Review: Ruger American .308 Rifle

Ruger American rifle with the bolt open

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.

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Comments (14)

  1. I have a new 5.56 ranch rifle it shoots great but after scaling it closer my one locking lug (bottom one) is ground away so much it can’t make contact with receiver lug !I should send it back to Tiger but have no faith in that ,so I guess one day I’ll get out the gig welder.put the bolt in some kind of heat sink and weld enough metal back on so I can refashtion a new lug (I’ve done this kind of stuff before) I know I’m capable ,but river quality control sucks I wonder how many more left the factory like this ,gunsmith my ass !!!This gun is a great design but workmanship is way under sub par!

  2. I own a couple of American rifles. One is a .22 lr which is a fine rifle, BUT it fails to extract reliably. Then I have a 5.56mm Ranch which shoots very well. Then I have an American Hunter in .308. It shoots sub-MOA using PMC 308B, a basic NATO loading. The Hunter is too heavy for a walk around rifle, being over 10 pounds when a scope, bipod and sling is added. Early magazines with the Ruger logo on them did not work. I replaced them with Magpul mags and the feeding improved. I saw a Ruger American Ranch in 7.62x39mm, and just may need to buy one.

  3. I have a Ruger American Ranch 556 and it shoots lights out, Lightweight and compact to boot. All for $400. I use 10 round pmags.This little rifle is a winner!

  4. I have a question. I have a 308 WIN Ruger AMerican bolt action. I was training a kid and noticed the bolt was not ejecting a the live shell. I had to tilt the gun to get the live shell out. This is very dangerous considering the shell would go unnoticed in the chamber with a novice hunter. Is there something wrong with this gun?

  5. Great gun if you want a single shot 308. Magazine is total garbage and won’t feed follow up shots without banging the side of the gun for the next round to come up. I have always loved Ruger but they completely failed on this.

  6. I have the ruger American 308 Win Put a 6x24x42 Baraski Scope on in. It is a very Light gun. I do Have 1 Issue. while walking for my Deer stand back to my truck, I had Slinged the gun on my Should during the walk the Bolt came completely out into the snow along with the shell that was in the chamber. when I got to my truck I un shoulder the rifle immediately I saw the bolt was Gone I went back to my deer stand looking for the bolt and the shell needless to say we had about 18″ of fresh snow took me about 45 Minutes to find the Shell and Bolt. I have had this gun for 2 seasons, Never experienced this with any other bolt action I own. Anyone have this happen to them out there. other than that I like the Rifle but now this happened to me today makes me a little Leary using in in the field for deer Hunting. tomorrow is the last day to hunt with gun here in NY. I’m seriously thinking of not using it for the last day. I would hate to pull up on a deer only to notice the bolt not there.

  7. Hey Dave, Loved the article.

    I agree when you say “I fitted the rifle with the Leupold 3-9x40mm Freedom scope. This is an affordable optic with good clarity and excellent adjustment.” I own this piece too and can vouch for its quality. Of course there are other scopes that claim to be the “best scopes for 308” but Leupold is personally my favorite.

  8. 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 IÔÇÖm spoiled by my Tikka T-3ÔÇÖs. 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 itÔÇÖs 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, itÔÇÖs a good fit!

    Accucery – 8, the general accucery out to 225 yards was what I expect of the Ruger rifles. IÔÇÖm 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 didnÔÇÖt 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 2.5ÔÇØ. 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 shouldnÔÇÖt be rated at the very least as I have done. Again, IÔÇÖm spoiled by my TikkaÔÇÖs but trying to give a shooters overview.
    As a ranch or brush rifle it two thumbs up. As a ÔÇ£first big boreÔÇØfor a youngster or oneÔÇÖs first hunting platform IÔÇÖd go two up again. If your looking for a distance platform this is not I think itÔÇÖs intended use. If itÔÇÖs an inexpensive, reliable, solid .bott, 30 caliber, general use, hunter your looking to add to the rack then the Ruger American is a choice IÔÇÖd look into.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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, 1ÔÇØ triangles,@ 100 yds…2150 fps. At 5 1/2 lbs and 36ÔÇØ long, itÔÇÖs best, fastest handling brush gun IÔÇÖve ever shot… and because of where I live and how we hunt, IÔÇÖve tried a lot.

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