Doubling up on 10/22s, the new Ruger CO2 model is an almost perfect match for the .22 rifle.
There are a number of excellent CO2 powered air rifles on the market today that duplicate AR-based .223 Remington (5.56x45mm NATO) centerfire platforms, as well as the Sig Sauer MPX and MCX pellet-firing models, and classic military models like the Springfield Armory M1 Carbine. The new Umarex Ruger 10/22 is the only one based on an original .22 LR design, essentially the next step up after a pellet rifle for learning gun handling skills and target shooting. The symbiotic relationship between the 10/22 in .22 LR and the 10/22 CO2 in 4.5mm (.177 caliber), is the closest of any contemporary air rifle to its cartridge-loading counterpart.
Body double, the CO2 model uses the same style and size magazine as the rimfire model. With the rotary pellet magazine (red part showing) inserted into the main magazine, it loads into the bottom of the 10/22’s receiver the same as the rimfire model…
…and the only difference with the .22 LR (pictured) is how the cartridges, vs. the 4.5mm pellets are loaded into the magazine. Familiarization with loading the air rifle magazine into the gun is a hand’s-on experience for the .22 LR.
Going from my office shooting range, where it is always a cool 72 degrees, to today’s 89 degree, 65 percent humidity, and 9 mph prevailing wind outdoor range, was quite a change. Heat aside, the wind blowing right to left across my downrange shots didn’t do anything for the CO2 model’s windage adjustments, and I had to make a more extreme POA correction, especially when doing the 25 yard test against the .22 LR Ruger. For the 10 meter test I shot the RWS R 10 Match lead wadcutters and my 5-shot group measured 0.75 inches. At 10 meters the .22 LR punched its five rounds into 0.56 inches in the A-Zone of the IPSC silhouette. I wasn’t trying to shoot anything but a close group but the five CCI Mini Mags made an almost perfect A right below the A in the A-Zone. So, for comparison, the CO2 model came within 0.19 inches of the .22 LR model.
The first thing when getting ready to shoot the 10/22, is to pull the bolt to the rear and chamber the first .22 LR round…
…the same action is done to fire the first round in the CO2 model (unless you want to fire the gun double action). You have the option of firing DA or pulling the bolt to the rear for every shot to fire SA, which significantly reduces the trigger pull from an average of 9 pounds, 10 ounces, to 3 pounds, 6.0 ounces.
The test gun came directly from Umarex and was a sample with no instruction book or box. What I determined (and it may be in the instruction book, I don’t know), is that you get a more accurate shot by seating the pellets into the rotary magazine (as shown with the lower five rounds) rather than just pushing them into the chamber flush with the rim. You can feel and hear each pellet click into the rotary magazine chambers using a seating tool. I tried shooting both ways. Some rotary magazines I have used won’t allow seating the pellet deeper (they even fall through), while others have a recommendation in the instruction book to do so. Some even come with a seating tool. Since this was a sample gun without an instruction book, I’m just making an observation and relating my results.
At 25 yards, I did not have great expectations that the CO2 model would come that close to the .22, especially with the wind kicking up to almost 10 mph. My .22 LR group, shot from a kneeling position, put all five rounds of CCI Mini Mags inside of 1.125 inches. For the long range CO2 test I switched to the lighter weight H&N Sport 5.25 alloy wadcutters. My CO2 was running low, the wind was too high and I pretty much threw my first five shot group away with all five hitting far left in the 7 and 8 rings and from the hits the pellets were tumbling. There were only two actual holes in the target and the other three rounds had torn rips into the paper. I measured the spread on this and it was 1.75 inches.
The 10/22 Compact used for the comparison has a shorter barrel, and thus a shorted sight radius. It also uses fiber optic sights, which I did not find to be a great advantage with this gun.
Only barrel length and sights have changed on the exterior and the 10/22 Air Rifle was actually easier to sight on target than the .22 LR model. The air rifle’s longer sight radius and original-style Ruger rear sight and gold (actually brass on the CO2 model) front bead are very quick to get on target.
With new CO2 and POA corrected to right of the bullseye between the 8 and 9 rings, and the wind down to a light breeze, the next five wadcutters hit solidly across the 10 ring spread from 8 o’clock to 4 o’clock. A couple tore the target rather than making a clean hole and the group accuracy was a hair greater at 1.875 inches center-to-center, but much closer to POA. I would dare say that fired from a benchrest with a fresh CO2 the Ruger could shoot tighter, especially with a scope. Still, the Ruger 10/22 Air Rifle came pretty close to the .22 LR at 25 yards.
Outdoors in high heat and humidity and a crosswind of up to 9 mph, I managed to punch my five target shots using RWS R 10 Match lead wadcutters into this fairly tight group dead center in the A-Zone of an IPSC silhouette target at 10 meters.
At 10 meters the .22 LR model did a little better, and no, I wasn’t trying to make an A in the A-Zone, that’s just the way it ended up.
Pushing back to 25 yards, the CO2 model did fairly well after changing the CO2, which had run out after my 10 meter target tests. I shot the .22 LR model first at the 25 yard target, and those hits are circled in red. My first CO2 test (large white circle at left) was a throw away as the air was running out, the wind kicking up, and I had switched to lighter weight H&N Sport Match Green alloy wadcutters. The pellets tumbled and tore rips in the target. After changing CO2 and waiting for the wind to calm, I shot another five rounds with corrected POA and put that group just slightly wider than the .22 rifle. For 25 yards (shooting from a kneeling position with my support arm resting on my knee), I felt the gun did a good job pushing pellets at roughly 700 fps into a target that was 75 feet downrange. Ideally, this is a 10-meter air rifle, but with a telescopic sight it could certainly match the .22 LR shot for shot.
Red Dot Optics
I mounted the Weaver rail from the .22 LR model on the air rifle and used my trusty old BSA red dot scope to shoot a final 10 meter test with the RWS R 10 Match lead wadcutters. The Match wadcutters connected four out of five with one above and a spread of 0.468 inches. No better than with the open sights overall, so the gun’s potential, at least for me, is sub-half inch groups at 10 meters with open sights from a rest, and just a hair wider from the shoulder with a red dot sight.
To up the 10/22 Air Rifle’s accuracy (I had thought), would be adding optics. My choice was a BSA RD 42 I had on hand. While it is easier to pinpoint the bullseye with the red dot, it made no significant improvement in overall accuracy. I suspect an actual telescopic sight like the one offered with the Ruger 10/22 Air Rifle Kit from Pyramyd Air will render a better result. That test will be forthcoming.
More to my surprise, adding a red dot scope to the 10/22 at 10 meters really didn’t improve accuracy, though I was shooting from the shoulder and not a benchrest as I had done in the open sight tests. Either way, at 10 meters the Ruger can punch dime-sized groups.
What I want to do in another article is test the 3-9x32AO scoped model from Pyramyd Air to see what the 10/22 does with that option. But still, anyway you look at it, the new Umarex Ruger 10/22 Air Rifle checks a lot of boxes for new shooters, and for nostalgic old shooters alike.
A word about safety
Blowback action airguns provide the look, feel and operation of their cartridge-firing counterparts and this is one reason why they have become so popular. Airguns in general all look like guns, blowback action models more so, and it is important to remember that the vast majority of people can’t tell an airgun from a cartridge gun. Never brandish an airgun in public. Always, and I can never stress this enough, always treat an airgun as you would a cartridge gun. The same manual of operation and safety should always apply.