The Ruger American Rimfire is a leapfrog over every other rimfire bolt gun in the market. It has a wish list of cool and useful features, and it shoots great.
The niftiest feature is the replaceable stock cap. It allows you to change the comb height from low, for using iron sights, to high for a proper cheek weld with a scope. You have to try it to understand how much it improves your shooting to have that cheek weld.
You can shoot the gun with open sights, and itt has a machined 3/8 rail for rimfire rings as well as screw holes for #18 Weaver bases for full size scope mounts. The American Rimfire is on the right and the original American centerfire in .30-06 from our review two years ago is on the left.
Despite its smaller hardware, the Rimfire, top, is virtually indistinguishable from its big brother below.
The American Rimfire takes 10/22 mags and has the extended easy to use magazine release. The 10 round mag is flush and the 25 works in the gun as well. The .22WMR will use the rotary 9 round magazine.
There are four models coming out initially, an “adult” and a “kid,” or smaller shooter one. The full size gun will have a 22” barrel and come with both high and low comb stock inserts in a 13.75” length of pull. The smaller gun has an 18” barrel and comes with these other two, shorter inserts. Addtional inserts are available from shopruger.com for $19.95.
Our best groups with the gun at 50 yards were with that Federal ammo on the bottom right and CCI Stingers on the top left. The were both around .75” consistently. The worst was the 32 grain Federal Spitfire. All five types of ammo we tried were consistent with each other target to target for the same brand, which is very telling of what we can expect with high end Hornady ammo in the .22WMR and eventually the .17HMR versions. My guess is that these will be well into sub-MOA territory with good ammo.
Rob Gramer, who handles new business development for GunsAmerica, went to a special Ruger event at GunSite Academy last week to try the new gun and learn a whole lot about hunting safety and shooting. He is going to write an article about it for us soon.
Rob is writing us an article about his experience at GunSite with Ruger.
What is the best 22LR rifle? Every gun nut gets that question several times a year, and the answer always is a question. “Do you want a semi-auto or a bolt action?” If the answer is semi-auto, most people will suggest the Ruger 10/22. But until now, if they answered a bolt action, very few if any people would suggest a Ruger. Their 77/22 is a little known rifle and carries a price of about $700. Today Ruger changed that by releasing what is arguably the coolest and most investment worthy rimfire bolt action in the world. It is called the Ruger American Rimfire, and we got to shoot and test it extensively over the last couple weeks. It features a unique system to change the comb height and length of pull on the gun, and the receiver has both a machined rail for 3/8” rimfire rings as well as being drilled and tapped for regular rings. All this rides on Ruger’s patent pending Power Bedding (R) system, where the polymer stock has metal fittings embedded in it, just like a polymer pistol. This makes the rifle as solid as a rock for accuracy, and our testing of the .22LR model showed that the rifle has great potential to be a tack driver. It takes 10/22 mags, and the suggested retail price all four of the 4 models coming out now in both .22LR and .22WMR are $329. Your local gunshop will either have them on the shelf this week, or can order them through their distributors.
The American Rimfire is based on the Ruger American Rifle, which we reviewed almost two years ago for SHOT Show of 2012. The rifle division of Ruger is located in New Hampshire and if you talk to the guys who run the operation, they are passionate not just about guns, but also about Ruger. They realized that in order to keep Ruger strong, Ruger had to come up with a new design that took advantage of newer computerized manufacturing, to bring down costs and consumer prices, while boosting performance. There are a lot of new shooters in the market, but their pockets aren’t deep for shooting yet, and with internet reviews only a click away, any new product in the entry level shooter market had better not only be priced competitively. It also has to be darn good. The result was the Ruger American, and it is in fact darn good. It is a ton of gun for a very low price. Now this Ruger American Rimfire appears to be the same high quality gun, plus a whole wishlist of things Ruger came up with to make the rifle more usable and practical for a lifetime of shooting. Here are the features that make the American Rimfire stand out among other bolt rifles in its entry level price range, and even beyond that:
- Modular Stock System – The modular stock system on the Ruger American Rimfire provides you with two inserts when you buy the gun. One is for using the integral iron sights and the other has a higher comb for use with a scope so that you can get a proper cheek weld for good long range shooting with optics. The 22” barrel versions of the gun (both .22LR and .22WMR), weigh 6 lbs and come with two full length inserts that have a 13 3/4” length of pull. The 5.38 lbs 18” barreled compact versions both come with two inserts that are a 12 1/2” length of pull for smaller shooters. One of the big problems with buying a kid a “kid” .22 is that in a few years the thing is too small for them. It ends up getting thrown in the back of a closet with its lock on it, only to be discovered a decade later covered with rust and dust bunnies. Because the inserts are replaceable from shopruger.com for only $19.95, they could be cut down even further, and Ruger will probably offer a super small version down the road. When the kid gets bigger you just put in the bigger insert. It’s awesome. You just unscrew the sling stud and it comes right off. Being able to switch between the iron sights and the scope, both with a good cheek weld that feels “right” is really cool when you actually swap them out. It is a well balanced and good feeling gun and the solid cheek weld really helps the overall feel when shooting it.
- Scope Versatility – When you first buy a .22, you most always buy a cheap scope for it, usually a $40 Wal-Mart special, that is marked “Rimfire” on it. Rimfire scopes use special rings that are smaller, and they require a 3/8th “ base, much smaller than your standard Weaver or Picatinny sized base. The American Rimfire comes with a 3/8” rimfire base machined into the receiver, but it is also drilled and tapped for #18 Weaver bases (not included). So if you want to shoot a higher quality centerfire scope, you can easily. Once the .17HMR version of this comes out this option will really matter. The bolt is also only a 60 degree throw, so it clears even a low scope. The only issue we encountered with the system is that the bell of a 40mm rimfire scope almost hits the fold down rear open sight when you use standard low Weaver rimfire rings. We had to mount the scope a little further forward than was perfect. And if you want to start out with iron sights, the rear is a functional fold down standard 10/22 sight with a fiber optic Williams front blade/bead.
- Accuracy & Shootability – When the original American came out one of the outlandishly advanced features in a low cost rifle was the Ruger Marksman trigger. It is adjustable from 3-5 lbs., and it has the safety paddle. This allows you to carry the gun in the field with a fairly light trigger pull without the worry of banging the gun or dropping it and having it go off. Our trigger on the test gun was just under 3 lbs, and crisp and clean. The paddle was a little sticky at the beginning of it’s travel, but it got less sticky as we shot it more. The other accuracy component is of course the Power Bedding ® system. A metal to metal fit between the receiver and the stock makes great accuracy possible. The barrrels on these guns are hammer forged like the centerfire rifles, and they have a clean crown to protect the end of the rifling. Our test rifle shot into just under an inch at 50 yards with the two best performing ammo, Federal Lightning and CCI Stingers. When we get the .22WMR and eventually the .17HMR, we’ll be able to use high end Hornady ammo to see what the gun can really do.
- 10/22 Mags – This mostly applies to the .22LR versions of the gun, but it is a very big deal. Magazines are the point of failure for most multiple shot guns. The 10 round 10/22 mag is the most tried and true rimfire magazine in the world, and the 25 rounder works perfectly as well. For the other guns out now, the .22WMR ones, they will use a 9 round magnum version of the same magazine, and the .17HMR will probably use that magazine as well. We have only used that magazine on one test gun over the years and it worked fine. The only issue with the magazine on our test gun was that at first, the first round out of every magazine was a flyer. It was like the first shot was settling the magazine in. Later we tried jiggling the magazine a bit after seating it, and the problem went away. So if you experience this, just jiggle the mag a bit.
- Safety – File this one under you learn something new every day. Besides the paddle on the trigger and the tang mounted manual safety, The American Rimfire has a feature that is unique to this rifle. You don’t have to pull the trigger in order to remove the bolt. This may not seem like much, but there are two important things. One is that rimfire firing pins are notorious for not being ok to dry fire. It work hardens the pin, which makes it brittle, and they can break. Don’t dry fire your rimfire! The other thing is habit. If you are in the habit of having to fire your rifle before you remove the bolt for cleaning, it is really easy to forget to check the chamber before doing so down the road. If, after a long day of squirrel hunting with no luck, your phone rings with some otherworldly family emergency just as you get back to your scooter, it is foreseeable that you could forget to eject the live round from the chamber before slinging your rifle for the ride home. Absentmindedly pulling the trigger without checking the chamber is a Murphy’s law moment, and those moments happen to the best of us. This is a good feature and apparently the first of its kind.
With this one new rifle Ruger has propelled itself to the front of the pack of the bolt action rimfire market, so it can sit right beside itself as the leader in the semi-auto rimfire market with the 10/22. While there are other great rimfire bolt guns out there at affordable prices, nobody is going to dispute that the Ruger American Rimfire has leapfrogged the entire market. The rifle is superb, and missing really nothing. These guns are going to fly off the shelves, so get your order in for them, as Ruger is already behind in orders and working feverishly to fill what they can. The kids are back in school this week and retail season is starting to heat up. If you want a Ruger American Rimfire for Christmas, fair warning, get the order in now with your local dealer. By Black Friday they will most likely already be back ordered,.