Until recent years, owning a high-end chassis rifle was restricted to those with an excess cash problem, as many such rifles easily hit and surpass the $10,000 mark. For the most part, these rifles — used in both Precision Rifle Series (PRS) competition and among hardcore long-range enthusiasts of all stripes — have been produced mostly by small manufacturers and custom shops, hence the crushing price tags often associated with them.
The game all changed several years ago with Ruger’s entry into the long-range marketplace and the introduction of the Precision Rifle, a chassis-type rifle that partly mimics a bolt-gun and simultaneously employs many features typically found on the AR-type platform.
Originally introduced in .308 Winchester and 6.5 Creedmoor, the Precision Rifle has already proven itself as a serious long-range workhorse. It’s also highly affordable, with an MSRP of $1,599, and comes in four calibers: .308 Win., 5.56 NATO/.223 Remington, 6.5 Creedmoor and the hot new 6mm Creedmoor.
- Type: bolt-action, centerfire
- Caliber: 6mm Creedmoor
- Capacity: 10 rds., accepts Magpul-type magazines (ships with two)
- Barrel: 24-in., 5R rifling, 1:7.7-in. twist
- Overall Length: 43.25-46.75 in.
- Folded Length: 35.60 in.
- Weight: 10.8 lbs. (w/out scope)
- Stock: Folding buttstock w/ adjustable comb/length of pull
- Handguard: Ruger Short-Action
- Trigger: Ruger Marksman, adjustable 2.25-5 lbs.
- MSRP: $1,599
- Manufacturer: Ruger; Ruger.com
The Perfect Pairing
As they say in business and life, timing really is everything. While many rifles and cartridge designs have come and gone, the ones that last usually capitalize on good timing, popular acceptance, and elite performance. Case in point: the 6mm (originally the .244 Rem.) and .260 Rem. While each remains an incredibly capable cartridge, neither has garnered overwhelming or widespread popularity. Compare that to Hornady’s introduction in 2007 of the 6.5 Creedmoor, an offspring of the .30 TC and .308 Win. Realistically, it’s the ballistic equivalent of the .260 Rem., with the exception that it can seat long, sleek bullets farther out in the case and still fit in an AR-10-type rifle or short-action. Similar as it may be in performance, however, the 6.5 Creedmoor outshines the .260 in popularity, especially among long-range shooters (the .260 still has a solid following).
The same is true of Hornady’s newest cartridge, the 6mm Creedmoor. It’s ballistically equal to the .243 Win., yet again allows shooters to seat longer bullets farther out — creating greater accuracy potential — in an AR-10-type, semi-automatic rifle, something that doesn’t jive with the .243. The 6mm is the brainchild of Outdoor Life editor John Snow, who hatched the idea for the cartridge while brainstorming for an article about wildcatting. He teamed up with Hornady on the cartridge, which was shortly thereafter discovered by PRS shooters and quickly caught fire.
The other major development in the popular rise of the Creedmoor, especially among the competition crowd, came via Ruger, which started manufacturing Precision Rifles in both calibers, as well as rifles in their American line. Now you can buy a sub-$2,000, off-the-shelf rifle capable of breaking the 1,000-yard barrier with factory-loaded ammunition that’s also very reasonably priced. This review is based on Ruger’s Precision Rifle in 6mm Creedmoor.
Deep Six Rising
What makes the 6mm Creedmoor so effective is that it creates little recoil, launches a high BC bullet at roughly 3,000 fps, and functions well in AR-type rifles that are ideal for PRS. But all that ballistic prowess remains unrealized potential without a premium platform, which is why the Ruger Precision Rifle is such a critical component in the long-range equation.
The Precision Rifle features an AR-10-type receiver, but instead of semi-auto, gas-operation relies on a manually operated bolt. The safety is identical to that of the AR platform, while a beveled mag well makes for easy, no-look loading of magazines. The bolt itself features a three-lug design with 70-degree throw and dual cocking cams, and when operated drives rearward into an AR-type buffer tube in the stock. An oversized bolt handle is ideal for rapid fire without lifting your head from the stock, a sheer necessity in timed long-range competition. The bolt handle can be replaced via Allen wrench, and the bolt is removed by folding the stock and depressing a lever on the left side of the receiver (same release as American rifles).
The stock is a proprietary Ruger design, which the company dubs its Precision MSR stock. It features cheek piece and length of pull adjustments, which are easily made by releasing a lever and turning one of two dials. The rear of the stock features a lavish rubber butt pad and an underside Picatinny rail mount with QD sling mounting options. The stock folds to the left with a simple push of a button, which is located at the rear of the receiver.
No long-range rifle would be complete without a stellar trigger, and the Precision Rifle is no exception. It features Ruger’s Marksman Adjustable Trigger, which can be set between 2.25 to 5 pounds. The trigger on the rifle reviewed here was just below 3 pounds, which is exactly what you want for a tack-driving setup. Whether in the American rifle or the Precision, the Marksman trigger is fully capable of accuracy at and beyond 1,000 yards.
The rifle is anything but light, weighing in at 10.8 pounds without scope or magazine. For long-range shooting, however, that added weight helps stabilize the shot. I found the rifle very stable even when shooting prone from a backpack at 600 yards, and with a proper sling the additional weight would not be that big of a deal. Keep in mind, weight will go up with bipod, scope or other accessories.
The Black X1000
The other essential accessory to any long-range platform is, of course, a quality optic. For this review, I utilized Nikon’s Black X1000 with X-MOA illuminated reticle. A 4-16×50 scope, the X1000 features a second focal plane (SF) reticle and ¼ MOA adjustments on externally operated elevation and windage turrets. The lefthand turret features parallax adjustment from 50 yards to 1,000 and, finally, infinity. The turret cap unscrews for battery placement (CR 2032); the outer knob controls 10 illumination settings, with every turn in between as an “off” setting. All adjustable rings, including magnification, are oversized and highly contoured for better grip, and I found that all were fairly easy to operate.
There are a few tradeoffs to the SF reticle design. First, it usually provides a more cost-effective scope option, so if you’re on a tight budget this is a good selection (the Black X1000 carries a very reasonable MSRP of $599). The major pain in the butt, in my opinion, is that the MOA markers on your reticle will be different for every change in magnification because the reticle itself does not increase or decrease in size as you change power. Unless you’re a high-level savant with a penchant for mentally storing and recalling hundreds of mathematical equations at a given moment, this means you’ll need to set your power to max and keep track of elevation adjustments in the reticle at full power. For a competition shooter who intends on using the reticle to make elevation adjustments at a vast number of differing distances and powers, that makes the SF design a trickier proposition. That’s the ideal situation, in my opinion, for a first focal plane scope in which the reticle grows or shrinks with magnification adjustments.
For accuracy testing in this review, I simply set the power to max and left it there. Realistically, for anything past 200 yards and a 16-power scope, that really isn’t too much of an issue. When it came time to dial up the elevation turret for 450 yards and beyond on steel, the turrets operated outstandingly and adjustments were precise with every click. The wind that day was between 5-10 mph, and the windage marks in the reticle were exceptionally accurate.
The Precision Rifle, which features a cold-hammer-forged chromoly steel barrel and 1:7.7-in. twist rate with 5R rifling, proved to be exceptionally accurate on paper at 100 yards and out to 1,000 yards on steel. I tested the rifle with two different loads, both of which came from Hornady: the 103-grain ELD-X in the Precision Hunter line, and the 108-grain ELD Match.
Hornady Precision Hunter 103-gr. ELD-X
Best Group: .350 in.
Avg. Group: .882 in.
Avg. Velocity: 3,037 fps
Extreme Spread: 68
Standard Deviation: 33.2
Hornady 108-gr. ELD Match
Best Group: .312 in.
Avg. Group: .640 in.
Avg. Velocity: 2,926 fps
Extreme Spread: 23
Standard Deviation: 14.8
(All data comes from 100 yards, at the bench, and was measured with a digital caliper from five three-shot groups. Velocity was measured with a ProChrono digital chronograph. Data was collected at roughly 6,200 ft. with a temperature of 84 degrees. Winds ranged from 5-10 mph.)
Accuracy was measured from five three-shot groups from each load at 100 yards, and velocity was measured with a ProChrono digital chronograph. The average group with the Match ammo came in at .640 inches, while the Precision Hunter ammo averaged .882 inches. The best group for the Match ammo was an uber-impressive .312 inches, and an equally miniscule .350 inches for the Precision Hunter. In terms of consistent velocity, the Match trumped with an extreme spread of 23 fps and a standard deviation of just under 15 fps. Velocity was just shy of 3,000 fps, whereas the Precision Hunter was a touch faster, on average, and slightly less consistent (extreme spread was 68 fps, standard deviation 33.2 fps).
Given the price tag and build, the Ruger Precision Rifle does not disappoint. Smacking steel at 450 and 600 yards was almost too easy, and when the moment of truth finally came to dial in the proper elevation for that 1,000-yard shot, I had high hopes that the rifle would still deliver. The first shot was a hair low, but with an adjustment, the second made solid contact. I’d like to take credit, but it’s got way more to do with a quality load from Hornady and a quality build from Ruger. Combine that with custom loads and countless hours of practice and the ceiling on this rifle is pretty high.
I can also see why so many long-range competition shooters love the 6mm — it’s incredibly light-recoiling, especially with Ruger’s Hybrid muzzle brake, and it’s highly accurate even in considerable winds. While ringing steel is fun, I’ll admit the hunter in me automatically started fantasizing about how great the rifle and round would be for long-shot coyotes. Fortunately, the rifle is capable and the loads from Hornady are ideal for steel or fur.
For more information about Ruger’s Precision Rifle, click here.
To purchase a Ruger Precision Rifle on GunsAmerica, click here.