Am I the only one that had no idea Magnum Research made a 10/22 clone? I knew they made more than the famous Desert Eagle, but I was completely surprised to find out that they also made this handsome copy of the famous Ruger that so many shooters have taken up as one of their first guns.
I guess I have a bit of an excuse for my ignorance on the subject given that I’m not a particularly big rimfire shooter. That being said, I wasn’t going to turn down an opportunity to shoot something new.
MAGNUM RESEARCH'S MLR
The Magnum Research MLR claims to improve on the extremely popular 10/22 design, particularly with a significant focus on accuracy.
The forged receiver and quality barrels are likely to be the basis for this accuracy. The MLR also features an oversized charging handle, as well as an elevated sighting rail. The model I tested also featured a carbon wrapped barrel and a polymer stock reminiscent of some type of AR-15. The stock uses a pistol grip and collapsible butt with various length-of-pull settings. In the butt itself, there are two holes for storing extra 10-round magazines.
The controls were all very familiar, matching the Ruger models. Mag release, bolt stop, and safety are all in the same spots and retain the same function. The MLR did use an extended magazine release, which I found to be very handy.
I shot the rifle in a couple of different configurations, one was with a Trijicon red dot, and the other was using a Crimson Trace 3-12x rifle scope. The red-dot configuration was obviously a shoot-fast-and-dirty kind of setup, like something I would use hunting jackrabbits out in the desert. For accuracy, I knew I would see much better results using the rifle scope. I mounted up a Crimson Trace 3-12x scope on the rifle and headed back to the hills to zero it.
Zeroing took a few shots, but once I had it dialed in, I was in business. I tried a couple different types of ammo. I didn’t have a huge selection because beggars can’t be choosers nowadays. The rifle seemed to prefer the CCI Mini Mags over the CCI Tactical AR ammunition, which at 50 yards produced 10-shot groups around an inch. With accuracy like that, I found that shooting clay targets out to 250 yards was pretty easy. I’d imagine if you used higher-quality ammunition it would shoot even better. The MLR was very predictable, and shooting it became very addicting.
I used the rifle for several hikes on the mountain with my dog, and the lightweight rifle was a perfect little hiking companion. The collapsible stock made it more compact to carry, and the readily available magazines made quick loading a breeze. Using the rifle for plinking random little targets was a great way to enjoy a sunny afternoon.
The Pros and Cons
There is a plethora of benefits to making a clone of a very popular rifle. One of them would be all the aftermarket support options you can take advantage of as the end user. The 10/22 market is probably the largest rimfire aftermarket, which gives you all kinds of options for stocks/chassis, triggers, barrels, and so on.
Today’s gun owner is as much a tinkerer as anything, so it’s nice to have so many options for tinker fodder. I could easily see myself swapping out some parts on this rifle. The stock for example was very useful, but not exactly what I would have chosen. The trigger is fine in my opinion, but it never hurts my feelings to have a better trigger, so it wouldn’t hurt to install the best option available.
The 10/22 magazines are perhaps one of the best attributes and options. The capacities range far and wide. This gives the shooter an opportunity to utilize what best fits their purposes.
The carbon-wrapped barrel on the MLR provides a definite advantage in weight. Rimfire cartridges are rarely known for any recoil, so there is hardly as much advantage to a heavy barrel when shooting .22. But the thick profile of the carbon barrel likely aids in stiffening the barrel and providing better accuracy.
As much as I appreciated the barrel though, I would have traded it out for an equivalent option that was threaded. It is nearly heresy in these modern times to offer an unthreaded barrel on anything other than a very baseline economy-model firearm. Suppressors are the latest craze, and I find shooting loud to be more than just imprudent.
Another small gripe that I’ll admit is very subjective. It’s the sight rail on the MLR receiver. It is a spacious and robust mounting platform for optical sights, but I did find myself wishing it was removable to use the rifle for different configurations and chassis options. Not a big deal, but worth a mention in my book.
My overall impression of the MLR was a very positive one. I would happily add another one to my collection of rifles if for nothing more than to have a good .22 handy. The MLR has plenty of options for customization should you choose that route, and it is also just fine the way it is.
It would make a great little plinking rifle for weekend pleasure shooting. Or, if you really wanted to get into the new NRL Rimfire league matches, it would be a good place to put it to work as well. I look forward to terrorizing the local small game scene with this rifle as soon as winter loosens its grip. Until then, I will use it to practice my shooting fundamentals.