Air Ordnance SMG-22

A .22 caliber full-auto shipped straight to your door

The Air Ordnance SMG-22 belt-fed submachine gun ships straight to your door.
This thing is just crazy cool.

One of my first automatic weapons was an M16. Don’t hate me for it, but back in 1987 I bought the stripped transferable full-auto receiver for $600. The new machinegun ban had not yet seen its first birthday so the prices for transferable MGs had not yet gone insane. The same gun costs 20-grand today.

So what’s a proper millennial gun nerd to do? A cheap transferable MG costs as much as a nice used car. Unless your name is Gates, Trump, or Soros, you’ll not be amassing much of a full-auto collection in the Information Age.

Fortunately Air Ordnance has the answer.

Everyman’s Full-Auto Fun

A transferable .22LR American 180 SMG cycles at about 1,200 rpm and will set you back around $16,000. The transfer process takes about a year. They’re also not making any more. Break it in some substantive way and you have a very expensive paperweight.

By contrast, the Air Ordnance SMG-22 is a genuine full auto .22-caliber gas-powered SMG they’ll ship straight to your door and it sells for about what my M16 cost back 32 years ago. This gun sports a variable rate of fire, genuine belt-fed operation and requires nothing more than a credit card and a shipping address to own.

Loading the SMG-22 involves popping open the top cover and locking in a reusable ammo belt.

High Volume Mayhem

According to federal law, a firearm expels a projectile via some kind of explosive. Push the same projectile using pressurized gas and the resulting gun is no more controlled than a doorstop. The SMG-22 can run off CO2, compressed air or pressurized nitrogen.

The SMG-22 fires standard .22-caliber airgun pellets. You can buy those rascals at any Wal-Mart for a fraction of the cost of conventional ammunition. Paintball fields and some sporting goods stores can refill your CO2 tanks. Drive your gun with compressed air and you can recharge using a scuba tank.

The first chore was to figure out how to get the pellets organized and into the firing chamber. The Air Ordnance guys designed a non-disintegrating belt-feed system to accomplish this task brilliantly. The end result is efficient, reliable, and effective, while still pegging the “Awesometer.”

The gun fires from an open bolt and feeds from a 100-round belt which then goes back into the drum for easy maintenance. The top of the gun is railed for an optic (included) and the front end will accept a forward handgrip. The tank screws into the back of the pistol grip, and the rear of the receiver accepts a standard M4 collapsible stock.

The end result is fairly long and bulky and the center of gravity is a bit far to the rear, thanks to the tank layout. The manual of arms is an odd hybrid between a German MP40 and a Browning 1919. The end result is addictive.

The belt loading process is indeed laborious, but no more so than the same chore for a cartridge-fed weapon.

Belt Up And Blast

You’ll want several ammunition belts. They come as snap-together links. Once assembled you need not take them apart again. They seem plenty rugged.

You first arrange the belt in the loading tray. You then put a perforated steel plate on top and pour your pellets out loosely onto the plate. Give the loading tray a little wiggle and the pellets automatically settle into the holes nose down.

Once you have a pellet in every hole, pour off the excess and use a handy pressing tool to seat the pellets five at a time. It obviously takes 20 iterations to fill a 100-round belt — a great thing to do while you catch up on your Netflix.

Stack the belt in the drum according to the instructions. Once you’re ready to shoot, you lock the bolt to the rear, lift up the top cover — just like an M60 — and lay the first link into the feed sprocket. Close the feed tray, point the gun toward something you dislike, and unleash chaos

It fires from an open bolt like a real SMG and it comes with an optic for the rail.

Adjustable RPM

The SMG-22 sports a manually adjustable rate of fire. I consider myself a bit of a connoisseur of machineguns, and I am particular when it comes to my cyclic rates. If you feel like a Grease Gun or Sten, set the gun to cycle at around 500 rpm. If you feel more in an M4 mood, then set it to 750 rpm. Covet an MP5 and 900 rpm is your goal. Should you feel profligate, then another twist will produce a blistering MG42-style 1,200 or so rpm.

Just like any automatic weapon, this thing will absolutely gobble up ammo. A 250-round tin of pellets is good for two-and-one-half belts. However, it is still massively more economical than anything running on fixed ammunition.

On-Target Awesome

The literature claims you can get about 600 fps out of your pellets. I used CO2 and logged about 450 fps out of mine. This means engagements out to 60 meters or more begin to seem parabolic. The gun’s still super fun; it just becomes an area weapon system at those distances. Where the SMG-22 really dominates is at CQB ranges.

I absolutely shredded a water-filled milk jug with a full 100-round mag dump without a single malfunction. In fact, so long as it is treated with some modest modicum of respect, the SMG-22 does not seem to malfunction. The mechanism was unnaturally reliable.

The unique manual of arms will reliably raise serum testosterone levels regardless of your gender. Snapping a drum in place, locking the first link into the sprocket and laying down a withering sleet of full-auto .22-caliber lead will reliably cure what ails you!

Although $600 may seem spendy for a pellet gun, this is no ordinary pellet gun. This is a genuine belt-fed SMG. It doesn’t hit quite as hard as a “real” gun, but it will absolutely wear out an empty Coke can. When compared to finicky and expensive transferable machineguns, the SMG-22 is an absolute steal.

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