August 09, 2021
The Ruger 10/22 rimfire rifle has been around since 1964, and for many it has offered an introduction to firearm safety, marksmanship and hunting. The length, lightweight and negligible felt recoil make it an ideal platform for young shooters to develop a passion for the shooting sports. In 2019, air-gun manufacturer Umarex introduced a CO2-powered replica of this iconic rifle, which gave firearm enthusiasts an air rifle that lives up to the utility and fun of its rimfire counterpart.
One evaluator noted that pulling the Umarex 10/22 air rifle out of the Ruger-branded box was reminiscent of their youth and of venturing into open fields with a .22 LR rifle in hand to shoot pests, cans and hunt for jackrabbits. Many of us can relate to such experiences. As adults, we long for those days of adventure when the time passed slowly and our only concern was missing dinner. For most of us, living conditions have since changed, and instead of a verdant field we are surrounded by the suburbs. The 10/22 has always been a great companion gun, but the air rifle version may be the perfect partner for modern living.
Umarex’s semiautomatic replica is a dead-on copy of the rimfire original. Side by side, the synthetic stock looks and feels the same. Its grip and forend checkering are identical, and a barrel band secures the barrel and forend. Molded sling eyelets start and finish the stock. The triggerguard, trigger, cross-bolt safety, and push-lever magazine release have the same profile, but are of synthetic construction. For the sake of authenticity a bolt lock is included, but it’s non-functional.
The sights also echo the rimfire’s sights. The adjustable rear open sight flips down and has reference marks for elevation; the difference is that it’s made of plastic instead of steel. A brass bead dresses up the front sight, which looks like a pressed-in dovetail sight, but is fixed and can’t be drifted for windage.
The Umarex 10/22 replica stays faithful with its dimensions, too. Its overall length is 37 inches, the length of pull reaches 131/2 inches, and the 181/2-inch, rifled steel barrel is shrouded to mimic the original’s profile. Only the caliber is different. At .177 inches, the pellets are small but zippy.
One of the important details Umarex included was tapping the receiver to the same specs as the rimfire rifle. This opens it up to accept 10/22-compatible optic mounts and rails already available. These are easy to find thanks to the 10/22’s popularity.
To reveal the air-powered nature of the rifle, you actually have to tug the bolt handle back or peer into the magazine well. Here you will discover that instead of a bolt, the Umarex 10/22 has a zinc-alloy housing which contains the gas valve responsible for channeling bursts of CO2 to the propel the pellets. The white lettering on the left side of the receiver marked “Ruger 10/22 Air-Powered Rifle” will also give it away.
Differences are also evident when the magazines are compared. The air gun’s magazine consists of a polymer housing and a ring-shaped, rotating loading mechanism. The unit is similar in size to the rimfire’s rotary magazine. It’s also removed by pushing the magazine release while scooping the front of the magazine with the index finger.
The trigger is also a departure from the original, and understandably since this is an air rifle. It’s a double-action trigger wherein the first stage rotates the rotary magazine and cocks the hammer. The second stage releases the hammer onto the valve thereby releasing a burst of CO2 gas and propelling the pellet down the barrel. The first stage of the trigger press measured 10 pounds, 4 ounces, and felt steady and solid. Precocked, the trigger measured 1 pound, 10 ounces, making it a very light trigger. (Umarex advertises this model as having a 4-pound trigger.)
If you’re looking to maximize your shooting accuracy, the trigger can be set up as a single-stage trigger. To do this, pull and release the bolt handle. This action cocks the hammer, rotates the rotary magazine and sets the trigger to its second stage. The safety must be in the fire position, so make sure that you’re on target before disengaging the safety. Once fired, the trigger returns to double-action mode.
Finding the CO2 cartridge compartment was intuitive. I rotated the rifle looking for a hidden panel and found a quarter-sized disc on the butt plate. A closer look revealed the words “lock,” “open” and “press.” Using my thumb, I pressed and twisted the button to the “open” position. This allowed me to free the buttplate from the stock. To my surprise, a large Allen key was integrated into the buttplate. The wrench design uses the buttplate as a handle, and is both clever and extremely useful. The Allen key is used to remove the cap of the CO2 compartment.
When we removed the cap, we noticed the compartment was rather deep, so we consulted the manual for specifics. It turns out that the compartment holds two, 12-gram CO2 cartridges and serves as a reservoir. The cartridges have a specific in-stock orientation: The first is inserted mouth first, and the other goes in bottom first. When the cap is screwed in, both cartridges are pierced thereby releasing the gas into the reservoir. The O-ring on the cap keeps the reservoir tightly sealed. Two cartridges are needed to ensure the seals are punctured, but you can use one fresh cartridge in conjunction with a spent one.
Carbon dioxide-powered air rifles have several advantages over pre-charged pneumatics. The cartridges are highly portable, you don’t need any additional or special equipment to use them, and they provide many consistent shots before petering out. The CO2 cartridges are unique in that the pressure stays relatively the same until the liquid CO2 inside the cartridge is depleted. Once gone, there will be a dramatic loss in pressure. It’s not like pre-charged pneumatics where the point of impact gradually drops as the air pressure decreases. With CO2-powered air guns, the point of impact will be consistent and then the pellet suddenly drops well below the point of aim.
Before testing the 10/22, we took advantage of the tapped receiver and installed a Bushnell Engage 2.5-10x44mm riflescope ($344, bushnell.com). Its parallax is adjustable from 10 yards to infinity, making it great for close range shooting. For the base, we purchased a Tactical Solutions Standard Scope Rail ($33, tacticalsol.com).
For the accuracy test, we shot the rifle from the prone position with a varmint rest up front and a large bag for rear support. We used projectiles ranging from very light (5.3 grains) alloy pellets to heavy (9.1 grains) lead pellets. We shot both target and hunting pellets. Accuracy testing called for five, five-shot groups, and the target was set at 20 yards. Each shot was fired in single-action mode.
Accuracy results were impressive. The best average group size measured .84 inch with SIG Sauer’s alloy pellet. At 5.3 grains, this pellet was the fastest with an average velocity of 602 feet per second (fps). The heaviest pellet faired well, too, with an average group size of 1.11 inches.
During the test, we shot 50 pellets before replacing the cartridges. There was no point-of-impact shift from the first to the last pellet. Curious about how many good shots could be had from two CO2 cartridges, we fired the rifle until the pellet dropped out of the group of shots. We were able send 66 pellets downrange before hearing the tell-tale thud of the depleted cartridge.
Once accuracy testing was complete, we swapped out the scope for a Bushnell RXS-250 red dot ($250) to practice shooting at multiple targets at varying distances from a standing position. This test proved to be a lot of fun. Shooting with the red dot and both eyes open allows for a wide field of view and made transitions from target to target faster. Also, the 3-MOA dot is small enough to deliver precise shots on mouse-sized targets at 20 yards. The other benefit to a red dot is that it’s excellent for day or night use. It’s an ideal setup for the air gun’s capabilities.
We also shot the rifle using the open sights with good results. The pairing of the white diamond on the rear sight with the brass bead made for easy alignment in daylight and low-light conditions. Our one complaint is the lack of windage adjustment to help compensate for pellets that shoot left or right from the point of aim. During this evaluation, some of the projectile types exhibited noticeable drift at 15 yards, which became obvious at 20 paces. The shift wasn’t specific to pellet weight. It is a relatively minor issue, and is nullified when an optic is added. It’s also an aspect we may have been able to overlook if the rifle wasn’t so inherently accurate. This model air rifle is a shooter, and being able to center the shots at this distance would make it nearly perfect.
Umarex has done an uncanny job with this officially licensed reproduction. From the highly polished Ruger-branded box to its accuracy, it’s obvious to us that Umarex designers love the Ruger 10/22 rimfire as much as we do. The rifle was all sorts of fun and retains the spirit of what makes the legendary rimfire still so desirable.
Umarex Ruger 10/22 Air Rifle Specs
- Type: CO2-powered semiautomatic
- Caliber: .177 pellet
- Capacity: 10
- Barrel: 18.25 in.
- Overall Length: 37 in.
- Weight: 3 lbs., 8 oz.
- Sights: Adj. flip down (rear); non-adj. brass bead (front)
- Safety: Cross bolt
- Finish: Black
- Trigger: 1 lb., 10 oz. (single action); 10 lbs., 4 oz. (double action)
- MSRP: $130
Enjoy articles like this?
Subscribe to the magazine.
Get access to everything Guns & Ammo has to offer.
Subscribe to the Magazine