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Rifles Semi Auto

Magnum Research MLR22 Review

by J. Scott Rupp   |  February 14th, 2013 1


There’s no one out there who hasn’t heard of the Ruger 10/22, right? Didn’t think so. One of the most popular .22s of all time since its introduction in 1964, it has spawned a cottage industry of aftermarket parts and complete rifles built around its action and its wonderful and revolutionary rotary magazine.

Now no less a firearms maker than Magnum Research has joined in the fun. Its new MLR22 is a nifty piece of gunsmithing that offers rimfire fanatics a head-turning, light and lively semi-auto rimfire.

The rifle weighs just 4.25 pounds, thanks to the combination of a graphite-sleeve barrel and skeletonized stock. The barrel is proprietary, and in fact the Pillager, Minn.,-based Magnum Research developed the machine that makes it. The barrel is built by applying graphite fibers that are stretched lengthwise and rolled onto the barrel and then baked.

The process creates a barrel that’s as rigid as a bull steel barrel but is incredibly light for its diameter; the 17-inch, 0.94-inch barrel on my MLR22 sample weighed only 13 ounces. The graphite construction also dissipates heat nearly twice as fast as steel.

While it’s a proprietary design, it slip-fits into the receiver and is secured by a V-block just like any other 10/22 barrel. The muzzle’s steel cap muzzle sports a 17-degree crown and projects past the steel barrel liner, further protecting the rifling.

The rifle is available in several stock configurations: Barracuda (in forest camo, nutmeg or pepper colors), tactical black (a multi-position synthetic), Hogue OverMolded and a brand-new ambi thumbhole. I picked the Barracuda forest camo version because I love thumbhole stocks, and this one’s a beauty with its layers of green, ochre, gray and black.

The thumbhole portion is sculpted—substantial where it should be and thin where it should be. It’s relieved on the left side to position your shooting-hand thumb (for righties) in the proper position—pointing forward, more or less parallel to the bore. I find this lessens the chances that you’ll torque the gun with your shooting hand. The stock also flares at the bottom of the grip to help you keep your wrist straight.

The stock’s cheekpiece is basically a Monte Carlo, and the comb is comfortable and of a decent height for a low-mounted optic (the new ambi thumbhole promises a higher comb). The hard rubber buttpad has a cross-hatch texture to it, and it does an excellent job of keeping the rifle positioned in your shoulder.

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