Can a .22 help you kill more hogs? Absolutely! Indirectly at least. The more you practice, the better the results should be, and a .22 caliber dedicated upper or conversion kit is a part of that equation. Since quality gear matters, you’ll be glad to know that the improved next generation 25R3 CMMG .22 magazines should be available to you by the second week in October. Fortunately, we have some pre-release mags now, so we can give you a sneak preview and field test. Whether wild hog eradication is your game, or you simply want to stack the odds of a one shot one kill scenario on your next hog hunt, trigger time matters and for a lot of reasons you and I will cover in the next 3 minutes, it’s probably worth your time and money to jump in deeper.
Some people claim feral hog kills with .22 long rifle round, and I’m sure it’s been done. For most, however, that simply isn’t going to happen. Seriously, in the land of tactical hog hunting I’ve seen hogs dropped dead with a well placed .223 round, and I’ve seen them soak up multiple shots without much complaining.
Caliber wars aside, there is no substitute for trigger time, burning ammo and money. Training matters if you want to get the most out of that, so we came up with a training drill posted to YouTube called “Three Little Pigs.” It’s a response born of experience. Probably like you, I’ve inched my way up close to group of hogs, sent rounds down range and had too little to show for it. Running the drill over and over is one way to work on speed and shot placement.
However, even with ammo prices for .223 dropping back towards sane levels, you’re looking at three bucks every time you execute the drill. Newsflash: the drill is a blast, so you’ll want to run it over and over as you improve. A mere ten repetitions and you just burnt $30. I found some Remington .22 LR online for seven cents a round today. Ten reps with that and we’re only down $4.20 in the piggy bank. The .22 for training just makes sense. And dollars.
It goes beyond the ammo. A .22 caliber silencer can be had for roughly half the price of its .223 cousin. Depending on where you live, you could set up a trap and shoot in your garage. Do you like reactive targets? They are a lot cheaper and a lot more portable when talking .22. I love introducing new shooters to the sport and hunting side of things. The .22 is easy for anyone to learn on. Beyond the logic, shooting .22 is just plain fun!
Conversion kit vs. Dedicated Upper
My first foray into all this was with a cheap conversion kit. Did you know these things have been around since the 1970s? Mine functioned perfectly about as often as the sun shines in Seattle. I replaced that with a CMMG stainless kit that I used for a couple of years. It was a substantial improvement, a simple drop in kit replacing the bolt carrier group in my Accurate Armory 5.56/.223 AR-15. The 1:7 inch twist didn’t give me the results I wanted in terms of accuracy. It’s just too aggressive for most .22 rounds. Now, if you’re just shooting steel, it’s good enough to paint smiles on faces when you ring it. But if ground squirrels are tearing up your yard, or if you are obsessed with “I know there’s a better way…” thinking, you might need something better.
Time to upgrade again. Since my lower receiver is set up exactly the way I want it with a Wilson Combat TTU trigger and Battle Arms Development Ambidextrous Safety Selector, I wasn’t interested in a dedicated new rifle, I wanted a dedicated upper. Done.
The heart of this upper is the CMMG Barrel and Bolt Group Kit. The sixteen inch barrel has a 1:16” twist, perfectly suited for sending literal pounds of common .22 lead downrange. While you can complete such a build with hand guards for less than $50, my acquisition came with a Lancer Carbon Fiber rail. With all the money I’ll save turning dollar bills into smoke, why not?
The old CMMG grey magazines are commonplace. And ugly. Exposed screws, flutes that imitate GI mags, and did I mention the grey color? Bland as eating sand. I have yet to see a gun that looked right with one of these hanging out of the magwell, and I own several of these old mags.
The new CMMG magazines are different. You can get any color you want, as long as it’s black. I’d argue that is an improvement by itself, and you can paint them to whatever matches your favorite AR-15. For your paint job to last, you’ll either need to spend some time on prep work or go with a paint designed specifically to adhere to plastic like Krylon Fusion for plastics.
You might say looks don’t matter, and functionally, you’d be right. For these new, made in the USA .22 magazines, CMMG beefed up the feed lips. The result should be longer life. Given the number .22 rounds I’m inclined to shoot with this kit, that is a functional improvement that matters.
Beyond that, horizontal ribs have replaced the old flutes. They provide a much improved grip on the magazine. Made of glass filled nylon, some people won’t like how slick these mags feel, despite the ribbing. Good news, you can stipple them if you’d like. Just don’t go any deeper than .050” though.
Another improvement in the new black mags is compatibility with CMMG’s Bolt Hold Open Actuator (BHOA). Without the adapter when emptied, the magazine’s protruding follower itself will hold open your bolt. Removing the magazine drops the bolt, requiring you to charge the rifle again upon reloading. The BHOA is designed to make your bolt catch function normally. Not necessary, but a great idea.
Like the old grey mags, the new mags hold 25 rounds. I loaded one mag to 20 rounds, and another to 25. Stripping rounds with 25 loaded wasn’t perfect. Perhaps leaving the mags loaded for a while would fix that. A new feature is the ability to limit the magazine to ten rounds via the use of a part sold separately (part number 22AFCD4). Someone in Colorado might need to see how that works.
In addition to working with CMMG .22 conversions or builds, it should work with all Ciener type kits.
Side by side, I ran my dedicated upper and my conversion kit in my AR-15. Hands down, the dedicated upper is better than twice as accurate than the conversion kit yielded using CCI Stingers. It feels more solid and just ran better.
So, can a .22 help you kill more hogs? With quality gear, yes, I’m sold. Now it’s your turn. Go find out for yourself, and report back on our Facebook page.