Machine Gun on a Budget
By Alan Clay

We all like to shoot our Class 3 weapons. As ammunition prices climb and availability becomes less we find our trips to the range become less frequent.

A .22 LR conversion for the M 11-9 submachine gun is now available that opens up a new world of full auto shooting enjoyment. The unit produced by Lage Manufacturing is quick and easy to install. Simply remove the 9mm bolt assembly from the upper unit, then slide the conversion unit ejector plate with attached barrel into the M 11-9 along with the .22 LR bolt. The .22 LR caliber barrel fits inside the existing 9mm barrel. Reattach the upper to the M 11-9 lower; insert a loaded Lage 40-round .22 LR magazine and you’re ready to rock and roll for about 75% less than the cost to run the 9mm.

The M-11/22 comes with a 5 inch barrel to fit the standard configuration. Testing was done with both the standard configuration and an M11 that has a side cock upper and a 10 inch barrel. Lage can provide longer barrels to fit your requirements for the M-11/22. Lage also makes a version to fit his MAX-11 Slow Fire Upper equipped with an 8.5 inch barrel.

The test gun had been converted to use Sten magazines and Lage has magazines adapted to fit both versions. The magazines are translucent polymer and easy to load with the included magazine loader. Care must be used to avoid letting the rim of a cartridge slip behind the rim of the round below it. Doing so will sometimes cause a misfeed. The bolt guide with ejector plate and barrel assembly has been designed to prevent any contact of the bolt with the polymer magazine. This should prevent wear and damage to the magazines.

The advertised rate of fire is 800 to 900 rounds per minute. The 5 inch barrel was slightly slower. The side cock with longer barrel running closer to 900 rpm. The semi-auto feature of the M11-9 will not function with this conversion; however 2 to 3 round bursts are easily controlled.

The M-11/22 is an excellent way to train someone in full auto fire. Several young teenagers were introduced to full auto with it and all found controllable 2 and 3 round bursts were easily achievable. Recoil is almost negligible and noise is far less than the 9mm. The longer barrel M11 with EOTech sights was of course much more accurate and capable of 3 inch groups at 25 yards. Tin cans are swept away like you have a broom. Blocks of wood in a pond are even more exciting. It’s almost impossible to be out shooting the M-11/22 without other shooters gathering to watch. The common comment is, “That’s cool. Where can I get one of those?”

With a suppressor mounted and subsonic ammunition, the noise level is mostly the clatter of the action. Lage cautions the .22 ammunition will quickly fill your suppressor with debris requiring frequent cleaning. Copper plated .22s are also recommended for cleaner firing even without the suppressor. The M-11/22 also comes with a magazine cleaning brush to remove the accumulation of bullet lubricant from the magazines. Cleaning every 400 to 500 rounds definitely improves magazine function.

With the longer 10 inch barrel and side cock, which removes the weight of the knob from the bolt, some brands of ammunition would rupture at the rim of the case as the bolt started rearward with pressure still present in the chamber. This would cause a jam, sometimes blowing the extractor from the bolt. Experimenting with several brands of ammunition and a stronger recoil spring eliminated this problem. The extractor is easy to replace, as it is the extractor, spring, and follower from a 10/22. It’s wise to keep several on hand.

For those of us that can’t afford the high price exotics, the lowly M11-9 offers a more affordable way to enjoy Class 3 shooting. It is reliable, easily upgraded to competitive performance, and now with the M-11/22 conversion even more fun and affordable to shoot.

Richard Lage has been developing this conversion for several years and it looks like he has a fun winner. Lage is well known for his MAX-11 Slow Fire Upper for the M 11-9 that turns this 9mm submachine gun into a highly competitive weapon.

Lage Manufacturing, LLC

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V14N8 (May 2011)
and was posted online on November 1, 2011


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