Lighter-Than-Air Pair

Magnum Research’s Tactical Black Rifle And Ruger’s 22/45 Lite
Are Sleek, Straight Shooters And Svelte As All Get-Out

By Holt Bodinson

Modern materials and manufacturing processes are revolutionizing the rimfire world. The use of polymer composites, aluminum and carbon-wrapped barrels has resulted in a new generation of rifles and pistols lighter, more accurate and more stylized than ever before.

Yet they are still thoroughly affordable. Typical of the new breed are Magnum Research’s .22 LR Tactical Black Rifle and Ruger’s 22/45 Lite Pistol. I’ve been working with both and have been exceedingly impressed with the level of performance these lightweights deliver.


Magnum Research’s new Tactical Black is racy, space-age and exceedingly accurate.


The Tactical Black features an integral Picatinny-type optics rail.


It accepts a standard Ruger rotary magazine. A 6-position stock
adapts the Tactical Black to a wide variety of shooters.


Tactical Black

Magnum Research has long been known for its racy, spacey and sculpted Barracuda stocks. But rather than reinventing the wheel over, they reached out to BlACKHAWK! and selected the company’s Axiom stock to build their new tactical model. It couldn’t have been a better match. The Axiom is as distinctive looking as the Barracuda, weighing only 2 ounces over a pound.

The stock is molded from a fiberglass-reinforced polymer and will fit any 10/22-type action. It has three invaluable qualities: 1) Its flea-like weight, 2) a forearm design wide and open enough to accommodate and free-float any diameter barrel and 3) its 6-position configuration, offering an adjustable length-of-pull from 9.75 to 13.5 inches. It’s an inspired choice, and Magnum Research was smart to work it into their tactical line.

The Magnum Research action is similar to the 10/22. It uses the same fire-control system, 4- to 5-pound trigger and a standard Ruger rotary magazine, but the similarities end there. The Magnum Research action body is machined from a 6061-T6 aircraft aluminum forging. Integral to the action is a visually appealing, ventilated Picatinny-type rail, extending out over the front receiver by about an inch. Its purpose is to allow more optical adjustment latitude. The matching bolt of the action is machined from 4140 steel and heat-treated and fitted to minimum headspace dimensions.

The really cool element in the Magnum Research line is the patented carbon/graphite barrel, featuring a steel barrel liner wound with graphite fiber with the grain parallel to the bore axis. It’s said to be lighter, six times stiffer and dissipates heat 43 percent faster than a conventional all-steel barrel. Essentially, what you have is a very accurate “bull barrel” without the associated weight. Adding to the inherent accuracy of the barrel is its Bentz target chamber, which features a shorter lead, designed to seat and center the rimfire bullet in the rifling before firing.


The 22/45 and 1911 share the same grip angle, shape and magazine release button location.

To maintain the super-light weight of the Tactical Black and its overall proportions, I chose to scope it with Gru-Bee’s little 9-ounce Wolf Pup 4X scope. It complemented the rifle perfectly and performed flawlessly. Measured on my Sunbeam scale, the whole rig weighed only 4 pounds and was perfectly balanced at the magazine.

Lightweight arms are often associated with a degree of instability, but the tactical stock, with its wide, flat forearm and sizable pistol grip, proved to be a blessing. You just wrap your hand around that big forearm, pull the butt back into your shoulder with the pistol grip and the Magnum Research Tactical Black settles down rock-steady.

Magnum Research cautions the Bentz chamber may be ammunition sensitive. I found mine was not, experiencing no failures to feed, fire, extract and eject. It was windy at the range, so I pulled my target back to 30 yards and fired a “6-brand” test target, measuring the best 4 out of 5 shots.

The results were impressive: Federal Gold Medal (0.22 inch), Winchester Power-Point (0.22), CCI AR Tactical (0.25), Wolf Match Target (0.29), CCI Mini-Mag (0.39) and Eley Target (0.48).

In short, Magnum Research’s Tactical Black is a cool-looking, accurate shooting machine.


Ruger’s 22/45 Lite gives up nothing when it comes to paper-punching accuracy at 25 yards.


Ruger’s fluted receiver reduces weight, aids barrel cooling
and a visually knockout of futuristic design.


The barrel sports an enlarged, capped muzzle threaded for accessories.


The tactile and visual loaded chamber indicator is only one of the 22/45’s safety features.

Ruger 22/45 Lite

The year 1992 took many Ruger aficionados by surprise when the company launched their Model 22/45. It was like nothing ever seen before in the Ruger stable. Gone was the much-praised “Luger-angled” grip of the most celebrated and successful rimfire pistol in history: the Standard Model. It was the dawn of a new era at Ruger and launching a 1911-styled rimfire pistol was a stroke of marketing genius. Shooters were starved for a 1911 rimfire of any persuasion, even if it had a polymer frame.

The design of the Zytel-framed 22/45 was no small engineering challenge, according to R.L. Wilson’s Ruger & His Guns. In it, Ruger’s Steve Sanetti observed, “[T]he plastic frame for the 22/45 autoloading pistol had to be designed for the practical attachment of internal parts. The function of crosspins, which could be used on the steel-framed .22 Mark 11 autoloader, had to be duplicated by other means in the plastic-framed 22/45, to avoid cracking the plastic under stress…”

Currently, Ruger’s 22/45 is offered in three model variations—a target version, a threaded-barrel version and the fetching 22/45 Lite. The Lite features the Zytel polymer frame, a ventilated receiver made of color-anodized aluminum and a pencil-thin barrel, threaded at 1/2-28 for popular muzzle accessories. With its 4.4-inch barrel, the Lite weighs in at only 22.7 ounces.

The 1911 styling extends further than the grip frame and panels. The magazine release is 1911-positioned on the left side of the frame rather than on the heel of the grip. The magazine floorplate is shaped to blend in perfectly with the squared-off grip. All I miss is a 1911-type safety.

Other features are adjustable target sights and a low-profile Picatinny optics rail, plus safety features, including a loaded chamber indicator, magazine disconnect and internal lock.

The 22/45 Lite is easy to shoot because of its exceptional balance and ultra-light weight. Obviously, it’s an easy pistol to pack. In terms of ammo, it’s an omnivore, eating and digesting just about any brand or type you can stack in the magazine.

For testing at 25 yards, I mounted Majestic Arms’ customized Bushnell Trophy 1x28mm optics package on the Lite. Measuring the best 4 shots in each 5-shot group, the results were as follows: Aguila Pistol Match (0.52-inch), CCI Mini-Mag (0.55), CCI Pistol Match (0.74), Federal Champion (0.78), Eley Target (0.89) and Federal Gold Medal (1.8).

Practically speaking, I think the Aguila Pistol Match would be great for bull’s-eye punching, while CCI’s Mini-Mag has always proved to be a deadly field load. The 22/45 Lite is a spectacular looking, nice handling, all-purpose, rimfire pistol with just the right amount of that 1911 mystique.

Majestic Arms, Ltd.
101 A Ellis St.
Staten Island
NY 10307
(718) 356-6765

1189 State Hwy. 48
Durant, OK 74701

22/45 Lite

Maker: Sturm, Ruger & Co.,
411 Sunapee St.,
Newport, NH 03773,

Action type: Blowback semi-auto
Caliber: .22 LR
Capacity: 10
Barrel length: 4.4 inches
Overall length: 8.5 inches
Weight: 22.7 ounces
Finish: Blue or green anodized
Sights: Adjustable target plus optics rail
Grip panels: Replaceable black rubber
Price: $549

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