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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Shooters 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.
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