Rifles

The Ruger American Rifle

Ruger stuffs a lot of value in its minimalist-package American rifle for less than $450.

2/29/2012

For more than 60 years, Sturm, Ruger & Co. has developed and maintained its reputation of providing customers with a lot of features on its firearms at a working man’s price point. Ruger is the company that brought the investment-casting process to gunmaking. The ability to cast complicated parts requiring little machining and finishing was key to building the firearms that America wanted at a price that nearly anyone could afford. Combine that with modern CNC machining centers producing parts that require little hand fitting allowed the company to produce guns as elegant as the No.1 rifle and the Red Label shotgun, and utilitarian pieces like the Mini-14 and SR-556.

Twenty-first-century shooters are all about function, accuracy and cost effectiveness. The shooting sports continue to grow quickly, and new shooters entering the sport want a bolt-action rifle that is light, rugged and accurate. They can’t afford a custom rifle at this point. Enter the Ruger American Rifle.

Those who are longtime aficionados of the rifle and appreciate forged receivers, control-round-feed actions and fine walnut with hand checkering, will at first think the Ruger American is something less than a fine rifle. Snobbery aside, an unprejudiced examination of Ruger’s latest offering may re-qualify what “fine” means. The American may be raw-boned, but it is ready for just about anything you’d care to throw at it.

The heart of the American is a heavy-walled, 1.453-inch diameter tubular receiver. Matching 5/16-inch flats are milled at 3 and 9 o’clock, with 1/2-inch flats at 10 and 2 o’clock. On its underside even with the front guard screw hole are two flat, shallow grooves milled at 4 and 8 o’clock slightly more than 3/8-inches wide. Another set of the same style of grooves even with the rear guard screw hole are a full .40-inches wide. These accommodate matching keystock lugs embedded in the stock to arrest the thrust of recoil.

Some characterize the bolt as oversized, but it is more accurately described as a full-diameter bolt. This style of bolt runs back and forth more easily than traditional style bolts unless they are made with an anti-binding groove—something that is costly to manufacture. The bolt features three rounded, cam-like lugs that engage an internal face in the receiver. With a candle, I sooted the engaging surfaces of the lugs and cycled the bolt one time. All three surfaces showed full engagement. A 3/16-inch spring-loaded claw takes care of the extraction chore, and a quintessential spring-powered plunger tosses cases from the rifle. At the rear of the bolt is a composite dust cap.

Attached to the underside of the receiver with a pair of roll pins is the Ruger Marksman trigger housing with an extension that goes beyond the rear of the receiver and serves as a mounting point for a sliding tang-type safety. The Marksman trigger has a profile that mimics the Savage Accutrigger, but its operation is more like the Glock passive trigger-blade safety. It is also user adjustable from 3 to 5 pounds. My test sample came from the factory with a 4 3/4 pound pull. Following the instructions in the manual, I quickly adjusted the trigger pull to 3 pounds, 2 ounces.

A 22-inch sporter-weight barrel is screwed into the receiver, and headspacing is done with a collar a la Savage, but it is more unobtrusive. The rifle is sans iron sights, as is the modern custom, but it comes with Weaver-style bases to mount an optic. All the metal is finished in a nice bead-blast texture that eliminates glare.

The metalwork is housed in a black injection-molded stock with a 100-percent free-floated barrel. There are no cheekpieces or Monte Carlo combs, but there are areas of raised, textured stripes at the grip and a corresponding textured area along the fore-end to assist with purchase. The trigger guard is molded into the stock, and there is no bottom metal. Sling swivel studs are positioned fore and aft, and the butt is capped with a recoil pad.

Feeding the American comes from a composite, detachable, four-round rotary magazine. Its performance was flawless during my testing.

I mounted an Alpen Apex 3-9 x 42 mm scope in Warne QD rings, bore sighted it and headed to the range. The as-tested weight of the American was 7 3/4 pounds, but the recoil impulse seemed more like that of a much lighter rifle—not unpleasant but unexpected. I put some 20 rounds through it getting it sighted in, and then fired some casual shots at gongs out to 400 yards before getting forced off the range due to a frigid 35 mph wind. A couple of days later, I made another run at it in the morning before the wind could get going.

From the outset it seemed that my test sample preferred lighter bullets. Winchester Supreme ammo with 150-grain Ballistic Tips won the accuracy race hands down with an average of 7/8 inch. Only one group was larger than an inch—1 1/8 inches—and I’ll take the responsibility for that one. Next came an old and favorite handload for the ’06 consisting of 57.0 grains of IMR 4350 in back of a 165-grain Sierra SBT GameKing bullet—a load that I have used for more than three decades. In almost every .30-06 I have used this load it has produced sub-moa groups, but in the American it averaged 1 1/8 inches. When I tried Hornady 180-grain Interlocks groups swelled to more than 1 3/4 inches. I am sure that with some judicious tuning and load development one could get heavier bullets to shoot well.

Throughout my test there were no failure-to-feed or failure-to-fire events. I confess to some initial skepticism of an all-plastic rotary magazine, but it performed flawlessly. Were it my personal rifle, I’d purchase at least two additional magazines and be real persnickety about keeping them clean.

Nope, the Ruger American Rifle isn’t about forged and polished receivers, well-figured European walnut and jeweled bolt bodies. It is all about a shooter or hunter wanting an accurate and reliable rifle without breaking the bank. With an MSRP of $449 and street price in the mid to upper $300s, this rugged shooting tool can be ready to go into the field for around $500, and in today’s market that’s a lot of gun for the money.

Manufacturer: Ruger; (603) 865-2442; Ruger.com
Model: American
Type: Bolt-action repeating rifle
Caliber or Gauge: .243 Win., .308 Win., .270 Win. and .30-06 (tested)
Barrel Length: 22"
Magazine/Capacity: Four-round rotary
Rifling: Six-groove, 1:10" RH
Sights: None, scope bases included
Safety: Tang type
Stock: Black injected-molded composite
Length of Pull: 13 3/4"
Drop at comb/heel: 7/8" and 1/2"
Overall Length: 42 1/2"
Weight: 6 1/4 lbs.
Metal Finish: Blued
Accessories: Ruger Marksman adjustable trigger, lock, manual
Suggested Retail Price: $449

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34 Responses to The Ruger American Rifle

Aaron wrote:
January 02, 2014

bought one in 30-06 neever had any problems, didnt do anything fancy mounted a buckner 3-9x40 scope and got it sighted in took a bear this fall i don't have any of the problems mentioned

Walt Taylor wrote:
October 18, 2013

I purchased a Ruger American 243 Caliber. I bore sighted it then took it to the range for final sight in. It jams the bullets. The first one will fire but can't load the second bullet or 3rd. They jam at a angle. anybody have this problem. and cured it.

Ron wrote:
September 25, 2013

I just purchased a Ruger American in .243. Shoots good but when I load up the magazine with 4 rounds, it will not take the first round to the chamber. It appears to want to take it in at an angle. It will however take the next 3 with no problems. I'm using Federal Power shok 100 gr soft point. I have tried Winchester 100 gr power points and it does the same thing. Anyone else have this problem?

Rob wrote:
June 05, 2013

Just bought the American .308 and will be shooting this weekend. Was hoping to find an extended clip. The Ruger Scout has a 10 rd mag. Available but nothing on the Internet as far as I could tell for the American.

James flarity wrote:
May 23, 2013

I have the ruger American .243. Shot maybe 50 rounds through it. Mine is very accurate with the Remington core lokts. I've never had a problem from this gun what so ever. The plastic mag functions perfectly as does all other parts of the gun. It may not be a maple stock gun but who cares? If u want that, buy that. If you want a great shooter but the American. I've had the Remington 770 as well but prefer the American. To each his own. deer won't be attracted to how 'aesthetically pleasing your rifle is. Lol it's a great rifle that functions perfectly. Try it before you bash it.

Roger wrote:
May 13, 2013

Been waiting for the 22-250 version as I had the other calibers covered. Found and bought one last week, got a Nikon 3x9 Buckmaster mounted and sighted in. With my loads it shoots sub 1 inch every 3 shot group thus far. The last group of 3 shots cold out of the safe measured less than .6' at 104 yds. I think the American is a great rifle and a great value. The magazine appears a little flimsy but functioned fine. The bolt stop pin tends to migrate down via gravity until it touches the stock. It should be a bit longer- on mine I just pushed it up seating it fully and jammed a little wad of tin foil between the end of the pin and the stock-works fine.

JORGE MELARA wrote:
February 24, 2013

i have a ruger american rifle in 270, i got different ammo brands, 150 and 130 grain, and one of the roundd did not chainbered, it did not jammed, but it refused to go in. I noticed now that that round is a 150 grain winchester super X power point bulet and it is 1/8' longer than the 130 grain winchester power shok 270A. DOES IT MATTERS? 270 win. is 270win.or is not? was it only one bad cartridge?

Josh wrote:
February 18, 2013

Picked up the American 30.06 last week. Took it shooting today & I am very impressed with the weight, function & group. Overall it gets 4 stars out of 5. It'll bring 5 stars when I take my buck down. Put 60 rounds through it today and not one issue. It'll be nice for my wife to use on her first deer hunt this year. Light & accurate. Exactly what a woman needs!

Kenny wrote:
January 23, 2013

I have an Ameican in .308 w Nikon 3-9X40 scope. With my loads (155gr Hornadu A-max) I get .7" group at 100 yads and 1.2 at 200 yards. That would put meat on the table. I love the trigger and the bolt is very smooth.

P. Canard wrote:
December 18, 2012

The Ruger American is no Ruger M77 just like a Tikka T3 is no Sako 85. That being said, both rifles will probably work OK at close ranges in the woods. Up here in Montana on the prairie, your entry level rifles are Ruger M77, Remington M700, CZ 550, Winchester Model 70, Weatherby Vanguard, Savage 110, etc. If a domestic or high production import rifle drops below about $700 retail, there are going to be shortcuts taken and quality control issues. I would consider the Ruger American a "beater rifle" for stashing in the pickup as I wouldn't worry if it got seriously dinged up....if I needed a beater rifle. What I need is a rifle that costs at least as much as my scope and gives me a reason for mounting a scope. Glad to see that CZ has not joined the cheapo rifle wars....they are the true value-for-money rifle company.

pie boy 65 wrote:
December 15, 2012

bought a ruger american .243 win. worked up some load's . out of the box about 100 rounds needed before it smoothed out the action and trigger. Barnes ttsx 80 gr. 44 gr. h-414 win. cases , fed. 210 primer @2.70" O.A.L. give about 1.75" 100 yd groups .105 a-max win. cases 45 gr h-1000 , fed 210 primers , 2.75 O.A.L. gives 1.75" groups @ 100 yds. I shoot my savage fcp-k .308 into less than .75" all day long , and yes i let barrel stay cool and yes they are all 5 shot groups . so to sum up the rifle works i am not that impressed .

Burdog69 wrote:
November 21, 2012

Just purchased the Ruger American in .308. For the money, you can't beat this rifle. Shot Remington Core-Lokt 150 gr @ 100 Yards with 4" group(didn't like this ammo);however, shot the Superformance Hornady .308 WIN 150 gr SST @ 100 yards with a 1" group consistently. Ruger American Rifle .308, Tasco World Class 3x9x40 Scope, Gun Sling, and 2 Boxes of Ammo-out the door for $4oo. Incredibly accurate and completely affordable rifle. Great job Ruger!

Oldtown169 wrote:
November 20, 2012

The problem with the bolt falling out is that the bolt release pin is backing out. Just happened to my 30-06 haven't even fired it yet.

chris sampson wrote:
October 20, 2012

Traded my winchster model 70 that I have had four 23 years four the new am 30 06 haveing mag feeding issue already not happy at all traded today 10 20 12

Kevin wrote:
October 08, 2012

I have the 06 and it is a very accurate rifle. Put a Burris 3x9x40 and all my holes after quick bore site were 1/4 Inch group with 2 in same hole in first clip at 100 yds. Next 4 were a little less than 1/2 inch, probably due to barrel heating , but still dead nuts!!! No better value for money and accuracy that is phenomenal!!!

Uyless wrote:
September 19, 2012

The only thing I have found is the mag. The last shell in the mag will not seat properly. the bolt pushes down on the shell instead of pushing straight.

Jim61bo wrote:
September 17, 2012

30-06 bolt keeps coming out without hitting bolt release

wiley wrote:
September 10, 2012

i bought the 30-06 American havent shot it yet,but it feels good and nice and lite,cant wait to get to the range.

Daryl wrote:
September 10, 2012

I just got a .270 and a .308 love them both, good price and accurate

Josh wrote:
September 05, 2012

I recently purchased this rifle in .30-06 from a local gun shop mounted a bushnell trophy xlt doa 600 3-9x40 with a set of steel rings my total investment was roughly $540. I only managed to send 4 groups down range before I was rained out but my worst group was within 1 1/4''(did I mention it was nasty outside). I find this rifle to be very accurate and will nicely suit the average hunter or shooters needs. Bottom line for someone on a budget or is new to the shooting sports I feel this rifle is one of the better buys out there.

ghittsum wrote:
August 19, 2012

I just bought a .308 yesterday, no problems with the bolt. I was going to go out and try it out before the weekend closes out. Mounted a Redfield Revenge on the rail, I think it'll do just fine for the price. Looked at a remington 770, and tikka, and some savages. Liked the Ruger. If I had more money, I would have got an A-bolt II.

Jerry Keith wrote:
August 12, 2012

Proud owner of the ruger American rifle in .308 love it 1 of the accurate .308 iv ever owned!

Eric wrote:
June 20, 2012

I got it in 270 and after my first shot I just smiled. And hitting groups witha half inch gap.

Debra wrote:
May 22, 2012

Purchased my 30-06 Ruger American on Apr 13th. The size was perfect. Returned on Apr 16th. The bolt kept coming out past the bolt release. Has anyone had this happen to them? Just got it back May 18th. The bolt came right out again. It is on its way back again. The bolt isn't coming out every time like before but 8 out of 15 times it comes out. And no I am not hitting the bolt release.

Lonnie Hammond wrote:
April 22, 2012

i have the American Rifle in 3006 and I hitting in groups the size of a nickle at 100 yrs.i like the gum!

Jeremiah Huffer wrote:
April 09, 2012

I stopped at my local Gander Mountain the other day, specifically to check out this rifle because it sounded like a pretty good deal. I was definitely NOT impressed with the fit and finish of it. I realize it's a plastic gun but I've seen toy guns at Walmart that had more aesthetic appeal. The bolt looked like it was galvanized and a splotchy galvanizing at that. The plastic magazine looked very cheap and didn't lay flush against the stock, as it was designed to do. The stock had alot of excessive material running along the top of the butt, where the mold halves came together. I don't mind carrying a plastic gun around, but I would have been embarrassed to be seen with this rifle. This good be the best functioning, most accurate rifle known to man, but if this is the best they can do with the F&F I'll never own one. The Axis F&F is 10 times better than the American, and i'm no fan of the Axis.

mick moriarty wrote:
April 06, 2012

Comments...Jeff Quinn found the opposite, his preferred heavy bullets, but they were all pretty good groups. Definetely minute of deer. I have all of the bigger calibres covered, but have dies and brass and moulds downstairs for the 243, but no rifle. Tempting!

Last of the Breed wrote:
April 02, 2012

Gunblast did sub MOA in it's review tests with this rifle.

bhp9 wrote:
March 05, 2012

If you want a new rifle buy it. If you want a quality rifle don't. There are plenty of quality used rifles out there with real walnut stocks, forged receivers and cut rifled barrels. Read that Mauser 98. Some for as little as $300 bucks.

Stu wrote:
March 05, 2012

Next should come spare barrels in alternate calibers like 338-06, 35 Whelen, and .338 Federal....

Robert Demuth wrote:
March 03, 2012

I saw the Ruger American Rifle, which looks and functions like the Tikka T3 Lite, and think I just found my next 308. I hope Walmart does sell them, as they now carry the Savage Axis. I recently bought a Marlin XS7 in 308, but wish I had seen the Ruger American first.

George Ryan wrote:
February 29, 2012

Sounds like a decent rifle for the price.Might consider taking a look at it if it had iron sights.

Brian cape wrote:
February 29, 2012

Its a Ruger what are there not to like great job guys as always...Brian from Anderson s.c

Carl McNeill wrote:
February 29, 2012

I can definitely see stores like Walmart picking this rifle up. It probably won't win any long range competitions but it'll get the job done in the woods. Which is what the average hunter wants. And considering today's economy it's good timing on Kruger's part. If I hadn't just bought a rifle from a guy at work I would be interested in purchasing one. I believe Savage and Remington (770 line) will have some stiff competition.