By Paul Helinski
Ruger American Rifle
Bolt action rifles may not be a subject that keeps you up all night chatting on Facebook, but for gun fanatics, the bolt action rifle is a core product of our sport and our passion. If someone had asked, “Who makes the best entry level bolt action rifle?” five years ago, I don’t know anyone who would have answered Ruger. That all changed in 2012, when Ruger introduced the Ruger American Rifle. Made 100% in the USA as its name suggests, the American was a rock star from our very first test on the gun now two years ago. Since then, you can’t walk into a stocking gun shop without seeing one on the shelf, in several calibers. The line has expanded to include a new Redfield scope package, as well as some new guns with stainless steel All Weather models. We were able to test the newly available .223 caliber guns in both the full sized and compact, and WOW. If you are looking for world-class accuracy, great handling and an affordable price on a bolt-action .223, look no further than the new Ruger American. MSRP is $449 on the American, and I challenge you to find a .223 bolt gun that outshoots it, at any price.
The key to the Ruger American is the Power Bedding(TM) system designed by Ruger a few years back. Like all of the polymer pistols out there, it combines a plastic stock with molded-in metal components that secure the parts of the gun that shoot to the parts of the gun that you hold. The barrels are hammer-forged at Ruger’s rifle division in New Hampshire, and the three-lug bolt is as smooth as rifles costing twice as much, and smoother than even some of those. The barrel on the full-size American is 22”, and the rifle weighs just under 6.5 lbs. The Compact models have 18” barrels with 12.5” length-of-pull for smaller shooters, and weigh 6 lbs. This was our first outing with not only the new .223 Americans, but also a new brand of ammo called “Gorilla Ammo” that had sent us some samples as a new advertiser here at GunsAmerica.
Our test ammo uses a 55-grain Sierra plastic-tip bullet called the Blitzking PT. Having no prior experience with this ammo or bullet, it was a shock to find that the full-size rifle shot into under ½ inch at 100 yards, using an inexpensive 12x Burris scope. That is not a misprint. Take a look at the pictures. Fiochhi range rounds averaged just over an inch for five-round groups, and the Compact model did only slightly worse. Just imagine how that will feel to take a gun out of the box, mount a compatible scope (it comes with installed bases), and expect to shoot well under MOA, or even ½ MOA, in your first trip to the range with factory ammo. If you want to duplicate these results, we tested the guns with a Caldwell Lead-Sled. Off hand or even bipod shooting will most likely not be as easy to get these groups. We didn’t cherry-pick these groups. If you shoot fairly well and use a Lead-Sled, there is a pretty good chance everyone at the range is going to make you show it to them again.
Ruger has been great about getting guns out to the dealers as they are released into the media, so these guns should be available now or soon. We don’t gush about a lot of guns here, but since the very beginning these American Rifles have been well worth the layered-on praise. As an all-around plinking, hunting or even patrol rifle, the American .223 is yet another Made In USA Ruger rifle that exceeds expectations and certainly its price point, and that you just can’t go wrong buying.