It wasn’t very long ago that a friend of mine suggested taking a look at the Ruger Yukon .22, so I picked one up for testing to see if it’s the kind of rifle I’m looking for. In this case, what I was looking for was a hard hitting, quality gas piston gun, and even in the early stages of evaluation I could tell that I was about to be pleasantly surprised.
Specifications and Overview
When I was shopping for this particular rifle, I was pleased to see that it came in both a .177 and a .22. It’s hard enough to find a weapon that meets your needs, and it was comforting to know that if this one made me otherwise happy, I could find it in the caliber that would be useful for whatever I wanted done. It fires at 1050 fps, which is a little slow for the solid pellets I normally use, but I thought would fire diabolo pellets well.
The weight is 9 pounds, which is a bit heavy and I wonder if I would be willing to carrying it through the woods all day, with a barrel length of 18.7” and a trigger pull of 3.3 pounds with a roughly 30-pound cocking effort. All in all, these are pretty middle of the road numbers, and the average person shouldn’t have a very hard time carrying or operating this rifle for long.
It comes with a Ruger-branded 3-9×32 scope.
The first thing I noticed when I got it out of the box was the weight. At 9 pounds, it’s a bit on the heavy side, which made me worried as a hunter. That kind of weight is actually a good thing when it comes to accuracy, since it will help combat recoil, but it also means that it will eventually tire you out. It doesn’t sound like much, but after a whole day of hunting it can really add up. If you’re just looking for target shooting, it’s no big deal. If you want to hunt with this, make sure you get a sling.
One thing I like about modern iron sights is the addition of fiber optic inserts to make them more visible. These were present on the Yukon and it really helped to better align with a target. In low light, this would also be a nice touch.
As to the scope that came with it, it’s not bad, but nothing to write home about. I feel like this scope was included to try and attract people new to air rifles that want to think that they’re getting a “package” that will make shooting easier. This isn’t to say that the scope is terrible but purchased independently of the rifle I would guess that it would only be valued around $25-30. If you want to get out shooting immediately and have nothing else, it’ll do, but make it a priority to replace with something better as soon as possible.
In fact, it’s actually pretty easy to find a better scope since the Yukon comes built with a picatinny rail mount, so it shouldn’t be tough to buy new scope rings that will fit it and allow for better optics.
The construction is generally nice with a beautiful hardwood stock and solid checkering. I’d say the one part that I found annoying was the plastic trigger guard. Unfortunately, this is a function of it being a Ruger rather than a cheap substitute for this particular weapon. They even use plastic trigger guards on their 10-22 Rimfire rifle, which is considered a gold standard for many air rifle enthusiasts. It’s not a deal breaker, but I think it would be worth paying a little extra for a steel or aluminum trigger guard.
For this test, I brought two different kinds of pellet. As I mentioned above, I thought diabolo pelletsmight be good with this, so I brought some JSB Match Diabolo Exact Heavy pellets, weighing in at 18.13 grains each. I also brought some Umarex RWS Superdomes at 14.5 grains. Either way, I wanted something heavy to make up for the fps.
It took about 6 shots to get sighted in, which made me very happy, then I started really testing. At 25 yards, I was shooting 1 inch groupings with the JSB Diabolos. Just as I suspected, the rifle really seems to like this particular pellet, and I suspect it’s both because of the weight and the high drag skirt that prevents the 1050 fps shot from wavering in midair. I could probably fire these all day without an issue.
What did surprise me, however, was how well the RWS Superdomes flew. I really expected to be fighting them more, but I was getting pretty similar accuracy. There were a few flyers that went out to about 3 inches, but I’m more inclined to attribute that to me pulling shots rather than a problem with the rifle or pellet. It wasn’t nearly as natural a shot with the Superdomes, but still effective.
I’m not so sure that he cocking effort is 30 pounds. I didn’t actually measure it, but it feels like a little more than that. Maybe I’m just getting old or it will loosen up after I break it in a little more, but I’d be curious to see if I was right at this point.
About the only thing that really concerns me is that trigger. While I’ve had worse, this one is very sloppy.
There isn’t a clear break, so I sometimes find myself squeezing before I really intended to. It’s not terrible, but not as crisp as I would like and a constant reminder of that fact. I’m also bothered that it’s advertised as a two stage adjustable trigger, but you can only adjust the first stage, not the trigger pull itself. I’m sure that somebody more adept at tinkering could replace the whole trigger group, but I’m here to talk about what the rifle is, not what it can be.
That being said, it didn’t really affect my accuracy. In fact, I’d argue that this rifle is more accurate than I am.
Finally, while I’ve pointed out the velocity was relatively low for certain pellets, it’s by no means “slow.” In fact, it’s pretty powerful, which is one of the main selling points of the gun. I would trust it to be able to take out most critters I hunt quickly and painlessly, and it has no problem with accuracy.
The Bottom Line
The Ruger Yukon .22 is, overall, a solid weapon. The build is excellent and the components, other than that plastic trigger guard, are sturdy and should last a long time. The accuracy and power, while not ideal, are better than I expected and right in line with comparable rifles, maybe at the high of that group.
The scope that came with it wasn’t very good, and while it’s a decent enough starter, by the time you’re firing this rifle you should have a selection of better scopes available to you. Similarly, I think the trigger could use some work, both in terms of tightening it up and making the second stage adjustable.
Considering the quality, the price is just about right, and I would recommend this for intermediate to advanced shooters who want something reliable but aren’t ready to invest in a really high-end weapon just yet.