There is no denying that Steel Challenge is growing, two of the most popular divisions are Rimfire Rifle and Pistol Caliber Carbine (PCC). A rifle allows for three points of contact, making it easier to control during firing—especially a rimfire.
Steel shooting with rimfire rifles has always been dominated by 10/22 variants. Most of these are inexpensive, accurate, and there is an entire industry of aftermarket parts to make them into race-competition rifles. Pistol Caliber Carbines built on the AR platform have exploded in competition circles these last couple of years, including Steel Challenge. It only makes sense that having the same platform in your Rimfire Rifle as your PCC will make the transition back and forth during a match easier. Tippmann Arms has brought that model to market now for competitive shooters and plinkers to use, an affordable AR platform .22 LR that accepts most AR platform aftermarket parts for customization.
Tippmann Arms has an interesting history, one most commonly associated with their airsoft, paintball products and military simulation kits. Actually, they got their start manufacturing half-scale replica machine guns. These are highly sought after on the collectible market after the company stopped production and formed Tippmann Pneumatics Incorporated. They became the industry leader in paintball gear, having been accredited with the development of several technologies in this field. Tippmann was acquired by different private equity firms and companies, but in 2017 Dennis Tippmann Jr. bought back the name Tippmann Arms from Tippmann Sports. Tippmann Jr. had served as the president and CEO of Tippmann Sports until 2013, and was very excited to have the company that his father started in 1983 back under family ownership.
Subsequently, they got back to building .22 LR rifles, this time with the release of the M4-22, a premium rimfire model with aluminum upper and receivers. The model that we reviewed is the competition-ready version, but they also have pistol models, a Classic and Tactical as well as a Pro model. Starting at under $600, there are several models to pick from and to upgrade as to how you would want it for Steel Challenge.
I was able to grab a decked-out model from Brian Conley that he had at the Hunters HD Gold Tent to shoot in the Area 5 Steel Challenge. This particular Tippmann was painted by Armory Guns and Ammo in Pelham, AL, and all the cool kids told me it was an “Iron Man” theme. I get it—Steel Challenge, Iron Man—it wasn’t lost on me. I shot all eight stages during the A5 Steel Challenge Championship running the new CCI Clean-22 red high-velocity ammo. The only malfunction that I experienced with either model was during the match was a failure to feed. Between the Tippmann Metal Madness model for test and the Hunters HD Gold, there have been well over 2,000 rounds fired with a variety of ammo.
If you are looking for a value-packed true AR-style rimfire rifle, check out the offerings from Tippmann Arms.