AR-15 Sub-Caliber Training

Options to stay sharp in the off season.

by Joe Carlos

Those of us who live north of the Mason-Dixon Line experience long hard winters that are not conducive to outdoor shooting. While ice skating is not as common these days as it was back in my misspent youth, skiing, snowmobiling, and ice fishing are all popular. None of those activities require the fine motor skills of delivering an accurate shot, however, and that is difficult to do outdoors in sub zero weather. Those of us in the north found ways decades ago to shoot indoors during the winter. Some of us have ranges right in our basements.

For those whose architecture (or the missus) doesn’t support that, we have lots of gun clubs with indoor ranges, commonly at 50 feet with .22 LR. Some indoor ranges allow centerfire pistol shooting but it is not unusual for “hardball” (Full Metal Jacket) ammo to be discriminated against. Many indoor ranges run leagues, hosting local and postal matches. Other shooters view indoor shooting as an off-season opportunity to retain their skills until they can get back outdoors at longer distances. They prefer their indoor firearm to resemble outdoor, long distance guns. Not long after the Colt .45 was adopted as our official service pistol in 1911 it became extremely popular in outdoor NRA bullseye shooting. Shooters wanted a similar pistol in .22 LR with the same trigger pull, sights, and ergonomics as the .45 and Colt gave it to them. Called the Ace, the .22 pistol went through various design changes over the years.

The use of .22 LR military training rifles was widespread worldwide. My father brought back a German .22 LR single shot training rifle that looks and feels like a 98 Mauser following WWII. Not long after Eugene Stoner worked out the design of the AR-15, Colt came out with a .22 LR conversion for it. All the owner had to do was replace the bolt carrier and magazine with the .22 LR units. Unfortunately, accuracy of these AR-15 conversions was never very good.

Read more in the October 2015 issue.

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