The .22 long rifle cartridge is iconic for many shooters. If you are like me, your first real rifle was a .22 LR. It was many years before I graduated to a larger caliber rifle, and I still keep several rifles chambered for .22 LR in my safe. They are great for teaching youngsters the basics of rifle safety and marksmanship.
For these very same reasons, the concept of a 22 rifle that looks like an AR platform is attractive. Such a rifle offers the chance to teach more advanced shooting skills at a much lower cost than using .223 or 5.56 ammo. The HK 416 22 LR at first glance appears to fill this need quite nicely.
Heckler and Koch tap into this market with the HK 416 rifles. On the surface, these rifles appear to be basic AR-style rifles. However, dig a little deeper and you find that sometimes what you get is not what you are expecting. Appearances may be deceiving and a little due diligence may be in order.
When is a HK not a HK?
Heckler and Koch have a reputation for building some of the most recognizable and sought-after rifles on the market. Based on their reputation and tradition, you would expect a rifle bearing the HK emblem to be a top-tier piece of equipment. Unfortunately, in the case of the HK 416, you may be sorely disappointed.
The Umarex Connection
Instead of designing and manufacturing a .22 LR based firearm, HK made the decision to subcontract the design and production of the HK 416 to Umarex. If you are an airgun enthusiast, you will recognize the name Umarex instantly. This company is one of the worlds leading manufacturers of air guns and accessories.
In fact, the HK 416 LR is not a HK at all. This firearm may look like a HK 416, but at heart, it is a replica of the HK 416 built on an airsoft chassis that has been repurposed to shoot 22 LR ammunition.
The markings on the receiver of the HK 416 LR make this very clear. The labeling and engraving on these guns identify them as made by Umarex and not by HK. What many people assume to be a real HK rifle is, in fact, made by another company.
About the HK 416 22 LR
I want to be clear. There are a lot of good things about the HK 416 firearms. It does bother me a bit that HK puts their name and emblem on a rifle that is obviously made by someone else. Notwithstanding that, many people find the HK 416 a good option for an AR-style long gun chambered specifically for the 22 caliber rimfire.
The HK 416 is a hybrid aluminum and polymer construction. All in all, the fit and finish on these guns are not bad. The upper and lower receivers fit together well. The furniture on this firearm is almost standard issue AR-style. Looking at this rifle, you would be hard-pressed at a distance to tell it from a real HK 416.
The Lower Receiver
The HK 416 features an aluminum receiver. The receiver is finished in black. The texture of the finish is somewhat rough, but not unappealing. The magazine well opening is very near to the same size as a .223/5.56 AR rifle. A profile view of the HK 416 22 LR is an almost exact replica of the standard HK 416.
The machining on the lower receivers is high-quality. There are no tool marks or ragged edges to be found. The lettering on the engraving is sharp and clear. Most of the engraving is filled with either red or white coloring.
The Upper Receiver
Many people make the assumption that on a hybrid aluminum and polymer AR-style rifle, the upper receiver would be metal and the lower receivers would be the polymer parts. That assumption is wrong in this case. The HK 415 22 uses a polymer upper receiver with a metal insert. The bolt carrier group rides on rails on the metal insert in the polymer upper receiver.
The upper receiver has a Picatinny rail that aligns with the rails on the handguard. This system is termed the RIS by HK and refers to the Rail Interface System. The receiver rail is Mil-Std and will accept any mounting system designed for a Mil-Std Picatinny rail.
A forward assist on the upper receiver mimics those found on standard centerfire AR-style platforms but is inoperative. There is also a working dust cover over the ejection port.
One of the really great things about the HK 416 22 LR is the design. This is not an AR that has been modified to fire a 22 caliber rimfire cartridge. This is a rifle designed to be a 22 caliber rifle with all the features of a standard AR platform.
As you might expect, the barrel of this rifle is 16.1 inches long, making this a standard carbine-length rifle. The rifle has a threaded muzzle using 1/2×28 threads, so a standard suppressor will fit. HK advertises this as a match-grade barrel. If you inspect the barrel carefully, you will notice that the barrel is between .75 and 1 inch shorter than a standard carbine length.
The detailing on the look of the barrel is unbelievable in some respects. This extends to such things as the gas block, which is not needed on this rifle but is there nonetheless. The barrel also has the notch cut to locate an M203 grenade launcher if you happen to have one lying around that you aren’t using.
Handguard and Other Furniture
The handguard is an outstanding feature of this rifle. The handguard is probably the heaviest and most substantial piece on the HK 416 22 LR. The rail interface system provides almost unlimited space to attach accessories such as lights, lasers, etc. to the rifle. This handguard is also M-LOK compatible. If you intend to use the HK 416 22 LR as a sub-caliber training rifle, this feature makes it easy to replicate an actual rifle setup.
The furniture on the HK 416 22 LR looks like standard AR fare. The telescoping stock has six positions. The pistol grip includes a storage compartment where you can keep a small cleaning kit or spare parts. The pistol grip is functional, but there are more comfortable and better aftermarket options.
At first glance, you might think that HK installs a set of Magpul folding sights on the 416 22 LR. However, this isn’t the case. Despite what they look like, the folding sights on the rifle are not Magpul, but function almost exactly the same.
The sights are functional, but not ideal. The front sight width is a little excessive with the widely spread ears to protect the sight post. The rear sight has flip adjustable apertures and is windage adjustable. Elevation adjustments are made using a standard AR sight tool.
The magazines for the HK 416 22 LR are fashioned to look like a standard AR mag. The 22-caliber magazine is encased in a shell that mimics the look and size of a standard AR magazine. These are polymer magazines to reliably feed 22 LR ammunition.
Magazines are available in 10, 20, or 30-round varieties. The magazines are proprietary and other AR-15 rimfire magazines will not fit into the receiver. One positive feature. When you have an empty magazine, the magazine will hold the bolt open.
How Does The Rifle Shoot?
On the range, the HK 416 LR is quite pleasurable to shoot. As with any 22 caliber rifle, recoil is minimal and easily controlled. We did not do any technical accuracy testing. However, based on the shooting we did, the HK seems to be as accurate as any rimfire rifle we regularly shoot. I am sure that with some time and effort, this rifle will outperform my abilities.
Reliability and Function
We fed this HK 22 rifle a variety of factory ammunition. We ran everything from factory fresh 40-grain lead ammo to more expensive 40-grain rimfire rounds. When firing the test rounds, we never experienced a failure to feed to extract. Failure to feed problems are common occurrences with other AR 15 style 22 caliber rifles.
My ultimate test is what I call the Loose Ammo Test. Many casual 22 shooters often dump mixed 22 rimfire rounds into a box or bag to take to the range. In addition to varying in weight and manufacture, often dirt and other debris are found mixed in with the collection of surplus ammo.
I loaded several magazines from my surplus ammo bag (a Crown Royal bag if it matters) to see if the rifle would feed this conglomeration of ammunition. I ran three magazines of this mix and never suffered a failure to feed.
Triggers on many 22-caliber rimfire rifles are a problem. The Hk416 rimfire rifle seemed to have a rather heavy trigger pull. We borrowed a trigger pull gauge and measured the trigger pull at almost 9 lbs. This seems heavy for a 22-caliber gun. If you are using an HK 416 as a training rifle for young shooters, this could be a small problem.
Looking at the factory specifications for the HK 416 LR gives a concise understanding of what you can expect to find in the box when you open your new rifle.
- Caliber – .22 LR rimfire
- Width – 2.6 inches
- Height – 10.8 inches
- Barrel Length – 16. 1 inch
- Weight – 5.7 pounds unloaded
- Magazines – 10/20/30 rounds. 20 rounds standard with a new rifle.
- Rear Sight – 1.3-inch aperture height, windage adjustable
- Front Sight – Single post with wings
- Safety – Standard 90-degree fire/safe lever on the off side of the receiver.
There are many accessories and aftermarket upgrades available for the HK 416 LR. This is a gun you can customize to suit your needs and desires.
What Can You Do With the HK 416 LR?
What can you do with this gun? Just about anything you desire. The possibilities are almost endless.
However, the following are among the most popular uses for this gun by shooting enthusiasts:
Most 22-caliber rimfire rifles are used for plinking. An afternoon with some spinning targets or at the range punching holes in paper is a great family outing. The HK 416 excels at this kind of pastime. Nothing beats a box of 22 LR shells, some targets, and a 22-caliber rifle.
I wouldn’t suggest that you start a first-time shooter with a semi-automatic HK 416 LR. It is better, in my opinion, to start from scratch with a bolt-action single-shot rifle so you can concentrate on the basics of safety, function, and technique. However, as an advanced training gun, the HK 416 is an excellent choice. It is reliable, functional, and can be easily fitted to almost any sized person.
Sub-Caliber Training Rifles
The HK 416 LR is such a close copy of the centerfire HK 416 that the 22-caliber version makes an excellent sub-caliber training rifle. The ability to train with much less expensive rimfire ammunition while maintaining the feel of a centerfire gun is a huge advantage. This avoided the cost of centerfire ammunition. Many shooting academies are adopting the use of sub-caliber training rifles in their curriculums.
Hunting and Varmint Control
Don’t be misled that the HK 416 LR is not an excellent hunting gun. When fitted with a quality scope or red dot sight, the HK 416 LR can be a remarkable hunting tool. This is an accurate 22-caliber gun that can serve you in the field as well as it does on the range. A suppressed HK 416 LR is a very effective tool for varmint control around the farm.
Many other shooters testify to the fact that the HK 416 22 is an extremely accurate gun. Accuracy testing has proven that for many people. When properly configured with upgraded sights or a good optic, this 22-caliber rifle can perform with rifles costing much more.
My Pluses and Minuses
There are many pluses about this rifle that I don’t think it is possible to catalog them all. However, these are some of the pluses and minuses that stand out to me:
PLUS – The Functionality and Dependability
Despite everything I tried, I could not get this rifle to malfunction. I experienced no failure to feed with the dirtiest mismatched ammunition I could gather. Having a gun that won’t function reliably is, in many ways, worse than having no gun at all. Having no gun is frustrating, but having a gun that won’t shoot correctly raises the frustration level even higher.
PLUS -The Accuracy
I admit that most of the guns I own will shoot much more accurately than I am capable of shooting. The HK 416 LR is no exception. I am convinced that when properly sighted in, with the right ammunition, and in the hands of a good shooter, this gun is as accurate as almost any off-the-shelf 22-caliber rifle.
PLUS – The Feel and Look
I like AR-style rifles. I think they are visually appealing. I also like shooting them and the way they feel as I carry them. For all practical purposes, the HK 416 LR is an AR chambered in .22 caliber. That gives this rifle a huge advantage over other platforms in my book.
MINUS – The Trigger
Almost everything else about this rifle gets a checkmark except the trigger and trigger pull. The trigger seems heavy to me. An adjustable trigger would be easily justified on this rifle. Maybe HK will take note and offer an upgraded trigger.
My Final Thoughts
Despite the fact that this is a HK, that isn’t really a HK, I like this rifle. I think it is an exceedingly good value for an AR platform chambered for the .22 LR cartridge. This gun excels as a sub-caliber trainer or as a casual afternoon plinker. I believe this is an excellent addition to any gun safe.