Tippmann’s M4-22

A “spittin’ image” rimfire
rendition of our service rifle

Snugged into a Caldwell Precision Turret rest, the Tippmann delivered some memorable groups at 50 yards.

One of the most endearing qualities of rimfire firearms is they can be fabricated to replicate just about any centerfire model. Among the most interesting are the rimfire clones of current military arms. Not only are they fun to shoot and cool to look at, but the low-cost practice afforded by these arms will definitely make you a better shooter and hopefully help to entice our youth in getting involved in the shooting sports.

Walking down an aisle at the last SHOT Show, I came across an old familiar name with an entirely new product line. It was the Tippmann Arms Company. Back in the 1980s, Denny Tippmann Sr. rocked the gun world with his stunning 1/2 scale models of the classic Gatling gun chambered in .38 Special, followed by 1/2 scale renditions of the belt-fed Browning 1917/1919 .30 caliber MGs in .22 LR and the Browning M2HB .50 HMG in .22 Magnum.

These exacting-looking models were packaged with perfectly scaled traversing and elevating tripods, miniature ammunition cans and .22-scaled feed belts. Offered in semi-auto and full-auto, until a change in the National Firearms Act in the late ’80s prevented the sale of newly manufactured full-auto firearms to civilians, the Tippmann machine guns became an instant collector’s prize — if you could find one and afford it!

Did it stop the Tippmanns? Nope, they got in on the ground floor of the paintball craze and produced millions of full-auto and semi-auto paintball guns before finally selling off the highly successful business.

With different bullet profiles and different lengths, rimfire ammunition is a challenge for semi-auto designers.

Denny Tippmann Jr. spent weeks perfecting a 25-round magazine
that would feed any brand of rimfire ammunition reliably.

The Spittin’ Image

The current focus of the Tippmann Arms Co. is an exacting rimfire rendition of the M4 AR. It was designed painstakingly by Denny Tippmann Jr. I’ve had the opportunity to handle any number of rimfire military clones. The new Tippmann M4-22 and HK’s model come closest to feeling and functioning like the real deal.

An important element in the construction of the new Tippmann is it’s not based on synthetics and polymers. Yup. No polymer lowers or plastic handguards commonly found in other brands. This baby’s crafted out of real steel and real aluminum, and it makes all the difference.

Tippmann’s current lineup includes four rifles and one pistol. With the exception of a factory scoped “Sharpshooter’s” rifle and, of course, a distinctive pistol, the variations among the rifles are slight, mostly differences in furniture and are best viewed on Tippmann’s website. The model I had the pleasure of working with is the M4-22 “Elite.” Like all the Tippmann models, it’s largely mil-spec compatible and will accept most AR15 stocks, handguards and sights.

If I set it next to a real M4, you’d be hard pressed to see the difference between the two. One of the key features I look for in a quality M4 rimfire clone is a working forward assist. You won’t need it, but many competing brands merely feature an ersatz lump of molded polymer in its place. The Tippmann sports a fully operational forward assist, a properly positioned shell deflector and a functional ejection port cover.

The Picatinny rail of the Elite carries a set of fully adjustable flip-up sights.

Meeting The Rimfire Challenge

Another feature I value in a quality AR clone is a realistic-looking and foolproof magazine. In fact, when I asked Denny Tippmann Jr. what his most challenging design issue was, he said it was the magazine. He pointed out .22 LR rounds vary considerably depending on the shape and length of the projectile. The challenge is to design the follower, retention and feed lips so every bullet shape is oriented properly and chambers smoothly. The Tippmann ersatz 30-round magazine holds 25 rounds and fed everything from Remington’s truncated cone Vipers to CCI’s lead-free, Copper-22s without a hiccup.

Of course, a quality AR clone should have the proper controls in the proper positions and the Tippmann does. There’s a two-position safety, also marked “Auto,” which you don’t see too often, a bolt catch, a magazine release, a standard disassembly push-pin and even an ambidextrous sling adapter plate snuggled next to a 6-postion butt stock.

The Tippmann Elite features a 16″ barrel with a 1/2 x 28 threaded A2 birdcage-style compensator/flash suppressor housed in a 12″ aluminum free-float M-LOK handguard with a full-length Picatinny rail. Standard flip-up sights are provided with windage controlled by the rear sight and elevation by the adjustable front post. Overall weight of the Elite is 5.7 lbs.

Rimfire ammo is dirty stuff, so Tippmann nickel-plates their bolt, which seems to shed firing residue and is easily wiped clean after a range session.

A quality AR clone should have functional controls in the right places.
Holt was particularly impressed with the working forward assist.

Proof On Paper

The surprise for me was the Tippmann trigger. It is sooo nice, breaking cleanly at 4.5 lbs. It helped me squeeze out some impressive groups.
I thought the Tippmann would deliver excellent accuracy and it did. Twelve different loads from five different makers were used during the testing phase. At 50 yards, Winchester Power Points grouped five rounds into 0.41″. CCI Mini-Mag would have claimed second place but threw one shot so it was a 4-round group of 0.44″. Then, it was CCI Clean-22 at 0.68″, CCI Standard at 0.71″, and Winchester Super-X HP at 0.72″. The Elite fed, fired, extracted and ejected like a champ.

I really enjoy honing my skills with quality military rimfire clones plus I’ve never been around a young man or woman who didn’t want to shoot one! This may be their greatest value of all when it comes to the future of our shooting sports.


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