By David Hart, Gun Digest
With a name as iconic as the company that makes it, this Ruger rifle’s blend of features and value are making it a quick favorite among sportsmen from sea to shining sea.
Blame it on the lagging economy or on the realization by hunters that high-dollar rifles don’t kill game any deader than low-cost models. Whatever the reason, one thing has become certain in the firearms industry: Consumers want reliable, accurate guns at an affordable price. In 2011, Ruger realized they were missing a significant segment of the hunting community that was more concerned with function over form.
To catch up with that trend, Ruger assigned three engineers experienced in the firearms industry the task of designing a totally new rifle with a handful of simple ingredients: accuracy, reliability, a good trigger, a smooth bolt, a stylish appearance and an affordable price.
Ruger American Review
In just 10 months, the three men and their design teams took the Ruger American Rifle from concept to production. But just as a low price tag doesn’t necessarily mean a loss in quality, a fast design-to-production track doesn’t translate to a poor product. Each component of the rifle was carefully analyzed and tested before it was incorporated into the rifle as a whole. The engineers then put the rifle through the ringer before it was given a final stamp of approval.
Using a Ruger American Rifle in .308, the author shot MOA groups at 100 yards and banged 9-inch steel plates all the way out to 600 yards. Author Photo
The American isn’t just another production gun that fills a price niche. This rifle is a solid, comfortable shooter. Combining a trigger adjustable from 3 to 5 pounds of pull with Ruger’s own free-floating barrel design, the American is dead-on accurate with MOA groups.
The patented bedding system includes two cast stainless steel V-blocks molded into the stock and steel screws that secure the action to the stock. The trigger also incorporates a safety blade that prevents the gun from firing unless the blade is depressed. Ruger’s engineers also put the gun through various safety tests, including a drop test.
Ruger didn’t cut corners on the synthetic stock, either. The company combined style and function with a sculpted and serrated forend and a deeply notched grip for a comfortable, secure fit at the range or in the woods. A soft, squishy recoil pad takes the punch out of the heaviest loads. At first, the gun was only available in four of the most popular calibers, including .243, .270, .308 and .30-06, but demand from consumers coaxed the company into adding a .22-250 and 7mm-08 versions. Ruger also expanded the caliber choices by adding a .223.
After putting a Ruger American Rifle chambered in .308 to the test, it’s clear the engineers who designed this gun succeeded in producing a high-quality product at a reasonable price. The rifle performed flawlessly with each of several hundred rounds I put through it in four days of rough-and-tumble testing, including rapid-fire drills and toting the rifle across the rugged Texas Hill Country strapped to the front of a Yamaha ATV. The American functioned perfectly even after it had been covered in a thick layer of limestone dust.
The bolt, which has a short 70-degree throw and three lugs, was fluid. It required little effort to cycle a new shell, an important feature for quick follow-up shots, thanks in part to dual cocking cams. The flush, detachable, four-round rotary box magazine snapped in and out quickly and quietly and the trigger was smooth, crisp and consistent. I shot minute-of-angle groups at 100 yards and dinged 9-inch steel plates at distances out to 600 yards with ease. If I missed, it certainly wasn’t the gun’s fault.
The Ruger American Rifle Predator.
It didn’t take long for the gunmaker to realize they not only had a hit on their hands, but that they needed to expand the line-up beyond the standard right-handed bolt-action rifle and seven caliber options.
“People kept telling us how much they loved the American rifle, but that they wanted the same features available in the original model in other configurations, too,” said Ruger spokesman Mark Gurney. “So our engineers and marketing departments went to work and came up with several new models to meet current consumer demand.”
The line-up now includes a number of rifles suited for a variety of niches. The American Compact, for example, is ideal for small-framed shooters like women and children. It’s basically the same model as the original American, but it has a shorter 18-inch barrel and a shorter length-of-pull (12.5 inches) and an overall length of 36.75 inches. It’s available in such kid-friendly calibers as .223, .243 and .22-250.
It also comes in 7mm-08 and .308, making it a great all-purpose rifle for most hunting.
Hunters and shooters who don’t mind a little rain, snow or sleet will be pleased to find the new American All-Weather in the line-up, as well.
It comes with the standard weatherproof, lightweight composite stock, but it also has a matte stainless steel barrel and bolt that resist rust. Die-hard hunters will certainly love this model, which also comes in a compact version. The All-Weather is available in seven popular calibers.
Arguably, the most unique configuration is the American Ranch model. It’s the ideal rifle to leave in your truck’s gun rack as you take care of chores on your land. The Ranch has a total length of just 34.75 inches and a petite 16.12-inch barrel. It’s available in 5.56 NATO and .300 Blackout. The tough, lightweight composite stock is flat dark earth, making it a great predator gun, a great plinking rifle or a superb tool to protect your livestock.
The American Predator is similar to the Ranch, but it has a 22-inch barrel, a moss green composite stock and six caliber choices, including some of the best cartridges on the market for large and small predators alike. It’s available in .204 Ruger, .22-250, .223, .243, 6.5 Creedmoor and .308. The Predator and Ranch come with an attached solid aluminum scope rail.
Ruger didn’t ignore a small but important part of the shooting population: left-handers. Many gun manufacturers do offer left-handed versions of their major rifle models, but there are few options in the same price range as the American. The left-hand version comes in seven popular cartridges and is priced the same as the right-handed model.
If those choices aren’t enough to satisfy even the most demanding shooter’s thirst for variety, consider the final offering in the American line-up: a rimfire model available in .22 LR, .22 Mag and .17 HMR. The American Rimfire is available in a standard size and a compact model, which has an 18-inch barrel and a 12.5-inch length-of-pull. The overall length is 35.75 inches. Both versions of the Rimfire come with two stock modules, giving shooters the freedom to easily adjust the cheek height.
Not The Same Rifle
Unlike many of its competitors’ low-cost models, the various configurations of the Ruger American Rifle aren’t corner-cut versions of the company’s current line-up. Instead, the American is its own rifle, completely different than Ruger’s flagship bolt-action rifle, the Hawkeye. It includes a sliding, two-position tang safety that allows the action to open with the safety in the “on” position.
Ruger also included Weaver single-slot mounting bases on the initial American model and a new, simplified bolt release. Other models also include single-slot mounting bases, although the Predator and the Ranch come with a factory-installed aluminum rail mount.
The American is also now available with a factory-installed, bore-sighted 3-9 Redfield Revolution scope. The complete rifle/scope package retails for just $679. That’s less than many rifle models that shoot, no better than the American.
True to its name, the American Rifle is made in the USA, from parts to assembly. It’s not just a good starter rifle, it’s a good one to add to any gun safe and an even better one to take to the woods. You won’t have to worry about scratching the stock or getting it dirty when hunting in rough terrain. And you won’t have to worry if the bullet will find its mark. Isn’t that everything you need from a rifle?