Ruger American Rifle Review
Part 3 - External & Operational Features
April 19, 2012

Ruger American Rifle Review

In this part of my Ruger American Rifle Review, I cover all the externally visible features of the Ruger American Rifle along with the basic operational features of this rifle.  Throughout this review, you can click on any photo and doing so will bring up a high resolution photo allowing you to see finer details.

 

In these next four photos, I show isometric views of the Ruger American Rifle while mounted on a Harris style bipod (the one shown is actually a Shooters Ridge brand).  The bipod does not come with the rifle.  The American Rifle has an attractive traditional "hunting rifle" style look with a hint of "tactical rifle" look due to the combination of the black matte finish on the bolt handle, barrel and receiver along with the black polymer stock.

Figure 1
Ruger American Rifle Review

Figure 2
Ruger American Rifle Review

Figure 3
Ruger American Rifle Review

Figure 4
Ruger American Rifle Review

The Ruger American Rifle measured an overall length of 42.25" from the tip of the barrel to the top of the buttpad and this measurement was slightly longer than the 42.00" specification length.

Figure 5
Ruger American Rifle Review

The length of pull measured about 13.75" as per the specification.  The barrel length measured about 22.1" when using a cleaning rod to get the distance from the bolt face to the end of the barrel.  Also, using a cleaning rod with brush, I was able to mark the rod, pass it through the barrel and confirm that the twist is a 1:10 RH twist.

Figure 6
Ruger American Rifle Review

Figure 7
Ruger American Rifle Review

Figure 8
Ruger American Rifle Review

The Ruger American Rifle weighed in at 6.13 pounds with rotary magazine and scope bases which is close enough to the 6.12 pounds per the specification.

Figure 9
Ruger American Rifle Review

The end of the barrel is completely smooth with no provisions for mounting a front sight.  The outside diameter of the barrel at the tip measured 0.567" and the tip of the barrel comes with a step type target crown to help protect the bore.

Figure 10
Ruger American Rifle Review

The barrel length forward of the handguard measured about 11.9".  The hammer forged barrel is made from alloy steel and has a black matte finish.  The barrel has a slight taper (which you would expect) and measured 0.707" in outside diameter at a point just in front of the handguard.

Figure 11
Ruger American Rifle Review

Figure 12
Ruger American Rifle Review

Figure 13
Ruger American Rifle Review

Figure 14
Ruger American Rifle Review

The stock on the Ruger American Rifle is made from some type of black polymer material (Ruger calls it composite material) .  Even though the photo below shows the left side of the forend to be very close to the barrel, the barrel is intended to be free-floated and I was able to easily slide a $1 bill down to the the receiver.  The profile of the forend is slim and includes a contoured area long with ribbed and stippled texturing which in my opinion is needed to provide a more positive gripping surface on the slick feel that you have with a polymer stock.

Figure 15
Ruger American Rifle Review

Figure 16
Ruger American Rifle Review

The forend comes with a standard sling swivel stud screwed into the polymer material.

Figure 17
Ruger American Rifle Review

Figure 18
Ruger American Rifle Review

As I mentioned earlier, the barrel is intended to be free-floated.  The photo on the left below shows that the barrel is free floated (barely) and photo on the right shows that the stock forend is slightly touching the barrel when the rifle is supported by a bipod at the front swivel stud location.  Later photos showing the stock removed give you a good idea on how easy it would be to use some sand paper and get clearance at this location when using a bipod.

Figure 19                                                            Figure 20
Ruger American Rifle Review   Ruger American Rifle Review

Prior to my range testing, I used some 80 grit sand paper wrapped around a AA battery to sand on the front inside surface of the stock to give me the clearance I wanted.  This next photo shows the clearance after about 30 minutes of effort sanding, putting the stock on, checking float and then doing it all again until I got it just right.  Even with a 3 pound weight sitting on the scope mounts, the barrel is still fully floated.

Figure 20a
Ruger American Rifle Review

The top of the barrel above the front of the forend is stamped with "WARNING - BEFORE USING GUN READ INSTRUCTION MANUAL AVAILABLE FREE FROM RUGER, NEWPORT, NH U.S.A"

Figure 21
Ruger American Rifle Review

The rear of the barrel is stamped with the caliber "308 WIN" along with Ruger's proof mark showing that this rifle was proof tested at the factory.

Figure 22
Ruger American Rifle Review

The receiver is made from alloy steel and has a matte black finish.  It comes drilled and tapped for standard scope bases (Weaver #46) which give you a wide variety of scope ring options.  The screws attaching the bases were tight on this rifle.  I removed one screw to see if any thread locking compound had been applied.  None was found.  I then retightened the screw and made sure all were torqued to at least 20 in-lbs.  I wasn't able to detect any movement from the other screws so I believe they were torqued to at least 20 in-lbs by Ruger.

Figure 23
Ruger American Rifle Review

The black accents on the bolt along with the tapered bolt sleeve/shroud gives the rifle a very nice look (my opinion).  The receiver has gas ports on each side (left and right) in the event of a case rupture.

Figure 24
Ruger American Rifle Review

On the bottom of the stock you can see the bottom of the rotary magazine and two action screws.  Also notice that the trigger guard is integrally molded into the stock.

Figure 25
Ruger American Rifle Review

With the magazine removed, you can see the bottom of the receiver and bolt.  I believe the hole in the bottom of the bolt is another gas port to vent gasses down in the event of a case rupture.

Figure 26
Ruger American Rifle Review

On the left side of the receiver is stamped the serial number along with the Ruger logo and "RUGER AMERICAN".  Also on the left side is the bolt stop lever.  To remove the bolt, you press down on the rear end of the bolt lever which pivots the front end of the lever out of the way of the bolt.

Figure 27
Ruger American Rifle Review

The Ruger American Rifle comes with a tang safety which is easily accessible with your thumb.  The photo on the left below shows the safety "on" ("safe") and the rifle "cocked".  The photo on the right below shows the safety "off" (in "fire" position) and the rifle "uncocked" ("fired").  Once fired, the bolt must be cycled to cock the firing pin before you can move the safety back to the "on" or "safe" position.  The bolt can be cycled with the safety in either position.

Figure 28                                                                Figure 29
Ruger American Rifle Review   Ruger American Rifle Review

These next two photos show the bolt in its fully closed and open positions.  I was impressed with how smooth the bolt action was on this rifle.  The 0.850" full diameter bolt fits inside the receiver with very little play.

Figure 30
Ruger American Rifle Review

Figure 31
Ruger American Rifle Review

In these next two photos you see the bolt in the closed and rotated fully up positions.  I was able to confirm that this is a 70 degree bolt throw by overlaying these photos and rotating one photo 70 degrees.  This 70 degree rotation should give you plenty of clearance between the bolt and your scope.

Figure 32                                                           Figure 33
Ruger American Rifle Review   Ruger American Rifle Review

In these next three photos I have tried to shift the focus plane so you can see some detail inside the bolt.  First you should notice that the bolt stop lever is located on the left side and you can see how it is spring loaded to stick in the path of the bolt.  Next you can see where the three locking lugs on the bolt will pass through the front of the receiver.  Last, I made an attempt to look inside the barrel to show the rifling.  The photo on the left below also shows the shape of the upper receiver, which appears to start out as a round billet of material.  Ruger then machines flats on each side and then flats surfaces at angles on the upper half which gives flat surfaces for the ejection port and for stamping "RUGER AMERICAN".

Figure 34                                      Figure 35                                     Figure 36
Ruger American Rifle Review   Ruger American Rifle Review   Ruger American Rifle Review

The Ruger American Rifle comes with the Ruger Marksman Adjustable Trigger.  This trigger includes a trigger release (the part that sticks out in front of the trigger) and the trigger is adjustable from 3 to 5 pounds.  The trigger pull was set at an average of 4.05 pounds on this rifle based on 5 pulls from a Lyman trigger pull gauge.  I went through an effort to determine the adjustable range for this trigger and found it to be from about 3.7 to 6.0 pounds. The trigger had a crisp feel and only travels 0.03" throughout its full range of motion.  I was a little disappointed at not being able to set the trigger to 3 pounds, but during the process of this review, the trigger pull weight has reduced to an average of just under 3.5 pounds. Also notice the stippled textured area on the pistol grip portion of the stock.  This extra textured surface does do a decent job of reducing hand slip on the slick polymer stock surface.

Figure 37
Ruger American Rifle Review

The buttstock has a simple and functional profile.

Figure 38
Ruger American Rifle Review

Figure 39
Ruger American Rifle Review

The bottom of the pistol grip has the red Ruger eagle logo inlayed into the polymer stock.  Also on the bottom of the buttstock is the rear sling swivel stud that is screwed into the stock.

Figure 40
Ruger American Rifle Review

Figure 41
Ruger American Rifle Review

The buttpad has some molded grooves on each side which definitely adds to the styling of the rifle and they also seem to add a little more support to the edge of the buttpad when it deflects under pressure at the edges.  The buttpad is about 0.78" thick at the center and has a stiffness that I believe would be effective in reducing the felt recoil of this rifle.

Figure 42
Ruger American Rifle Review

The Ruger American Rifle comes with a polymer 4-round "rotary" magazine.  The style of the magazine is different from that of their 10/22 rotary magazines since there is no center pivot/drum.  I will try to cover this in more detail in Part 5 where I discuss the internal features of the rifle.

Figure 43 - Front View                                           Figure 44 - Rear View
Ruger American Rifle Review   Ruger American Rifle Review

I found the rounds to feed easily out of the magazine and into the chamber of the rifle and was impressed at how well this polymer magazine seems to work.

Figure 45
Ruger American Rifle Review

This last photo shows a full magazine in the rifle, the bolt back and looking through the ejection port.

Figure 46
Ruger American Rifle Review

 

Thoughts

Overall, my thoughts are pretty positive on the Ruger American Rifle.  I would consider the American Rifle to be extremely light weight at 6.13 pounds and the rifle shoulders well and has a good look and feel.  Ruger's approach to styling on the upper receiver and bolt is both attractive and functional.  The rotary magazine seems to function well and is very smooth when feeding rounds into the chamber.  I had my heart set on getting the trigger adjusted down to 3 pounds, but I will have to settle with 3.5 pounds which is not too bad.  Finally, if the stock touching the barrel when supported on a bipod seems to bother me too much, I will modify the stock at the forend to prevent this contact.

For more detailed photos and commentary, make sure you check out the other parts of this review and feel free to leave comments on my Reader's Comments page.  The following links are provided to help you see other parts of this review. 


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