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Second Thoughts

Second Thoughts

When the 522 appeared about two years ago it caused quite a stir. Created by SIG USA it was a rimfire companion that traded on the popularity of the SIG 500 series of 223 assault rifles. It was probably the gun that really started the whole, 22 LR military look-a-like thing in the UK. I tested one for the mag, liked it and bought one.

A Little Lacking

The European build was a pleasant change from the AR15 and apart from its good reliability (400-rounds between cleanings) and acceptable accuracy, from the box it was a little lacking. The US model came with iron sights and a cheap copy of the AimPoint Micro red dot. By the time it finally hit the UK you got the rifle, x1 25-round Black Dog magazine and a butt extension pad only. It was also noticeably more expensive than other guns in this area!

The build includes a side-folding (RH) telescopic stock and a reasonably shaped and proportioned pistol grip. The alloy receiver shows an integral Picatinny rail and up front on the dummy gas block/end cap is a transverse dovetail for the front sight. The forend is long, deep, ribbed and tapered. The 16” barrel is standard weight and topped off by an AR15-type flash hider threaded 1/2x28 UNEF.
Cocking is by a large, reciprocating handle on the right of the action. Both the magazine release and safety are ambidextrous, also included is a manual bolt hold open on the left. Ersatz automatic bolt hold open is provided by the mag follower blocking the bolt after the last round.

First Impressions

Regular shooting showed up some small problems; most noticeable was the butt, as fitting the extension piece is near mandatory unless you are a dwarf and even then the LOP is a tad short. Also the telescopic section is quite loose, which for me did little for gun mount and handling. There is a clip-on cheekpiece that solves this to a degree. The trigger was pretty good for what is a military-style and I could live with it. The left hand safety lever is a bit short and hard to get on to with your thumb in the firing grip. I found it easier to use the RH paddle instead. The manual hold open is a useful feature too, as it also acts as a bolt release for the initial load.

Stripping is like an AR15 – press out the rear body pin, hinge open the action and remove the cocking handle and bolt. Pushing out the front pin allows you to split the upper and lower receivers and cleaning is easy as you can access all areas. Like all hi-cap rimfire semis that are shot hard, the 522 needs a de-gunge after 400-rounds. However, all-round it proved to be a handy and lightweight rifle, but there is always room for improvement!

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Room For Improvement

The main change I wanted to make was to the sloppy butt. This was solved by fitting a Double Diamond stock adaptor. This replaces the SIG design with a solid alloy block that takes a CAR15 buffer tube, so you can fit any AR butt. I chose a SOCOM-style from the HK 416D, which offers a convex pad that sits in the shoulder pocket, is wide and offers good head support. It does add a bit of weight, which balances the slightly nose-heavy feel of the gun.

I could not get any iron sights so turned to Samson in the USA who make a fold-down set for the 522. These are windage/elevation adjustable with a rear, L-flip double aperture. Fitting them brought up another short coming - the fact that the gas block/forend cap was not vertical from factory. This affected zero so much so that the gun shot to the right even with maximum windage adjustment.
This was solved by realigning the barrel as it’s secured by a screw collar and there is a bit of room for radial movement before it’s re-locked without affecting feed or ejection. I fitted the 3-rail Picatinny set on the forend, these just screw on and allow for torch mounting etc. However, I only use the 6 o’clock rail for a forward grip.

Other Stuff

I tried the heavy, 20” varmint barrel, which is marginally more accurate but adds weight and length. Likewise the Samson, 4-way forend, which due to the nature of the guns forend cap does not offer a free-float ability and again increases weight and bulk too much.

My original intention was to use the SIG for fun and rabbiting, so picked a 1-4x24 Leapers tactical scope with a semi-QD base. These days it’s range-only, so have substituted the Leapers for short range work with a Leupold Prismatic 1x14 mini scope with QD mount. However, the 1-4 with its Mil-Dot reticule and dialable turrets is good for 100-yards too. Final items include Uncle Mike’s tactical sling and 5 x 25 and 2 x 10-round Black Dog magazines. I tried their 50-round drum but could not find a real use for it!

Research shows the SIG522 has not been as popular in the UK as the generic AR15 rimfire-types, proving to me we are a nation of M16 fanciers! Plus the price has risen to around £800, which does make it more expensive than most in this area. I like mine very much and shoot it a lot for a bit of cheap practice after I have been testing the fullbores. Like all of its kind, the fun factor is high and keeps my eye in with iron sights and unsupported work too…

Contacts:
SIG522 – Garlands Ltd, 01827 383300
Double Diamond stock adaptor and Fab Defence fore grip, North West Custom Parts, 0161 408 1155
SIG cheekpieces – Suffolk Rifle Co, 01473 730035
Magpul AFG – Edgar Brothers Ltd, 01625 613177
Leupold Prismatic scope – GMK Ltd, 01489 579 999
Leapers 1-4X24 30mm Long Eye Relief CQB Scope - DGS International, 01527 853245
Uncle Mikes tactical sling – Viking Arms Ltd, 01423 780810
Samson sights and rails, www.samson-mfg.com

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