Ruger joined the AR-15 market some time ago, and I’ve been meaning to see how well they’ve done on their initial offerings. But life being what it is, I only just recently got the opportunity. So now that I’ve got the chance, I jumped in with both feet.
No, it’s not the Will Smith movie where he takes poorly aimed shots at post-apocalyptic deer with his M4 variant. I’m referring to the .350 Legend, and Will Smith would have probably done a little better against deer-sized game had he been shooting 180-grain Federal Blue Box .350 Legend. But hey, zombie apocalypses make for strange hunting practices.
The .350 Legend came from Winchester Ammunition. They tout it as the fastest straight-walled cartridge available today. The Legend looks like a straight-walled .223 case with a .35 caliber bullet at the front instead of a bottleneck. Legend ammo can be had from 140 grains all the way up to 255-grain sub-sonics, making it very adaptable to your purposes.
The Ruger MPR
The Ruger MPR is like most AR-styled rifles, and it has all the familiar controls and features. The only difference between this and many others I’ve shot (besides the obvious .35 bore) was the use of a .350 legend magazine and a shorter gas tube.
As tested here, the rifle featured a 16-inch barrel, taking up just half of the overall length of 33 inches when the buttstock is collapsed. The rifle weighs in at 6.5 pounds and comes with Ruger’s Elite 452 two-stage trigger. The muzzle is threaded at 1/2-28 and comes with Ruger’s own radial ported muzzle brake.
I installed just a couple of accessories to the rifle prior to testing. First was one of my standby optics, an LVPO from U.S. Optics. Second, I added a bipod to the hand guard for better stability when needed. Lastly, I ran the rifle with two of my newest 9mm suppressors from Yankee Hill Machine, the Nitro N20 and the R9.
Before I had even made it to the range though, the rifle was quickly gaining my favor. Just basic handling of the gun proved it to be lighter than I was used to – a welcome feature that made it quick to shoulder and point. Fairly standard collapsible Magpul MOE stock and pistol grip felt like a perfect match to the rest of the rifle. The trigger that Ruger put in this rifle felt very serviceable at 4.5 pounds. It was great for almost any situation I would use this gun. A 45-degree safety was another nice feature I hadn’t expected.
Packing Light in the Mountains
After some playing around in my basement for a bit with the rifle, I decided to take it for a hike into the mountains. I purposely left without a sling because the lightness of the rifle impressed me. I wanted to see if that impression remained after hauling it around for a mile. Before leaving, I stuffed a box of Winchester 145-grain FMJ ammo into my back pocket.
As I walked up the partially icy trail, it was immediately evident that this lighter rifle was far more pleasant to pack than what I was used to carrying. It was easily carried around in one hand either by the grip or around the handguard.
In what seemed like a shorter time than normal, I found myself at my shooting spot. I surveyed the landscape as I caught my breath. A bit of movement caught my eye just across the canyon from where I was perched, a young deer made its way up the opposite ridge, perhaps having heard or seen me.
Practical Accuracy Testing
I had previously bore-sighted the scope before leaving the house, so my plan was to see how close I was by shooting into a small dirt pile clearing approximately 100 yards in front of me. With my U.S. Optics scope zoomed into 6x, I took a few preliminary shots. Hitting just a few inches high and right. After a few minor adjustments, it was on target.
I wasn’t expecting a significant amount of recoil, as I’d shot plenty of .350 Legend in the past through my Desert Tech MDRX. But this Ruger was a significant amount lighter, so I thought this might increase the recoil I felt. Whether it was the muzzle brake or the suppressors I mounted, this rifle was a smooth and soft shooter. It was easily something I could put my 12-year-old daughter behind.
After a few rounds getting comfortable with the rifle, I decided to see just how useful the rifle would be had the deer I saw been a buck. I looked back to the spot where I had seen the deer, and there in the game trail was a patch of wet dirt. Likely, it had been snow only hours earlier before the sun had its way. The wet patch appeared to measure eight or so inches, and I figured it was as good a test as any. This was deer country at deer ranges, and the scenario could have easily played out during deer season. But was the rifle up to it?
I fired a few shots at the wet patch of earth, easily hitting it and sending mud splattering across the clean white rocks nearby. The distance was just over 180 yards. With the ability to make hits on vital-sized targets at that range, it seems like a no-brainer. This rifle would make an excellent deer rifle within the envelope of the Legend’s capabilities. With its lightweight and easy manipulation, a person could handily take down a deer inside 250 yards.
I think the six-power scope is a great partner for this rifle. It provides quick target acquisition and engagement for those shorter distances inside 300 yards. The muzzle brake provided by Ruger seems to tame the already light recoil to a very soft impulse, giving you plenty of control for multiple shots should you need them.
I shot the gun on paper to see how it performed concerning accuracy, and the results seemed to be on par with what I had seen in the field. Groups averaged just under an inch at 100 yards, certainly good enough for smacking deer and hog-sized game within a reasonable distance. This gun seemed to prefer the heavier ammunition, like the 170 and 180 grain from Federal and Hornady. That is fine by me, as that seems like the appropriate proportions for the above-mentioned animals.
I was pleasantly surprised by this little package. It was light, handy, and very functional. The great benefits of the AR platform are exemplified here in what would make a perfect little ranch gun, swamp shooter, or even apocalyptic urban deer slayer.