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Ruger® 10/22® Air Rifle: Talk about a Backyard Plinker

Odds are you are already familiar with Ruger®’s 10/22®. The gun has been in production since 1964 and there are more than 5 million of them out in the wild. There are countless variations of the rifle, so a new model is rarely headline-worthy. This is an exception. Ruger has now teamed up with Umarex to produce an air gun version of their most iconic rifle.

Let’s step back and talk about what made the 10/22® so popular. The market for rimfire rifles in 1964 was crowded with bolt-actions. There were some single-shots kicking around still, and a few semi-autos—but they weren’t known for their reliability.

The 10/22® changed that. The Ruger® 10/22® holds 10 rounds of .22 long rifle, thus the name. The real selling point of the 10/22® is the rotary box magazine that fits flush in the stock and is critical to the gun’s design. Other single-stack magazines of the era left a lot to be desired and tended to be easily damaged in typical use, as they often stuck out of the bottom of the stock.

The 10/22® mag was exceptionally reliable, and the rifle was, too. The action is easy to disassemble and clean, which is vital for the success of a rimfire. Even if the gun jams, the bolt is easy to access and operate.

The 10/22® is large enough to be used by adults, and yet compact enough (and light enough) to be used effectively by younger shooters.

Over the last half a decade, Ruger® has tweaked and refined the design. They’ve integrated aluminum and plastic in so many different ways; categorizing them would be all but impossible.

One of the most popular versions today has a deeply blued barrel and a black synthetic stock. The all-weather capabilities of the plastic stock make the gun versatile and durable. Unlike some of the wooden stocks, this one doesn’t have to be babied quite so much.

This is the one that Umarex is basing their new air gun on. The black stock is identical to what you would find on a rimfire 10/22®. In fact, the two are almost 100% identical from the outside. It is only when the magazine is dropped that you can begin to see the air gun innovation Umarex is known for.

The magazine fits into the gun just like it would on a stock 10/22®. As this is a .177 pellet gun, the air gun is fitted with a rotary magazine that holds 10 pellets. The mags (and their rotary wheels) are easy to load, which makes this an ideal plinker.

The new 10/22® runs on two 12g CO2 capsules. They slide into the stock. With the buttpad on, they are invisible.

The .177 pellets leave the barrel at 650 feet per second. That makes this air gun a solid option for poking holes in cans in the backyard. It would also make a good choice for small vermin.

Like the other 10/22®s, this one is accurate. I had some alone time with the gun on the indoor range at Umarex’s headquarters in Fort Smith, Arkansas. I shot standing, and unsupported, at ranges out to 25 yards. The group size was solid for a .177 with iron sights.

The one place where you’ll feel the difference between the rimfire 10/22® and the pellet 10/22® is the trigger. The rimfire gun has a solid factory trigger. There’s often a bit of take-up before a clean break. As far as factory triggers go, the 10/22® is dependable and time-tested. Even so, many choose to put in an after-market trigger to improve accuracy.

The Umarex build has a good trigger, but it will feel a bit off to those who have spent time behind a 10/22® rimfire. There is a bit more take up. It took me a few shots to get accustomed to the break. Additionally, the charging handle can be used to pre-cock the hammer and will allow for a single-action style trigger. After a few magazines, I had the hang of it and had little difficulty placing shots where I wanted them.

The sights on this are adjustable. If you are really intent on group size and accuracy, I’d suggest dialing in the rear sight from the bench. A .177 pellet may not be as accurate as well made .22 long rifle, but this gun can still deliver.

And like all Ruger®’s, it is easy to add an optic to this one. Putting on a red dot will help increase your speed. That’s part of the appeal of a good plinker.

At the end of this, I’m thrilled by the new 10/22®. I’ve been asking for this rifle for years, now, and here it is. I frequently teach firearms basics, and the 10/22® is part of tool-kit. Now I will add one of these, too, to that lineup. I can’t think of a better way to get a new shooter ready for rimfire.

The new 10/22® has an MSRP of $129.99.

 David Higginbotham is a writer and educator who lives in Arkansas. After years of writing and consulting in the firearms industry, he's coming back to his roots with air guns.

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4/1/2019 7:50 PM
Nice looking Replica rifle but Ruger should have never licensed it with the 10/22 name unless it had .22 pellets.  Sorry but it should be called the 10/.177 rifle. A .22 caliber is a big difference and I think this is false advertising. Really Umarex you could not come up with the correct engineering calculations to use .22 pellets . This is really a shame and a big fraud to the Ruger 10/22 name.  Shame on Ruger for licensing the 10/22 name with out it being correctly calibrated for a few licensing dollars.
7/10/2019 1:22 PM
I agree completely that the 10/22 SHOULD BE .22 caliber.  Many pellet rifles are offered in .177 or .22, so I'll patiently waiting for Umarex  and Ruger to introduce the .22 caliber variant, and buy it immediately!
7/17/2019 6:40 AM
Whatever the name, the gun is fun to shoot.  I can shoot the pellet gun in my back yard, whereas I need to take my rimfire 10-22 to my gun club 20 minutes drive from my home.  Accuracy is good enough to plink tin cans at 25 feet.  The rifle is powerful enough to go through one side of a sturdy soup can and dent the other side.
I look forward to being able to buy extra magazines.