New .22 AR-15: ATI “Varmint Killer” VK-22

American Tactical Imports are bringing in a new .22 chambered AR-15. The Varmint Killer VK-22 is made by Chiappa Firearms and features an AR-15 lower receiver and a dedicated .22 LR A3-style upper. The lower can be used with any AR-15 upper.

It ships with either a 10 round or 28 round magazine.

The MSRP is just $499.95. I think this looks like a bargain.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Rusgunnut1

    I predict a Colt .22 like POC.

  • BRAVO,

    The 2nd Amendment is one of our fundamental rights, and now our US Supreme Court has articulated that right, to be fully incorporated across this nation, into the States and within local jurisdictions.

    Charley Miller
    Unaffiliated for US Senate

  • me

    BTW….Are the mags to all these 22lr M4’s style firearms the same and interchangeable or are they all proprietary to each companies weapon or conversion kit?

  • Jordan
  • Justin Grigg

    Looks much better than any of the other 22 only ARs. At least the lower is able to be used with other ARs.

  • shankbone

    I will have to resist my current urge to be an early adopter when this rifle makes it to the market.

  • Paul

    Does it require modification if put on a standard AR upper to it? Legally I mean.

  • shankbone

    Is there any news about this rifle?

  • Chuck

    I found (and immediately grabbed) a VK22 at my LGS about a month ago. I also got a cheap BUIS as there is no rear sight supplied. Within a week, before I had a chance to shoot it I also got a DPMS M4 upper on sale from Midway.
    The unit functioned well, no failures whatsoever (kinda surprised me) with either .22 or .223 upper.
    Have added a few goodies: Magpul triggerguard, EZ out reciever pins, the ones with the big button head, 1 Black Dog and 1 CMMG 28 rd mag – they both work just fine in the VK, but the stock Chiappa is easier to load with the thumb button follower, single point sling mount, cheapo red dot sight for the .22 and a sweet Burris LPR Tac scope for the .223.
    The buffer tube is sloppy and rough, allowing the buffer to pop past the retainer when breaking the .22 upper open – so there’s an upgrade commercial tube…and what the hell, a Magpul MOE buttstock on the way.
    Yeah, I’ll probably have too much money in it, but it’s got major cool factor. Looks impressive arranged in a double rifle hard case. A zombie AND little zombette killer rig!

  • Nick

    Thanks for the review Chuck. I should have mine in about a week. I’m looking to get some Black Dog Mags for it but I’ve found a few variants fo the Black Dog Mag and don’t know which to get. One is for “AR-15.22” and the other is “M261”. Any ideas as to which I should use?

  • Chuck

    I got my mags from MidwayUSA. The BlackDog was item #916771 for about $25 and the CMMG item #735189 about $20. I kinda dig the CMMG more ’cause it looks just like my 30 round aluminum 5.56 mags.

    A little update to the review – The problem I was having with the buffer popping out was actually a technique issue rather than a sloppy tube (although the stock tube IS rough and sloppy). When the .22 upper is folded shut the rear end of the bolt carrier actually compresses the buffer retaining plunger (don’t know why – but it’s designed to do it intentionally) so when the upper is popped back open the buffer and spring tend to sneak past the plunger – no real problem if you open it slowly aware of what’s going to happen.
    A better tube helps, but you really don’t need to spend the $$ there.

    Another issue with the .22 upper is the little crescent shaped cutouts that SHOULD allow you to remove the charging handle are too dang small -they must punch the handle in while the polymer is still soft. Now, you don’t absolutely have to remove the handle – you can kinda clean around and under it, but I’m too freakin’ anal and I spent like 2 hours with a hobby knife carving the openings bigger. Then I was able to remove and really smooth up the handle draw bar and recess in the receiver with light scotchbrighting and properly clean/lube it. Again- not a big deal, but it matters to me.

    In spite of all my nitpicking and extra expenditure of time and money, I still think it’s a uber cool rig and wouldn’t sell it for half again as much as I’ve got in it. Buddy o’ mine saw it – 2 weeks later we were doing all the same little mods to HIS new VK22 !

  • Nick

    Awesome, thanks so much Chuck. I’m going to see about the other comments you made once I have it…and probably make the same corrections!

  • Nick

    I got my VK-22 yesterday and I’m very impressed. The upper isn’t made of steel but it’s a pretty strong material. This is far more impressive than the GSG-AK47 that I got last year. One question I had was when I fire it, I hear the spring move in the telescopic stock. Is this normal?

    I used CMMG mags and my friend’s Black Dog Mags worked too. I had a few FTFs but that could be ammo related…it’s also still being broken in so I’m not disappointed.


  • Chuck

    Congrats, Nick!
    Yes, the upper is polymer, and if you decide to attack the cutouts so you can remove the charging handle you will find out just how freakin’ tough that material is!

    The buffer spring is probably just rattling around in the tube – it does not cycle with the bolt. As I posted somewhere above, the inside of the tube is rough, raw and a sloppy fit (be mindful of our hosts comment policy if you are tempted to reply with any references to bodily orafices ;^) which, in defense of the designer, is of no consequence because it does absolutely nothing but add weight to the .22 rifle, but is still there and functional if a centerfire upper is installed.

    Actually, now that I think about it – if you are using this as a stand-alone .22 only, you could just remove the buffer and spring altogether! HOWEVER, if you are going to be swapping in a centerfire upper – DON’T do that! If someone somehow managed to get a round of .223 in battery and touch it off without the buffer and spring in place…well, the word “fugly” comes to mind.

    I’ve found mine (just like all my other .22 autos) is running happiest with extremely minimal oiling. The carbon/crud that blows back into the receiver will mix with oil real quick and turn into sludge that slows the return cycle of the bolt. Since the lockup into battery is simply spring pressure, it takes very little interference to prevent a full return of the bolt face to the breech and mis-fires start occurring.

    I use Prolix to clean and lube the action (Hoppes or whatever in the bore).
    Amazing stuff. Feels like soapy water and smells like toilet cleaner but leaves an invisible super slick dry coating on everything – kinda like car wax. Buy direct from Prolix online. (no-I don’t work for them).

  • John

    Hey Guys I am in the process of purchasing one of these VK’s but I am not sure if it is worth it. The reason I went with the VK22 over the M&P 15-22 was the option to beable an add a .223 upper. And to be honest when I held the VK and the M&P in my hands at the same time the M&P felt too light!! It Felt really cheap when comparing the feel of the vk22. The VK22 was by no means heavy but it had the right weight and did not feel like you would break it if dropped. I like Light weight guns but the M&P is almost light to a flaw I did not like it. When Comparing the look of the two as well the VK22 really made the M&P look like toy or an airsoft gun, the detail and craftmenship is much more evident and pleasing for people going for almost exact replicas. Additionlly there is no option for any other setups on the M&P it is a dedicated .22lr. So I thought for $30 more bucks the VK was the obvious choice and if I ever get tingle for some .223 shooting I can look to purchase a nice upper. Does anyone know anything about the Lower? Is the selling point of this gun even worth the purchase as there are many options for AR-15 .22lr conversions out there with better platforms.On the flipside M&P was gun of the year in 2010 and has nothing but good reviews and for reliability and fun factor seems to be a great choice too. But I guess I am looking for the whole package not just reliability or looks. I see some of you had the same issue when trying to make your choice. Has anyone else purchased this gun or are there anymore experiences people have had that would help me make this choice? Is there anyone with both of these guns? I like what I have seen from your reviews already posted I would just like to know if anyone else jumped on the train and was dissatisfied or satisfied.

  • Chuck

    As much as I wanted one, $500 for a dedicated AR rimfire seemed ludicrous IMO. The little conversion dealybobs look mickey mouse and also too expensive for a gamble on whether or not I would be lucky enough to have decent accuracy with my particular rig.
    So the VK seemed like a slam dunk and I am happy I went that way. The lower is a good quality mil-spec with el-cheapo trigger and buffer tube but it runs fine with the Chiappa .22 upper and is REALLY sweet when I slap on the DPMS 5.56 upper. It’s a great package and all I had hoped for.
    As for the accolades heaped upon the M&P…well, I’m sure it’s a fine unit, probably with better innards than the VK, but keep in mind that Smith & Wesson is a HUGE advertiser with all the “reviewers” the exception being Gun Tests- who admittedly crowned it best in class 2010. I wish Gun Tests had a VK to look at for their comparison, but alas -ATI doesn’t seem to expend any effort towards marketing.

    Allow me to copy/paste Gun Tests synopsis for you here:

    Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22 No. 811030 22 LR, $569
    The first time one sees the Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22 the reaction might sound like this: “What kind of magazine is that?” The see-through relief and load assist lugs are a dead giveaway. But from the left-hand side of the carbine, there is little else that would lead you to believe it was anything but a patrol carbine with A2 sights and Picatinny rails on all four sides of the handguard. However, Smith & Wesson did see fit to leave off the flash hider, and the trigger guard was molded, sans bottom hinge, as one piece with the polymer receiver.

    The right-hand side of the carbine showed a shorter ejection port than a centerfire model, but the bolt was worked by the charging handle. Of the replica features, this may have been our favorite overall. The magazine was the approximate size of a 30-rounder, but the magazine held 25 rounds of 22 LR. Residents of encumbered states are offered model number 811031. This is the Compliant version of the 15-22 and its shorter magazine holds only 10 rounds.

    Owners of an M&P 15-22 will get a full lesson on the AR-15 manual of arms. Here is a list of standard black-gun characteristics: Six-position adjustable buttstock with solid mount sling loop. The pistol grip was bolted into place, not molded with the receiver. The magazine release was right-side only, index-finger operated. The safety was above the grip on the left side. Safety-on was parallel to the bore. The gun was ready to fire when the lever was pointing straight up. The bolt release was another standard AR design. Each of these parts looked like they could be fit on to any other AR-15.

    All guns work better when they are maintained, and the easier it is to clean and lubricate a weapon the more often it will be done. No other semiautomatic rifle or carbine breaks down as easily as an AR-15, and the M&P 15-22 was field-stripped in exactly the same manner.

    The receiver was a flat-top style, with a rail that stretched continuously from the charging handle to the tip of the 10-inch-long polymer handguard. About 5.5 inches of straight-wall barrel was left uncovered. The barrel was medium gauge and fixed rather than free-floated, gaining support via a bushing seated at the very front of the handguard. Sights front and rear were non-folding and held in place by heavy knurled screws. The front unit was the tower style with a square blade that was adjustable for height by depressing the spring-loaded detent peg and turning the blade. The rear sight was adjustable for windage and elevation, and two apertures of different size could be rotated into place.

    From the 25-yard line, Federal Champion rounds shot groups that averaged about 1.1 inches across, most of the groups we measured firing our Value Pack rounds were less than 1 inch across. The CCI Green Tag rounds produced groups that measured 0.6 inch, 0.7 inch, and three more groups barely 0.9 inches across. From the 50-yard line, our Green Tag groups ranged from 0.6 and 1.1 inches center to center. There were no malfunctions.

    Our Team Said: Perhaps what we liked best about this carbine was that it offered a cheap day of shooting with a weapon as close to an AR-15 as we could get. The M&P 15-22 was light enough, and thanks to its adjustable stock, ideal for small shooters. The subdued recoil and noise of the rimfire ammunition make it even easier to use the AR platform.

  • Mike429

    Finally getting mine Tuesday. Cant wait. The only thing that sucks is im in NY, so only 10 round magazines.

  • Mike429

    Does anyone have any thoughts on a rear sight or any other upgrades

  • Chuck

    Magpul MBUS rear flip up sight works great for me at a not unreasonable price (about $50) and is perfect for back-up or co-witness if you add a red dot optic.
    Jeez, am I the only guy stepping up to sound off like a know-it-all on this thread?!

  • Mike429

    Thanks picked up a magpul on ebay for 35 bucks. Nice set- up. Guns coming today and i got a bunch of extras to play around with already. Picitinny rail,laser,forward grip handle and a 250 lum flashlight for some after dark fun. Cant wait to get it to the range tonight

  • Mike429

    Does anyone know how hard it is to unpin the fixed stock and if so are the guts inside to make the collapsible stock work. Just wondering because while checking everything out today i was playing with the 10 round mag it came with and the pin fell out without me even doing anything lol so it is now a 28 round mag. Go figure

  • stacy

    I picked mine up this morning and shot about 250 rds and the spring rod broke . Has anyone heard of this problem or is just my luck to get a defected one.

  • I picked one up friday and shot about 250 rds in it ,and the bolt spring rod broke. Is anybody else having any problem with them or is it just my luck to get a defected one?
    I love the way it shot up until that happen. Any information will be greatly appreciated.

  • John

    Stacey I actually have heard of this happening on these guns. The thread I read actually said it happened within the sane amount of rounds cycled through the gun. Starting to sound like a Chinese pos if you can only get 200 rounds out of a bolt and spring rod. I’m a little discouraged to hear that this has happened again since I’m picking mine up on Tuesday , I’ll reserve my full judgement until I get my hands on it. I got to be honest though after seeing another case if this I an almost thinking about canceling the purchase and repaying the DROS fee ob the M&P 15 to avoid that headache

  • Mike429

    I have put about 1000 rounds thru mine so far with only a couple minor things like a couple ftf and one stove pipe which i would aim more toward the ammo than the gun seeing as the primer stikes look good . If i would say anything bad about it it would be the trigger. Not very happy with that though it functions fine it is sticky and gritty. After good cleaning and 1000+ rounds it has gottin a little better but i’m still thinking about upgrading it. As far as shooting goes, off a rest it pretty much clears the red out of the bullseye with the ocational floater. Just using a cheapo 30 dollar reddot right now but very impressed with its consistincy. It needs a few add ons and I have a 5.56 upper on the way but as of now I give it high remarks, a+ on the price, a+ on accuracy, and a B on material and workmanship. Would deff recomend this weapon and I have 2 more on order for my kids

  • DavidS

    newb here…I bought one this morning and took it to the range this afternoon. definitely fun. I went ahead and added a magpul mbus rear on it, figuring I’ll add some other optics later on. also started the search for a decent upper to complete the set. was definitely good to fire. Had some initial problems with the bolt not moving all the way forward, but that worked itself out after I completely doused it. now I just have to go clean it up.

  • Chuck

    Mike429 I agree, the trigger sucks BUT be careful what you do to fix it. Listen to a mental defectives little story: I tried burnishing the sear engagement points (cycling trigger sequence while applying heavy pressure on back of hammer), then had a brilliant idea and globbed them with abrasive paste – about 50 cycles later I destroyed the disconnector timing and ruined the entire trigger assy. Aawdammit.

    I had put a J&P trigger kit in my old A2 and loved it so I ponied up $150 and fitted one in the VK. Sweetest AR trigger you’d ever want – except the lighter hammer and softer spring wouldn’t reliably set off the rimfire rounds. Couldn’t even get through a mag without jacking a dozen live rounds into the weeds. Aawdammit. Tried putting the original heavy spring back in – that cut the misfires down to a half dozen per mag. Aawdammit.

    Since it still ran 100% perfect with the 5.56 upper I just went ahead and finished melting a credit card and bought another lower to stick the Chiappa 22 upper on. I now have a sweet matched set of complete carbines – not what I had in mind when I started, threw non-budgeted money at it like a congressman but the end result still makes me smile (sorta like an idiot).

    Before I fubar’d the original trigger sear, I had pulled the trigger out, and used a dremel sanding drum to grind off the grooves, shape, and smooth the face of the trigger. This made a huge improvement in the feel of the trigger under my finger. If I had just stopped right there I could have lived happily ever after with the kinda heavy, gritty military style pull, but NOOoooo – I had to keep dinkin’ with it….

  • stacy

    Just heard this morning that the second vk 22 sold at the store where I bought mine, also broke. The same way (spring rod broke). Has anybody had this happen to them first hand?

  • andrew

    does it take a regular 7in hand gaurd?

  • Response to Stacy and other interested parties:

    I have a VK-22 and yes, I had my spring rod break after about 200 rounds and yes, I have read reviews where this has occurred to other people. The best thing to do is to call ATI’s customer service number, get an RA #, and then ship the broken bolt carrier assembly group to them. The turnaround will be about a month, as opposed to having your FFL arrange the shipment, which I heard can take much much longer. Yes, it sucks to spend $10 ~ 14 UPS’ing a defective product because of some company’s LOUSY engineering, but I do commend ATI for taking care of their customers…I actually had to send them two packages because my entire upper assembly was defective and they took care of the issues, no hassling required.

    The great news is that the bolt assembly that I received back appears to have come with a reinforced spring rod, which I personally believe will alleviate the breakage issue.

    Hopefully, this solves it, because otherwise, the VK-22 is a great gun for the price.

  • Nick

    I haven’t had any issues with my spring rod. I’d definitely contact ATI. In the past when I had issues, they were very helpful and went out of their way to help. I bought a carry handle with a built in rear sight and I’ve been using the iron sights for now. I’ve considered getting a tritium front sight.

    The adjustable stock is exactly like all other AR-15s, be careful when unscrewing it(you need a wrench for ARs) that the pin doesn’t shoot across the room on you. It’s inside the lower pushing up on the rear stock. There are some other springs in there(one to hold pressure on the rear bolt that holds the lower to the upper) so be careful not to lose springs. I have a GSG AK-47 and I’ve had to tear my living room apart to find springs for that that sailed away. It’s rather unfun.

    I’ve had a few FTF but I think that’s ammo based and I’ve had a few stovepipes so my friend helped me to polish the feed ramp which I hope will improve that as well as I’m going to start playing with the types of ammo I use. I prefer Walmart Federals but they are, in fact, cheap. CCIs will probably be worth the investment and help with the issue. I’ve also used a 7.62 x 39 shell to hold back the bolt while I store it in my safe to help break in the spring some. I hope this will help the action work smoother as well.

    My biggest complaint is the trigger is very rough in it’s movement. The feel of the physical front of the trigger doesn’t bother me, but when it pulls back, it seems to hesitate before letting it loose back to shooting position…it’s a minor hesitation but it’s not as smooth as I’d prefer.

    I’m going to study up on how to disassemble the trigger assembly and clean it up and use some Shooter’s Friend grease. That usually does the trick.

    Overall, I’m pleased with the rifle.

  • Nick


    I personally like the hesitation there so I can hold the bolt ajar for when the range is cold and people are downrange. I feel it’s a nice safety. If you mean an issue with when you’re trying to get a round in the chamber, pull the charging handle ALL the way back and let it go. It should slam shut. If not, consider adding some lube on the charging handle and on the top of the stock where the charging handle rubs.

    Hope that helps.

  • stacy

    I got mine back about a month 2 wks ago. Run 3 mags threw it and it broke again. I traded it on a DPMS which shoot great, but thanks for the response.

  • Chuck

    I’ve learned more about the trigger on these puppies while helping my buddy sort his VK out. The trigger reset began sticking badly after just a couple of mags.

    Using a poor mans brinnell gauge (most people call it a center punch) I discovered the disconnector and trigger/sear are slightly softer metal than spec and the hammer hooks are digging in and dragging. Lube helps for just a few cycles, until it scrapes away and the friction and sticking returns.

    As I posted up above, trying to burnish or polish the engagement points just destroys the disconnector timing, so the easiest way out is to buy a milspec trigger, disconnector, and probably best to also replace the hammer, even though it seems to be correct hardness. You can use all the existing pins and springs.

    I found the individual parts at my LGS that caters to AR15 nuts, cost me about $35. Another source would be to order a “fire control assembly”. Cheaper than Dirt catalogs a DPMS for about $30.

    All the crap I’ve gone through with this firearm to get it up to snuff hasn’t torqued me off yet. I’m still loving it, but then again, I am an obsessive tinkerer…

  • Nick

    Stacy, Yesterday I put several rounds through the rifle and I had the same problem…the base of the rod that holds the spring broke on me. I’m wicked bumed but plan to see if I can replace it. I’m trying to think of some material I can put on there as a super strong material to strengthen it. What I’m seeing is the rod seems to shrink in order to fit into the back of the bolt carrier which strikes me as a structurally weak design. Other than this, I’m loving this rifle.

  • Nick

    I contacted Chiappa and I guess they’re making an updated bolt carrier assembly…I should be getting the new BCA any day now. I’ve had stovepiping issues with Federals but the Winchester .22lrs(the Winchester X’s, not the bulk) shoot fine. Anyone know cures for stovepiping?

  • Nick

    I cleaned out my chamber and got the new updated BCA…it’s working great. Having a few failure to fires but I think that either the firing pin spring needs to be re-broken in or something simple as the prior BCA wasn’t an issue on that. All is well in the land of VK-22 for me.

  • Chuck

    Spring rod busted on mine – guys at ATI gave me lots of phone time (with nearly zero hold time) to talk through the process of return – they kept it simple. They are, however, very tight lipped about the $hitty engineering on the 1st gen BCA.

    Got mine back about 3 weeks later. Worksheet stated “Replaced complete bolt per Chiappa. Tested operation through 28 rounds. Gun cycled properly.” I sent it to them squeeky clean – it came back with lots of oil in the action and about a mags worth of fouling.

    Took it out and ran a coupla hundred rounds of CCI Tactical through it – seems to be just fine -but then my buddy that let me talk him into buying one right after I got mine came walking over from another bay where he was shooting his – I’ll give ya 3 guesses what was jacked up (last 2 guesses don’t count)…

    I did the return authorization call, packing, shipping, etc. last week.
    Not quite reaching my ass with my foot to kick myself for not buying S&W, Ruger, SIG, or some other AR .22 yet…not quite, but my buddy is offering to assist.

  • Mike

    Chippa has a reputation of poor customer response to questions and service. I have the M-4 22 upper and it has not been a good investment for my money. It has had to go back for the fireing pin and when it came back the paperwork stated it was tested out and functioning ok. Uppon inspection of the upper I noticed the barrel was so loose it was about to fall off, no way the upper could have functioned this way. Just beware!

  • same story ive been reading. bought a vk 22 from a good friend never fired put 250 rounds through it the spring rod broke so now i have a 400.00 stick
    who can i call to resolve this issue any suggestions ???????