The Ruger No.1 Tropical
"The 358-378RG Donor Gun"
By Joseph D'Alessandro Editor
have the .358-378RG project gun in the works for the Real Guns site, and
it's been moving along pretty well. The chambering reamers are in
progress, the reloading die set is in progress and it looks like we have a
winner for the service that will provide the custom stock and metal work.
The base rifle was to be a Ruger No.1 Tropical, chambered for the .375
H&H round. I purchased mine from Paul over at Reeds Sporting Goods in
San Jose, CA. Good price, good service, good inventory and special order
service when necessary. They also carry a full line of accessories and
reloading supplies and equipment. No, I do not get a price break at Reeds.
In fact, I believe my sterling personality is the basis of a 10%
will remain of this little gun after modification is the action, and
therein lies the problem. There is something very special about a gun
chambered for the .375 H&H, especially when it carries an appearance
more closely aligned with express rifles from the old British firms of the
early 20th century. I can recall removing some guns from the box and
wondering how quickly I could change stocks or barrels or sights. This
time, I unpacked the Ruger and immediately began thinking of alternative
donor rifles for my Real Guns project. I also immediately abandoned the
notion of not firing the rifle before it's barrel change and conversion.
Ruger is a very compact gun, if not a light weight gun. With 24"
barrel, the No.1 measures barely 40" long. Comparatively speaking, a
Weatherby Euromark .378 or .416 WM is over 48" long with a 26"
barrel and brake installed. Weatherby claims a weight of 9.5 lbs, but my
.416 is a featherweight at 8.25 lbs. Ruger, on the other hand, was fibbing
like a fat guy without a scale, the No.1 had an actual weight of 10 lbs.
Since the gun is chambered only for either the .416 Rigby, or .375
H&H, most sane owners will look at the slender live rubber recoil pad,
and not complain about weight.
we have here is an example of the magic trick single shot rifles can
perform; how to feed a 3.5" cartridge through a 2.5" action,
when a bolt action rifle needs an action with an ejection port longer than
the cartridge, plus room for the bolt handle lock up and bolt locking
lugs. The Weatherby Mark V, as an example, is approximately 6" long.
silver block on top of the Ruger action is the falling block, or the heavy
duty part that stands between the shooter and the rear of the cartridge
when the breech is closed. The action need only accommodate the lever or
opening mechanism and the breech block. The lever is pulled down, the
block follows, and the long cartridge slides up over the top and forward
into the chamber. The action length does not vary for cartridge length,
rather only to adjust for the size of the block and less or greater
strength. The action is very simple,
very strong and will hold up to Weatherby type chamber pressures.
is what the breech looks like with the block down and out of the way.
Essentially there is a groove on top of the block for cartridge clearance
and a wide open shot at the chamber.
assembly is comprised of a heavy barrel surrounding the chamber, wrapped
in a very heavy receiver, backed up with a 2" thick solid steel
block, riding in solid steel tracks that run the full height of the block.
I don't believe this action is going anywhere that's unexpected when the
hammer drops. Operation is very smooth, the lever swing is in a natural
arc in context with the rifle hold, and the trigger pull is an even, crisp
4 lbs. Neat.
price of ammo is relative. I almost never buy factory ammo, especially the
premium type which can be handloaded for 25% the cost. This is Federal
Safari with Nosler Partition 300 grain bullets. At $61 per box of 20, it's
a steal compared to Weatherby big cartridge ammo. And it comes in a 4 pack
belt thingy for those who wish to look like a complete dude while out
hunting. It sure is shiny with bright, blinding, highly reflective nickel
cases. They aren't even all that hot as a load. At 2530 fps MV, it starts
at 4265 ft/lbs of ME. The Trophy bonded load is 200 fps faster, as is the
Hornady Heavy Magnum load at half the price. Standard Winchester and
Remington ammo can duplicate this performance
last time I played around with handloads for this cartridge in a Ruger
No.1, I could get to the high 2600's in 300 grains before I started
creating my own headstamps. By comparison, the .378 Weatherby factory load
is a shoe in for 2900 fps, and can brush close to 3000 with a little
nudge. The question might be raised, why bother pushing the .375 bore 300
grain bullet to this velocity? Well, the .375 is frequently used on tough
African plains game, your basic 700 pound antelope, and long shots are not
an exception. there are not a lot of bullet weights for this bore, but
there are some very slippery and well constructed bullets. Personally, I
have to believe this is the all around big gun for North America. You can
load it pretty hot, but you can also load is down, a lot, and use it for
just about anything.
are some details of the rifle I found very pleasing, especially in this
price and power range.
bluing is luster finished and the stock is satin finished. I believe
that's what a hunting rifle is suppose to look like. It does, however,
lose it's dual purpose of weapon and reflecting mirror that other brands
seem to offer. It also breaks the ugly plastic stock rule. Yes, the wood
is plain grained, but it is cut cleanly, the finish is uniform all over
and the metal parts are evenly blued. Of course the compulsory Ruger
investment casting has found its way into the trigger guard, but is mostly
hidden by the lever.
rear sight is an interesting proposition. The sight is a quarter-rib with
a fold over leaf way up in the front. It would have been a lot nicer with
the folding 3 leaf set they put on their M77 MkII Magnum rifles.
nice detail they did include was the Ruger ring notch set (see inset) that
permit a scope to be clamped in place over the quarter rib. A not nice
detail is rings are not included.
wood and checkering are very nice. The wood is straight grained tough
American walnut, the checkering is fine line and clean cut. My last
Winchester and Remington rifles had checkering that looked as though they
were cut with a dull branding iron. In fact, this is actually cleaner than
the checkering on my Weatherby Euromark. I have no idea what that little
groove is at the end of the forearm, someday when I have nothing to do and
no intention of doing it, I'll call Ruger and drive them crazy as they try
to explain they don't know either, only in more knowledgeable terms.
nice detail; this time in metal work. The barrel band is a few inches up
from the forearm and is positioned for much better balance with a sling
carry. The rifle shipped with quick detachable swivels.
muzzle in cleanly finished and it set off nicely with the front express
sight. The only compliant is the very narrow blade and leaf combination
which could easily be lost against an animal's hide in anything but bright
sunlight. I'd hang a scope on it and skip the open sights.
I'm at the difficult part. I will take the Ruger up to the range to see
what it feels like in live fire, and to get a better sense of the
personality of the rifle. Then I need to head scratch and figure out what
appropriate modifications should be carried into the custom process. At
the moment I'm considering not changing much, mostly upgrading what is
already there. Then again, there is a sense that this could be an
interesting combining of old tradition appearances and some interesting
technology. I don't know yet, so I'll enjoy the luxury of thinking time
while I'm waiting for parts to come in. In the mean time if you run across
some interesting photos of single shot rifles, let me know.