Hello everyone and welcome back to another edition of The Rimfire Report! This ongoing series is all about the rimfire firearm world and its various guns, ammunition, sports, and more! Last week we talked about the hot new SIG Sauer P322 pistol. The P322 is quite an impressive specimen when it comes to .22LR pistols and there was a lot of discussion about various uses different people might have for it. One such idea would be to use the P322 as a survival, camping, or hiking pistol due to its combination of lightweight construction, magazine capacity, and other features. However, as impressive as the P322 is, it wasn’t the first .22LR pistol to feature 20-round magazines. Cue the probably long forgotten Magnum Research Mountain Eagle pistol. Today we’ll be going over some of its features and performance to see what it’s all about!
Previous Rimfire Report Articles @ TFB:
- The Rimfire Report: NEW SIG P322 – 6,000 Rounds Later
- The Rimfire Report: What Does $1000 of Upgrades Look Like on a MKIV?
- The Rimfire Report: Testing The New BCA 22WMR Upper
The Rimfire Report: The Magnum Research Mountain Eagle – Ahead Of Its Time?
The Magnum Research Mountain Eagle is a blowback-operated .22LR pistol that features a 6-1/2″ barrel, 15-round standard magazine capacity, a T6 alloy receiver, fully adjustable rear sights, a bright orange front sight blade, and even accommodation for the installation of a weaver rail on top for optics. The pistol was sold by Magnum Research between 1990 and 2000 after which it was discontinued. According to Magnum Research advertisements from 1995, the pistol was specifically marketed toward plinkers, target shooters, and varmint hunters.
I picked up my Mountain Eagle on Gunbroker for about $250 (1995 factory price – $239) which isn’t all that bad when taking inflation into consideration. Today the brand new pistol would cost nearly $450 when adjusted for this fact. My pistol came in what I would call “fair” condition with some parts of the gun coming scuffed up or missing paint but the internals and barrel were in great condition. My pistol came with two 20-round magazines instead of the typical 15-round magazines that normally come with the pistol. The magazines have tiny little tabs on the left-hand side of the follower to assist in inserting the first couple of rounds. After that, they go in single file pretty easily as the tab becomes obscured by the body of the magazine. Another neat thing about the Mountain Eagle’s magazines is that they use a flat coil spring rather than a spiraled one and actually pull the follower and the rounds up rather than pushing them.
During my initial disassembly of the pistol, I discovered that there were two extra screw holes on the top of the receiver which looked very familiar. I had initially thought they were for a Ruger 10/22 optics rail but when I took my rail off of my 10/22, it didn’t fit. Further research unveiled that the Mountain Eagle uses a proprietary weaver rail sold by Magnum Research called the BFR – at least as far as I can tell. Like the Mountain Eagle, these aren’t sold by Magnum Research anymore but there are rails available on auction sites like eBay for about $25. So for my purposes, I opted not to purchase a rail and mount optics to the gun. This might have been a mistake.
The gun takes down similar to a Ruger MKIII (via a single hex screw at the rear of the grip) and even resembles one in some respects. To me, the pistol almost looks like the rimfire love child of a Desert Eagle and a Ruger MKIII. Those who are intimately familiar with rimfire pistols from the 90s will probably think it looks closer to a Ram-Line Exactor and they’d actually be quite correct because as far as I can tell, it’s the same pistol with just a few cosmetic changes and different sights.
The controls are in the usual places but feature odd geometries sometimes. The magazine release is in a predictable place and operates just fine, but the slide lock/release is a small cylindrical stud, and the safety features a backward and up (for safe) and a down and left (for fire) operation which is kind of odd but not so odd that you can’t get used to it. Another subtle feature that I actually like about the Mountain Eagle is the little flared cocking ears that the bolt has at its rear. When compared to a stock Ruger MK series pistol, the Mountain Eagle’s cocking ears are much more comfortable to use and they don’t pinch your fingers when using them.
Range Time with the Mountain Eagle
I took a couple of handfuls of various .22LR I had in my inventory along with the Mountain Eagle to the range and got to plinking. Since the advertisements for this pistol indicated it was for varmint hunting and target shooting, my first goal was to test the pistol’s accuracy. I set an 8″ sight-in target out at 20-yards and took my position behind a table with my range bag on it and started putting in some groups. Despite my caffeine-addled body’s shakiness, I think the pistol’s mechanical accuracy is quite good. A couple of my shots were either right on top of one another or very close to one another for each of my 5-round groups which leads me to believe this has the potential to be an incredibly accurate pistol with the right optic mounted to it.
The trigger is nothing to write home about but it does break at just a hair over 3-lbs. The front blade sight is quite thick and this leads to there being very little light on either side of the rear site notches. Theoretically, this should lead to better accuracy but I found that the width of the front sight blade made it difficult to aim at a consistent small spot like the little red diamonds on my sight-in target. I think if you’re going to use this pistol for target shooting or varmint hunting, then the best route would be to pair it with the optics rail and scope. I feel that it has great accuracy potential but is hindered by the factory sights installed on it.
Ammunition compatibility was good. I ran CCI Mini-Mags, CCI- Standard, Norma Eco-Speed, and two 20-round magazines out of my Spanish Olives Leftovers jar and it ran every single one of those through it without issue. In fact, I didn’t have a single hiccup out of the pistol in the 250 or so rounds I ran through it. I would say that it is reliable enough for both hunting and target shooting.
The Magnum Research Mountain Eagle is an odd pistol but it may have been ahead of its time in terms of capacity and optics mounting capabilities. The ’90s weren’t a friendly time for rimfire pistols outside of the big two (Buckmark, MKII) pistols of the time, and it seems like the concept of having a magazine capacity greater than 10-rounds didn’t take off even with the introduction of the Mountain Eagle. However, I think the stock pistol is held back by fairly poor sights, and its relatively large size (it’s bigger than my Beretta M9A3) makes it sort of awkward to put in anything other than one of Magnum Research’s shoulder holsters.
However, despite those few negative bits, the pistol is more than accurate enough for some casual plinking and I think there is even a case for it being used as a survival or hiking pistol when carried in a large fanny pack or even a small backpack. It’s lightweight enough and with two magazines you’ve got 40-rounds to hunt with which should be more than enough unless you’re hopped up on caffeine or attempting to take shots at squirrels from 50-yards away.
I hope you guys enjoyed this in-depth look at the Magnum Research Mountain Eagle. As always I’d like to hear your thoughts on this interesting .22LR pistol. Have you ever owned one and if so how did yours perform? I’d specifically be interested to hear from anyone who owned one and had a scope mounted to it. If you had a scope mounted to it, was it accurate out to longer ranges? Let us know! If you’re interested in TFB Writer Matt E‘s thoughts on his own Mountain Eagle pistol, check his Pawn Shop Finds article on it here. Thank you once again for stopping by to read The Rimfire Report we’ll see you next time!