Range Report: Ruger American — Ruger’s Go Anywhere Do Anything Rifle

By Bob Campbell published on in Firearms, General, Range Reports

Many of us are looking for a rifle that will be a jack of all trades. In the past, the Winchester .30-30 rifle came close with its wide use in hunting and law enforcement. A rifle for taking thin-skinned game, protecting the homestead from predators, and for recreational shooting is a desirable commodity. The Ruger American is a light, handy, powerful rifle that clearly fills the bill for most needs. The Ruger American has been a successful firearm, offering reliability and affordability, combined with excellent performance for American shooters.

Ruger American rifle profile right

This is a compact but powerful rifle.

Ruger’s recently released 7.62x39mm American is a smart choice. The 7.62x39mm cartridge is the most popular and well distributed, mid-range caliber in the world. Ammunition is plentiful and inexpensive. Modern loadings, such as the Hornady SST, offer good game taking ability. Handloads put the 7.62x39mm right at .30-30 WCF power. In short, the new Ruger American should prove to be a capable, go anywhere, do anything rifle.

The rifle has many advantages. It is inexpensive, compared to other quality bolt-action rifles. As a rifle to carry behind the truck seat or in the rack of an ATV, the Ruger American is ideal. It is a good game getter for deer and boar to 125 yards, and perhaps a little beyond with a good handload and the right person pulling the trigger. It is much more accurate than the AK-47 or Ruger Mini 30 that also chamber the 7.62x39mm cartridge.

While designed as a sporting rifle, the Ruger American is a carbine-length rifle that handles quickly and would not be a bad choice for area defense. The rifle is designed to accept Ruger Mini 30 box magazines. This gives the rifle the ability to accept 5-, 10-, and 20-round magazines. The rifle tips the scales, but lightly, at 5.9 pounds unloaded.

Ruger American rifle with the bolt in the open position

The rifles short bolt throw makes for fast handling.

The Ruger American features a flat, dark earth, synthetic stock. There are grooves cut into the stock at the forend, and it has a semipistol grip to give the shooter good adhesion when firing. The rifle is supplied with screw-in sling swivels, rather than the common sling swivel that is molded into the stock. After some testing, I fitted a Blackhawk sling to give the rifle more utility.

A modest, but effective, recoil pad is supplied. The bolt throw is short and very fast. The bolt head is more like a self-loading bolt, than the traditional bolt-action rifle. The bolt lift is short and feeding was positive. The safety is conveniently located behind the bolt, and proved handy and positive in operation.

This is an excellent rifle to be married to the 7.62x39mm cartridge. While taking deer and boar are chores, the rifle is suited to it, and would serve for coyote at any range you can hit them. Ammunition is inexpensive. This makes for a purely fun rifle that will digest large quantities of steel cased ammunition without complaint.

The rifle has common features with other Ruger American rifles. These include an adjustable trigger. Mine came from the factory with a pleasant 4.0-pound trigger. I left it at the factory setting during the firing tests. The Ruger also features an integral bedding system that makes for excellent repeatable accuracy. The hammer-forged barrel is threaded for a suppressor, if you decide to go that route. The 5/8-24 pattern is compatible with most .30-caliber muzzle devices. Short, stiff barrels often provide excellent accuracy. This 16-inch barrel gives the rifle a scant 36 inches of overall length. Combined with the Ruger American’s light weight, this makes for a very attractive package.

controls and detachable magazine on the Ruger American rifle

The controls and detachable magazine are easily operated.

The rifle features a picatinny rail base for mounting optics. I mounted an affordable, but useful optic, the TruGlo 4×32 scope. Four-power magnification gives all the magnification I need for most chores. With the optic set at the lowest power, fast shooting may be done at closer range. The reticle features highly visible crosshairs. The meeting point of the crosshairs is covered by a circle, to lead the eye directly to the center of the aiming point. This scope rode several different rifles and gave excellent results with each. It wasn’t difficult to mount the scope and sight it in, as it is supplied with rings and mounts. In dry fire practice, I found the rifle comes to the eye quickly and offers very fast handling. The bolt lift was smooth and the action was fast. Before proceeding to the range, I practiced handling the rifle and engaged in a decent amount of dry fire. This paid off in good results.

Firing Tests

I began with Century International Arms famous Red Army loads. This is an affordable steel-cased load that is reliable and has proven accurate enough in several AK-47 rifles. I confirmed the scope’s zero at 25 and then 50 yards. After the initial sighting-in phase, I fired for accuracy. The recoil was mild and the rifle as fast handling as I had imagined during dry fire.

Bob Campbell aiming the Ruger American rifle with TruGlo scope

The balance and point of the rifle are excellent.

Firing for speed at 25 yards, it was no mean feat to place two rounds in the X ring, and then put two in the cranial ocular region for insurance. Moving to 50 yards, firing off hand, results continued to be good. With the 20-round Mini 30 magazine locked in place, it was great fun to fire repeat shots at clay birds on the 100-yard berm. As I expected, this is a great bolt action plinker with plenty of accuracy. My grandson and I fired 100 Red Army cartridges before taking a break and conducting bench rest testing at 100 yards.

Absolute Accuracy

I added two loads to the mix for the 100-yard testing. The Fiocchi 123-grain FMJ load has given excellent results in self-loading rifles, and I was curious to see results in the Ruger American. Hornady offers the 123-grain SST expanding bullet hunting load. The SST is well respected for accuracy and its effect on game. I settled down with the five-round magazine in place, and then took every advantage for accuracy, firing three, 3-shot groups with each of the loads tested. As listed in the accompanying table, results were good. The Ruger American is more accurate than the average Winchester .30-30 or AK-47 rifle. Ammunition is inexpensive and the rifle isn’t likely to need much maintenance. I think we have a winner in the new Ruger American chambering.

Accuracy Results

100-yard, 3-shot group average

Load Group
Red Army 124-grain FMJ 3.1 inch
Fiocchi 123-grain FMJ 1.5 inch
Hornady 123-grain SST 1.8 inch
Handload/Varget Powder, Hornady 155-grain SST 1.3 inch

Have you fired the Ruger American in 7.62×39? What was your impression? What is your go-anywhere, do-anything rifle and caliber? Share your answers in the comment section.

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Comments (15)

  • Hide Behind

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    PS. Yes there are many quality adjustable iron sights out there that are dirt cheap.
    This is a short range , fairly large animal, deer or hog, killer, but close up in the thick timber a scoped sighting, especially on fast moving game can be a pain in butt.
    Take our western tough as hell Blacktail. Deer that live in rainy thick second growth stands of timber, and not flat assed killing from n elevated covered blinds, and iron sights are great.

    Reply

  • Hide Behind

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    For the price go to CZ.
    For quality go to CZ.
    For aesthetic value go to CZ.
    For a better HUNTING round go to any number of different calibers.
    As to comparability of extended magazine capacity, yup stick to Ruger.
    Sorry but Ruger is cheap compared to CZ, as to owner of one and experience with both the CZ, may be rifling or better headspacing, lockup, the CD seems to wring more out of any brand ammo.
    There are today many short action rounds, yes a good 30/30 is better hunting round especially with Hornadys Lever.
    While 7.62 x39 imports are less expensive rounds the cost of good short action rounds including cost of full reloading supplies makes price difference negligible.
    But then, I love my custom Chile 7mm Maurer Carbine that will out shoot and out kill any 7.62×39 round out there.
    Domestic efficient 7.62×39, good hard hitting and with kill zone accuracy with any reach out beyond 150 yards, good luck.
    And yes I can hit beyond 400 with damn near any round but lobbing rounds especially 7.62x 39 is as the round was designed for, pray and spray.

    Reply

  • Neal Tressler

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    I have a ranch rifle in 450 Bushmaster… $469.00, with muzzle brake… great rifle, ridiculously accurate, and capable of nearly 3000 ft lbs…

    Reply

  • Dan

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    I’m just getting into shooting and purchased this rifle. I will agree with the comments of accuracy, lightweight, inexpensive to just go plinking with. My only negative (and it is a minor one) is installing and releasing the magazine. Seems I have to operate the release to install afresh magazine. Will probably smooth out with more use.

    Finally, the rifle gets attention and positive comments from the staff at the outdoor and indoor ranges I have taken it to.

    Reply

  • Patrick Vaughan

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    I bought one as a companion to my Mini-30 because they share magazines. Never deer hunted before getting invited to a Texas camp a month before my 71st birthday. One shot, one deer. Nosler soft point hunting ammo at just under 100 yards. The rifle is perfect for a blind, fun to shoot, and didn’t break the bank. Hopeful for suppressor laws to change because it is loud. Get one for yourself.

    Reply

  • Gary

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    The mags on these are the problem, there is to much up and down play. Mine won’t load the last round unless you hold up on the mag. Thought it was the mag, Ruger sent me a new one, same problem with it.

    Reply

    • BR549

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      What is it with Ruger’s mag dept? The Mini-30 takes a dedicated mag …….. an EXPENSIVE dedicated mag. Why can’t that piece use a regular AK style mag?

      I know there are fit issues with the mags from the various soviet bloc manufactures making interchangability less than ideal, but this is nothing more than job security.

      And yes, this would be loud ….er. The rounds weren’t designed for bolt action rifles. Someone may, at some point, dial in the correct powder solution for this application for reloads, but until then, it’s like my PLR-16 with standard 5.56 rounds; large flash, lots noise and diminished performance because the standard expansion pulse was never designed for that piece’s 9″ barrel.

      Reply

  • Dale

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    Why do they take a beautiful rifle like this and put it into a synthetic stock? I prefer that it could be available in a wood stock also. I guess, just call me old fashioned because a wood stock greatly enhances the beauty of any rifle.

    Reply

  • M

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    Sounds like a decent rifle. One could purchase the higher quality CZ 527 carbine, a Mauser action rifle made of steel and wood for the same price.

    Reply

  • H

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    I like the idea of this rifle and with quality ammo it should be able to deliver the goods at appropriate ranges.
    Thankfully the ammo is cheap but the basic rifle isn’t “cheap” in the typical sense as listed at around $650.00 but maybe cheaper in some areas.
    Still, a decent rifle for the recoil sensitive or if your shooting distances are within the specs for the ammo. I’d consider it myself.

    Reply

    • Trey

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      Na these rifles go around $400 to 450 and they are excellent, I have the 223/556 and the 300BO models and I luv them. Sub M.O.A. with good factory ammo at 100yrds all day long, excellent adjustable trigger, Suppressor ready and factory pic rail. This in my eyes is the perfect guide type rifle. Ruger hit a home run with these!

      Reply

    • Adam

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      Is the 223 chambered Ruger American safe to shoot with 5.56 ammo? I hear different things. And how is the rotary mag?

      Reply

    • Adam

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      But no iron sights! I like to guns, but I hate it than no one puts irons on their guns anymore!

      Reply

    • John Symonds

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      This looks good but I would go with the CZ 527 or the Howa Mini Action first.

      Reply

    • calvin

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      yep. If it had iron sights, I’d buy one.

      Reply

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