A hundred years or so ago, I rode an 850 cc Norton
Commando. The Commando was inexpensive transportation that got me back
and forth to work and it was, in the context of those days, fast and fun
to ride. For all of the very sophisticated, rocket sled like motorcycles
I've owned and ridden since... American, British, Japanese, and Italian, the
Norton stands out as an iconic performance motorcycle.
Hunting rifles are a bit like motorcycles in that regard.
Some are fancy, expensive and made to impress friends and family, some
are more purpose built and intended to reliably kill game and endure
within the associated environment. Today, if I had to offer an excellent
example of a hunting rifle, I'd probably hold up the Ruger American
Rifle which, unlike the British Norton, is all American.
Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc.
Ruger American Rifle™
Black Oxide - Alloy Steel
*6 lbs 4 oz.
Pull As Received
3 Lbs 15 Oz
Pull As Tested
3 Lbs 8 Oz.
* Actual weights
The first impression I got from the American Rifle was
that it is a good looking firearm. Extremely well executed and
aesthetically pleasing form, fit and function design. The
American Rifle is light, its grip is narrow at the wrist, broadening at
the palm, which makes for a very stable and secure hold. The pull length
is longish, but comfortable and not enough to extend the shoulder.
The forearm is modern narrow, tapering from 1.75" just forward of the
magazine to 1.45" at the far end of the contact area. I have short
biceps so, when I get my forearm straight up and down, my palm is just
forward of the magazine. Even after a couple of cups of morning coffee,
the image through a scope was rock steady and the 70°
bolt rotation and stroke is easy to manage without a lot of
And a more general note. The Ruger American Rifle is
black, stock and hardware. Sometimes photographic lighting can make it
hard to distinguish black from gray. Or at least with my photographic
The American Rifle is supplied with #46 Weaver type bases
front and rear. It is a popular standard used by Kimber, Marlin, a
variety of FN Mauser based firearms, Savage, Stevens, and Winchester; some for front and rear, some for just front. I checked Brownells and
found lots of #46 Weaver type bases in steel and aluminum, matte and
gloss, low, medium, high, and extra high.
The American's bolt is removed by depressing the aft
portion of the bolt stop and pulling the open bolt strait back. The
cocking piece, as shown, served as a cocked indicator. The tang safety is a
two position type, positive and handy in actuation.
Very comfortable contour and geometry. The grip surface
serrations are comfortable and look much better than when a manufacturer
attempts to mould in checkering. I'd like to see the front serrations
drop down a little lower onto the surface of the forearm to improve cold
weather grip. The American Rifle respectfully wears the brilliant Red
Eagle designed by Alex Sturm in 19491.
The bolt handle is slender and formed at a good angle,
far enough from the stock so winter gloves won't be a problem. I have
handled a lot of guns over the years, but I have to say that this is the
slickest action I've ever encountered in a factory rifle. The bolt body
diameter is large, but the assembly is light, so maybe a large bearing
surface contributes to the feel. In fact, it took a couple of magazines
worth of cycling before I stopped checking to make sure a round fed. It
always had, it was just that the cartridge was stripped from the rotary
magazine with such low effort.
The detachable magazine is a rotary type so instead of a
vertically compressed follower, there is a magazine blade that is
rotated downward incrementally as each cartridge is loaded to a capacity
of four, for the 30-06 Springfield guns. The result is very reliable and
smooth feed and a magazine that pops out when desired and allows loaded
spare magazines to be carried in a jacket pocket.
The Ruger American Rifle is push feed which is not a
problem for me. I understand there may be an associated risk when
attempting to discharge the firearm from an upside down and underwater
position, but under any other circumstance "push" makes for a very slick
and reliable feed. For the sake of a comparison from
a lazy guy... The American Rifle's bolt body is full diameter, which
means it is larger in diameter than the span of the three locking lugs.
Subsequently, the surface inside of the receiver that supports the bolt
body is a full bearing surface, unbroken by locking lug key ways. The
Ruger bolt body diameter is 0.850", the diameter formed by the three
locking lugs is approximately the same. A Remington Model 700 bolt
diameter is 0.696" and the two lug span is 0.993". Both use a plunger
type ejector and a claw type extractor.
I believe Ruger is sending mixed signals in the gun's
manual. Under bolt disassembly instructions they refer to a "bolt
shroud", then they get all Mauser..y and refer to it as a "bolt sleeve."
Ruger isn't very casual with their documentation, so I'll bet they would
say it is only a bolt shroud when functioning in that capacity, but a
bolt sleeve when it is removed as a piece part.
The American has two cocking cams which should reduce the
effort required to cock the assembly through increased bearing surface
area, greater mechanical advantage and balanced loading on adjacent
contact surfaces. No, I have no idea what that means either, but the use
of the term "adjacent contact surfaces" is pretty exciting. Substance is
The American Rifle trigger, foreground, is adjustable for
pull weight and is not the same adjustable trigger found on the Target
and Predator models. The American Rifle's trigger is adjustable from
three to five pounds in half turn increments, over six complete turns.
Additionally, a trigger release lever, hinged into the face of the
trigger, effectively blocks the trigger unless the shooter has completely
depressed the release lever.
Ruger's Power Bedding™
It's like peeling an onion, uncovering a mystery, solving
a Rubik's Cube... OK, I got a little carried away. But I am a mechanical
geek. Some people look at a Ferrari and talk about its sleek body
panels. Some people pull up the carpets and remove access panels to see
how the body is bonded to the frame. I thought this was interesting,
round bottom receiver, rather than the traditional flat bottom... but is
it really, because the inserts bonded into the stock are "V" blocks and
the locators on the receiver are "V" locators and the barrel is floating
on air? The inside of the stock is reinforced with some radial ribbing
and egg crate making the whole assembly very rigid.
There are two hex head fasteners, fore and aft of the
magazine, that secure the stock to the barreled action, or at least the
bedding blocks to the locator slots in the receiver with 60 - 80 in-lbs
of torque. Even and equal force may be the primary goal here as an
educated wrist seem to yield the same accuracy as the torque set to 70
in-lbs. But I was so excited about knocking dust off the in-lb torque
wrench, that I actually torqued the rings when I installed the
Yes, it does shoot, also. Thank you for asking...
It was cold and there was still a foot of snow cone slush
on the ground, but I was still able to wander out in the back, post some
targets on plastic pails, put out the chronograph and set up with a lead
sled to shoot three shot groups.
|Berger VLD Hunting
|North Fork Bonded
There were a couple of more group with Sierra 165 grain,
both under 0.8", that were shot at the end of the range session. The gun
stayed tight and remained comfortable to shoot.
I did take it off the rest to get a feel for recoil and
how well the gun moved with a target and it always felt balanced and...
The Ruger American is a new generation, innovative rifle
and an excellent value. This is the first in a crop of manufacturer's
value priced firearms I've been tracking that doesn't project what is
normally associated with lower cost firearms. The gun looks right, feels
good and shoots straight. It will be interesting to see how this
Wish list? A short one. Extend the front serrations
downward to assure a good grip and change the plastic bolt sleeve to
something made of metal.
1- Ruger and His Guns, R.L.