This paper presents a smart passive MR damper with fast-responsive characteristics for impact mitigation. The hybrid powering system of the MR damper, composed of batteries and self-powering component, enables the damping of the MR damper to be negatively proportional to the impact velocity, which is called rate-dependent softening effect. This effect can keep the damping force as the maximum allowable constant force under different impact speed and thus improve the efficiency of the shock energy mitigation. The structure, prototype and working principle of the new MR damper are presented firstly. Then a vibration platform was used to characterize the dynamic property and the self-powering capability of the new MR damper. The impact mitigation performance of the new MR damper was evaluated using a drop hammer and compared with a passive damper. The comparison results demonstrate that the damping force generated by the new MR damper can be constant over a large range of impact velocity while the passive damper cannot. The special characteristics of the new MR damper can improve its energy dissipation efficiency over a wide range of impact speed and keep occupants and mechanical structures safe.