ISSC Modern Sporting Rifle Mk 22
And the next one please! Pete Moore checks out the Austrian ISSC, the latest semi-auto rimfire rifle offering on the altar of TactiCOOL…
The problem with my job is that you tend to recognise things and the subject of this gun test features two familiar builds both inside and out. The current crop of 22 rimfire military look-a-like rifles is mainly based around the M16/M4. Notable exceptions are the SIG522 and German Sport Gun’s GSG5 and GSG AK47. Adding to this list is the Austrian ISSC Modern Sporting Rifle, which is quite a mouthful, so let’s call it the Mk 22 as the Yanks do.
The exterior is a good copy of the Belgium FN SCAR (The Special Operations Forces (SOF) Combat Assault Rifle) again quite a mouthful, which is their alternative to the M16/M4. Using a gas/piston system it’s offered in both 223 Rem (5.56x45mm) and 308 Win (7.62x51mm) so addresses the needs of the military community nicely. However, the Mk 22’s general build, feel and certainly the internals are reminiscent of the GSG5, well near a 100% copy in the last case.
Visually the Mk 22 is different, which in itself is attractive with a long/rectangular, aluminium alloy upper receiver and polymer lower body. The stock is length-adjustable and folds to the right, most unusual is its two-position comb; a rarity on a rifle of any type! The build is ‘TactiCOOL’ to say the least with a 15” Picatinny rail on top with three more on the forend at 3, 6 and 9 o’clock. So lights, lasers and handles are not a problem. There is a shorter section under the barrel too. The safety and mag release button are both ambidextrous and located above the pistol grip and in front of the trigger guard accordingly. Likewise the cocking handle offers three positions and can be located left or right to suit, which is a most practical feature.
Removable iron sights are included and clamp to the top rail. Different is the fact they flip up to deploy yet when folded down there’s a more basic pistol-type blade and U-notch included. The rear is windage-adjustable and the front post can be corrected for elevation by screwing up/down; as the M16. The apparently medium-weight barrel is 16” long with a massive flash hider, however all is not as it seems as the actual barrel is a slim, steel unit inside an alloy outer tube to give the impression of girth. The flash hider then does double duty as a stabilising/centralising device and in that is similar to the GSG5 and GSG AK47 rifles. The importers offer a 1/2x 20 UNF silencer adaptors that replaces the hider.
Straight from the shoulder
The layout is very straight line and the butt length is 3-position adjustable by only 1.5”, which allows you to tune your position to a degree. This is done by a catch at the left rear of the butt. Different is the comb, which is a horseshoe moulding that hinges upwards and is controlled by a press button. This has been probably been done on the original SCAR for NV optics, but on the Mk 22 it does not seem to do much as when up it’s a bit high for the iron sights and you would need tall mounts for a scope.
The butt folds to the right and is controlled by a large, D-button on the left of the action, not unlike the SIG522. It locks with an angled catch just behind the ejection port that does double duty as a case deflector so allowing for LH use. Feed is from a 22-round magazine with external follower button to aid filling, a 10-round clip is also available. The safety is as the GSG5 even down to the receiver marking and swings down for SAFE (white dot) and up to FIRE (red dot). The pistol grip is of the M16A2-type with finger grove and moulded into the lower receiver with a storage trap in the base.
The bolt is pre-packaged in a cage-type carrier that screws into the upper receiver body so is not easily removable; again almost identical to the GSG rifles. It offers an automatic, last round, hold open and magazine safety (trigger locked with mag removed) facilities. Trigger pull is mushy with a long take up and break, though the weight is around 4-5 lbs and easy enough to understand. In the upper receiver there are three horizontal slots with holes under the forward section of the rail. The cocking handle simply pushes into them so can be set forward, middle or back and swapped left to right as suits.
Pros & cons
Weighing around 7lbs and at 35.16” overall (butt extended) the Mk 22 offers a surprisingly solid and comfortable feel, with all controls falling to hand easily. It’s radical looking enough to satisfy the dictates of TactiCOOL, but how does it shoot? To be honest the GSG mechanism or clone thereof was setting off alarm bells, as my experience with this rifle showed an average round count of 150-shots with a near mandatory cleaning regime required to keep it up and running.
It ran reliably on my usual cross section of 22 LR from sub-sonics to high velocity, with the ISSC manual recommending the latter power fodder for best results. It handled nicely and accuracy with iron sights was well up to spec; easily able to bounce fired 12-bore cases around the range at 50-yards. The foresight protector is small and fragile and while adjusting the sight I managed to snap one of the wings off, so be careful…
Magazines free fall from the well and on the reload you just have to pull back and release the cocking handle to close the bolt as it’s automatically held open. Likewise they are easy to fill due to the external lugs, which is a real boon on a high round count rifle like this… What of reliability, which is always a major criteria on a semi-auto rimfire? It reached just over 200-rounds then started to hiccup with miss feeds and stove pipes. Cleaning the action as best I could with an M16 brush and bore solvent to squirt into the bolt mech got it running again, however I was getting a few more stoppages per magazine afterwards.
A full strip-down to get the bolt out is not quick. The body pins do not immediately push out as they are a double-ended, screw and shaft design that requires two, thin bladed screw drivers to remove. With that off two more Allen screws have to be taken off to remove the butt assembly, then once inside you need to remove another to take out the pre-packaged bolt assembly, which itself needs splitting to access all areas for a througher cleaning. Your average shooter is probably not going to go that far every 200-rounds or so…
This in many ways is a nice rifle, well built, potentially accurate, handy and certainly distinctive looking. But and unless you are prepared to tear the mech apart when it gets dirty; I would not bother.
|Calibre||22 Long Rifle|
|Capacity||22 and 10 (DM)|
|Action||blow back, semi-automatic|
|Automatic last round hold open||Y|
|Scope rail||Y 1” Picatinny|
Moderator adaptor £45
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