ISSC MK22 Desert Folding Stock Rifle ISSC211003 22 LR
One reason to produce rimfire replicas of military weapons is to help familiarize the shooter with how each gun operates at a fraction of the price of buying and feeding the corresponding centerfire model. If this isn’t fun enough, then consider the history and the innovation that each rifle offers the shooter ahead of simpler rimfire designs. Gun Tests magazine last tested military-replica semiautomatic rimfire rifles in the February 2010 issue (“Tactical-Style 22 LR Carbines: Ruger, S&W, Legacy Duke It Out”), with the majority of the roster being taken up by the AR-15 design. In a newer test they evaluated the $609 German-made ISSC MK22 Desert Tan rifle with folding stock, a replica of the SCAR (Special Operations Forces Combat Assault Rifle). The MK22 was imported by Legacy Sports International of Reno, Nevada.
Here’s what they said:
For accuracy tests, we fired from the 50-yard line with support from the Caldwell Tack Driver sandbag rest. Test ammunition was the same 40-grain assortment we used the April 2012 test of more traditional semi-automatic rifles. Two rounds featured copper-plated bullets. They were CCI’s Mini Mag and CCI’s AR Tactical 22 ammunition. We also fired Federal’s Auto Match rounds, which launched a lead solid bullet. We also tried a variety of hollowpoint ammunition to assess versatility, but elected to fire shots of record with our roundnosed selections so we could compare results directly with our earlier tests.
The MK22/SCAR offered two aiming solutions in one set of fold-down sights. We wanted to know how well all of these sight packages worked. In addition, the rifle offered a way to mount a scope. We wanted to know how efficiently this option could be accomplished and its effect on accuracy. We began our accuracy tests using only the supplied open sights. Then, we mounted the same variable power 1-4X power scopes used in the previous rimfire rifle tests. Firing only the most accurate round, we then recorded additional 5-shot groups from the 50-yard bench. The rifle fired at least 300 rounds over three days of testing with no more maintenance than an occasional spray of Rem Oil into the chamber and on the bolt.
ISSC MK22 Desert Folding Stock Rifle No. ISSC211003 22 LR, $609
Our tests were conducted at a public range, American Shooting Centers in Houston, during regular business hours, so we had chance to gauge public reaction to the test rifle. The ISSC MK22 garnered the most reaction hands down. Whereas the SCAR rifle is scarce and the MK22 lesser known, we fooled a lot of people. A visit to the FNHUSA.com website showed us that the MK22 was very close in appearance, weight, and size to the SCAR rifle. The weight of the SCAR was listed at 7.25 pounds. The MK22 weighed about 10 ounces less. Given both rifles utilize polymer, alloy, and steel construction, much of the difference in weight could be due to the operating system of the SCAR described as a gas-operated short-stroke-piston design. Barrel length of the MK22 was one-quarter inch shorter, but was muzzled with a longer flash hider than the SCAR. Other variations from the SCAR rifle included less adjustment to the buttstock, a front sight mounted on the top rail instead of the barrel, and more space on the rails along the right side. Optional features available for the ISSC MK22 included 10-round or 22-round magazines, a black finish versus desert tan and a fixed rather than folding stock. According to the specifications list at LegacySports.com, the deciding factor in cost was finish. Black MK22s were listed at a suggested retail price of $577.
From shipping box to range, the MK22 needed only minor assembly. The buttstock was separated but all that was needed was for the hinge pin to be tapped into place. In addition to left- or right-side installation as per the SCAR, the MK22 offered three different positions on each side. This was the patented UCAS, or Universal Cocking Adaptation System. The purpose of such versatility was to accommodate operators whose frontal area would be populated with a bulky load of battle gear. Installation meant simply pushing it into place. A good tug will remove but it was easier to use a punch to overcome the spring loaded detent. There were three different detent studs each one accessible from the right or left side. Details like this are another clue regarding the MK22’s higher price. The last attachment was a pair of hinged sight units. In the down position a pistol style set of three dot notch and post type sights were visible. Locked into the upward position the shooter was treated to an aperture sight in the rear and an AR-15 style post-and-ears unit up front. The rear aperture had a dial adjustment for windage. The front post could be turned to adjust elevation but there was a lack of detent so it couldn’t be secured in any position except fully locked down. However, the notch and post sights were dead on and easy to read so we decided to use them to record shots of record.
Like the SCAR rifle the MK22 had an impressive list of features. They included an adjustable length buttstock with push button release that changed length of pull from 12.5 inches to 13.8 inches. The comb could be raised or lowered. One last button on the buttstock allowed the stock to be folded and locked against the right-hand side of the receiver. Overall length with stock folded was about 27 inches. The fitting at the rear of the receiver supplied two of its five total sling loops. Both the safety and the magazine release could be operated from either side of the weapon. The lower Picatinny rail and both side rails offered about 6.5 inches of usable length. There was a 1.5-inch rail located below the gas block. The top rail measured 16 inches. But the rail was actually composed of three separate sections measuring about 5 inches in length bolted down from above. Our one supplied magazine was about the same size as a 30-round AR-15 magazine. Its polymer construction was robust, reminding us that if this rifle costs a little more, at least its construction rivals that of its centerfire counterpart. The magazine had a pull-down tab that worked with precision and was probably more expensive to make than some complete magazines. To wit, extra magazines cost $64 regardless of color or capacity. The magazine body was calibrated for 22 rounds, but we found it would hold more. But when loaded to its maximum capacity of 23 rounds, the pull-down tab ultimately aligned with the 18-round hash mark. The MK22 also offered a disconnect feature, wherein the trigger would not operate without a magazine in place. Whereas we measured the trigger pull to provide about 7.0 pounds of resistance, it didn’t feel nearly that heavy. The trigger on the MK22 offered a consistent take up and a break that was neither hard nor soft. Its break seemed to happen progressively, like a good double-action pistol.
Instructions for takedown amounted to a single step on page 19 of the manual. That was, remove the two pins that secure the lower end of the polymer receiver body, pull it from the action, and you are done. The two screw heads located on the left side at each end of the receiver actually cap the pins and hold them in place. With the body removed, there was access to the bolt assembly and chamber as well as the hammer. Further disassembly was limited to authorized repair only.
At the range, the MK22 seemed to prefer hollowpoints, specifically Winchester’s new 333 rounds (Load No. 22LR333HP). But from the bench using the pistol-style open sights, our best results were achieved firing the Federal Auto Match lead solids. The average group size computed to right at about 1.0 inches. At first we had a little trouble chambering the lead solids. Ultimately, we found that the key to smooth operation had less to do with the type of ammunition and more to do with making sure the top round in the magazine was properly angled upwards. Actually, this was the same concern we have with most high-capacity magazines built for all kinds of semiautos, including AR-15s and AK47s. Slapping the back of the magazine against our open palms to properly seat the rounds was nothing out of the ordinary, and we daresay good training.
Results from the bench firing the Auto Match ammunition with a 4X scope in place reduced the variation in group size to 0.6 inches across to 0.9 inches, respectively. Back in the shop we removed the scope to find that the individual rails where the scope had been mounted were loose. We tightened the Allen screws that kept them in place. Could this shifting, although minor, have distorted the consistency of our aim? If we had mounted using only individual rings directly to the rail we might say yes. But we had mounted our scope with a secondary riser base from Brownells that likely clamped out any variation between the segments of the rail. We also noticed that the buttstock, once unfolded, was not rock solid, but given our shooting position, we doubt this was an issue either. Overall, we felt this rifle was not as well suited to using a traditional optical scope. We think the ISSC MK22 would be at its best with a 1X dot or reflex scope mounted forward on the rail.
Our Team Said: Based on the experience of our test shooter who has spent significant time firing both prototype and production SCAR rifles, the MK22 did indeed offer insight into what it is like to operate its actual counterpart. The sheer weight of the MK22 places it in the realm of “reality” closer than most other rimfire replicas. Compared to other rimfire replicas we’ve tried, the Ruger SR22 shared the same weight compliment but didn’t operate like its AR-15 disguise. To date, Smith & Wesson’s M&P 15 has impressed us the most in that regard. But the ISSC MK22 may well offer the most of what many feel this category should be selling. That is what it’s actually like to operate a modern battle rifle.