Gun Review: ISSC MK22

My politically astute friends say there’s no such thing as a free market. All I know is that shopping in the Eastern block countries before the fall of the Wall was about as exciting as discussing free market economics with people who say there’s no such thing as a free market economy. You want fun? Buy yourself an AR-style rifle. Just watch your wallet. Even in these post post-Obama days (or pre-post Obama days, depending on how you look at it), a grand day out with an AR can cost $300 in 5.56 ammo. Problem? Market solution! Manufacturers are building AR-style rifles that shoot .22 caliber (mostly LR) bullets. Like the ISSC MK22. Well, almost . . .

The ISSC MK22 is an Austrian FN SCAR clone. Just like its inspiration, the MK22 is not the cheap choice. ISSC hasn’t announced the exact price, and even if they did I’m not sure we can trust a company whose website still promises both May and September 2010 delivery. Rumor has it we’re talking about an msrp somewhere over the $500 rainbow.

Well, not a rainbow so much as a moonless night. You can have any color as long as it’s black. In terms of design, again, FN SCAR. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing depends on whether or not you’re the type of person who debates whether or not that’s a good thing or a bad thing on the Internet. If you are, it probably isn’t.

If you worship at the altar of tacticool, the MK22 is all that and a bunch of bullets besides. Even better, the Austrian armament only kinda feels like a toy gun. No surprise there: it’s fashioned from, gasp, metal parts. Some of the metal on our prototype tester said “lunchbox.” Most did not. The plastic bits—such as the big ass safety switch, adjustable stock and magazine—snick home with satisfying precision.

The ISSC MK22’s biggest draw: it kinda feels like a real gun. As you’d expect from a nearasdammit FN SCAR. More than that, the MK22 fires beautifully. The trigger is a bit of an on/off switch, but it’s perfectly controllable and endlessly repeatable. At least until you tear through twenty-two .22’s. Or ten, should you happen to live in a state whose name is unofficially preceded by “The People’s Republic of.”

Although the MK22’s recoil wouldn’t disturb any errant butterflies that mysteriously alight on the rifle’s Picatinny rail, the gun has a solidity, an ergonomic grace under pressure, that’s ballistically endearing. Respect. The sights switch from handgun style to rifle; a cute feature that ensures that the gun doesn’t catch on anything when you pull it from your Waffen SS trenchcoat. [Note to our German readers: das ist ein witz.]

As always, accuracy is down to the shooter. But if you can’t hit what you’re aiming at from combat distances with a .22 caliber LR long rifle, you’ll need a lot more practice. In regards to that challenge, two words: cheap ammo. Which is, of course, the entire point of this exercise. Or is it?

I reckon MK22 is ding an sich (it’s own thing). The MK22’s an ideal working replica for FN SCAR owners (like me) who want to practice their gun handling skills without taking out a fifth mortgage. And it’s an excellent choice for shooters who aspire to FN-hood, like the younger, less financially endowed members of our firearms fraternity (oh please Daddy please please please please). But it’s also a “real” gun.

Varmints within hailing distance don’t stand a chance. In terms of self-defense, many elderly, physically challenged and extremely timid shooters can only tolerate .22 cal recoil. While a .22 tends to make a criminal really mad, a bunch of .22s in the appropriate place stands a reasonable chance of taking the edge off their aggression. The MK22 fills that niche nicely.

In the final analysis, the ISSC MK22 is many things to many people: a range toy, a practice weapon, a varmint rifle, a self-defense piece and, above all, a hoot. It costs more than its .22 caliber AR-style rivals, but you can feel the price difference the moment you shoulder the Austrian rifle. The MK22 makes me glad that I live in a world where gunmakers are free to make the guns that people want. Ish.

Ratings (out of five)

Style * * * * *
Although not an exact copy, the FN SCAR clone is too cool for school (psycho burgers should take that literally).

Ergonomics Carry * * * * *
Let’s define this as running-around-and-hiding-behind-things ergonomics. In that case, wonderful! Light and well-proportioned, yet heavy and large enough to maintain control.

Ergonomics Firing * * * * *
Prächtig! You can shoot this thing all day, every day without any stress or strain.

Reliability NR
Not enough trigger time to make the call. A couple of hundred rounds with one failure to fire. Could be ammo-related.

Customize this * * * * *
You could throw just about anything on the MK22’s rail: light, laser, expensive scope, tactical cup-holder, etc. Would you bother on a $500+ gun? Sad but true: you would.

Overall Rating * * * * *
What’s not to like?