Hello and welcome back to another weekly edition of The Rimfire Report. This weekly series explores anything and everything rimfire. The guns, ammunition, sports, history, and stories from the rimfire world are discussed here, and what a vast and expansive subset of firearms culture it is! This week we’re going to talk about the theoretical maximum amount of fun you can have with the humble 22LR round – a belt-fed 22LR.
The Rimfire Report: Belt-Fed On a Budget in 22LR?
Having a full-auto firearm is one thing but you’re often dragged down by the forces of both ammunition costs and the fact that nearly every single transferrable machine gun out there worth buying is roughly $20,000. Luckily, for us, rimfire junkies, we often get nice innovations like the Franklin Armory BFS III 22-C1 Binary Trigger that can give us a fun afternoon of rapid-fire plinking but nothing quite scratches the itch like a real full-auto weapon.
What scratches that itch even better for me is adding belts and links to the mix. There is just something about a 200 round uninterrupted string of fire that is really cathartic and can melt all your worldly troubles away (at least until you have to reload). One company, in particular, has developed a rimfire-specific belt-fed upper designed to mate perfectly with a standard or registered AR-15 lower turning it into the world’s smallest belt-fed rifle.
One example of these belt-fed 22LR uppers is from Winchester Ordnance. The company specializes in AR platform and belt-fed firearms products, although they do stary a bit from that path and do some other NFA work as well. Winchester Ordnance makes aftermarket parts for the M249/M249s belt-fed machine gun and has also developed their RPPR 2.0 22LR Belt-Fed Upper Reciever.
Description from their web page:
Winchester Ordnance is taking 50 RPPR 2.0 preorders at $1495, delivery date September 2020. Once we reach 50 preorders, we are not taking any more orders until August. Once all the preorders are complete and start shipping, we will be taking new orders and increasing the price to $1995. Those of you who have already ordered the RPPR 1.0, will be taken care of in September as well.
So far I have browsed various forums and dredged the depths of the internet to see if anyone had yet received their orders and or started using them but thus far there is very little information regarding these belt-fed uppers aside from their price which is sort of steep compared to the competition. That cost may be justified, however, as according to some data pulled from their YouTube channel there are over 50 custom parts essentially making the upper a custom-built piece.
If you don’t have access to a registered lower receiver or registered lightning link there is no worry, the Winchester Ordnance belt-fed upper is still compatible with binary firing systems so you can still run this little lead hose to your heart’s content, but you’ll have to practice on dialing in that binary trigger pull.
Ease of Use, Lower Cost
The primary benefit of the rimfire belt-fed is most obviously its cost. In addition to the decreased price of the ammunition, other parts are quite cheap as well. Most other belt-fed firearms use disintegrating links and while they can be picked up and reassembled, you’ll always inevitably lose some and or bend some during firing sessions.
The belt-fed RPPR 2.0 makes use of reusable cloth belts which according to another belt-fed upper company – Lakeside Guns – can be used for “thousands of firings” (the detonation of the round takes place relatively far from the belt) and are also much easier to load than a traditional disintegrating link setup. These cheap cloth belts also have the added benefit of allowing users to order custom belt lengths (standard belts are 10, 25, 50, 100, 200, and 500 rounds).
Lakeside guns also say that continued firing can go on for as much as 1000 rounds in ideal conditions. 1000 rounds of 22LR take approximately 54 seconds total to burn through and that’s a long string of fire! The video below proves that the gun can be run for this long and that belts can be made to basically any length (to be honest I’m more impressed that the gun cycled through 1000 rounds without any duds).
The Lakeside Guns version of the 22LR belt-fed is a bit more pricey at about twice the price as the Winchester Ordnance option, however, prices tend to fluctuate wildly online as these uppers go out of stock often or are entirely made to order.
Practical? No. Fun? YES!
I think there are few who would argue that there is any practical use for a full auto 22LR belt-fed machine gun. However, in my opinion, the gun industry has grown large enough that practicality doesn’t always have to come first….or at all. Sometimes you just want to go out on the range and lay down 1000 rounds of 40 grain round nose into the berm – because you can. As always, thanks for stopping by to read The Rimfire Report and we’ll see you all next time.