Ruger has always been a champion in rimfire circles. Bill Ruger's first gun was a semiautomatic rimfire introduced in 1949. Later he would bring out the Ruger 10/22, a successful rimfire rifle owned by countless shooters. Today, Ruger still makes solid guns for rimfire rounds, and the latest is a new version of the American Rimfire series — a stainless.
A miniaturized version of the popular Ruger American centerfire, this model is a member of the Standard clan of the American Rimfire, which includes rifles chambered in .17 HMR, .22 LR and .22 WMR. For this report, I selected the .22 WMR to bring back some memories of my early years as a varmint hunter. Other American versions include a Compact, a wood-stock version and a Target gun with a bull barrel and a laminate stock.
Everyone loves a well-stocked rifle. The Standard version has a length of pull of 13.75 inches, a quarter of an inch over the more common 13.5-inch length of pull. While not a big thing, those hunting in cold weather with heavy jackets might notice the difference. The stock on my sample is black synthetic, but the company has "distributor specials" with green and Muddy Girl camo stocks.
There is no checkering on the stock, but there are aggressively molded patterns on the fore-end and pistol grip. Up front, these patterns, combined with a recessed finger grip area, allow one to hold the gun steady and secure. The pistol grip has a horizontal pattern flaring to the rear, and along with a palm swell, it offers a secure grip. The grip incorporates a plastic grip cap with the Ruger logo finished in red.
Farther back on the butt is where the action is. The gun comes with two modules that allow you to change comb height: a low module for iron sights and a high one for scope use. (And the gun can be made into a Compact with a shorter length of pull by purchasing that module for $20 from ShopRuger.com.)
The back of the stock comes off at the bead line by simply removing the rear sling stud, tapping the stock at this point with a non-marring tool like a dowel and pulling the stock out and off the main stock. The procedure is detailed in the instruction manual. No soft recoil pad is attached, but sling swivels are included.
The action closely duplicates the look and feel of the centerfire version. The 18-inch cold-hammer-forged barrel is free-floated, and both it and the bolt are made from 416 stainless steel buffed to a satin luster. Tapering to 0.73 inch, the barrel is almost more of a target profile than a sporter, and it features 1/2x28 threading at the muzzle. A black thread cap is included. The barreled action is set into Ruger's Power Bedding system for enhanced accuracy.
The receiver is squared off on the top sides of the body. A standard Picatinny mount is attached to the top for scope mounting. There are no iron sights on the stainless version.
The front of the receiver features gas escape holes. The bolt release is on the left side, and the bolt can be released by simply pushing the release, no need to pull the trigger. The safety is tang mounted. Up for Fire, down for Safe. The bolt can be operated with the rifle on Safe.
The bolt knob is substantially larger than traditional models and is easily worked thanks to a 60-degree bolt lift. At the bench, I found the bolt knob easy to locate and manipulate. The bolt face features a singular extractor, and cartridges are expended with enthusiasm thanks to a mechanical ejector hidden deep in the receiver. The firing pin is mounted at 12 o'clock.
The Ruger Marksman trigger is adjustable, and I set it for four pounds of pull. It was crisp and fun to use. On the bottom of the gun is a flush-mounted JMX-1 nine-round rotary magazine, the same magazine found in the .17 HMR chambering. Guns in .22 LR will accept Ruger's BX-25, BX-25x2 and BX-15 magazines. The rifle features an extended magazine release, and reloads are quick and easy.
The gun performed perfectly at the range with a variety of .22 WMR loads and a Leupold 2-7X rimfire scope installed with Leupold rings. The CCI Maxi-Mag load shot particularly well, turning in a great average and the best group of the day at 0.36 inch.
While the .22 WMR still impresses as one of the most versatile rimfire cartridges around, you still need a good rifle to bring out the best in both. The new Ruger American Rimfire in stainless is that gun.