Bargain Hunting: the Ruger American (VIDEO)

Ruger is well-known for their high-value firearms.  They are rugged and durable across the board.  Their 10/22 is practically synonymous with “first rifle”.  But while their guns have great value, they’re not necessarily inexpensive.  The Ruger American is very different in that regard.

Announced at the top of this year, the Ruger American has finally found its way onto store shelves.  The Ruger American is a budget bolt-action rifle.  It can be found for $350 or less—$300 in some stores—and brings a load of features not found on rifles costing twice or more.

American rifle stock

Part of what keeps the costs down is polymers.  The stock and magazines are plastic.  This also helps keep the weight down, as the Ruger American weighs just 6.25 pounds.  While many people like wood, more people like accuracy.  Because the stock is polymer, it was possible to design them with integral bedding, which makes this budget rifle group particularly well.

American rifle with scope

Other high-end features that come with the American include an adjustable trigger, called the Marksman Trigger by Ruger.  It can be set to break between 3 and 5 pounds.  We did shoot the American at this year’s SHOT Show, and impressed doesn’t even begin to describe this rifle.

The action uses twin cocking cams which makes it particularly easy to cycle the American’s 3-lug bolt.  It may not come in a left-handed model, but the tang safety can easily be manipulated by a right or a left thumb.  And the magazine may be plastic, but the rotary design gave us no problems and was easy to load and insert and remove.  The action is smooth and it is very easy to shoot this gun fast and reload it fast.

Ultimately it comes down to how it shot: very well.  The recoil is at the high end, due to the lightweight nature of the American, but it handles well and had no problems shooting tight groups.  Accuracy depends on the ammo, but some people are getting 1/2 to 1/3 MOA groups with target ammunition.  Cheap ammo opens up to between 1 and 1.5 MOA groups, which is still serviceable.

The Ruger American comes with two sling studs and two scope mount bases.  The receiver comes drilled and tapped from the factory.  The American does not have iron sights.

About the only thing we would change would be to add a third sling stud for use with a bipod; otherwise, the Ruger American is ready for hunting or even competition shooting on a hair-thin budget.  We fully expect to see these rifles slung over shoulders en masse.

Again, for $350 the Ruger sets a new standard for inexpensive rifles.  The American is currently available in four calibers, .243, .270 and .308 Winchester and .30-06 Springfield.  Time will tell if the American will stand up to Ruger’s standards as far as durability and reliability, but so far, we really like what we see with this particular rifle.

Photo credit: American Rifleman

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