The .22 Thruster from Carlson Comps is a muzzle device that is purposely created to enhance the function of .22LR conversions for the AR-15. It has become very popular to use a .22LR conversion unit for an AR-15 in order to keep the cost of practice down. A shooter could shoot several hundred rounds of .22LR ammo for a fraction of the cost of what the same number of 5.56 ammo would cost. It is an inexpensive, practical, and effective way to train.
.22 Long Rifle ammunition is inexpensive for a reason. It is often not made with the highest standards of quality and consistency. Different brands of .22LR often perform drastically different. In fact, the same brand can often vary quite a bit in performance between manufacturing lots. The bottom line is that the wide variety of tolerances and inconsistency of .22LR ammo can make designing a .22LR conversion unit that functions across a wide variety of ammo very challenging.
Fit and Finish
Muzzle devices are utilitarian objects that should be all function with little regard for form but that doesn’t mean they can’t be well made. The .22 Thruster is nicely machined and nicely finished. The black finish has a slightly glossy finish that seems to hold up well to normal handling. Most of the .22 Thruster is covered with very finely cut checkering that provides enough grip to allows it to be installed and removed quickly without tools. The quality is obvious.
The .22 Thruster can help a .22 conversion cycle a wider variety of ammo. It does this by serving as an expansion chamber which creates more back pressure. The extra back pressure helps cycle the bolt.
The .22 Thruster has a similar effect to that of a sound suppressor, not in that it suppresses sound, but that it increases back pressure much like a sound suppressor does. To be clear, it does not decrease the sound signature but it does increase back pressure. This extra back pressure can be the difference between a round fully cycling the bolt and short stroking. It can be just enough extra pressure to cycle a round that may be just a bit underpowered or a particular round that your .22 conversion may choke on periodically.
Greg, owner of Carlson Comps, is quick to point out that this is not a cure all for malfunctioning .22 conversions. It can’t be a cure all due to the inconsistency of .22LR ammo. However, it may be just enough to reduce some or all of the malfunctions for certain types of ammo.
The .22 Thruster installs like any other muzzle device. It can be threaded directly onto the barrel. It can also be tuned through the use of peel washers. The user can adjust the size of the expansion chamber by stacking peel washers on the barrel before installing the .22 Thruster. This allows the user to tune the device to their particular weapon or a particular brand of ammo.
It does not need to timed or aligned any specific way. There are three small holes on the device that serve no purpose other than to make sure that the device is never confused for a sound suppressor. These holes can be oriented in any direction.
I set out testing the .22 Thruster with a grand plan in mind. I was going to put hundreds of rounds through a .22 conversion, logging each malfunction along the way. I hoped to have a large data set from which to draw conclusions about the muzzle device. Greg warned me that my plan might be a bit grand due to how unpredictable .22LR can be. He was right.
A friend and I put hundreds of round through his dedicated .22 upper only to find that we couldn’t find an ammo that would malfunction consistently. I needed malfunctions to determine whether the device was working and I couldn’t deliver them.
I have not given up and will continue to test the .22 Thruster. I have plans to try a few drop-in conversions that I am hoping will be less reliable. I will write an update with my findings when that time comes.
The concept is simple and solid. Expansion chambers work. Like Greg says, this is not a cure all, but it can certainly help.
The bottom line is that most people who are using .22 conversions are also using muzzle devices that are designed for the 5.56 that offer no benefits to their .22 conversion. The .22 Thruster is designed specifically to increase the function of .22LR conversions and it does that based on a solid concept.
Carlson Comps offers the .22 Thruster and several other muzzle devices on CarlsonCompsInc.com.