It’s been a year since Ruger introduced its American Rifle, the company’s plunge into the booming and crowded low-cost, bolt-action rifle market. That’s more than enough time for disgruntled customers to voice their opinions on shooting and hunting forums and on-line comment sections. Good luck finding a bad review on this gun, however. They are hard to find.
With a MSRP of just $449 and a real-world retail price of less than $400, it’s easy to assume the Ruger American Rifle is just another poorly-built, assembly-line gun with the single purpose of duping budget-minded hunters out of their hard-earned cash. Now that gun writers and real-world consumers have had a season to carry this rifle through the woods, the American has proven it is none of those. It’s a solid, straight-shooter that lives up to the hype.
Ruger was the lone hold-out in the low-cost rifle market. Virtually every major gun maker, including Weatherby, already had a gun within reach of minimum wagers. So when they decided to enter the low-cost rifle market, Ruger realized they needed to do something to stand out from the crowd. What was the point of offering just another cheap bolt-action rifle when so many options were already available? The design and marketing teams at Ruger came up with a few basic ingredients for their under-$500 rifle: a good trigger, a reliable and accurate gun, a stylish appearance and smooth bolt. Most every gun in that price range has at least one of those. None have them all since those features cost money.
Ruger, however, charged its engineers with the task of building a rifle from scratch that included the features high-end customers demand with a price tag anyone could afford. Instead of building a watered-down version of their venerable Model 77, the company instead chose to build a rifle from the ground up with an entirely new action, trigger and style. It took just 10 months to go from the design room to gun store.
Hardcore Ruger fans may be disappointed with the American. It’s nothing like the Model 77. Hunters and shooters looking for a quality gun at an affordable price, however, will be pleased. The trigger is smooth and clean and adjustable from 3 to 5 pounds of pull by simply turning a set screw at the front of the trigger mechanism. The sliding, two-position tang safety makes this gun suitable for left-handed shooters, although Ruger has no plans for a left-handed version yet. The bolt can be lifted and a round loaded or unloaded when the safety is in the on position.
Even better, the gun is built with an original and patented free-floating barrel system, resulting in better accuracy at long ranges. It includes two cast stainless steel V-blocks molded into the stock and two hex-head steel screws that secure the action to the stock.
The rotary box magazine holds four standard rounds and quietly clips in with a gentle push and drops out with a quick flip of the front-mounted lever. It stays put and does not rattle, a small but important feature for noise-conscious deer hunters. The bolt has dual locking lugs and a short, 70-degree throw, making follow-up shots quick and smooth. The short throw also eliminates any possible interference from a wide-diameter scope.
The synthetic stock is solid, stylish and functional and includes a contoured, grooved foregrip and a grooved pistol grip for sure handling in gloves or foul weather.
If that’s not enough to convince you, consider this: “American” isn’t just a name the marketing team came up with to appeal to the patriotic shooters among us. The rifle and all of its components are made right here in America. The only problem, at least from Ruger’s perspective, is that they may have turned the American into the company’s standard-bearer.
Ruger American Rifle Specs
Calibers: .22-250, .243, .270, 7mm-08, .30-06, .308
Barrel Length: 22 inches
Overall Length: 42 inches, short action; 42.5 inches, long action
Weight: 6.12 to 6.38 pounds, depending on caliber
Stock: Black composite
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