Review: Ruger American .308 Rifle

By Dave Dolbee published on in Firearms, Hunting, Reviews

When I first began shooting and realized the superiority of the bolt action—over lever action and self-loading rifles—for accuracy, I obtained affordable surplus rifles. I still own a stock Springfield 1903, and it is a fine rifle. However, sporting rifles were another matter and I eventually obtained a number of nice, scoped bolt-action rifles.

Ruger American rifle  with scope and sling

The Ruger American is one rugged reliable and accurate field gun.

I learned a lot about accuracy and optics along the way. I have also seen a number of affordable and inexpensive introductions that are actually cheap and clunky. Ruger has manufactured the exception, a rifle that while inexpensive isn’t cheap. It is a nice rifle with some improvements over other price leader types.

The Ruger American is a push-feed, rather than a controlled-feed, action. The rifle no longer has twin locking lugs compared to the Ruger 77 rifle. The trigger action is, in some particulars, preferable to the Ruger 77, which is a fine rifle in every way. My rifle, in .308 Winchester, weighs 6.5 pounds and handles quickly. The 22-inch barrel is ideal for accuracy and maximum velocity, and the magazine holds four cartridges. The receiver is of 4140 chrome moly steel. The lines are pleasing, somewhat reminiscent of European rifles. But every piece in the rifle is American made. The finish is a black oxide.

Ruger American rifle with the bolt open

A short bolt throw is an aid in handling.

The rifle uses a locking nut to keep the barrel in the receiver, an economical, but precise, means of controlling headspace and fitting. There is no barrel lug. Instead, the Ruger uses machined V blocks. These blocks are molded into the stock and cannot move.

The lockup is steel on steel and the fit is very good. The action is torqued down for rigidity. The Ruger 77 uses a controlled-feed action. The cartridge is fed under the extractor, and the extractor controls the feed of the cartridge into the chamber and makes for positive extraction.

The Ruger American uses an action that is less expensive to manufacture. The bolt simply pushes the cartridge into the chamber. The advantage of the push feed is a lower manufacturing cost. While the controlled-feed action is best for critical use, such as a counter sniper rifle or for dangerous game, the push feed is reliable in most situations.

Tang mounted safety on the Ruger American rifle

A tang-mounted safety is positive in operation and speedy to manipulate.

When have you heard of a Remington 700 tying up? The bolt head features three locking lugs and there is a reduced bolt throw. The 70 degree bolt throw makes for a very smooth action and fast shooting when needed. The adjustable trigger allows the shooter to set trigger compression from three to five pounds. I set mine for a clean 3.5 pounds—ideal for a trained shooter.

The safety is part of the trigger housing. It isn’t part of the receiver. The safety does not lock the action, the rifle may be loaded with the safety on. The rifle also features a bolt release to allow easy cleaning from the rear. The black stock is glass-filled polypropylene. The comb is rather straight but the stock fills the palm properly. The stock features excellent surfaces for proper adhesion and abrasion.

The magazine is detachable, easy to load and use, and does not rattle. The Ruger American doesn’t use the famous Ruger rings, but rather the receiver is drilled and tapped for Weaver bases. The base is supplied with the rifle.

I fitted the rifle with the Leupold 3-9x40mm Freedom scope. This is an affordable optic with good clarity and excellent adjustment. Firing the rifle began with a number of my own handloads, in order to sight the rifle in economically. Less than a dozen rounds had the rifle squared for my preferred 1.5-inch high, point of impact versus the point of aim at 100 yards.

Ruger American rifle with the magazine detached

The detachable magazine makes loading simple enough.

In factory ammunition, I fired several types. Eventually, I settled on one of the most proven hunting loads in the country. The Federal 150-grain Fusion loading is ideal for thin-skinned game, accurate, and exhibits Federal quality. My bolt-action rifles are not fired as often as they should be. I usually sight them in and that is the end. The fact is a shooter should practice firing at known and unknown ranges and hitting small targets close and deer-sized targets off hand at a distance. I did so with this rifle and found it handles quickly.

The balance point is near the magazine, and the Ruger American .308 isn’t difficult to quickly get into action. I also tested one of the most interesting loads from Federal Cartridge Company. The 185-grain Berger Juggernaut OTM is a superb long-range cartridge. At 2,777 fps this is quite a loading. I was able to try this loading at a long 200 yards.

The results were excellent, with a 2-inch, three-shot group. This is exceptional, and I find the Ruger American/Federal Cartridge combination a good one. The Federal Fusion load in a series of three-shot groups delivered 100-yard accuracy of .9, 1.25 and 1.1 inches. This is a neat, handy, accurate, and reliable rifle well worth its price.

Have you fired the Ruger American rifle? What was your impression? Share your answer in the comment section.

SLRule

Bob Campbell is a former peace officer and published author with over 40 years combined shooting and police and security experience. Bob holds a degree in Criminal Justice. Bob is the author of the books, The Handgun in Personal Defense, Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry, The 1911 Automatic Pistol, The Gun Digest Book of Personal Protection and Home Defense, The Shooter’s Guide to the 1911, The Hunter and the Hunted, and The Complete Illustrated Manual of Handgun Skills. His latest book is Dealing with the Great Ammo Shortage. He is also a regular contributor to Gun Tests, American Gunsmith, Small Arms Review, Gun Digest, Concealed Carry Magazine, Knife World, Women and Guns, Handloader and other publications. Bob is well-known for his firearm testing.

View all articles by Bob Campbell

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Comments (6)

  • Pete in Alaska

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    Had an opportunity to spend some range time this this Ruger in .308 that a friend had bought for a daily truck rifle on the ranch. He had put a Burris 3-9×40 Multi-Plex on it an zeroed it at 150 yards. Trigger was set at 3.5 pounds over two days of ranch yard range time a about 250 or so rounds of various flavors. My impression was as follows:
    On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the high score….. and in no preticular order,

    Trigger – 8, was not as crisp at 3.5 lbs as I expected p. Not bad mind you just not as clean as I would have liked. I think that adjusting it to maybe 3 lbs and some more range time may smooth it out without an actual stone an polish.

    Action – 8, was a bit heavy an not as smooth for my hand but I’m spoiled by my Tikka T-3’s. I suspect that most will, grade this Ruger action as 8.5 or better, and not be wrong. Just having so many years this the glass smooth, out of the box, Tikkas, spoiled is a good term. Given the cost and it’s expected use and service there can really be no complaints.

    General Ergonomics – 9>, Ruger has always done a good job in providing solid ergonomics for its firearms and it does not lower the bar here! It was very comfortable to shoot over several hundred rounds, shouldered well with a good repeatable cheek weld. Recoil was what one would expect from any .308 in the barrel leant. A change to its recoil could be considered with either an added muzzel break or perhaps threaded for a suppressor. However, out of the box, it’s a good fit!

    Accucery – 8, the general accucery out to 225 yards was what I expect of the Ruger rifles. I’m of the school that one must spend some time discovering what a perticular rifle likes best to eat for the given expected service use. We didn’t have time to bench set this rifle and find its favorite. The various Federal, Remington, Barns, Winchester an hand loads that were shot all preformed well with Barns 168gr TSX being the best at 175 yds, five shot group, at just a touch over 2.5”. All other groups at this distance fell within 4.5 inch. I felt this was exceptable for its expected service use on the ranch. Groups at the longr ranges opened up as might be expected but remained consistant. I would be comfortable hunting out to 250 yards with some additional work up time with this rifle. Ran a bore snake thru after every 3 or 5 shot round.

    In General – 8.5>. There is no reason this offering from Ruger overall shouldn’t be rated at the very least as I have done. Again, I’m spoiled by my Tikka’s but trying to give a shooters overview.
    As a ranch or brush rifle it two thumbs up. As a “first big bore”for a youngster or one’s first hunting platform I’d go two up again. If your looking for a distance platform this is not I think it’s intended use. If it’s an inexpensive, reliable, solid .bott, 30 caliber, general use, hunter your looking to add to the rack then the Ruger American is a choice I’d look into.

    Reply

  • Reader Comments of the Week — June 23, 2018

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    […] Review: Ruger American .308 Rifle I own two American rifles on chambered in 7mm-08 and the other is the predator in .308. I was able to make a neck shot on a small buck with great accuracy. I love the feel of the bolt. I researched many rifles from X and A bolts with nice wooden stocks. When it came down to it I wanted the nice synthetic stock and save a bit of ammo money. Very happy with my decision. ~Matt […]

    Reply

  • Jeff K

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    The Ruger American series seems to be the best all around rifle out there, even their Precision Rifle is based on it. The ones i have are exceptionally accurate and reliable with multiple types of ammo.

    Reply

  • Charles Markgraf

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    I own a 270 win 77, 223, 300BO, and 450 bushmaster American Ranch and a 308, 30/06 and 243 americans…all very accurate and affordable firearms. I like the thumb safety….and functionality of these firearms.

    all have grouped factory and handholds in sub/moa groups.

    Reply

  • Matt

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    I own two American rifles on chambered in 7mm-08 and the other is the predator in .308. I was able to make a neck shot on a small buck with great accuracy. I love the feel of the bolt. I researched many rifles from X and A bolts with nice wooden stocks. When it came down to it I wanted the nice synthetic stock and save a bit of ammo money. Very happy with my decision.

    Reply

  • Neal Tressler

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    Have 2 Ruger Americans… one a standard.223,and one a Ranch rifle. Both are very accurate…. the Ranch rifle is a .450 Bushmaster… is using a Barnes 290 grn boattail muzzleloader bullet in a handload I developed. 3 shots, 1” triangles,@ 100 yds…2150 fps. At 5 1/2 lbs and 36” long, it’s best, fastest handling brush gun I’ve ever shot… and because of where I live and how we hunt, I’ve tried a lot.

    Reply

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