Review: Magnum Research MLR22BW Barracuda American Black Walnut .22LR Rifle
Major Pandemic 05.27.15
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 Nissan 300Z who can keep up and occasionally beat the guys in $1 Million sports cars.” The Magnum Research lineup of 10/22 compatible rifles is like that.
Now Magnum research has done it again with a new upgraded version of the graphite barreled MLR model, which features the Barracuda American Black Walnut stock. For the price, the Magnum Research is one hell of a head turner, and now it turns heads with looks as well.
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 produce unbelievably accurate firearms. This accuracy 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 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 a price leading custom rifle for just $625 MSRP, which should scare the heck out of competitors. This limited edition upgraded MLR22BW model jumps to $824 with the Barracuda American Black Walnut stock.
Magnum Research MLR22BW Build Specs
My build included a stock Magnum Research MLR22BW, which comes with CNC billet upper receiver, billet machined match bolt, custom charging handle, walnut 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 $923 with the optic. I did add a $200 Timney Match trigger as well.
Fit, Finish, Feel, and Features
I reviewed the MLR22AT long ago and was pretty blown away at the capabilities of the rifle considering its price and weight. The graphite barrel itself is stupid crazy lightweight and is pretty 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 rifles at an insanely light 4.5lbs, and the Banner scope I used only adds another 15 oz.
The old MLR22AT with polymer stock was not showy, but the MLR22BW is thanks to the stunningly gorgeous Barracuda American Black Walnut stock. It always amazes me how just a stock change can transform a firearm. This is one of the prettiest 10/22 stocks I have seen based on the a design similar to the MLR polymer stock.
The difference on this stock is that it is not ambidextrous and is designed for the right handed shooter. Like the polymer Glacier Ridge stock on the original model, the stock design is lends itself more for offhand unsupported shooting rather than benchrest shooting. For offhand unsupported shots, the stock design delivers the shooter a solid feeling stock, but on the bench the design feels a bit top heavy and wobbly.
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, however 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. However, the “new version” Ruger 10/22 stock trigger is not bad. The fact that the stock MLR22BW could be even better by dropping in a match trigger got me so excited that I installed a Timney trigger before I could even get my photos done. Just note that all the images reflect a Timney Match trigger instead of a stock Ruger trigger unit.
Even with a stock trigger, this rig can still get you into the .1xx’s at the 50-yard line.
The stock trigger assembly comes with an extended magazine release. Much the same as the original MLR22AT, Magnum Research left off sling studs on the stock. These are easy enough to drill for and attach yourself. The bolt is not showy but is an in house precision billet machined part that has all the extra tuning features, such as pinned firing pin and a correctly dimensioned face. In reality the only potential show stopper is that that the barrel is still not threaded and suppressor ready.
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 of a 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. From a features perspective, the Magnum Research MLR22BW backs a lot of great custom 10/22 components into a beautiful, ready-to-go rifle.
From an accuracy perspective, this rifle shoots exceptionally well with standard ammo 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.
My other MLR did not particularly like “match” ammo, but I have found that this MLR does and delivers some particularly excellent .154” 50-yard groups with Lapua Center-X. I also saw a number of other Lapua rounds deliver sub-.2” groups at 50-yards as well. This gun is an outstanding shooting rifle. This MLR continued to deliver the un-finicky reliability that I have come to expect from their rifles. I have yet to have a non-ammo related malfunction with this rifle.
Top to bottom this is an awesome, super accurate, and reliable setup, and with the top end Barracuda American Black Walnut stock upgrade it also looks the part of a premium custom 10/22 as well. It is clear to me that Magnum Research wanted to produce a competition killer at a very competitive price.
This model deserves a match trigger and I added one right away as shown, but even with just the “newer” Ruger trigger the rifle is still capable of sub-.5” 50-yards groups. Add in a Timney trigger and the groups get smaller very fast. With this model, Magnum Research is going for the throat of the custom Volquartsens, Kidds, Tactical Solutions, and Force 10/22 rifles. This rifle has proven its accuracy potential can hang with the big names of 10/22 precision.
My build included a stock Magnum Research MLR22BW, which comes with CNC billet upper receiver, billet machined match bolt, custom charging handle, walnut 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 $923 with the optic.