U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)- There are a ton of .22 LR AR pattern rifles out there of varying quality, what makes the Defiance DMK 22 stand apart from the competition? A pretty dang cool barrel nut design that allows the use of 10/22 barrels in an AR style rifle.
Why do you need a .22 LR AR pattern rifle? The answer is pretty simple, rimfire ammo is far cheaper than centerfire ammo allowing you to work on fundamental carbine skills more often.
Also because they are fun and everyone likes fun.
Features & First Impressions
When you pull the Defiance DMk 22 rifle out of the box the first thing that really struck me is how much this rifle felt like a centerfire caliber AR-15. One would be really hard pressed to tell the difference at first glance since the only cues that this is a .22 LR are the bolt, magazine and the muzzle device.
Some dimensions on the rifle are just a touch off from what you might be used to like the magwell. While this isn't anything that will hamper any functionality, it is something that I felt was important to mention.
Defiance has fitted their own stock and grip on the DMK 22 giving it a slightly nicer appearance than other .22 LR AR style rifles. The stock has a sling slot as well as QD mounts giving you options should you prefer a QD sling. I did find the grip to be far too thin for my tastes but I am sure that it would be ideal for a kiddo.
Once you pull the bolt out of the rifle it is very noticeable how similar it looks to other bolts found in other .22 rifles. When it comes down to it I guess there are only so many ways to make a .22 LR work in a standard AR upper.
If you buy the Defiance DMK 22 with the intention of converting it to a centerfire rifle I have some bad news, the hole that the buffer would normally reside in isn't present on the DMK 22 lower. I won't speculate why this was done beyond pointing out the fact that this was designed to be a .22 LR AR pattern rifle from the ground up and it does not need a buffer.
I know this isn't a hard use rifle, but I was mildly annoyed by the unstaked end plate. I am sure that the rifle will be totally fine with it unstaked but I will probably do it myself to satisfy my OCD.
In order to get the rifle ready for the range, I called up Primary Arms and got a 1-6 scope with the ACSS reticle shipped to me. The scope came with the mount and is probably my favorite .22 scope that I have used to date.
The Defiance DMK 22's Coolest Feature
If you happen to be at your local gun store, you might overlook the coolest thing about the Defiance DMK 22, the barrel nut. Am I crazy? Nope, this really is a cool as heck system that I wanted to dive into with more detail than the rest of the rifle.
Removing the handguard is pretty straightforward, all you need to do is remove the two screws on the bottom and the handguard slides right off.
The small block that resides at the top of the rail will fall off when you remove the rail, this is normal.
Defiance uses a barrel nut that is compatible with regular AR-15 uppers and barrels. The real magic is hiding under here but you are going to need a pretty large wrench to get the barrel nut free.
Now for the real magic! Defiance has designed a barrel extension stub that allows the use of 10/22 barrels in a standard AR-15 upper using a standard AR-15 barrel nut. It is held in place with two set screws that mate up with corresponding dimples in the barrel stub. The small flat piece in the middle fits into where the V block would normally go and draws the barrel into the receiver when the barrel nut is tightened.
I have been shooting the Defiance DMK 22 for nearly a year now and have found it to be pretty dang useful when working on skill building drills and transitions. When it comes down to it, you really don't need to be shooting centerfire ammo to work on the mechanics of going from a rifle to a pistol or shooting off a barricade or other surface.
Taking shots at small targets while using a surface like this Polaris Ranger bed is something I work on often. In the extremely rare case that I need to use a carbine for hunting or self-defense, the ability to land accurate hits off of a barricade could be critical.
The one thing that I find the DMK 22 to lack at is working on rifle reloads. The short 10 or 15-round magazines are hard to get a solid grip on when pulling them from a mag pouch. Sure I could use some full-size Black Dog magazines, but those will not lock the bolt to the rear when the mag is empty. I hope that Defiance offers a full-size mag sometime soon, that would make reload practice with the DMK 22 much more viable.
Is the rifle accurate? That depends on your definition of accurate. I found it accurate enough for my uses as a training tool and didn't bother shooting the rifle off a bench after I zeroed the Primary Arms 1-6 ACSS scope. I am sure that it is more than capable of nice groups at 25, 50, or even 100-yards, but personally, I would turn to something with a more traditional stock if that was my goal.
The flexibility that the DMK 22 gives you is something that you really should take note of. The fact that you can use any 10/22 barrel to configure the rifle as you like rather than be limited to the rather narrow selection of .22 LR AR barrels that most AR pattern .22s use is a huge benefit.
While my gripes with the rifle were really nitpicky, they are all very easy to address. While the handguard's proprietary mounting system annoys me it probably wouldn't be an issue for most buyers. If you are one of the few that found it annoying changing the handguard out is a snap unlike most other .22 LR ARs like the Smith & Wesson M&P-15 22. The fact that the Defiance mags are only offered in 10 and 15 round magazines isn't really that big of a deal either since you can just run any Atchison pattern magazine like the Black Dog mags or even the CMMG .22 LR mags.
Considering that this is an AR pattern rifle that uses an aluminum construction like a centerfire rifle and comes in at a street price of $550, a full $150 less than a competing CMMG model's street price, it might make sense to strongly consider the DMK 22 if you are in the market for a high-quality .22 LR AR pattern rifle.
About Patrick R.
Patrick is a firearms enthusiast that values the quest for not only the best possible gear setup but also pragmatic ways to improve his shooting skills across a wide range of disciplines. He values truthful, honest information above all else and had committed to cutting through marketing fluff to deliver the truth. You can find the rest of his work on FirearmRack.com as well as on the YouTube channel Firearm Rack or Instagram at @thepatrickroberts.