Saturday, February 2, 2013

Ruger AirMagnum .22 Pellet Air Rifle Review

Ruger AirMagnum .22 Pellet Air Rifle Review

From learning to shoot, to super cheap trigger time, hunting small game, and of course common sense preparedness nothing beats an air rifle.  They are also handy tools for city dwellers to manage unwanted pests. For obvious reasons, I am a fan of pump or single stroke pneumatic piston air rifles which do not rely on pre-charged air canisters or CO2. On some air canister rifles you can use a bicycle pump to charge them, however how convenient is that.

My reasoning for this preference is of course that simpler is better and reliance on an external charging system could present big challenges is a survival type situation. Hand charged air rifles never require more than strong arm to charge and a pellet to shoot. The downside is that it always seemed the most powerful air rifles were those that relied on pre-charged air canisters. Fortunately we are seeing a new crop of spring piston break-barrels, such as this Ruger AirMagnum .22 Pellet Rifle, with substantial velocity and power all very affordably priced.

Like many of the quality branded air rifles such as Hammerli, RWS, Walther, Beretta, and Browning, Ruger’s air rifles are made and distributed by Umarex and distributed here in the US by Umarex USA.  In this case, the Ruger AirMagnum is made overseas, but is made to Ruger and Umarex’s standards.

Umarex manufacturers airguns for some of the biggest names in the firearms business including the Ruger Air Rifle line and Ruger’s new Air Magnum .22 Air Rifle.  Umarex has been a leader in the airgun industry for some time and has lead development of air rifles designed around each brand’s designs and features.  

The Ruger Air Magnum is an especially powerful .22 caliber air rifle with an all weather synthetic stock. Unlike some of the stunning high dollar air rifles, the all weather stock is not much to look at, however it is impervious to any elements which would otherwise influence a wood stock in extreme weather conditions.

The Ruger Air Magnum is designed as a high power workhorse air rifle and not the showpiece you will see in other expensive wooden stocked air rifles. It will handle the bangs, bumps, and knocks of abuse that a rifle stuck in the closet by the back door for targets of opportunity. Although the barrel and receiver have a very nice finish, and the stock is very comfortable and functional, it will not win any beauty pageant awards.

Like any of the firearms and airguns I have seen from Umarex, the Ruger AirMagnum is of nice quality, fit and finish. The stock is comfortable and allows for an easy artillery hold which is required to maximize accuracy for any pistol driven air rifle.

The $165 street-priced Ruger AirMagnum Break Barrel Pellet Rifle has comfortable all weather stock, adjustable fiber optic sights, and includes a fixed power 4x32 scope, however what makes it most special is its ability to deliver blistering 1200 FPS velocities from a .22 pellet. There is no doubt that 1200 FPS (feet per second) is class leading performance. Even with regular lighter grain'ed lead pellets the super-sonic crack is present which means that velocities with standard pellets are still in the 1100 FPS range... very impressive.

One other interesting feature is the adjustable trigger.  This feature does not allow full trigger tuning but can change the take up and overall crispness of the trigger feel. I played around with this a little, however in the end I left it about where the factory position was.

The AirMagnum features a blued barrel and receiver and a rifled all steel barrel. The dial adjustable fiber optic rear sight allows for easy sighting adjustments and the fixed fiber optic front sight is picked up quickly when sighting. The front sight assembly also is integrated into a muzzle protector which I think is a great feature for an airgun like this that will get bumped around and see hard use. An automatic safety, rubber recoil pad for comfort, and adjustable trigger are essentials for safety, comfort and accuracy. Not a big deal, but the rubber recoil pad on my rifle was pretty well covered with white oxidization, however some silicon spray will recondition the rubber.

The Air Magnum features both barrel mounted adjustable fiber optic sights and a 4X scope. Generally I would favor a 4X scope however there are times inside a dark barn shooting junk birds that a set of fiber optic sights would be prefered. The scope is clear and seems like a bit higher quality compared to the typical variable powered optics included with airguns these days. A four power scope is all you need for a general purpose air gun such as the intention of this AirMagnum.

There has also been great discussion about how a bullet or pellet destabilizes once it drops back to a subsonic level from any firearm.  This is fairly well documented and for this reason have noticed that most high powered air rifles tend to perform at extended ranges best with heavy pellets that force sub-sonic velocities at the muzzle. At shorter distances, the lightweight pellets provide flatter trajectories.

What does impact accuracy on this and other super power piston air rifles is the massive piston release once you pull the trigger. The challenge is that with more power comes more of a disturbance the moment of the shot and this does negatively affect accuracy compared to competing models that only achieve subsonic velocities.  Some rifles designs compensate with an overall heavier design, however the Ruger is not that heavy comparatively to its power.

These is bad new and good news because of this power. The result was of the pellets I tested, inclusive of a little over have a dozen brands did consistently print groups of less than 1” at 25 yards on the bench with a few group right at .6" groups, however when comparing that accuracy to other premium air rifles I have tested, the accuracy lacks a bit of precision.  The good news is that with that extra power, your pellets pack one heck of a wallup. If you use something like the Skenco Newboy Senior pellets weighing in at a class leading 28.6 grains, you feel like you are shooting 20lb cannon balls compared to typical 10-16 grain pellets and the impact on everything from cans to rodents is dramatic. Umarex is the US distributor for the RWS line of premium pellets including the HyperMax high velocity pellet which seemed like a screamer of a round and seemed to be the most flat shooting of the pellets tested.  I also tested RWS’s Precision Extreme pellets which delivered my best group as well as their hollow point and super point pellets which also performed well.  Two of my favorite pellets have been the Newboy Senior (which are hard to find) for knock down power and the Predator Polymags for penetration (which I can find anywhere). The RWS were more accurate, but the Predator Polymags are just easier to find.

The .22 caliber air rifle has been a favorite hunting rifle of mine for some time, because it has substantially more knockdown power than a typical .177 caliber pellet so I will take the trade of a little less accuracy for a power upgrade. If you are going to be a serious airgun hunter, it is my airgun hunting experience that you need at least a .22 caliber air rifle as it provides much more humane kills.

The Ruger AirMagnum is not a target air rifle though it still has great accuracy. It is though one heck of a knock around critter getter that will set by your back door and be ready when a target of opportunity. It is not so finely finished that a scratch will bring a tear to your eye and its tank-like build will take the beating of the jacket closet by the door and the fixed power 4X scope will most likely take said abuse better than a lesser variable power scope.

Typically the super accurate match rifles generally do not pack the punch, but the Ruger AirMagnum does and in a big way. The power factor is where the Ruger excels and puts it on target with good accuracy.  The class leading power delivers flat shooting trajectory and with heavy long distance pellets, even at extended ranges you can deliver the power. What makes the Ruger AirMagnum .22 a slam dunk for the common sense prepper is that you get all this power for about a $165 street price.


Caliber                        .22
Action                           Break Barrel, Spring Piston, Single Shot
Barrel Length              19.5 in.
Brand                            Ruger
Safety Type                  Automatic
Rear Sight Type          Adjustable Fiber Optic
Front Sight Type          Fixed Fiber Optic
Length of Pull               14.25 in.
Recoil Pad Type          Rubber
Barrel Type                   Blued
Cocking Effort in lbs.    42
Trigger Type                 Adjustable, 2 stage
Trigger Pull in lbs.        3.5
Ammo Type                  Pellet
Velocity- FPS               1000
Stock                             All weather composite stock, Rubber recoil pad
Scope                            4 x 32 airgun scope with mounts, Picatinny scope rail
Manufactured under license from Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc
MSRP $199, Street $165

Ruger Airgun - Umarex USA


e.evans said...

This is a fine tool to have on our farm,protection for fowl,coon killer and coyote clipper! Well worth picking one up. I was skeptical at first when I saw it at wally world... The Mrs. Said why not give it a try,it's quieter than a 410 and anti gunner idiots won't call in the always as well. We're pleased to have this dandy handy. Thanks. our veterans and local farmers. E.Evans Washington state.

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