Review: Ruger American Rimfire

Man shooting the Ruger American Rimfire rifle

The introduction of a new bolt-action .22 is a continuation of the classic American .22 caliber sporter. Despite the introduction of modern self-loading rifles, the Ruger American Rimfire has its place. The Ruger American Rimfire is a stablemate to the world’s most popular .22 caliber rifle, the Ruger 10/22.

The Ruger American Rimfire is a clean design.
The Ruger American Rimfire is a clean design.

The Ruger American Rimfire rifle is similar to the Ruger American centerfire rifles introduced a few years ago. The Ruger American Rimfire will be available in .17 HMR, .22 LR and .22 Winchester Rimfire Magnum. One model is supplied with a 22-inch barrel and another with an 18-inch barrel. The full-size rifle has a length of pull of 13.75 inches while the shorter rifle illustrated has a 12.5-inch length of pull. This makes for a good choice of both youth and full size models.

Magazine well on the Ruger American Rimfire Rifle
The new bolt-action rifle accepts standard 10/22 magazines.

The rifle may be modified with either a high or low comb attachment for the stock. The rifle uses the same 10-round magazines as the Ruger 10/22. This magazine is a model of reliability and efficiency. The rifle also accepts the Ruger X Magazines in 15-, 20- and 25-round capacity. The Ruger American Rimfire features the modern- fast release magazine catch used on the latest Ruger 10/22 rifle.

The rifle is a nice looking firearm with a molded one-piece, black synthetic stock. The stock features palmswells and a Ruger emblem in the butt cap. This isn’t a simple slab; the stock offers good human engineering. My compact versions weighs just under 5.5 pounds.

A nice addition to the Ruger rifle is a tang-mounted safety. This safety is well designed, positive in operation, and may be moved to the on position and the rifle cycled. The bolt is well designed to clear a rifle scope. The bolt throw is 60 degrees.

Ruger American Rimfire rifle tang mounted safety
The fit and finish of the rifle is excellent. Note the handy tang mounted safety.

Unlike many less expensive rifles, the Ruger is well bedded with a system that free floats the barrel. The barrel features a target crown—unusual for a rimfire rifle. The single bedding block and angled lugs are more than adequate to lock the rimfire cartridges the Ruger chambers. The trigger is the same design as the Ruger Marksman that has been used in the centerfire American rifles. Ruger is becoming known for excellent rifle triggers including the 452 in use in the AR-15 rifles. This trigger blocks the sear rather than the trigger bar which makes for greater safety and provides a very clean break.

The Ruger American Rimfire is provided with adjustable rear sights of the 10/22 type. The rifle also features a bright green fiber optic front sight. This fiber optic is easily picked up for close work such as dispatching garden pests at a few feet, but small enough to provide real accuracy at 50 yards or more. The rifle is drilled and tapped for a scope mount, but the mount isn’t included.

These are not expensive, and many will use the rifle with its fixed sights in place. As for accuracy, the Ruger American Rimfire isn’t a $200 rifle but a $300 rifle, plus a bit more, so it should be more accurate than the usual inexpensive bolt action rifle. I honestly do not know what I was expecting, but my comparison is the Ruger 10/22 rifle.

Ruger X magazines
Ruger X magazines in 15, 20 and 25 round types were tested with good results.

Now if you want a semi-auto .22, get the 10/22, but just the same, the Ruger self-loading rimfire is a gold standard as everyone seems to own at least one, some of us many, and its accuracy and reliability are well known. However, the Ruger 10/22 is an accurate rifle in its class with the average group with quality ammunition running about 2 inches at 50 yards from a solid bench rest firing position. So, is the Ruger Bolt Action Rimfire for those wishing to break youngsters in with a bolt action, which may easily become a single-shot .22 without the magazine, or is it accurate enough for hunting and other pursuits?

Initial testing involved Winchester Super X hollow points and the Fiocchi 40-grain HV loading. I was just playing and plinking. The rifle is definitely a fun gun. However, unlike many cheap guns, and this isn’t a cheap gun, I wasn’t frustrated by the accuracy. There is a downed pine at the range and I put a plastic bottle in the crook of a limb and fired at the bottle. As luck would have it, the pine lies on the 50-yard line. My shots range true and struck the plastic bottle dead center several times. That is a good start.

The rifle is smooth in operation and offers excellent handling and accuracy. As the test progressed, I found that I hit the target more often than I missed, firing at dirt clods and small targets. Most were squirrel-sized which means pot meat in the winter. I had the impression the rifle is more accurate than most. I confirmed this impression by firing off the bench rest at 50 yards, taking every advantage to deliver accurate groups.

Man shooting the Ruger American Rimfire rifle
The bolt action is very smooth and rapid to manipulate.

I fired three-shot groups with the CCI standard velocity loading, a proven tack driver, the Winchester Super X game taking load, and the Fiocchi 40-grain HV. Results were excellent. Remember, this is an iron-sighted rifle. I did not feel disadvantaged at all at 50 yards. The two high-velocity loads traded back and forth for top honors with averages of one-inch dispersion for three shots.

The CCI standard velocity was much the same. However, a single three-shot group with this load fell into less than an inch. This is uncommon accuracy for this type of rifle. Then again, the machining is excellent and the bedding is well done. The sights are excellent, high visibility, yet precise. The trigger couldn’t be better. This rifle is a keeper well worth its price.

Do you have a favorite .22 LR bolt-action rifle? Share it in the comment section.


About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
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 (11)

  1. For me a Marlin 780 bolt gun ma marlin model 60 semi, and a10/22. the 780 is a tack driver, and is my goto small game .22, but I’ve been known to take the others out for fun.

  2. Anyone who likes this American 22LR should try the .17HMR version. Flat shooting .17HMR can destroy anything it hits up to 150 -160 yards, including pests the size of foxes, coyotes and small hogs..

  3. I have a low serial# pre chamber mod Ruger 77/22 that is a tack driver, thats good for 1 hole 3 shot groups at 50 yards.

  4. Earlier this year I purchased both a 10/22 and a Ruger American Rimfire, I like the 10/22 just fine but like all semi’s it has an appetite for only certain types of ammo while I can feed the RAR anything without a hiccup.

  5. My favorite .22 rifles are: Ansch├╝tz 1700 and 1422D. I am also fond of my Ruger 77/22, and three 10/22 for fun plinking. What every ammo you use in any of these rifles determines the accuracy you get. For the best result, I like the standard velocity.

  6. I have always owned Rugers. I have 4 sitting in the safe now. I really like the 77/22. That thing was deadly accurate. Heavy, but an amazing shooter. My favorite of all time is the Mark II bull barrel. I can chase a pop can out to 75 yards with that thing all day long. The only ruger I have owned that I didn’t like was the SR9C in 9mm. It had too many safety issues. Sold it off for a Glock.

  7. I cut playing cards in half with a Ruger Precision 22 at 50 yards. I shoot from a rest, one of my arms was hurt in 1968. Semper Fi!

  8. I have the Ruger American Rimfire with the 22″ barrel. I bought it at sporting goods store and they were selling it with a BSA 3-9 scope which was supposed to be bore-sighted. The scope couldn’t have been bore-sighted because it was shooting 4″ low and 4″ left at 25 yards. After firing 20-30 rounds I got it zeroed in. It’s now a tack driver. It also comes with an adjustable Marksman trigger which has the ability to adjust the trigger pull. I, naturally, have it set for the lightest trigger pull. It uses all the Ruger magazines. I have the 10 & 25 round magazines which I also use with my Ruger 10-22. The Ruger BX 25 magazine works extremely well with this rifle but not so well with the 10-22. With the 10-22 I occasionally get failure to feed & failure to eject with the BX 25. I don’t know if it’s the ammo or the typical sloppy wobble associated with the Ruger 10-22 and the BX 25 magazine. Not so with the American Ruger American Rimfire . Because this is a bolt action rifle it will feed and eject anything you put in it. I has a beautiful blue on the barrel. The bolt is easy to remove with just a push on a lever. This is a great bolt action rifle and because it’s a bolt action, it makes you concentrate on aiming the rifle more precisely rather than just blasting away like you would with a semi-auto. I can’t say enough good things about this rifle. Buy one. You won’t be disappointed.

  9. Personally, for .22 cal rifles, I wiil certainly take the Sako Finnfire II, Steyr Zephyr II, CZ 452’s (either original or limited reissues) or the Ruger 77/22 over any other mass produced 22 rifle.

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