August 14, 2023
A big change in the past couple years affecting a lot of whitetail hunters has been the new attitude some states are taking toward centerfire rifles. Some states that were shotgun only—or shotgun, muzzleloader or handgun only—have relaxed their stances to allow straight-wall rifle cartridges.
One such state is Illinois, which incidentally produces some monster bucks. Effective this year, hunters will be able to use centerfire rifles in certain calibers—mostly straight-walls but also a few bottlenecks like .300 BLK. The catch? The rifles have to be single-shots.
Ruger was quick to seize on the opportunity afforded by the new law and has designed the One-Shot Sled ($25) for its popular American rifle. It’s for short actions only and handles such deer-centric, Illinois-legal straight-walls as .350 Legend and .450 Bushmaster, along with .300 BLK.
Aside from the Illinois angle, some hunting mentors prefer that their charges use single-shot rifles—for safety or perhaps to instill an “it’s the first shot that counts” mentality. If this describes you or someone you know, Ruger says the sled has been tested to function with .204 Ruger, .223, .22-250, .243, 6mm Creedmoor, 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5 Grendel, 7mm-08 and 7.62x39.
I happened to have an American Ranch in .450 Bushmaster on hand for another project, so I was able to play with the new sled as well. It comes as a kit complete with sled, magazine well, action screws and an Allen wrench.
In the case of this particular model, which already uses a Ruger short-action magazine, installation was simply a matter of removing the three-round factory mag and replacing it with the sled. The sled can be removed by pressing in on a tab at the front.
For Americans with mag wells meant for AR- or Mini Thirty-pattern magazines, replace the current well with the one that comes with the kit and tighten the action screws. Insert the front of the sled into the well, then rotate the back of the sled up until the magazine catch snaps into position.
For Americans set up to take AI-pattern magazines, you first have to remove the magazine latch in order to access the rear action screw. Drive out the latch pin, then remove the latch and spring. Follow the steps for AR or Mini Thirty magazines to complete.
In the case of this test rifle, the sled does rattle a bit, but not annoyingly so. And as an added benefit, because the sled fits flush—unlike the magazine that comes with the rifle—it makes one-hand carry a lot nicer.
Feeding was 100 percent reliable, as you would expect. Just slide a cartridge into the ejection port, close the bolt and you’re ready to shoot.
Ruger is a smart company, and with the One-Shot Sled it has given Illinois whitetail hunters a lot of incentive to pick up an American. In the right caliber it would give them the flexibility to hunt with it as a single-shot in their home state and as a repeater in a state without the one-shot restriction.
And as mentioned, those who want their younger or newer hunters to start with a single-shot will benefit as well thanks to the number of chamberings the sled can accommodate—whether for varmint hunting or thin-skinned big game. And that applies to a lot more states than just Illinois. Everybody wins.