

(c) After injection, the top of the ft sight block and the "handle" area of the A2 style upper would be machined and have steel sight pieces installed. Very basic sights are envisioned. The injected plastic front sight block will be somewhat meatier than the normal aluminum design given the issues with breakage. (An alternative approach will be to use an aluminium front sight tower attached to the bbl before injection molding, although that will add to final pricing and will present manufacturing issues).

(d) Bolt will be simple machined steel beveled on bottom to give mechanical advantage in cocking AR-15 hammer. Right now, the design is for a plunger style ejector and simple claw extractor. It will be charged from a side handle or the regular AR charging handle.

(e) Magazines. Open question right now.


OK, some questions:

(1) First, pricing is expected to be in the range of $160 to $220 depending on what the engineers say about some shortcuts we have in mind so far as machining goes. Remember guys, this is not intended or designed to be a super tack driver, rather its a pure pleasure plinking solution. There are plenty of $300 to $1000 target uppers out there, and frankly if you want dime sized groups at 150 yards, you'll get a custom 10-22 anyway. The market we're looking for is the recreational shooter who isn't satisfied with the shortfalls of the ciener chamber insert type system, but still is more of a plinker and would be happy with this type of economized design. What do you all think the interest in such a price range would be? We'd have to sell an awful lot of these for the lower price range to work out, and that price assumes some major economics of scale, the ability to work up and use a single injection mold, and cheap financing for the company! Still, if you'd buy one, how much would you spend. Assume it comes with one 10 round mag.

(2) Whate are your thoughts on the magazines issue? Our options are basically to make the thing compatible with someone else's design (i.e., set it up so it can use ciener's mags, or colt's or airforce, etc.), or to use a prexisting magazine for another rifle for which decent quantities of useful capacity mags are avilable (i.e, using a mag block and the 15 round mags designed for the AR-7).

(3) Any other thoughts? Suggestions?
Link Posted: 6/8/2003 9:49:09 PM EDT
A few thoughts. First, for the rimfire I would go with an A-1 style upper with a flattop option. Second, the whole point is that you want the fit and general feel of a genuine AR upper so stay as colse as possible. On the mag issue, this is a tough one. I would not copy the Ceiner mag design as his mags are expensive and this is supposed to be an economical proposal. The M-261 mags are all over the lace and fairly cheap, but limited to 10 rounds. The third and mabe best option is to go with a magblock that will accept some form of existing mags. This may be the best way to go, perhaps AR7 mags. Also rear charging handle, not the side chargers you see on some units. What's the point of training if the controls are in a different place. Sorta like training with a .22 revolver even though the duty weapon is a glock. You may get the sight picture and trigger control down, but you lose half the value by not trainig with the system you will use for real.
Link Posted: 6/9/2003 8:19:33 PM EDT
First off, I think your idea is an excellent one. I have never had any use for the heavy, expensive .22LR uppers that are currently being sold. My first question is, Why a stainless barrel? If low cost is one of the major concerns, wouldn't 4140 chrome-moly steel be cheaper. Also I like the idea of the side charging handle. I think it would be more suited to this upper with recreational use being the main goal. I have no idea what to say about the magazines. Hopefully the AW ban will not be replaced and new normal capacity mags can soon be made. I personally wouldn't pay more for this upper than I would for a stock 10/22. They sell for about $160 in shops near my home. I think your basic concept is a good one and I look forward to hearing more about this project.
Link Posted: 6/12/2003 5:11:45 AM EDT
(a) Stainless 22LR bbl... I concur with the above: no tack driver--no SS bbl unless corrosion underneath the plastic is envisioned as a problem. (b) The "rest"...great concept. Glock has it down right? Also concur with above: go flat top for versatility. There are as many preferences for sights and optics as there are members on this board. (c) After injection... See above but know that this nitch market is prone to demand quality and the ability to customize/modify--even the plinkers. If you include sights of any sort recommend they follow the paradigm currently in place. (d) Bolt will be simple machined steel beveled on bottom to give mechanical advantage in cocking AR-15 hammer. Right now, the design is for a plunger style ejector and simple claw extractor. It will be charged from a side handle or the regular AR charging handle. Stay true to the AR family controls design. "No one likes change Jerry". As long as its reliable and reasonably accurate noone will care what the mechanics of the action are. (e) Magazines...The AR-7 idea sounds like a good baseline and economical solution. Just a thought "out of the box": if you incorporate side mounted mag well you could use whatever mag you engineer into the design...say 10/22 mags (reliable, high cap still avail). Aesthetics would take a hit but the tradeoff could be worth it. You could even put a tube style mag in the fore end (more engineering overhead)...Also opens up the .22 WMR question. OK, some questions: (1) First, pricing...I'd pay 200 bills if it was quality. The extra fourty bucks over a 10/22 is for shooting my AR... (2) Whate are your thoughts on the magazines issue? Just make it reliable while minimizing your overhead. (No kidding huh?) [/quote] These days it is probably possible to find a quality inexpensive aftermarket barrel that has already been designed (10/22). Why not engineer your receiver to accept 10/22 barrels...for that matter you might as well use a 10/22 bolt design. You probably wouldn't need to get Rugers blessing on the bolt but that might be worth a call... Call me when you want a distributor in the North East!
Link Posted: 6/12/2003 7:31:12 PM EDT
$200 for a .22 conversion? You mean only $50-60 more than the ciener kit, and the barrel is actually bored out for .22lr? hell yes! I second the idea of using ruger 10/22 mags. As far as aesthetics, it could *almost* look like an ar-15 w/ a Butler Creek hot lips mag sticking out the magwell. Actually, the idea of some frankenstien conversion that was half 10/22 and half ar-15 is cool! [BD]
Link Posted: 6/13/2003 9:15:37 AM EDT
I believe 10/22 mags are too wide to fit in the AR's magwell. That's why SERE said "side mounted mag well" in his post. (There was some discussion of a 9mm upper with side mounted Sten mags over in Kurt's forum a while back. Nobody knew quite how that would be classifed--perhaps as a "gun" by itself--so it would require some research.) Tube magazine is an interesting idea. Not sure how popular that would be vs. the detachable though. IMHO Ciener mags may not be such a bad idea, especially if the AWB sunsets and the 30s come back on the market. Either that or go with a mag block that'll take some other style (like the AR-7 mags).
$200 for a .22 conversion? You mean only $50-60 more than the ciener kit, and the barrel is actually bored out for .22lr? hell yes!
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I think there are a lot of people like this out there. If I didn't already have a Ciener kit I'd consider this instead of one. But if yours is mostly plastic how many people will go up to the CZ upper at $300 instead? Side handle would be OK I think. Shotar's point about keeping the controls the same applies to people looking for a training tool, but I don't think that's your market. I'm guessing the people who buy one for that purpose will pay the extra couple hundred to have a regular AR upper that matches their .223 uppers for grips, sights, etc. I'd definitely make it come with irons so it's usable right out of the box, but make it easy to add a scope or cheap red dot. Not sure how you'd do that though. I guess a flat-top with cheap detachable sight, or maybe something along the lines of RRA's UTE but not adjustable? (I hate them on a real AR, but for this market I think it'd be OK.)
Link Posted: 6/13/2003 9:26:04 AM EDT
Great idea. Make the mags like the M261, or invent some type of mag that can be adapted to fit in an old Orlite. Again, the point being that the controls are as close to operating an AR as possible. I would vote against side charging handle and 10/22 mags (side or bottom mounted) on that basis.
Link Posted: 6/14/2003 1:21:36 PM EDT
Sounds cool. marlin 22lr mags might be another option. Not many high caps, though. I would prefer to have handguards for the look, but for $200 it's hard to be picky....maybe you could go w/o handguards and just the fittings for them on a stripped model...I know I have two pairs of them hanging around to use [:)] A flat top rail would be optimal, to me. I'd drop my $30 tasco red dot on it. A detachable carry handle could be fitted. The flip up rear sights. etc. Perhaps you could machine a low-cost rear sight for the rail as an option...for a 22 that's not a tack driver you could get away pretty cheap I'd imagine. Oh well let us know if it happens!
Link Posted: 6/14/2003 2:08:21 PM EDT
Use Ruger Semi pistol mags, for that rifle pistol combo.
Link Posted: 6/15/2003 8:30:08 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 6/15/2003 8:34:04 PM EDT by coffee]
Gidday, Sounds like an interesting plan. I was involved a few years back with some of the original discussions regarding Bushmaster's release of a .22 upper. I built one myself, and have been using it on a very regular basis in practice for service rifle competitions here in Canada. I've had it for about the past 5 years now, and fire an average of 4-5000 rounds per year through it. My setup is thus: Armalite lower Locally produced flattop upper A1 barrel (narrow profile with 1/12 twist) Colt conversion kit Elcan sight Using this setup, it's essentially identical to the service issue rifle I compete with (C-7A1). Accuracy is roughly 1" at 20 yards, opening to about 3" at 50 yards, using standard ammo. Match ammunition makes no noticeable difference, except in cost to me.
Originally Posted By GonzoAR15-1: *SNIP* Present design conception is as follows: (a) Stainless 22LR bbl with .5 OD will be attached to alumninum or steel "skeleton" of an A2 upper that would have basically just a hollow tube and the lugs that would attach to the lower.
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Sounds like an idea. Do you need to use the stainless for extra strength because of the small diameter? Chro-moly may be cheaper, not sure on the volume pricing of it.
(b) The "rest" of the A2 upper profile, plus the handguard, plus the front sight block, plus additional material to bring the barrel to .75 OD with a mock f/s, would be injection moded around the metal parts in high impact glass filled nylon. Think of it as a design in which the receiver, handguard, and outer layer of the barrel are all one peice of injection molding over the steel parts. Basically a cost saving measure, with an eye toward doing this with one mold.
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Ok, not a bad idea, but how about the weight of it? And is there any way to make it lighter?? Having a 2" diameter piece of plastic is still heavy. You may consider using the original handguards with a cup at the front and a clip at the rear to hold them in place. This way if someone breaks one, they can replace it. It would also then be possible for folks to add a RIS system a bit more easily (if they want that "tactical" look for their .22) Use handguards without the heatshields. They wouldn't be necessary.
(c) After injection, the top of the ft sight block and the "handle" area of the A2 style upper would be machined and have steel sight pieces installed. Very basic sights are envisioned. The injected plastic front sight block will be somewhat meatier than the normal aluminum design given the issues with breakage. (An alternative approach will be to use an aluminium front sight tower attached to the bbl before injection molding, although that will add to final pricing and will present manufacturing issues).
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If you use the aluminum tower, with the original cup for the handguards, you can kill two birds with one stone. A solid mount for the sight, and a good support for the handguards.
(d) Bolt will be simple machined steel beveled on bottom to give mechanical advantage in cocking AR-15 hammer. Right now, the design is for a plunger style ejector and simple claw extractor. It will be charged from a side handle or the regular AR charging handle.
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USE THE ORIGINAL HANDLE. Practice makes perfect. My standing is nice and tight because I practice it the SAME way EVERY time. Train the way you fight, because you will fight the way you train. Don't re-invent something that doesn't need to be. Again, you can use the original part rather than having to make up something new.
(e) Magazines. Open question right now.
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Find a .22 mag that can fit into the body of an AR mag. I gather that the M-261 kits do this. I've modded my Colt kit mags to have full length 30 round size bodies, so my holds and positions remain the same, be it with the .22 or the .223. Options on this: -Ceiner ($$$$) -Colt ($$$$, no availability) -10/22 Nope, won't fit in the mag well -Ruger Mk. II mags (pistol mag) with an insert? -various other pistol mags (hi-standard, woodsman, etc) with inserts for mag well -make a new one
OK, some questions: (1) First, pricing is expected to be in the range of $160 to $220 *SNIP*
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I'd buy one. But you'd have to ship it to Canada, and it would have to be a flattop. I shoot with an Elcan, and need a flattop to mount it on.
(2) Whate are your thoughts on the magazines issue? Our options are basically to make the thing compatible with someone else's design (i.e., set it up so it can use ciener's mags, or colt's or airforce, etc.), or to use a prexisting magazine for another rifle for which decent quantities of useful capacity mags are avilable (i.e, using a mag block and the 15 round mags designed for the AR-7).
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You have to consider the availability of the magazines, and how many of them are on the market for use. Are there a LOT of AR-7 mags? Not really. You'd probably find more of the pistol mags I mentioned than the AR-7 mags. This is an issue that you'd have to consider from the point of view that people will want more than one mag with this kit (I guarantee it!) and if you can provide them, then they'll be happy. If they can't get the mags from you, or anyone else, then they won't buy the kit.
(3) Any other thoughts? Suggestions?
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Make it in a flattop. Make it with detachable handguards using the current front sight block and cup. Make it use a standard sort of magazine that's readily available. Make if for less than $200. I'd buy one. Or two. NavyShooter Oh, forgot one more thing, (editing this in afterwards) Would there be any consideration for cooling the chamber area? The barrel wouldn't get hot enough to need cooling, but the chamber may, depending on how the rifle is used. Any consideration for adding cooling ports into the plastic leading to the metal on the outside of the chamber area?
Link Posted: 6/16/2003 8:43:04 AM EDT
I like the idea of Ruger MkII mags. The plinker that you're aiming for is likely to have some of them already. No hi-caps, but with loaders like the [url=http://www.arms-ordnance.com/ultimatecliploader.html]Ultimate Clip Loader[/url] the 10-round mags can be loaded very quickly. Only problem with that might be the angle of the clip. 22/45 or Buckmark mags might work better, and they can still use the loader.
Link Posted: 6/20/2003 5:26:01 PM EDT
Thanks bunches for all the input, guys. Meeting with some folks in the next month or so to address some design issues and whatnot. From the feedback we're hearing, its looking like a very much uphill battle, especially where mags are concerned. Apparently, the venture capital people are getting advice from their lawyers to hold back on lending start-up or even R&D funds until the fate of the AW-Ban is in the bag. They're worried that it might not go away, or worse, will be made more restrictive. So we're sort of up a creek for R&D right now. I guess its good business by the VC's (some of whom are still smarting from all the failed Internet companies)... After all, its pretty risky to gear up a manufacturing facility, have the injection mold made (holy shit that's an expensive prospect) and go through all the pre-order stuff when your whole project could be made illegal any second. Gives me a whole new appreciation for the brass balls guys at Bushy and other "black rifle" shops must have to keep coming up with new products every day. Again, thanks for the input. I'll post updates, if any, as they become available.
Link Posted: 6/21/2003 8:37:25 AM EDT
Remington is making a new steel 8 round magazine for .22mag and .17HMR. You could probably get one of those to work.
Link Posted: 6/21/2003 8:39:49 AM EDT
By the way Bushmaster is comming out with a new .22lr rifle this summer. It is the one they bought out when they got the professional ordinance carbon rifle line.
Link Posted: 6/21/2003 9:00:20 AM EDT
The CZ V-22 upper is a nice setup. It is solid and shoots well. For a cheap .22 upper I would use this as a bench mark.
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