Firearm History

Review: Heckler & Koch HK416 .22 Pistol — The Tactical Plinker

HK416 .22 LR pistol with a box of CCI ammunition

The HK416 .22 LR is a Heckler & Koch firearm with the look and feel of the HK416 used by many of the world’s most elite fighting forces — including Seal Team VI. In fact, Seal Team VI members were carrying HK416s when they killed Osama Bin Laden.

HK partnered with Umarex to design and build a .22 version of the HK416 that is realistic in size and feel. It is made with the same quality standards that H&K is known for. Although the inner workings are obviously different, the externals of the .22 LR version are true to its big brother.

HK416 .22 LR pistol, left profile
Controls, except for the slide lock, mimic those on the .556 HK416.

The HK416 .22 has an aluminum receiver — no plastic like so many other .22 lookalikes. It is equipped with the same M-LOK rail interface system that’s on the HK416 5.56 model. There’s a 90-degree manual safety, functional dust cover, threaded muzzle, and it’s compatible with most AR-style arm braces. The barrel is 8.5 inches long, and the total weight with a magazine is about 6 pounds.

The trigger pull is 7 pounds with less than .25-inch take-up and a crisp break. The sights are flip-up with the rear one being fully adjustable. They flip down (out of the way) should you want to mount an optic on the top rail. There is also the HK AR pistol grip that a lot of guys like to install on their ARs because of its angle, texture, and the built-in storage compartment.

There was a little tool packet with the gun. In it was a wrench for removing the flash hider. Off it went. In its place, I screwed on a Tactical Innovations suppressor. Now my grandkids and I had a tactical-looking machine pistol. Although it is a .22 LR and isn’t fully automatic, our imaginations make up the difference for fun afternoons at the range.

 Shooting Fun for All Ages

When shooting a semi-automatic .22 for the first time, I choose my ammunition carefully. You can’t go wrong with CCI, so long as you choose some of its high-velocity rounds. I chose a box marked “Suppressor” along with some Mini-Mags, Stingers, and the new CCI clean rounds with the polymer coating. There is a bolt-speed adjustment screw that can be used to compensate between standard and high-velocity ammunition. In all my shooting, which must be more than 1,000 rounds by now, I’ve never had to make an adjustment.

The first crew to shoot with me included my middle son, his youngest son, and my grandson’s best friend. While they were getting guns laid out on the bench, I loaded the magazine for the HK416 with .22 Suppressor rounds. I handed the magazine to my son and waited for him to start shooting. I wondered if something was wrong because he seemed to be hesitating.

HK416 .22 LR pistol with a red dot sight mounted and a supressor
A red dot sight makes the .22 HK416 seem even more like a real combat weapon for training or fun.

Then, I noticed there were holes in the target. Sitting right behind him with hearing protection on, I was not hearing that gun go off due to the suppressor. It was just like in the movies… Phhht! Phhht! Now that was fun. Unfortunately, we only had one box of those rounds.

CCI Stingers are notoriously loud for a .22, but even they were pretty quiet through the HK416 with the suppressor. We had to adjust the sights a little, which was very easy with the twist knob on the sight. Our shots were going to the left before I made a quick adjustment.

Shooting first at 7 and then at 15 yards, none of us had any trouble putting our shots within a reasonable group. There was no shortage of smiles on faces, including mine. Maybe playing army could be just as much fun as playing cowboy.

HK416 .22 LR pistol with a Bushnell red dot sight mounted and a box of Federal Champion .22 LR ammunition
With a Bushnell Red Dot sight installed, it was easier to put rounds on target. However, the HK416 was accurate regardless.

Cleaning the gun was simple. It has the standard AR pins for removing the upper from the lower, but that’s as far as the similarity goes. First off, the bolt lock on the side of the receiver is a dummy, and just there for looks. The only way to lock the bolt back is to insert an empty magazine and pull the charging handle back. You can then remove the magazine, and the bolt will stay back. By the way, the gun will shoot with the magazine removed. To put the gun into battery, pull the charging handle back and let it go.

The cleaning procedures (as described in the manual) require removing just the rear pin and pivoting the upper forward. This provides access to the barrel, which can be cleaned from the breech end using a rod or pull cord that allows a brush to be attached after inserting it in the barrel. The bolt is not removed for cleaning. In fact, I’m still trying to figure out how to get it out.

After cleaning the barrel, spray the bolt area with a good gun cleaner, brush away any dirt or grime, apply two drops of oil on the main spring, one drop of oil on the extractor, and you’re ready to pop the upper down. Then, reinstall the rear pin and you’re done. I like to cycle the bolt a few times to spread what little oil is in the receiver area.

HK416 .22 LR pistol with the rear takedown bolt removed
Standard AR takedown bolts are there for cleaning, but the process is much simpler than that of the 5.56 version.

A Very Realistic “Little Brother”

I began reading everything I could on the HK416 5.56 version to understand its history. Noted firearms trainer and former Delta Force operator Larry Vickers happened to be at HK headquarters working on another project when he saw blueprints for the HK416 in the president’s office. He was able to get in on the project in its early days. I watched a video explanation he did on the differences in the short gas-stroke piston of the HK416 versus the gas operating system of the M4.

The HK416 runs cooler and cleaner, making it a favorite with military and law enforcement units around the world. Of course, this .22 version is not the same gun. However, it does make the same size holes in paper and handles the same. That makes it a good, inexpensive option for training tactical types — as well as a ton of fun for those of us who don’t clear houses and bust bad guys for a living.

I dug around and found a Bushnell Trophy Red Dot sight, which I installed on my gun. I did have to remove the existing sights to make this change, but that was no problem. I simply loosened a screw on each and slid them off the back of the rail.

HK Parts supplies a pistol brace adapter for this gun, and I found a stabilizing brace at Cheaper Than Dirt. There is also a 30-round magazine available. With the CCI suppressor ammo loaded in the HK416, my crew is ready to ping steel plates, pop Tannerite targets, and just have fun in general — with safety always the number one priority.

HK416 .22 LR Specifications

Action: Semi-automatic
Barrel Length: 16.1inches
Caliber: .22 LR
Capacity: 10 rounds
Frame Finish: Black
Stock: Collapsible

A .22 For Home Defense?

I’ve been watching the introduction of new .22 guns, especially ones that are models of higher caliber firearms, and thinking not only about their use for training, but for defense. For years, I’ve heard stories about how hitmen preferred .22s. I’ve found documentation about the OSS using suppressed High Standard and Colt Woodsman pistols in .22 caliber for close-up elimination of enemies of state.

Thumb tabs on the 20-round magazine for the HK416 .22 LR
Thumb tabs on the 20-round magazine make it easy to load.

There’s no doubt a .22 with effective shot placement could be an effective defensive round. Of course, we all want bigger calibers because we aren’t all that good with a gun, are we? Up through my 50s, I was a .45 ACP man. In my 60s, I was still talking .45 ACP but shooting more 9mm. Now that I’m in my 70s, for some reason I’m shooting a lot of .22s, though still carrying a 9mm.

Will I ever carry a .22 for self-defense? I don’t think so, but I’m not making any promises. I do know that for home defense, the HK416 with .22 High-Velocity Hollow Points loaded would do the job. Knowing that gives me a reason to practice with it. Never mind that practicing with it is more fun than I could have imagined.

The HK416 is priced reasonably and uses cheap ammo. It might make a good addition to your .22 caliber gun arsenal; it sure did to mine. With a MSRP of $449, you’ll find it under $400.

What piques your interest in the HK416 .22 LR the most — plinking, militaria collecting, tactical training or something else? Share your answer in the Comment section.

  • HK416 .22 LR pistol with a box of CCI ammunition
  • HK416 .22 LR pistol, right profile, with a accessory tools
  • Faux flash hider on a gun barrel
  • HK416 .22 LR pistol grip with storage compartment
  • HK416 .22 LR pistol with a Bushnell red dot sight mounted and a box of Federal Champion .22 LR ammunition
  • Flip up front sight on a rifle
  • HK416 .22 LR pistol with the rear takedown bolt removed
  • David Freeman wearing a Vietnam Veteran hat shooting the HK416 pistol
  • HK416 .22 LR pistol with a red dot sight mounted and a supressor
  • HK416 .22 LR pistol, left profile
  • Thumb tabs on the 20-round magazine for the HK416 .22 LR

About the Author:

David Freeman

David is an NRA Instructor in pistol, rifle and shotgun, a Chief Range Safety Officer and is certified by the State of Texas to teach the Texas License to Carry Course and the Hunter Education Course. He has also owned and operated a gun store. David's passion is to pass along knowledge and information to help shooters of all ages and experience levels enjoy shooting sports and have the confidence to protect their homes and persons. He flew medevac helicopters in Vietnam and worked for many years as a corporate pilot before becoming actively involved in the firearm industry.
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (4)

  1. I have enjoyed this rifle for several years now and must say it’s a great value. It’s the most fun plinking rifle I have ever owned. The best part is that I can afford to shoot a bunch without going broke in the process.

  2. Nice article. I have a couple of .22LR weapons. A Ruger Wrangler and a CMMG .22LR conversion. It is dedicated to it’s own lower. I also have ARs in several calibers. My pistols are Glocks, G21. G30 and G36. All chambered in a proper defensive round. The century old .45 A.C.P. I have a ccw and carry the G30. Learned to shoot in 1952 at twelve years old, when California was gun country. Not the limp wrist panty wastes in charge now! My theory is: If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. The .45 ain’t broke! By the way I am 83 years old an still shoot fist sized groups at 5, 7.And 15 yards.

  3. When I hear about using a .22cal. for self defense I’m reminded of the comedian Bill Burr’s response to the audience’s groans, when he said that was his choice. He asked “Which one of you guys wouldn’t start backing up when I start firing my .22 at you?” He also added “And I’ll still be able to hear after I’m done firing.” Funny routine!

  4. A 7 pound trigger on a .22 ? , and $450 ? , Way overpriced when a 10/22 is about 130-200. Add a fun stock for $40.

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