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Old 01-13-2018, 01:38 AM

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Spikes Tactical Dedicated .22 LR AR15 Upper Lessons Learned

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I originally posted the following information in response to a question on SOCNET years ago. I was working with a Spikes Tactical dedicated .22 upper, and the Spikes Tactical staff provided me with pointers that may help improve the weapons reliability. Some of these pointers may apply to other .22 AR15 and some .22 AR15 conversion kits. Specific product information contained in this revised post was true at the time of original publication but may have changed. I own a Spikes Tactical upper but have no other association with Spikes Tactical. It does not appear that Spikes is currently producing the ST22, but Spikes Tactical .22s (as well as those produced by other companies) are still available. I am providing this revised post in an attempt to preserve this information for the .22 and AR15 communities.

I have had exceptionally good luck with my Spikes Tactical .22 dedicated upper on a milspec AR15 semi-auto lower. Initially, I had to do a significant amount of troubleshooting to overcome fail-to-feed malfunctions, fail-to-extract malfunctions, brass flip-up malfunctions, and mushrooming of the bolt mechanical damage. Here are a few of the questions that came up and answers that contributed to higher reliability rates.

1. What can I do to prevent my AR15 hammer from mushrooming the bolt and/or how can I get the bolt to cycle more reliably? The Spikes team suggested using a high-speed hammer from J&P instead of the heavier factory AR15 hammer. I did this retrofit and it made a huge difference. Also, it appeared that the stock hammer may have been mushrooming the metal at the rear of the bolt. The hammer replacement was a critical upgrade. I haven't had any issues shooting standard 5.56 and .223 ammo with the lighter hammer when I swap to a 5.56 upper.

2. Can someone tune my rifle (cut the spring) to improve the cycling? If you own a Spikes Tactical product, you can send the upper and lower to Spikes they will tune the rifle (at the time of the original writing). I did this (and they installed the high-speed hammer at the same time) and reduced rifle induced malfunctions to nearly zero. I still get a 1-2% failure rate due to bad ammo, but this can be expected with .22 rimfire when fired through a .22 upper. Spikes Tactical tuned the weapon to run exceptionally well with Walmart Federal Bulk pack ammo. I have also used CCI Mini-Mag and Gemtech Silencer Subsonic with very good results. You can tune the spring by yourself by removing the spring, snipping a quarter of a turn and test firing to determine reliability, and repeating the procedure until kinetic energy from the round is balanced by the weight of the bolt and the resistance of the spring.

3. What brand of magazines are reliable? I would recommend the Black Dog polymer mags with the removable feed lips. I tried the billeted aluminum Black Dog mags and they were solid but I damaged the feed lips doing tac reloads.

4. How should I clean and lubricate the .22 bolt assembly? Clean with the bolt with CLP and spray it with brake cleaner. Wipe down the inside of the upper. Clean the barrel with CLP but don't scrub the barrel frequently. Wipe the bolt and inside of the upper down with denatured alcohol after cleaning, if you have any residue from the brake cleaner or CLP. Run the bolt dry. I sold my M261 kits due to reliability issues. This procedure may have solved many of my reliability issues. When I had malfunctions I was increasing lubrication, which seemed to make it worse, so I got rid of them.

5. How can I prevent jams caused by brass “flip ups” inside the upper? Purchase a plastic anti-jam charging handle from CMMG (the unit with the groove completely filled in--not the unit with the slot at the very end). This prevents rounds from flipping up and jamming the weapon. I tried taking an existing charging handle and filling it with epoxy, and it worked until the epoxy cracked.

6. Should I consider buying a used Spikes Tactical .22 Upper? I purchased a dedicated upper second hand and benefited from exception customer service from Spikes Tactical. I would recommend buying either a new or used Spikes Tactical upper. Spikes Tactical no longer makes conversion kits, but they do continue to support any existing kits (at the time of the original writing).

7. What are the Spikes Tactical barrel options? Spikes has Green Mountain barrels and Walther barrels. The Walther barrels have a reputation of being more accurate. The Spikes team can tell the difference between the two barrels but I do not know the indicators. (This was accurate at the time of the original writing).
I have had the Spikes .22 upper for about a year and I had problems before it was tuned and the hammer was swapped, but now I've fired thousands of rounds through it without any serious problems. This is the only .22 upper I've owned, although I ran an M261 conversion kit for about 5 years prior to my purchase. I cannot do a comparison to the .22 AR15s on the market because I was so happy with this kit I've never considered purchasing one. I've been told that the Spike's upper is the best out there and I have had great luck, but it was expensive. Please feel free to add any additional lessons learned or counter-points based on your experience.
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Old 01-13-2018, 07:53 AM
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In the interests of not being banned, I will refrain from saying how I really feel about anything Spikes.

Instead I will note that they are the last people I would ever buy anything from.

Carry on.
"We have met the enemy, and he is us." - Pogo

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