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If I Had to Pick One: Umarex Break Barrel Air Rifles

Sometimes you just have to make a decision. I know that when we are looking to buy an item, and it takes a little setting aside of money (and accounting for how many hours of your life you’ll trade for that item) and picking the Right One™ is of the utmost importance. Some people will rationalize the decision over days, even weeks coming up with a list of reasons why this particular item is the Right One™. 

I remember years ago when I needed to make the transition from a film camera to a digital camera. I studied the various brands and the various models in those brands. I made calculations on what I could afford and came to conclusions.  This process took months and left me with satisfactory results. I was able to save up the money I needed and make a purchase that ended up lasting me for the better part of 12 years of hard use.  

I have always tried to look at decisions like this from an “if I could only have one” perspective. I guess the main motivation is that it puts those things in that category in a list arranged by priority. It doesn’t necessarily mean that I will go back and buy the other items, but just that the one that means the most to me is the one I go for when it is time to buy. 

When it comes to air rifles, one of the most recognizable adult airguns platforms is the humble break barrel.  While the market is moving towards pre-charged pneumatics fairly rapidly, there is still a strong market for break barrel rifles. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the break barrel market is still strong– there’s nothing needed, besides ammo, to operate it. They are dirt simple and very easy to use. Besides being simple, the break barrel air rifle is very affordable and capable of harvesting small and medium sized game.  All these factors add up to break barrel rifles being popular tools for pest control, small game hunting, and prepping. 

Who is the Right Person for Break Barrel Air Guns?

Are break barrel air rifles right for you? They are right for me, but, as the title indicates, if I had to pick just one break barrel rifle from our catalog, which one would I choose? For starters, I would have to pick a .22 caliber rifle. Typical .22 caliber pellets weigh 14-15 grains– plenty of mass to take care of any pest or small game hunting.  Even heavier pellets are available and I have a decent selection of those pellets in the 18-20 grain range. We’ve just recently released our hard hitting Brimstone .22 Caliber 18.67 grain pellets– making them an excellent choice for break barrel air rifle ammo! These will do the trick on larger critters like coyotes and wild pigs up to about 40 pounds. Remember, shot placement is everything.

Another factor that I resonate with, in spite of my access to electric high-pressure pumps, is the off-the-grid nature simplicity of a break barrel. I subscribe to the KISS principle whenever possible. KISS means Keep It Simple (Stupid). If a tool is made irreducibly simple, that tool is harder to break as it has fewer fail points. Take for example the household screwdriver. It does one thing really well. Compared to the screwdriver on a multi-tool, the household screwdriver seems to be lacking, that is up until you need to drive a few screws. The multi-tool screwdriver is not as robust or easy to work with as the plain jane household screwdriver. That’s not to say that a multi-tool doesn’t have a place in life, but that a simpler tool is the best tool when it comes to out and out performance.  

Also, this is not to say that PCP air rifles are at some disadvantage– they work really well doing what they do. However, adding a pump to the mix makes for extra stuff, and extra points of failure should the rifle be needed in a dire situation that preppers are prepping for, not to mention extra expense.  

Top .22 Caliber Umarex Break Barrels

The Umarex catalog has several really good break barrel air rifles in it. In the traditional single shot break barrel category, there is the Umarex Surgemax Elite. This rifle is a non-magnum style rifle with an all-weather polymer stock, a 4X32 scope, iron sights, and integral air moderation.  This rifle will launch a 12 grain pellet out of the muzzle at 800 FPS.  

Another excellent option would be the Ruger Targis Hunter Max. Like the Surgemax Elite, the Ruger Targis Hunter Max has an all-weather stock. However it comes with a 3-9X32 scope, integral sound moderation, and, a very handy sling. The Targis Hunter Max also shoots a 12 grain pellet at 800 FPS. 

The third option is a truly different model for use in that it is not a traditional break barrel in that the Umarex Emerge is a repeating action. Offered in both .177 and .22 calibers, the Emerge is the only auto indexing repeating break barrel air rifle in our catalog. The Emerge holds a full dozen .22 caliber pellets, features an all-weather polymer stock, integral sound moderation, and a 4X32 fixed power scope. The Emerge launches 12 grain pellets at 825 FPS and can shoot the whole magazine as fast as you can work the action. It's a really good shooting air rifle that works very well for hunting, plinking, or just general shooting. 

How Does the Squatch Settle this Matter?

Now– which one would I pick? This is a hard one to go wrong with, but if I had to pick one rifle of these three, I would have to pick the Ruger Targis Hunter Max. The factor that makes the decision for me is that it does come with a proper sling and an adjustable optic.  Yes, the Emerge does have a huge advantage with the pre-loaded 12 shot magazine, but I can live with a single load traditional break barrel for the ease of carrying and better included optic. 

Yes, a sling and better optic could be added to the Emerge or the Surge Max Elite. My reasoning, like many of you, is to be as simple and pragmatic in this decision as possible.The Ruger, out of the box, just offers a great value to the owner.

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