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,
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.
|Federal Bulk HP
|Winchester DynaPoint HP
|PMC Match Solid
|Wolf Match Solid
|CCI Mini-Mag HP
|CCI Mini-Mag Solid
|CCI Velocitor HP
|Remington Yellow Jacket
|American Eagle HP
|PMC Zapper HP
|Winchester XPert HP
|CCI Blazer Solid
|CCI Stinger HP
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.
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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
CCI Quiet-22 ammo.