The New Ruger American Rifle

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

January 2nd, 2012




Click pictures for a larger version.




Soft, effective recoil pad.



Ruger Logo on grip cap.



Bolt release.





Two-position tang safety is mounted right where God intended it to be.



Polymer four-round detachable magazine.





Power-Bedding recoil/bedding blocks are molded into the stock.





Free-floated barrel.



Target Shooting, Inc. Model 500 rifle rest was used for all accuracy testing.



Visual and tactile cocking indicator.



I was a bit puzzled at first by the name of this new rifle, The Ruger American, as all Ruger rifles are made in the USA. However, while Ruger has been building quality American-made bolt-action rifles for forty-three years, this new bolt gun is not just a variation on the legendary Model 77, but is a totally new design for Ruger. Using their knowledge of how to build a bolt gun, along with modern materials and methods of manufacture, the folks at Ruger have built the Ruger American Rifle to be a reliable, lightweight, easy-handling and superbly-accurate bolt gun that sells for about half of the price of their lowest-priced Hawkeye. While price is not everything in a hunting rifle, this Ruger American gives up nothing to its more expensive competition in terms of handling and accuracy.

I first got to handle a prototype of this new rifle back in early November of this year at the NASGW show in Reno. Ruger did not have it on display, but they did show this new Ruger American to me, along with some other products that are slated for introduction very soon. Ruger has been introducing new products at a pretty fast pace lately, and they have also made a point of having the firearms in the distribution pipeline as the announcements of the new products are made. These Ruger American rifles are in production and ready to ship as of this writing.

The Ruger American Rifle will be offered in both short-action and long-action versions. The one shown here is a long-action, chambered for the 30-06 Springfield cartridge. There are several things that I really like about this new Ruger. First of all, and the thing that I immediately noticed when first shown the rifle, is the trigger. Ruger calls this trigger design the Ruger Marksman trigger, and it is user-adjustable for weight-of-pull. Specifications call for a weight-of-pull range between three and five pounds, and mine adjusted down a quarter pound lighter, to two and three-quarters pounds of resistance. The release is very crisp, and the trigger has a safety lever set into the blade, much like the system used on the Savage AccuTrigger. The internal design of the Marksman trigger and the Savage trigger differ, but in use, they are similar. I am glad to see Ruger offer this excellent trigger on their lowest-priced rifle.

I also very much like that Ruger used a three-lug bolt design on the Ruger American Rifle. This allows for a seventy-degree bolt lift, which gives plenty of clearance between the bolt handle and the ocular bell of a riflescope, allowing the scope to be mounted low, as it should be. At the rear of the bolt is a visual and tactile cocking indicator. Ruger placed the two-position safety on the Ruger American in the center of the top tang, right where God intended it to be, reminiscent of the original Model 77 bolt action safety. The safety pushes forward to fire, and is easy to operate while shooting from either shoulder. The bolt can be cycled with the safety on or off.

Another feature of the Ruger American that I really like is the detachable box magazine. I much prefer a detachable box to a drop floorplate design. The Ruger box magazine is a rotary design, allowing a four-shot capacity, without the magazine projecting below the stock, making the rifle easy to carry, and allowing a five-shot fully loaded capacity. The stock is matte black, and lightweight. It has molded-in Ruger Power-Bedding recoil/bedding blocks to rigidly attach the barreled action, and the barrel is, thankfully, free-floated in the forearm channel. As should any hunting rifle, the Ruger American comes equipped with sling studs attached. The stock is well-designed and textured for a secure grip. Even though the Ruger American wears a twenty-two inch hammer-forged barrel, the rifle weighed in at a svelte six and one-quarter pounds on my scale. The stock wears a very effective soft synthetic rubber recoil pad.

The Ruger American rifle uses standard scope bases, and comes supplied with a two-piece scope base set, for the use of any Weaver-compatible scope rings.

For accuracy testing the Ruger American, I mounted a three-to-nine power Redfield matte black scope using Weaver Grand Slam steel rings. This Redfield scope, like the Ruger American rifle, is made in the USA, and offers high quality along with exceptional value, priced below many Asian scopes. This Redfield has precise one-quarter-minute click adjustments, and is waterproof and fog-proof. The Redfield is also a very good choice for a hunting scope, and its power range and size matches perfectly with the rifle and cartridge. The 30-06 is a dandy cartridge for hunting just about anything in the Western Hemisphere. The only thing that I do not like about the ought-six, is that if you own one, you really don’t need anything else. It works perfectly hunting anything from predators to bears, using the proper ammunition.

For accuracy testing, I wanted to keep things as simple as possible, realizing that the purchaser of the Ruger American rifle is most likely a hunter who just wants a great rifle that will handle his hunting needs reliably, without the bother of working up custom handloads for the gun. I did not buy premium ammunition, but instead bought ammo that is as affordable and as readily available as can be found, and purchased the ammo off the shelf at Brigham Hardware in Dover, Tennessee. Standard Remington and Federal ammo, in three different bullet weights. The Federal ammo was soft point hunting loads, in 125 and 180 grain weights. The Remington was loaded with full metal jacket bullets, weighing in at 150 grains.

Setting up at the bench, I rested the Ruger American Rifle into a Target Shooting Inc. Model 500 rifle rest, and after laser bore-sighting the scope, I loaded the Ruger to capacity. Feeding from the rotary box magazine was butter-smooth. The bolt glides easily, with no hint of ever trying to bind, no matter how slowly or quickly I worked the bolt handle. I could not make the bolt bind. The low-lift bolt worked well, allowing plenty of room between my knuckles and the Redfield scope. I fired first at fifty yards, then after getting the scope pointed in the right direction, I moved out to the one hundred yard target, and settled in to shooting for accuracy. I usually mount a scope with more magnification for accuracy testing, but again, I wanted to use a scope that would be used in the hunting field, as is the purpose of this new Ruger American Rifle. Starting with the Federal 180 grain ammo, the first three-shot group fired at 100 yards measured exactly one inch center-to-center, and I was well-pleased with the accuracy of this inexpensive Ruger rifle. After that first group, things got even better. Using only those three commonly-available factory loads, that first group fired was the largest of the day. Speaking with my friend Jason Cloessner at Lipsey’s about the Ruger American Rifle before mine arrived, he told me that those who had tried it were getting amazing accuracy, but I was still surprised at how well it did with standard ammunition. As can be seen in the pictures, this Ruger American Rifle exhibited excellent accuracy, better than many rifles which I have fired that cost four times as much money.

The Ruger American Rifle is a dandy hunter’s rifle. What it lacks in polished blued steel and highly-figured walnut, it more than makes up for with its smooth action, great trigger, quick handling, and superb accuracy. It is priced competitively with any entry-level bolt action rifle on the market, but delivers premium performance in a one hundred percent American-made rifle.

Check out the Ruger American Rifle online at

For the location of a Ruger dealer near you, click on the DEALER LOCATOR at

To order the Ruger American Rifle online, go to

For a closer look at Redfield optics, go to

Jeff Quinn

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Click pictures for a larger version.




Seventy-degree bolt lift allows plenty of clearance between bolt handle and scope.



Very crisp Ruger Marksman adjustable trigger.





As should any good hunting rifle, the Ruger American is equipped with sling studs.



Redfield 3 to 9 scope.



Ammunition tested.