Magnum Research made a name for itself with the Desert Eagle. It’s a massive pistol chambered in some of the most powerful handgun cartridges on the planet. The legacy continued with the introduction of the Biggest Finest Revolver (BFR) line. The line offers massive revolvers often chambered for rounds typically reserved for rifles. Now Magnum Research goes the distance in 28 Nosler with the Mountain Eagle.
The Magnum Research Mountain Research
The evolution continued with a custom shop offering more calibers and options than most would consider possible in a handgun. Because rifle calibers were already an offering, it only makes sense that the next step would be to offer rifles. And the Mountain Eagle line was born. Beginning with nine calibers, it wouldn’t be long before Magnum Research’s Custom Shop began offering solutions to the rifle line as well.
If you can dream it, chances are Magnum Research can build it. How about a carbon fiber-barreled chassis rifle that can deliver the same energy at 600 yards as a 12-gauge slug at 10 yards? Yup, Magnum Research can do it.
Our example of a custom Mountain Eagle includes options not listed on the company’s website, yet the rifle exists. This beast of a rifle was built with the finest components, and, at my introduction to the rifle, I was ringing a 12-inch plate of steel at 1,000 yards in gusty wind with minimal effort.
The rifle barked, and a short time later, we heard the ding. Shot after shot, the steel rang with the same predictable ease of practicing “ready up” drills at 50 yards with an AR. Magnum Research can and will build what you dream up (some rules of reality still apply). So, let’s look at the components that went into this beauty.
Unquestionably the most important part of any rifle. Magnum Research makes its own carbon barrels in-house, beginning with Criterion steel liners. Magnum Research then wraps, compresses, and cures pure graphite over that liner.
The advantages of graphite are numerous. Stronger, stiffer, and lighter than an all-steel equivalent, these barrels also cool quicker than all steel, helping extend barrel life. Most certainly a wise choice when using a cartridge that pushes a 180-grain pill more than 3,000 feet per second.
Though the barrel has a large diameter, it feels light in hand and helps shift the center of balance rearward. This is despite reaching 26 inches from the action. The extra rigidity makes for strong resistance to warping.
Likewise, it helps ensure the next shot lands in the same spot as previous shots. In fact, even five or ten shots prior, despite the heat of up to 65,000 psi of pressure, attempting to stress the barrel.
Capping the barrel is a beautiful stainless muzzle brake of Magnum Research’s own creation. The simplicity of a two-chamber design with top ports understates how well the device controls both recoil and muzzle rise.
This rifle is truly a treat to shoot. Despite the magnum power, recoil is pleasant, and the rifle remains still enough to watch your shot impact.
While the barrel plays a large role in accuracy, it’s not worth much if the action doesn’t place each round in the chamber in the same way and lock up consistently. Contrasting with the matte grey of the graphite barrel is a beautiful custom action from Defiance Machine.
Don’t bother scouring Defiance Machine’s website. The action used on the Mountain Eagle is a custom build for Magnum Research.
Closely resembling the anTi and anTi X models, this action is built from a single piece of pre-hardened 416 Stainless Steel. The bolts are turned from a single piece of pre-hardened 4340 chrome-moly steel. They are machined and polished to such an extent that, once unlocked, moving the bolt can be accomplished with the simple flick of a finger.
The sensation is like gliding a polished stone on flawless ice. Yes, the intent of such smooth and perfect machining is to increase accuracy. But it’s hard not to enjoy working the action shot after shot.
We’ve all fought sticky bolts before. This experience is the complete opposite. To further enhance the rifle’s ability to repeat shots accurately, the rails are machined as part of the action. So, no tiny screws bearing the recoil load while combating the inertia of a heavy scope.
The 28 Nosler is a beast of a round. As mentioned in the introduction, I was shocked that ringing steel at 1,000 yards with gusty crosswinds required next to no adjustments.
Released in 2015 as the world’s most powerful 7mm cartridge, 28 Nosler yields massive energy with a balance of both bullet weight and velocity. More tactically oriented shooters can relate to it like this. It has a mass that meets or exceeds most 7.62x51mm projectiles but travels at 5.56x45mm speeds.
A heavy 185-grain Nosler RDF bullet trucks along at 2,950 fps while a lighter 160-grain Sierra MatchKing zips along at 3,200 fps. Both impart around 3,600 fpe of energy at the muzzle.
Going back to our tactical relativity, that’s about one and a half 12-gauge slugs or roughly a dozen 115-grain 9mm bullets fired all at once. Understanding this, it only makes sense that the same Magnum Research producing revolvers chambered in .45-70 Govt would produce a bolt gun with Nosler’s monster 7mm.
As a defensive shooter, I wondered what the application of such a round could be. Conferring with ammunition experts, I was told it could be used to hunt anything in North America that could be seen through the scope.
“What, like an elk at 1,000 yards?” I asked, reaching for an example. “Yup, it’s done that,” was the reply.
With that established, there’s not much you can’t do with 28 Nosler. Nosler’s name is on the cartridge, but it’s not just Nosler who loads the ammunition. Loads can be found from other makers such as Hornady and Browning as well.
The Classy Chassis
A rifle’s chassis supports it all and must hold on to the action in the same way, shot after shot. We have the action and barrel chosen, but they need to be held steady. And the 28 Nosler chambering certainly doesn’t make that an easy job.
Magnum Research chose a chassis from XLR Industries for this build. Although this specific chassis has been discontinued by XLR Industries, many of the same characteristics can be found in their current lineup.
An XLR chassis is machined from a single piece of aluminum billet and uses multi-point radial cut inlets to eliminate the need for traditional V-block or glass bedding. Total weights can vary depending on the pistol grip and stock chosen. Your options there are plentiful as the chassis accepts AR-15 pistol grips and stocks.
We equipped the Mountain Eagle with a Riton X3 Conquer 6-24x50mm scope in Warne Maxima rings. Riton Optics may be based in sunny Arizona, but the glass proved clear and bright enough for shooting in the relatively low light of dreary Oregon where our tests were conducted.
A first-focal plan reticle simply makes sense for estimating range and making intelligent adjustments at any distance. The X3’s floating 1/22-MOA center dot made for an excellent aiming point, smaller than the impact of a 7mm projectile.
Warne’s MountainTech rings were chosen for their weight savings and unquestioned ability to hold scopes heavier than the X3 Conquer in place through magnum rifle recoil. 7075/T6 Aluminum saves weight, while stainless steel hardware provides resistance to elements a rifle like this might find itself in.
With the ammunition crisis in full swing, sourcing ammunition wasn’t easy. Oddly even esoteric calibers like 28 Nosler have disappeared from shelves. We were able to source a few boxes in different loadings from Browning and Nosler.
With an assortment of 160-grain, 175-grain, and 185-grain offerings, we grouped five-shot groups at 100 yards. Some say that projectiles of this caliber may not be fully stabilized at 100 yards as the journey of a 1,000-yard bullet has only begun at that point. But 100 yards is where rifles are tested.
If you’re of that school of thought, take the results with a grain of salt. It’s also worth noting that the LabRadar was unable to track these rounds for chronographing. Either the bullets were too fast from the 26-inch barrel, or the percussion from the muzzle brake shook the device off target.
Working such a silky action combined with the recoil mitigation provided by Magnum Research’s muzzle brake and a cushy butt pad made releasing 3,200-3,700 fpe a joy. The Trigger Tech Primary trigger offered no creep along with almost no visible movement. It simply snapped clean after minimal pressure.
This Mountain Eagle from Magnum Research may look beastly, but it was an absolute pleasure to shoot. Even the carbon barrel was misleading as it remained so cool in the 40-degree air that it was hard to tell if shots were being fired at a rate that might risk a shift in point-of-impact.
To mitigate this, groups were fired at a moderate pace with a few minutes between groupings to let things cool. Even without regard to potential internal barrel temperatures, the carbon held firm. And no discernable point-of-impact shift could be noted within each five-shot group.
Where Eagles Dare
So why a carbon-barreled chassis gun chambered in a powerhouse, long-range hunting cartridge? Because Magnum Research can. This rifle embodies the passion of Magnum Research’s pursuit to deliver accuracy and finesse with powerful cartridges.
This Magnum Research Mountain Eagle is ready to hunt anything in North America at nearly any range and ethically harvest. If you could choose the caliber, traits, and characteristics of a rifle, what would you build? Chances are, the folks at Magnum Research’s custom shop can guide you to a solution and build your dream into a reality.
To learn more, please visit MagnumResearchCustoms.com.
Magnum Research Custom Shop Mountain Eagle Performance
|Browning Long Range Pro Sierra 160 MatchKing||3,200||0.62|
|Nosler Trophy Grade 175 AccuBond||3,125||1.11|
|Nosler Match Grade 185 RDF||2,950||1.20|
Bullet weight measured in grains, velocity in feet per second (MFG MV), and accuracy in inches for the best 5-shot group from 100 yards.
This article originally appeared in May-June 2022 issue of Tactical Life magazine. Get your copy or digital subscription at OutdoorGroupStore.com.
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