While the Bushmaster C22 rifle isn’t new, the company is beginning to aggressively push the 22LR AR variant as a direct competitor to the popular Smith and Wesson M&P15-22.

Held hostage by Remington Outdoor Company’s move from Illion, New York, to Huntsville, Alabama, production of the C22 is now in full swing down south and sister company Bushmaster is set to flood the market with the $499 MSRP plinkster in 2015.

“This is about as inexpensive as you can get for a training rifle,” says Bushmaster’s Modern Sporting Rifle product manager Adam Ballard. “We want people at the range running with these and having fun.”

Bushmaster describes the C22 as “more of an AR” than its competitors, with dimensions, look and feel as close to spec as possible to a 5.56 version. The rifle is made with carbon fiber upper and lower receivers to cut down on weight (and price).

IMG_0026.JPG

But there are some limitations — the C22 has a specific barrel nut that won’t allow a user to install different forends.

We had the chance to shoot a little steel with the C22 and also to run a rudimentary room clearing drill at the Gunsite Academy in Arizona. The C22 was as fun as any 22LR AR can be, but some experienced malfunctions during their runs.

Bushmaster is also offering a combo deal for a C22 packaged with a .223 upper for around $1,100.