The Magnum Lite is a semi-automatic rifle chambered in .22 LR or .17 HMR. It features an integral Picatinny rail for easy mounting of optics or other acccessories, a graphite barrel, and it can use Ruger .22 LR magazines.
|Features:||Free floating barrel; and single-stage trigger with 4 to 5 pounds|
|Stock:||Laminate with thumbhole Barracuda stock|
Magnum Research makes some strange guns. While they have a dedicated following, I’ve never been a fan of the massive handguns that kept the company in business. The Desert Eagle. The BFR. They seem really cinematic to me. I have vivid memories of Anne Parillaud in La Femme Nikita pulling a Desert Eagle in a fancy French restaurant. The gun was a bold accent for her little black dress. But even then, the gun seemed like a novelty. Fun maybe, but not functional.
But not all Magnum Research guns have BF as adjectives in their titles. And I’m a sucker for a good .22 LR. So I was curious to see what a company known for ridiculous handguns would do with one of the most modest cartridges. The result is just as strange as the company’s other offerings.
The Magnum Lite
The Magnum Lite doesn’t weigh much - just over four pounds. The stock is plywood. Not the type you would buy at the Home Depot. Magnum calls it Barracuda Pepper Laminate, but it is plywood. And it is sculptural and oddly attractive. The barrel floats free of the stock toward the muzzle. The stock has a pistol grip of sorts, thanks to a thumbhole. It has a nicely raised cheek rest. The finish feels like polyurethane, but it’s buffed to a high gloss.
What makes the action unique is that the accessory rail is machined right in. The gun has different barrel options, including graphite. But I can’t speak to that – the gun I was shooting had a Gemtech suppressed barrel.
How does it shoot?
It shoots great. The grip is fantastic. It feels like a well balanced target gun. The gun I had evaluated had a nice scope. Although, shooting at the range with a scope was a bit strange. I needed more distance than I had available. I often shoot at The Dominion Shooting Range in Richmond, Virginia. Their facilities are superb, especially for pistols. But the low light, even with the depth at the range, made really evaluating the potential of the scope difficult. I would have rather tested iron sights. Or taken it outside and picked off some cans at a hundred yards. But you take what you get.
Regardless, the Magnum Lite fired beautifully and extracted well. The light weight of the rifle is matched by a light trigger. I liked the accuracy afforded by the scope and I loved the modest crack of a round passing through the Gemtech barrel. I like it so much that I shot a several magazines from the hip, watching the barrel instead of the scope, just to see the sound. It wasn’t quiet, but it wasn’t so loud that it would damage your hearing. However, it can get even quieter depending on ammo. There are really low powered subsonic .22 LR rounds that are reasonably quiet without a suppressor, so I assume the Gemtech could be even less noisy.
I shot two types of sets with the Magnum Lite. I shot controlled five round sets braced against the wall and the bench of my stall at the range. I also shot ten rounds bursts in rapid succession. This was more difficult with the scope. There was very little kick, but enough to upset my sight picture in the scope. So hammering quickly and accurately didn’t return the results I wanted.
But the braced sets were great. The scope was sighted in for something beyond the 25 yard mark. But holding the crosshairs on the bull’s-eye kept even the cheapest of the .22 LR ammo in the same half dollar sized hole. The inherent accuracy of this gun would make it great for plinking.
Is there a downside to this surprising gun? I think there is. While the Magnum Lite is really well built, it is still a .22 LR. Some of the best .22 rifles are really very pedestrian. I noticed very early in my evaluation that this gun is very similar to the Ruger 10-22 (it actually uses its magazines). And you can pick up several 10-22s for the price of one Magnum Lite.
Yet it certainly doesn’t feel like a 10-22. The Ruger guns feel like traditional rifles, which may or may not be an asset, depending on your preferences. Like the 10-22, the Magnum Lite’s function is fantastic, the high-end options available are interesting, but many of these same things can be said for the Ruger.
There is no rule that says that because the .22-caliber round is so inexpensive, the guns must be inexpensive. That’s just the way the industry has evolved. Clearly the Magnum Lite is designed for discerning tastes. Discerning tastes with deep pockets.
But I’m not convinced it would outperform a Ruger 10-22. Or a Marlin 60. It may come in a bit lighter. The Magnum Lite would certainly look different. It can distinguish itself that way. But I don’t know if the additional expense is worth what you get. And I certainly wouldn’t strap the Magnum Lite on my back and set off into the woods. There’s no compelling reason not too, but I work for my money. I’ve spent this type of money on guns, for sure, but I would be too worried that I’d knock the stock of the Magnum Lite against a tree trunk. I’d leave it locked up in a protective case, or I’d baby it. And that defeats the purpose of a .22 LR – at least as I understand it.