Magnum Research MLR22AT Lightweight 22LR Semi-Automatic Tack-Driver with Ambidextrous Thumbhole Stock

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

August 11th, 2012

 

 

Click pictures for a larger version.

 

 

 

 

Stainless/graphite bull barrel.

 

 

Lightweight Polymer ambidextrous thumbhole stock.

 

 

 

 

Oversized charging handle (top), bolt hold-open latch (center), crossbolt safety (bottom).

 

 

 

 

The 22 semi-automatic rifle is one of the mainstays of shooters all over our nation, and also in many other parts of the world. The little 22 Long Rifle cartridge performs way out of proportion to its diminutive size, and will do probably ninety-five percent of what I need a rifle to do, and it will do so with minimal noise, recoil, and cost. The twenty-two provides countless hours of inexpensive practice for millions of shooters, and a good twenty-two rifle is something that every shooter should have in his battery.

The choices for quality twenty-two rimfire rifles are many, from very affordable rifles off the rack at major chain stores, to exotic custom rifles built especially for a specific shooter. Many shooters build their own, using readily-available components from aftermarket suppliers. I recently wrote a piece on this topic of building up a custom twenty-two rifle. Most who choose to build their own start with a Ruger 10/22, and replace almost everything on the rifle. That is a good way to go, but can end up costing quite a bit of money, which leads us to the topic of this review; the Magnum Research Magnum Lite 22 semi-automatic thumbhole stock rifle, model MLR22AT.

Magnum Research has been building 22 semi-auto rifles for several years, based upon the 10/22 design. The MR rifles use their own receivers, stocks, barrels, bolts, and other parts, while retaining the basic Ruger design, and using Ruger magazines and trigger groups.

The Magnum Lite receiver is machined from an aluminum forging, and wears an integral scope rail, to solidly mount an optical sight. The seventeen inch barrel of the Magnum Lite is a combination of stainless steel and rigid graphite, resulting in a very light-weight, but stiff bull barrel with a diameter of .920 inch. The bolt is machined steel, and held to tight tolerances, according to Magnum Research specifications.

The stock of this new MLR22AT rifle is an ambidextrous thumbhole design built of a lightweight polymer. The design is set up just right for the comfortable use of a scope sight, and the ambidextrous design works extremely well for both right-handed and left-handed shooters. The front end of the stock looks odd, reminding me of an alligator gar or other such river fish, but it is very comfortable to use, and provides a secure hold to the rifle for accurate shooting.

The MLR22AT weighs in at only around 4.25 pounds. Set up with the compact Leupold VX-III 1.5 to 5 power variable scope in Leupold Rifleman rings, the package weighs in at exactly five pounds on my scale. The lightweight little rifle is ideal for the shooter who wants a high-quality custom, without the logistics, time, and expense of building one. It is ready-to-go as a competitive rifle right out of the box, and only needs the addition of sling studs to make the rifle into a superb hunting rifle for small game and vermin. With its light weight, overall length of only 35.25 inches, excellent stock design, and superb accuracy, this little jewel would reign supreme as a squirrel rifle.

I tested the MLR22AT rifle with several brands of 22 Long Rifle ammunition for velocity and function. The results with each brand and type of ammunition are listed in the chart below. HP is a lead hollowpoint bullet. Solid is a lead roundnose bullet. Velocity readings were taken at an elevation of 541 feet above sea level, with an air temperature of 83 degrees Fahrenheit, with humidity in the eighty-five percent range. Velocities are listed in feet-per-second (FPS), and were recorded ten feet from the muzzle of the rifle. Bullet weights are listed in grains.

Ammunition Bullet Weight Velocity
Federal Bulk HP 36 1259
Winchester DynaPoint HP 40 1177
PMC Match Solid 40 1060
Wolf Match Solid 40 1038
CCI Mini-Mag HP 36 1257
CCI Mini-Mag Solid 40 1231
CCI Velocitor HP 40 1389
Remington Yellow Jacket HP 33 1411
Remington Hi-Speed Solid 40 1244
American Eagle HP 36 1162
PMC Zapper HP 38 1247
Olin Solid 40 1032
Winchester XPert HP 36 1185
Hansen Solid 40 1102
CCI Blazer Solid 40 1236
CCI Stinger HP 32 1529
CCI Quiet-22 40 685

Velocities were as expected, with no surprises, registering slightly higher than most 16 inch barrels, with the extra inch of barrel adding slightly to the velocities. The new CCI Quiet 22 ammo is pretty unique. It uses a heavier bullet than does the CCI CB Long. The extra bullet weight hits harder, but at only a nominal 685 feet-per-second, it is relatively quiet, compared to standard velocity ammo. It was also the most accurate ammunition tested in this rifle, which was a real surprise to me.

Accuracy was superb with every type of ammo that I tested for accuracy. Accuracy testing was done from a solid bench using the Target Shooting, Inc. Model 500 rifle rest. The trigger pull measured just under five pounds, but was very smooth, felt much lighter, and aided in the resulting fine accuracy of the rifle. I did not use a dedicated target scope, but instead used the compact Leupold VX-III 1.5 to 5 scope mentioned above. The optical clarity of this scope is excellent, and with the solid rest, this Magnum Research rifle performed like a match-grade target rifle. The rifle has a tighter match chamber, and I was concerned at first that it might cause some functioning problems. Magnum Research warns to use only quality ammunition, but this rifle performed flawlessly, even using the inexpensive bulk ammunition. The only ammunition that failed to cycle the action was the CCI Quiet 22 ammo, as expected. It fed perfectly from the magazine, but lacked the power to cycle the bolt. However, that CCI Quiet 22 ammunition consistently grouped five rounds into one-half inch or less at fifty yards. This ammo would be an excellent choice for quietly dispatching pests, when stealth is of importance. Shown in the pictures are the smallest and also the largest groups fired from the ammo tested, with the largest still being well under an inch at fifty yards. Again, superb accuracy from a lightweight semi-automatic 22 rifle.

The Magnum Lite rifle comes with one Ruger ten-shot magazine, but it functioned perfectly with a Ruger BX-25 magazine as well. The Magnum Lite rifle is a great-handling, reliable, and very accurate semi-automatic rimfire that is a delight to carry and to shoot. It exhibits excellent craftsmanship, and gives the owner the look, feel, and accuracy of a custom rifle, at a much lower price than I expected. This Magnum Lite rifle has an MSRP, as of the date of this writing, of only $562 US, which is lower than the other rimfire semi-auto rifles in their catalog. The MLR22AT is in stock at distributors now, so if your local dealer doesn’t have one, he can get it quickly. The Magnum Research Magnum Lite rifle is built right, and built in the USA.

Check out the extensive line of Magnum Research firearms and accessories at www.magnumresearch.com.

For the location of a Magnum Research dealer near you, click on the DEALER FINDER at www.lipseys.com.

To order the Magnum Lite rifle online, go to www.galleryofguns.com.

To order quality rimfire ammunition online, go to www.luckygunner.com.

For a look at the extensive line of quality Leupold optics, go to www.leupold.com.

Jeff Quinn

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Click pictures for a larger version.

 

 

 

 


MLR22AT uses any Ruger 10/22 magazine.

 

 


Integral scope rail.

 

 


Leupold compact VX-III scope.

 

 

Target Shooting, Inc. Model 500 rifle rest.

 

 


CCI Quiet-22 ammo.