Magnum Research MLR22AT 10/22 Review
Major Pandemic 05.24.14
As I said in my Ultimate 10/22 Shootout, “…and then the Magnum Research rifle shows up at about half the price of any of the rifles here. Kinda like the guy in the tweaked Nisson 300Z who can keep up and occasionally beat the guys in $1 Million sports cars.”
For the price, the Magnum Research MLR22AT is one hell of a head turner. As my buddy finished off a couple hundred rounds of bulk ammo without a failure and then drilled a set of single hole 50-yards groups with CCI Standard Velocity ammo, he turned to me and asked, “Why would I buy anything else?”
If you have watched any action movie in the last decade, you know Magnum Research. Their giant semi-auto Desert Eagle pistol in powerful .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum, and .50 calibers are often nickel or gold plated and are the kick-butt feature firearm of more than a few action heroes and villains. What you may not know about Magnum Research is that they have an unnoted goal of producing unbelievably accurate firearms. This accuracy goal is nothing new–I owned a .22LR Mountain Eagle pistol and it was amazingly accurate; I’m kinda sick about selling it. Today, Magnum Research’s proprietary graphite barrels have become known as tack drivers from this 10/22 line to their new Blueprinted 700 bolt action rifles.
Magnum Research is also famous for their strategic industry relationships focused on making good production products better than ever. Recently, a relationship with Walther to produce their MR9 pistol has made a Walther influenced design even better than the original design. Their Remington 700 blueprinted action centerfire rifles have transformed a standard 700 into an ultralight, stunningly accurate big game rifle. In a similar vein, Magnum Research has transformed the stock Ruger 10/22 into a price leading custom rifle for just $562 MSRP, which should scare the heck out of competitors.
The Magnum Research MLR22AT Build Specs
The Stock MLR22AT is only $562. My build included a stock Magnum Research MLR22AT, which comes with CNC billet upper receiver, billet machined match bolt, custom charging handle, lightweight stock, and proprietary graphite match barrel with Benz target chamber. I added Bushnell Banner 3.5-10x36MM Rimfire Scope to complete the build. The total build as equipped was only $655 with the optic. This is about half the price of the other top-end 10/22 builds I tested.
Fit, Finish, Feel, and Features
Honestly I was pretty blown away at the capabilities of this rifle considering its price and weight. Actually the rifle is stupid crazy lightweight. That crazy light 16″ graphite barrel is amazing. It runs super cool and maintains accuracy even after lots of sustained fire. This is one barrel and bolt combo I would use again and again on any build. It is also by far the lightest of any 10/22 rifle made at an insanely light 4.5lbs, and the Banner scope I used only adds another 15 oz.
If you want to keep the weight super low, consider a Bushnell TRS-25 Red Dot sight for around the same price as the Banner scope, which will deliver around a 4.7lb rifle.
Showy, the MLR22AT is not, but it is subtly cool all dressed up in black. The billet machined receiver is every bit as nice as any of the other custom receivers I have tested and contributes overall to a very well made rifle, but the other components do not have the same custom finish and touches of the other custom rifles and components I have tested.
The trigger is a stock Ruger 10/22 unit, which means it is far from a premium match trigger, but the “new version” Ruger 10/22 stock trigger is not bad. The fact that the stock MLR22AT could be even better by dropping in a match trigger gets me a bit excited. But as is, this rig can still get you into the .1xx’s. The stock trigger assembly comes with the flat circa 2000 magazine release, but a $3 extended Ruger replacement part can solve that issue.
A couple sling studs would have been appreciated, but they are easy enough to drill for and attach yourself. In reality, the only potential show stopper is that that the barrel is not threaded and suppressor ready. The bolt is not showy but is an in house precision billet machined part which has all the extra tuning features such as pinned firing pin and correctly dimensioned face.
The Banner 3.5-10x36mm scope is really a perfect magnification range scope for this .22. Of course it does not have the optic clarity the high end optic but it gets the job done for under $100. The scope has features such as an adjustable objective and bullet drop compensating scope turret with various turrets for different rounds to put shots on target all the way out to 150 yards. Once you find the ammo that shoots well, find it on the turret chart and drop in the corresponding turret for fast and easy shots at extended ranges.
The charging handle is big, but perfect for a working man’s rifle. You can even work the bolt with big heavy mittens in the bitter cold. The stock itself was light, sturdy, and an excellent interpretation of a Boyds Evolution stock but far lighter. From a features perspective, the Magnum Research MLR22AT packs a lot of great components that I would use in future builds, but they are already conveniently packaged into an affordable ready-to-go rifle.
The rifle kinda hates match grade ammo and shoots its best groups with the quality HV stuff like T-22, Mini-Mags, and CCI Standard Velocity. In fact, the widely available CCI Standard Velocity rounds are my favorite round as they consistently deliver 10-20 shot groups of only .5” at 50-yards.
The challenge here is that this MLR22AT really liked non-match ammo, which is not the most consistent stuff, whereas match grade ammo is very consistent. As long as you can score a deep stash of a particular lot of non-match ammo that shoots well, you are golden. Otherwise, the custom match rigs will consistently out-shoot you because the ammo they like is more consistent. With that noted, every rifle is different, so yours may shoot this or that better.
This rifle delivered my previous personal best .167″ group at 50-yards with inexpensive T-22 ammo. Actually it delivered a .211″ group, which I found hard to believe until I shot the smaller group on the re-shoot. Although the MLR22AT produced the best groups of all rifles in my initial testing, it also delivered the second worst group as well.
One thing I liked best was that I have yet to have a non-ammo related malfunction with this rifle.
The question you have to ask yourself is whether you want a custom showy match rifle that shoots match ammo really well or one that is light, has a factory finish quality on some components, and shoots Mini-Mags and CCI Standard Velocity ammo really well.
Top to bottom, this is an awesome, super accurate, and reliable setup, but it does not have the finish quality and refinement of the Force or Kidd custom 10/22s. It is clear to me that Magnum Research wanted to produce a competition killer at a very competitive price.
Generally, I say that a trigger is one of the top accuracy upgrades, but they pretty much proved me wrong with the capabilities of this stock trigger equipped gopher getter. I believe Magnum Research has chosen a sweet spot that lives in an area where a rifle gets used, scratches, scraped, bumped, and flogged in the field, on the range, and even by youngsters. This rifle has proven its accuracy potential can hang with the big names of 10/22 precision all in a package you are not afraid to use. The best part is that if you are dead set on spending $1200 for precision 10/22s, then you could buy a set of these…
Stock Magnum Research MLR22AT comes with CNC billet upper receiver, billet machined match bolt, custom charging handle, lightweight stock, proprietary graphite match barrel with Benz target chamber. Bushnell Banner 3.5-10x36MM Rimgire Scope. Total is $655 as equipped with optic.