Armscor M1500 .22 Magnum Rifle
Affordable Varmint Hunter

Reviewed by Harwood Loomis for M1911.ORG



Not your typical Rock Island Armory Offering

Like many American shooters, I was first introduced to guns and shooting when my grandfather taught me to shoot with his .22 caliber rifle. In the decades between those first shots and today, I have shot any number of .22 rimfire rifles, in .22 Short, .22 Long, and .22 Long Rifle, I have owned a few rifles chambered for one or more of those cartridges, but I had never shot or owned a rifle chambered for .22 Magnum. Last year I decided that it was time to rectify that omission. However, being semi-retired and helping put a daughter through college, dropping a lot of money on a high-dollar (or even mid-range) rifle just wasnít in the cards.

As we have commented here in the M1911.org magazine before, although Arms Corporation of the Philippines (Armscor) is best known as the manufacturer of Rock Island Armory 1911 pistols, they also make a variety of other firearms, including semi-automatic handguns, revolvers, and several different rifles in various calibers. Late last year I happened to be looking over the Armscor web site when my gaze came upon a nice-looking, bolt-action rifle chambered in .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire (WMR). Knowing that Armscorís firearms are generally within the budget of ordinary people, I called my contact at Advanced Tactical in Pahrump, Nevada, to ask if they were importing the M1500 rifle. He told me he happened to have one there that he could sell me, and the price he quoted was something I could live with. Done. We sealed the deal on the spot and, a few days later, I received an e-mail from my FFL informing me that my rifle had arrived. ďBut,Ē he added, ďitís red.Ē

I assumed that he meant the wood had a reddish tone to it. When I arrived at the shop to take delivery, I found that he had not meant ďreddish,Ē he meant ďRED!Ē The information on the Armscor web site said the stock for the M1500 is hardwood, and the photos show a wood stock with nice, straight grain. The rifle I received was a matte finish, and it was RED. Looking at it, my first thought was that it must be a prototype for a polymer stock version. But, I had bought it. I knew I was buying a demonstrator of some sort, so ďit is what it isĒ applied. I reached out to Armscor to inquire about buying a replacement hardwood stock, because Ö well, because I like hardwood stocks. Somebody copied my e-mail to somebody else, who forwarded it to someone else again and, a few days later, I received an e-mail from Martin Tuason himself, the President of Armscor, confirming that Armscor did not make any polymer stock versions of the M1500.

Hmmm. Knowing that, I unlimbered the screwdriver and removed the action and buttplate from the stock. Sure enough, once the concealed surfaces were exposed it was obvious that the stock is, in fact, hardwood. Once this review has been published Iíll strip the stock down to bare wood and refinish it. I didnít want to do that before completing my review, though, because I donít want readers to look at photos of my amateur efforts and think thatís what Armscor produces. I have seen other Armscor rifles, and the stocks are nicely and uniformly finished.


The Armscor M1500

The Armscor M1500 is a fairly basic, no frills, bolt action rifle of traditional steel and wood construction. The receiver and barrel are steel, and the Monte Carlo stock is hardwood. In fact, finding a Monte Carlo stock on a rifle selling at this price point was a surprise, but it does make the rifle more comfortable to shoot. Another unexpected feature is that the front site isnít a blade or a ball, itís a fiber optic tube.


The fiber optic front sight


The barrel measures 22 and a half inches in length, which my research suggests is a good length for the .22 Magnum cartridge. The standard, open sights provide a clear picture, and the fiber optic front sight was easier to see than a post would have been in the artificial lights at the indoor range. The blued barrel was uniform in finish and color, and the action seemed well-fitted into the stock.

The magazines are all metal, including the follower, and felt ďsubstantial.Ē I donít know exactly what that means, but they didnít feel as though I risked damaging them by handling them too energetically. I might almost say they feel like they were machined from billets rather than formed from sheet metal, but Iím sure thatís not the way they are made. Magazine capacity is five rounds. The magazine release is located in the front of the trigger guard, where itís easy to access and easy to operate.


The M1500 magazine


The magazine release is in the front of the trigger guard


Topsides, the receiver is grooved to accept ⅜-inch rimfire scope rings. The safety lever is located immediately behind the bolt, on the right-hand side. The safe position is to the rear, with forward being the fire position. There is nothing unusual or unconventional about the controls, and they fall naturally to hand and function as intended with no fuss and no bother.


The M1500 receiver


The safety lever is easy to access and to operate


And that sums up what the Armscor M1500 is. The big question , of course, is Ö


How does it shoot?

The .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire cartridge reportedly came into existence to provide something between the venerable .22 Long Rifle rimfire cartridge and the centerfire .22 Hornet. Although it is a rimfire cartridge, the .22 Magnum has always been priced significantly higher than .22 Long Rifle. Before the recent shortages of .22 Long Rifle and the attendant increases in price for that cartridge, .22 Magnum was orders of magnitude more expensive than its smaller sibling and was, in fact, priced in the range of some centerfire ammunition. Consequently, fewer people bought .22 Magnum, and the manufacturers offered fewer choices. Perhaps because the lack of demand hasnít provided much impetus for the manufacturers to put much effort into development, .22 Magnum ammunition has never enjoyed a reputation for stellar accuracy. It isnít a bullseye round, itís a round whose accuracy has generally been regarded as ďminute of prairie dogĒ or ďminute of coyote.Ē Since I had never fired .22 Magnum out of anything other than a handgun, I was curious to see what the M1500 could do.

Not knowing what to expect, I tried to do my homework. In addition to looking for articles that might provide some basis for comparison, I also reached out to the members of a couple of Internet gun forums. What I learned from the latter was that I shouldnít have wasted my time. Having specifically asked what it would be reasonable to expect out of a low-priced rifle with an MSRP of around $250, most of the responses I received were of the type that said ďDonít bother, if it doesnít shoot under 1-inch at 100 yards itís not worth buying.Ē Of course, thatís sub-MOA accuracy, and in my opinion itís simply not at all reasonable to expect sub-MOA accuracy from a low-priced rifle firing a round that has a reputation for poor accuracy from the outset.

I was just going to have to find out for myself. Unfortunately, Chrisís Indoor Shooting Range only extends to 25 yards. Public outdoor ranges are scarce in this part of the country, so I had to make do with Chrisís range even though I would have preferred to test at 50 or even 100 yards for this rifle. But we can extrapolate from the 25-yard results to get an idea of the rifleís potential. I had two types of .22 Magnum ammunition I purchased locally, and a supply of Armscor .22 magnum ammunition obtained directly from Armscor. My results are in the table below:


Armscor M1500
AmmoAvg. Group (inches)Avg. Group (mm)Best Group (inches)Best Group (mm)
Armscor 40-gr JHP
0.84"
21
0.63"
16
CCI Maxi-Mag 40-gr JHP
0.50"
13
0.38"
10
Winchester Dynapoint 45-gr RNFP
0.63"
16
0.38"
10

I made no attempt to zero the sights before I started shooting, and I found that both the Armscor and CCI ammunition shot to point of aim with no adjustments. The Winchester Dynapoint, however, consistently shot 2 inches to the right of the point of aim. All of which just confirms the shootersí lore that rimfire rifles are notoriously picky about ammunition.

What my results translate to in terms of rifle accuracy is that the Armscor ammunition averaged 3.36 MOA, the CCI averaged 2 MOA, and the Winchester averaged 2.5 MOA. My overall average was 2.62 MOA. How does that stack up to the competitionówhatever the competition is?

After much searching on the Internet I found a review of a CZ-512, written by a gentleman whom I have met in person and whose results I believe can be trusted. The CZ-512 sells for approximately twice what the Armscor M1500 sells for. The results of the CZ-512 review were 25-yard groups averaging .92 inches (2.75 MOA), and 100-yard groups ranging from a best of 3 MOA to 4.5 MOA, with the average of 3.65 MOA.

I then stumbled across an article written by Chuck Hawks, who is somewhat of a rimfire guru, comparing the .22 Winchester Magnum to the .17 Hornady Magnum Rimfire (HMR). In his discussion, Hawks comments that the .17 HMR is much more accurate than the .22 WMR, and that he has a rifle in .17 HMR that shoots under 1 MOA at 100 yards. He then states that the best .22 WMR rifle he has ever tested shot 1.5 MOA.

To put the Armscor M1500 in perspective, then, our results show that it shot significantly better than an experienced gun tester was able to obtain with a rifle costing twice as much, and my overall average of 2.62 MOA (with a best of 2 MOA with the CCI ammunition) isnít far off what Chuck Hawks says his best-ever .22 Magnum rifle shot. Is it good enough? Hawks says that the vital zone for small varmints is 2 inches in diameter. With the right ammunition, the Armscor M1500 will stay in that 2-inch zone at 100 yards, which means that for varmint hunting it should be good to go. For recreational plinking, even 2.62 MOA is certainly well within ďminute of gallon milk jugĒ at 100 yards.

http://www.chuckhawks.com/compared_17HMR_22WMR.htm

To close out the discussion of accuracy, I should mention that I didnít take my good tripod rest to the range because Chris has always had a very stable rest available for use by range customers. I was dismayed to discover on the day I arrived with the M1500 that someone had destroyed Chrisís good rest. I therefore had to use a lightweight plastic rest made by MTM Case-Gard and intended as a pistol rest. The vertical leg snaps out for storage and telescopes for adjustment, resulting in a rest that isnít especially solid and stable. I wonít be able to prove it until I take the M1500 back to the range for another session, but I believe using a solid rifle rest the results will be better across the board than what Iím reporting in this review.


The MTM pistol rest used in this evaluation


Evaluation

I found the Armscor M1500 to be a solidly-built rifle that shoots well and produces acceptable accuracy. With an MSRP of around $250 and a street price closer to $200, itís an excellent choice for those rimfire shooters looking to move up from the .22 Long Rifle into Magnum territory without breaking the bank. As long as your expectations arenít unrealistic (in other words, you donít realistically expect sub-MOA accuracy out of a $200 rifle with .22 Magnum ammunition), you should be well served by the Armscor M1500.


Footnote

Just as we were wrapping up this article, we received word from Armscor that the M1500 rifle is no longer shown in the U.S. catalog. You wonít see it on the Armscor web site, but they can be found if you look hard enough, and spare magazines are currently available from at least one on-line source (besides Armscor). According to Martin Tuason, the President of Armscor, the M1500 wasn't selling enough in the U.S. to make it worthwhile importing, so they dropped it from the U.S. lineup. We think thatís unfortunate, because itís a nice rifle at a very attractive price point. According to Mr. Tuason, the M1500 is very popular in Australia, New Zealand, and South America. If you can find one, buy it.


Acknowledgments

As always, we want to acknowledge Chris Dogolo, owner of Chrisí Indoor Shooting Range, for his unfailing support and assistance in allowing us to conduct our testing at his range. We also extend our thanks to Ivan Walcott of Advanced Tactical (Armscor USA) for providing the Armscor ammunition used in this evaluation.

Please go to this thread on the M1911 Pistols Organization discussion forum to discuss this article: http://forum.m1911.org/showthread.ph...186#post993186

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Specifications

Armscor M1500 .22 WMR
ModelM1500
Caliber:.22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire
Overall Length:41.13" (1045 mm)
Barrel Length:22.5" (572 mm)
Sights:Open rear, fiber optic front
Length of pull:14Ē (356 mm)
Drop at comb:1.50Ē (38 mm)
Drop at heel:2.00Ē (51 mm)
Weight (empty):6.5 pounds (2.95 kg)
Magazine Capacity:5 rounds
Finish:Matte black
MSRP:$250 (Approximate)


Sources

Rifle



Armscor USA
150 N. Smart Way
Pahrump, NV 89060
USA
Tel: 1-702-461-9469
Web site: http://www.armscor.com

Range Facilities



Chrisí Indoor Shooting Range
2458 Boston Post Road
Guilford, CT 06437-1398
Tel: (203) 453-1570
Web site: http://www.chrisindoorrange.net