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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Trackback from your site.

The mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, "The Shooter's Log," is to provide information-not opinions-to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (23)

  • g garvin


    i did buy this light handy little rifle. it honestly shoots inch to inch and a half with all the cheep surplus ammo i can find. i have a nikon 3 power fixed m223 scope. if you adjust the trigger all the way down and do your part it shoots well under an inch with quality ammo. i must admit the stock feels cheep but the gun is very light short and handy. time will tell if it is a durable .l


  • Mark Beyder


    I chose not to buy this gun, because when I asked Ruger customer service why fixed sites were not an option, they basically told me “because”. If you drop this gun and bump your scope, you basically have no weapon. I think Ruger would have made a killing, if they offered this gun with iron sites and accepting AK magazines, instead of their own. If they did offer this gun with AK mags, they would have sold many more rifles than they sold their overpriced mags.


    • Chet


      When Ruger came out with the Mini 30 I did not like the gun. A buddy of mine bought one, the trigger group fell out within the first 20 rounds. He took it back to the store and they gave him a replacement. That one would not keep the magazine it it. Against my advice my oldest son bought one, and as usual it had problems, it would not feed the last 2 to 3 bullets. Ruger just is not up to par on their Semi Autos.

      Now their M77 is an awesome gun, but I have only shot it in long action, ’06, 270, and 300 WinMag, but no open sites, and ONLY Ruger style scope rings.

      I find buying used Remington, & Winchester Rifles you get open sights and often with scope mounts already added. I prefer the open sites but getting older having an over under scope mount works for me!


    • Mark Beyder


      I have owned a mini 30 for a long time and do not like the gun. It is unreliable and jams all the time.The casing rim around the chamber is flat (not sloped towards the chamber) and the rounds get stuck on it all the time.


    • Chet


      Back in the late 80’s I bought what was stamped Norinco, SKS. A gunsmith took it down and showed me it has Russian Proof Marks, Vietnam Proof Marks, and of course you can easily see the Norinco Stamp on top. I enjoyed not just the affordable price but the quality lasts and lasts. I bought two real Chinese SKSs and another Russian made one. They all perform superb! It is hard to copy the best!


  • BR549


    I agree with you about the SKS. After grinding and polishing the hammer and sear, adding a Murray’s firing pin, and attaching an AK47 pistol grip and fitting the gun for 20rd rounds, the SKS has gone from a fun curiosity to one of the most comfortable guns I have to fire.

    And you are exactly right about the 300 yds.
    It’s your typical…. Bang …..pause …..Tink!, over and over again on iron sights.


Leave a comment

Your discussions, feedback and comments are welcome here as long as they are relevant and insightful. Please be respectful of others. We reserve the right to edit as appropriate, delete profane, harassing, abusive and spam comments or posts, and block repeat offenders. All comments are held for moderation and will appear after approval.

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.

%d bloggers like this: