These were words uttered by fellow Guns & Ammo writer “Tommy” Beckstrand as he hammered steel plates out to 600 yards with a Ruger American. When we discussed the new addition to the Ruger line, he said, “I guess I really shouldn’t say ‘cheap;’ I should say ‘inexpensive’ because there isn’t anything cheap about the Ruger American.”
These were my thoughts exactly when I first handled the Ruger American while shooting with Tim Fallon of FTW Ranch in Texas. Right out of the box, these rifles shoot. So, how can Ruger build a budget rifle that acts like it should be wearing a full-house or even custom-shop price tag? With street prices ranging from less than $700 bucks to as low as the mid-$500s, this is a deal. Oh, and don’t forget that this is with a Redfield Revolution scope attached straight from the factory. I needed answers, so I rang up Ken Jorgensen at Ruger to find out the magic behind the Ruger American Revolution machine.
Ken quickly clued me in to the perfect storm that is Ruger. The folks he works with wanted to provide a complete package, ready to hunt with, straight from the production line. They also wanted it to be American made, so they chose the Redfield Revolution scope in the 3-9X range to set atop the American. As Ken said, they didn’t want a “$10 horse with a $40 saddle,” thus the Ruger American Revolution was born. I also felt this way. I couldn’t very well take an inexpensive rifle and screw on a $2,500 scope for testing. I ran it as delivered, and I am happy I did.
The Ruger American was designed by top firearms design gurus who also took into account the need for lean manufacturing to eliminate waste during the building process. This is coupled with the fact that Ruger’s barrels are hammer forged in-house for quality control and to help with the economic problems encountered when buying from an outside barrel source. Providing more insight into how Ruger was able to meet this price point with this level of quality is that it uses “cells” to manufacture the entire rifle. Each rifle-building cell is responsible for many different steps in the process. Ruger has trained its builders to cover down on many diverse tasks to help keep down costs. Ruger has avoided many manufacturing pitfalls, guaranteeing that it gets what it pays for, and that savings is passed on to its customers. All of the Ruger Americans are made in Newport, New Hampshire, a remaining stronghold for Northeastern gun owners.
Enough with the politics; it’s time to talk performance. Rubber meeting the road to the tune of MOA or near MOA with the right ammunition is a spectacular sight to see when you buy this bargain of a rifle. I chose to shoot an American chambered in .308. This is a great caliber that I became a gigantic fan of while serving as a sniper in the U.S. Army. There are more-powerful chamberings, but for the average whitetail or mule deer hunt, the .308 holds its own. The Redfield scope was on paper straight out of the box, so with three rounds to get zeroed, we were on our way to evaluating the American.
After shooting several loads, I settled on the Hornady 165-grain GMX. In this particular rifle, the 165s stacked reliably into 1¼ MOA — not bad straight out of the box. I also tested the rifle’s accuracy with Remington’s 150-grain MC ammunition, which is not a hunting cartridge, yet it’s usually reliable, except it just did not shoot well in the Ruger. Hornady’s 150-grain GMXs and Black Hills’ 168-grain boattail hollowpoints both bored groups in the 1½-MOA neighborhood. All of these groups were shot prone with a bipod, so I’m sure that more precise groups could be rung out with sandbags and a bench.
I immediately noticed a few more added benefits of using the Ruger-Redfield combo, the first being the accuracy I mentioned above. Coming in a close second was the weight of the rifle. If you have a lightweight rifle that shoots, I’m in. As this one tips the scale at a scant 7 pounds including scope, you may have to pay a little bit more from other outfits to get this feathery feel in your firearm.
Adding to the mix is Ruger’s Marksman adjustable trigger. This trigger gives you the ability to get a decent trigger pull, adjusting to fit your style. I have not altered my trigger from the factory setting, as it feels great right out of the box, breaking near 4 pounds.
The list of upgrades doesn’t stop there. The fine folks at Ruger wanted a composite stock, with bedding blocks standard fare with this system. The number crunchers at Ruger said, “Hey, why not?” so instead of having to tear apart your blaster or send it to the local gun plumber for bedding and special treatment, you can just point and shoot, again straight from the factory.
The in-house injection-molded stock is also a cool feature. “Ergonomic” is an often overused word in the shooting industry, but this stock feels great in the hand and on the shoulder. I really like the stock’s forend and pistol grip; both areas have grooves and texturizing for grip. The only downfall I’ve noticed so far is that the upper edge of the barrel channel is extremely sharp. I guess it could be used as a knife in a survival situation, but it really is too sharp to leave as-is. You shouldn’t have to wear gloves to shoot your bolt gun. Simply breaking the edge with a file or emery cloth should fix this in a jiffy. The triggerguard is also molded into the stock for added cost savings.
The V-shaped bedding blocks are a great feature that normally require an upcharge. However, they are standard equipment on the Ruger. These blocks allow you to have return to zero with disassembly as well as increased accuracy. If you use a standard composite stock without bedding blocks or bedding, you will see impact shifts.
As a late-night TV salesman would say, “But wait, there’s more.” When you shoot this rifle, you will notice how smooth the bolt throw and cycling are. The bolt face has three lugs, allowing for a 70-degree bolt throw, as well as a fully machined bolt. There is zero concern about clearing your scope or having sluggish cycling when trying to make a follow-up shot.
I also like the tang safety, as this feature is faster for me to access than other bolt-mounted safeties that are found on many of Ruger’s bolt guns, while also allowing lefties easy access to it.
A rotary magazine comes standard; it is plastic, so it might be a good idea to buy a spare. The magazine is a little tricky to load the first time or two, but I eventually figured out how to slide the rounds into place. In the .308, you are able to stuff four rounds into the magazine, which is standard fare with most in this class.
The 22-inch barrel with a 1:10-inch twist rate seems to work well. As a matter of fact, this is the same twist rate that many of my current accurate .308 AR rifles are chambered for. Twenty-two inches may seem short to some of you, but in .308, I think it’s perfect. I wouldn’t mind going a little shorter, and wouldn’t you know it, Ruger makes this rifle in an 18-incher as well.
The final icing on the cake is the Redfield scope. It comes standard with this package, so once you get your rifle, you can head straight to the range to zero. The Revolution is a crystal-clear 3-9X with a four-plex reticle, which looks the same as a duplex but has a new name. This reticle has four heavy lines that drive your eye to the skinny lines in the middle. The adjustments are quarter-MOA, so you have the precision you need to get your group exactly where you want it. This accessory is also very light, sticking with the mantra of the American Revolution.
I have acquired several custom-shop guns from large manufacturers, many of which don’t shoot as well as this Ruger American Revolution. It is disturbing to me when I see other brands selling custom guns without the attention to detail that comes standard with this Ruger economy model. It says a lot about the designers, builders and leaders at Ruger. They continue to take care of their customers by giving them the best bang for their buck. There is the old saying “You get what you pay for,” but in this case, you get a whole lot more gun for a lot less money. I would highly recommend taking this one around the track and kicking its tires.