Review: Magnum Research .22 LR Tactical Black Rifle

posted on January 10, 2017

The Ruger 10/22 is quite likely the most common .22 LR rifle on the market, to the point that the word “10/22” is nearly meaningless. Like “1911,” you can build an entire 10/22 using maybe only one part made by Ruger, which in the case of the Magnum Research Tactical Black Rifle, is the magazine. The MRI .22 LR Tactical Black Rifle is produced in-house by Magnum Research and features a considerable number of improvements over a vanilla 10/22.

The most obvious improvement is the overall weight of the rifle. The MRI .22 LR weighs in at just 3.5 pounds fully loaded with one 10-round magazine. By comparison, a fully loaded 1911 pistol in .45 ACP with nine rounds of 230-grain FMJ weighs 3 pounds—a mere 8 ounces less than the Magnum Research .22 LR. The Tactical Black Rifle achieves these weight savings primarily through two areas: the custom receiver and the graphite-shrouded barrel.

The receiver is CNC machined from a forged piece of 6061-T6 aircraft aluminum, with a rail for mounting optics machined as part of the receiver. This is necessary, as the Tactical Black Rifle is not equipped with iron sights of any type. Attached to the receiver is the graphite barrel, which is unique to Magnum Research. It offers better heat dissipation, rigidity and thus accuracy out of a platform already known for its accuracy potential. The last component that helps keep the package light is the polymer stock from Blackhawk, which utilizes an adjustable, AR-15-style buttstock.

(l.) The adjustable polymer stock keeps weight down while fitting a broad range of shooters. (ctr.) A Weaver-style rail accommodates whatever type of aftermarket sights you choose. (r.) An oversize aluminum bolt knob makes manually cycling the action easy and sure.

In order to keep the Magnum Research rifle as reliable as possible, it feeds from Ruger’s extremely reliable 10-round rotary magazines. During testing, 300 rounds of varying types were fired through the rifle with zero failures to feed of any type. Even after sustained rapid fire of 200 rounds, the graphite barrel of the Magnum Research rifle was cool enough to touch with an exposed thumb and not get burned.

Magnum Research’s Tactical Black Rifle operates as a simple blowback rifle. Ejection was consistent and positive, with only one failure of any type. The rifle failed to extract a fired case of Armscor 36-grain hollow-point ammo, which was easily cleared by racking the charging handle again. The charging handle is another nice feature on the rifle; an oversize aluminum knob that is easy to manipulate when loading the rifle.

For testing, three brands of .22 LR ammo were selected: CCI Standard Velocity Target ammo, which uses a 40-grain lead bullet was the first. Second was Federal’s 45-grain subsonic Suppressor round, with a plated bullet and Armscor’s 36-grain plated hollow-point. After some deliberation, and with the goal of preserving the rifle’s excellent balance and lightweight characteristics, a Primary Arms Micro Dot was selected. The Micro Dot is a lightweight, compact red dot similar to an Aimpoint Micro in footprint, and will accept the same mounts and bases as the Micro. It has a 2-MOA dot with manually adjustable brightness levels. To use a large dot with precision, adjust it to the lowest level of brightness that still leaves the dot visible, then, instead of superimposing the dot over the target, use the very top edge of the dot as the point-of-aim. Using this technique, the PA Micro Dot and Magnum Research rifle shot excellent groups. From the CCI Target ammo, the best group was .45 inches at 50 yards. The Federal Suppressor round took the crown for accuracy, producing a best group of .41 inches at 50 yards. The high-velocity Armscor hollow-points came in last, with a respectable best group of 1.19 inches at 50 yards. All groups were shot from a seated position of a bench, using a foam rifle support for a rest.

(l.) Reliability is ensured in part by the Ruger 10-round rotary magazine. (ctr.) Breaking at less than 3.5 pounds of pressure, the trigger contributed to the rifle’s fine accuracy. (r.) Shrouded in graphite, the barrel is lightweight, yet remarkably rigid.

Light rifles are right rifles, and only accurate rifles are interesting. The Magnum Research Tactical Black Rifle meets both those criteria easily, being one of the handiest guns on the market. Because it’s so light, it can be handled by anyone from a child to a full-size adult, with the adjustable stock making it comfortable for most normal-size people. The accuracy is staggering. Shooting consistent sub-MOA groups with a 2-MOA red dot is phenomenal. Imagine what this gun could do from a rest with a scope. However, a scope might ruin its excellent balance and handling characteristics, which is why the light, easy-to-mount and remove red dot is still the best choice.

With an MSRP of $669, the MRI Tactical Black Rifle is more expensive than a run-of-the-mill .22 LR. However, it’s expensive for the same reason that a bottle of Macallan 18-year-old Scotch costs more than a bottle of Dewar’s—because it’s better. Sometimes paying for quality is absolutely worth it, and this rifle is one of those times.


handgun with bullets and magazine
handgun with bullets and magazine

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