Ruger 10/22 Air Rifle Test Review
30 July, 2019
Supplied by Umarex USA
Very accurate replica of the firearm.
Accurate with many types of pellets.
Most accurate with alloy pellets. (That's VERY unusual).
Not a semi auto.
Heavy double action trigger.
Need to seat pellets in magazine.
VALUE FOR MONEY
At a Street Price of $129.95, a ton of people will buy the Ruger 10/22 air rifle – on the name if nothing else. It’s a very realistic-looking replica of the semi-auto rimfire.
For the increasing number of airgun shooters who want to use alloy pellets, this big news is that the Ruger 10/22 air rifle tested by HAM shot extremely well with them. In fact, better than with lead pellets – that’s very unusual!
And most buyers are likely to be happy with the performance if the gun is used as a backyard plinker and fun shooter.
Like the rimfire 10/22, if you want to make full use of the accuracy, you’ll need to scope the gun. And you’ll need to buy a dedicated 10/22 Picatinny rail adapter. Both are extra cost and – together – can double the price of the basic airgun.
But this is not a hunting air rifle and – perhaps more importantly – it’s NOT a semi auto. For those who are familiar with the capabilities of blowback-operated, CO2-powered, full/semi auto replica BB guns such as the Umarex Legends MP40, for example, that will be a big disappointment.
Note, the sling is not included. We added a set of Uncle Mike’s sling swivels and a web “Chicom” sling as part of our testing. HAM Publisher Stephen Archer likes slings on rifles!
BUY FROM PYRAMYD AIR
Ruger 10/22 CO2 Air Rifle .177 0.177
BUY FROM AIRGUN DEPOT
Ruger 10/22 CO2 Air Rifle
REALISM – LOOKS AND FEEL
Compared to the rimfire 10/22 original, this airgun is an EXTREMELY close copy of the all-weather, synthetic-stocked version. The weight is around half a pound lighter for the airgun, but that’s about the only significant difference.
Overall look and feel is just like that of the firearm. The Ruger company website endorses this airgun as a faithful representation of the 10/22. It’s very hard to argue with that!
The rear sight has limited elevation capabilities, adjusted with a clamp screw. However, the front sight is not drift-adjustable for windage, hence the need for some type of optical sight to achieve the accuracy of which this gun is capable.
ACCURACY AND POINT OF IMPACT
The Ruger 10/22 air rifle proved to be very accurate with most of the HAM standard test pellets. In fact it’s one of the very few air rifles tested by HAM that displayed best accuracy with alloy pellets!
Obviously this is a low-powered plinker, but accuracy at 10 Yards was excellent with the H&N Field Target Trophy Green pellets. It was also very acceptable out at 25 Yards, as this test target shows. Note that HAM Tester Doug Wall left the scope elevation setting unchanged from the 10-yard zero to illustrate the change in Point Of Impact at the increased range.
Excellent accuracy was also achieved firing Crosman Premier HP pellets. (See the test target below). This is an important trait for any budget air rifle as these pellets are available almost everywhere and are an immensely popular purchase from big box stores. Many buyers of the 10/22 air rifle will undoubtedly use these pellets, so it’s good that they performed well in the HAM test gun.
The firearm Ruger 10/22 has no scope mounting capabilities, so – as an accurate replica – the 10/22 air rifle follows this lead exactly. It also means that the airgun has that rear sight of very limited adjustment capabilities. So a scope is definitely required to make use of the gun’s excellent accuracy potential.
Like the rimfire, installing a scope on a 10/22 requires fitting a separate scope rail. The HAM Team installed a Leapers UTG Picatinny rail mount. This was designed and intended for installation on the firearm and it fitted perfectly.
Then we installed an UTG Bugbuster on the rail for our testing. A compact, light rifle needs a compact, light scope! There’s more detail on this in a previous HAM post.
This rail and scope combination worked very well, but just about doubled the $129.99 cost of the gun! A cheaper alternative would be to use a red/green dot sight like this Leapers UTG SCP-DS3068W shown below. But you’ll still need the Picatinny rail adapter.
COMPARISON TO MAKERS CLAIMS
The headline claim for the Ruger 10/22 air rifle is that it has the look and feel of the rimfire original. That’s clearly well achieved!
Umarex claims a maximum Muzzle Velocity of 700 FPS with alloy pellets. HAM achieved a maximum of 666 FPS using lightweight Gamo alloy pellets at 67 degrees F.
Like all CO2-powered airguns, the 10/22 air rifle shoots faster in warmer temperatures. In fact the difference is about 2 FPS per degree F change in temperature. This means that – had the HAM test gun been shot in a 90 degree environment – it would have achieved 712 FPS, exceeding the manufacturer’s claim.
Umarex is also scrupulously accurate in its description of the gun, describing it as a “multi-shot air rifle”. This is true and the company is to be commended for not trying to claim that the 10/22 air rifle has a semi-automatic action. Some other companies are less scrupulous in this type of description for their airguns…
The Ruger 10/22 air rifle tested by HAM demonstrated impressive consistency for an airgun of this type and price.
Standard Deviation – the measure of shot-to-shot consistency within a string – was very creditable for a CO2-powered airgun at an average of 11.2 FPS. Muzzle Energy was also quite consistent at between 5.5 and 6.1 Lbs for 5 out of the 7 HAM standard test pellets.
Trigger pull weight in single-action mode was also consistent, with a variation of plus or minus 6 Oz around the 4 Lb 7 Oz average for the gun tested by HAM.
REALISM – TRIGGER AND ACTION
The Ruger 10/22 rimfire rifle is a semi-automatic. The 10/22 air rifle is not. There’s no blowback on this airgun, that makes a very significant difference!
In fact, the 10/22 air rifle CAN be fired by simply pulling the trigger. However it’s then operating as a double-action revolver and the trigger pull weight is extremely high – about 14 Lbs in the gun tested by HAM. Ouch!
The rimfire model is not renowned for a light trigger in stock form, but 6 Lbs is a more typical TPW in that case.
To reduce stress on the trigger finger and improve accuracy, the air rifle version can be operated as a straight-pull bolt action gun. In this case, the charging handle is pulled back before each shot. The trigger now operates single action and reduced the pull weight to a much more manageable 4 Lbs 7 Oz average on the gun tested by HAM.
HAM Tester Doug Wall used this “straight pull” bolt operation method for his shooting tests. It certainly gave good results, but definitely detracts from realism compared to the semi-automatic operation of the rimfire 10/22.
In single action mode, trigger pull is fairly long and it’s not easy to feel a distinct release point for the sear. Although double action gives that very heavy tripper pull, it is actually easier to feel the “wall” where trigger release will take place.
The charging handle also has two stages. The second (harder) stage rotates the magazine and brings a new pellet into position for firing.
Operation of the charging handle requires a fairly short travel. However, it requires about 18 Lbs of effort which – due to the size of the handle – can only be done with one finger. Whether fired single- or double-action, the HAM testers acquired a sore finger when shooting the 10/22 air rifle!
The 10/22 tested by HAM produced 60 shots from a fill of two fresh 12 Gram CO2 cartridges before the Muzzle Velocity fell below 300 FPS. After this, the pellets were being “lobbed”, as Doug Wall recorded in his testing notes. The temperature for this test was 68 degrees F.
This number of shots is acceptable for a CO2-powered air rifle, however it’s far from outstanding. Given the 110 shots from a pair of fresh CO2 cartridges delivered by the Umarex Legends Cowboy rifle (albeit shooting BBs), the HAM testers had expected better, especially as both guns are almost certainly manufactured in the same Taiwanese factory and neither has blowback operation.
It’s possible that the the very tight grip on the pellets by the pellet clip may cause this relatively low shot count, as a relatively large amount of energy (= CO2) would be required to unseat a pellet every time one is fired.
The Ruger 10/22 air rifle tested by HAM delivered a maximum Muzzle Velocity of 666 FPS shooting 4.7 Grain Gamo Platinum PBA pellets. (As explained above, this could translate to as high as 712 FPS at higher temperatures.
As usual, 7.0 Grain RWS Hobby pellets produced the highest Muzzle Velocity with lead, giving 589 FPS at the 67 Degree test temperature.
|Pellet||Average Muzzle Velocity||Average Muzzle Energy||Accuracy|
|Gamo Raptor Platinum 4.7 Grain||666 FPS||4.63 Ft/Lbs||Very Good.|
|H&N Field Target Trophy Green 5.56 Grain||645 FPS||5.14 Ft/Lbs||Excellent. Best Tested/|
|RWS Hobby 7.0 Grain||589 FPS||5.40 Ft/Lbs||Very Good.|
|Crosman Premier HP 7.9 Grain||569 FPS||5.69 Ft/Lbs||Excellent.|
|JSB Exact Diabolo 8.44 Grain||563 FPS||6.07 Ft/Lbs||Poor.|
|H&N Field Target Trophy 8.64 Grain||559 FPS||5.99 Ft/Lbs||Very Good.|
|H&N Baracuda Match 10.65 Grain||507 FPS||6.07 Ft/Lbs||Poor.|
As this table shows, here was one of the rare occasions where (almost) the fastest-firing pellets also gave the best accuracy. The 5.56 Grain H&N Field Target Trophy Green pellets gave 645 FPS, together with excellent accuracy in HAM testing.
Given the physics of using CO2 as an airgun power source, somewhere around 700 FPS is a very acceptable peak Muzzle Velocity for a mass-manufactured air rifle in .177 caliber. So the 10/22 delivers in this respect.
But note that – with this power level – the 10/22 air rifle is strictly a plinker. A Muzzle Energy of around 6 Ft/Lbs is not enough for hunting, except maybe very small critters at very close range and if the shooter is a very good shot. HAM recommends buying a more powerful air rifle if you want to hunt!
APPEARANCE AND FINISH
Overall appearance and finish of the 10/22 air rifle are very good. The 10/22 has simple, smooth lines and this is well represented by the airgun version.
Visible metal parts are well finished, with Ruger branding applied sharply and clearly.
The synthetic stock is likewise nicely executed. Mold seams are minimized and the surface textures are well executed both on the top – where they’re obviously most visible – and on the underside (where they’re not).
BUYING AND OWNING
The Ruger 10/22 air rifle is readily available online from your usual favorite stores such as Pyramyd Air and Airgun Depot. We can also expect to see it sold in many big box sporting goods stores also.
There’s a one-year warranty provided by Umarex USA from their Arkansas facility. The Owner’s Manual is well-illustrated and offers guidance in English, French and Spanish. However, it gives no guidance on what to do in the case of a jam.
Pellet loading is achieved by removing the magazine assembly from the un-cocked gun. Then the red rotary pellet clip can be removed to load pellets.
At least it can be removed after the retaining catch has been pulled back (it’s the part marked 214 in the photograph below). Pulling this catch back can be a fingernail-breaking affair as it’s very tight – at least on the gun tested by HAM.
A further loading wrinkle is that you need to give some attention to ensuring that pellets are correctly inserted in the red rotary clip.
The Owners Manual warns against allowing pellet heads to protrude in front of the clip face. However the HAM Team found that many types of pellet needed to be seated into the clip using a pellet-seating tool or similar. Using a tool allows all pellets to be correctly located against the step in the clip for uniform operation.
Either way, if a pellet head or skirt hangs outside the red pellet clip, there’s a good chance that it could cause a jam. That would likely be very difficult to clear given the enclosed nature of the feed system. So attention is required when loading pellets for the 10/22 air rifle!
Regular 12 Gram CO2 cartridges are loaded in through the butt, with their round ends back-to-back. They are pierced and retained in place by the metal spacer. This is tightened using the Allen (hex) wrench built into the butt plate.
SAFETY FIRST. Due to the realistic appearance of this product, handle it as you would a firearm. Do not display it in public or in any place where it could be mistaken for a cartridge firearm.
This entire article including scoring, test targets etc is Copyright Hard Air Magazine and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the publisher.