July 10, 2019
By J. Scott Rupp
The Ruger American is one of the best of the economy rifles on the market. I own one in .30-06, and it’s accurate, easy to carry and easy to shoot well. If the American has a flaw, it’s one shared by so many guns in the category: no pizzazz. Ruger apparently realized some hunters want exactly that and created the Go Wild version.
The camo on this stock is Go Wild’s IM Brush pattern, one designed to work well in western brush, sage, desert and foothill country. The film is nicely applied, and while I didn’t get to hunt with the rifle, the finish survived getting knocked around at the range and being stuffed into an overly full gun safe.
Ruger didn’t stop with the stock. The barreled action is Cerakote bronze, and the resulting color combination of it and the camo stock is spot-on. The 22-inch, cold-hammer-forged barrel on the Go Wild is not only a different color, it’s also a slightly different contour from the standard American. My .30-06 barrel measures 1.16 inches at the smooth barrel nut that joins barrel to action, 0.71 inch at the fore-end tip and 0.69 at the muzzle. The Go Wild is 1.16 at the nut and 0.73 at the fore-end tip and at the muzzle. It doesn’t seem like much, but the Go Wild’s barrel is visibly stouter and likely contributes to the nearly half-pound weight difference between the two rifles.
The barrel also sports a muzzle brake, which comes installed on 5/8x24 threads. It may not be a necessary addition for the 7mm-08 I tested, but depending on your preferences, it would be nice to have in the heavier calibers.
In short-action cartridges, the Go Wild employs a protruding three-round AI-style magazine as opposed to the standard model’s flush four-round rotary. I asked Ruger’s Matt Willson about the change.
He said rotary magazines can experience feeding issues in extreme temperatures, and because Ruger wanted the Go Wild to be the most rugged and dependable rifle it could possibly be, he decided to go with the AI for the short actions. (The .30-06 version retains the rotary mag, and the .300 Win. Mag. and .450 Bushmaster are single-stacks.)
As far as capacity, he said that in practice loading the rotary to four rounds and trying to get the bolt to ride over the top cartridge isn’t easy. I’ll grant him the AI is a cinch to load fully and close the bolt, although I did find the setup a bit balky on magazine insertion and removal. While I’ve never used my American in extreme temperatures, I’ve not had a problem with its rotary magazine—either in feeding or in loading to capacity—and prefer it over the AI setup.
The magazine release on my sample is a spring-loaded lever just forward of the integrally molded trigger guard. In order to access the rear action screw, you have to drive out the magazine latch pin and remove the latch and its spring. It’s not hard, just an extra step when you want to pull the barreled action.
Reinstalling the latch assembly requires the provided capture tool and slave pin. Don’t lose those. You’ll be up the creek unless you’re a mechanical savant, although even with the tool and slave pin I didn’t find it all that easy to reinstall the latch.
The rest of the rifle remains the same, including the excellent Marksman Adjustable trigger, which came from the factory set at three pounds, 11 ounces. To change the pull weight, remove the barreled action and then turn the set screw in front of the trigger.
The Americans also feature Ruger’s Power Bedding system, a pair of metal bedding blocks molded into the stock that mate with matching cutouts in the receiver, supplying plenty of stability without the need for a separate recoil lug.
The three-lug fat bolt lifts easily and operates smoothly. Its 70-degree travel means you won’t have any scope clearance issues. Speaking of scope mounting, the American Go Wild and others of its ilk come with a Picatinny rail installed on the semi-enclosed receiver. The safety is a sliding button on the tang.
The rifle shot well at the range, as I expected it would. While the brake is unnecessary for this caliber, in my opinion, it sure made for a soft-shooting gun. The Go Wild was equally handy from bench or from field positions.
I have to say I dislike the magazine, because of its lesser capacity and because I don’t like mags that stick out. But that’s just my preference. And I’d rather not have the extra step required to remove and reinstall the barreled action. Otherwise, I think the Go Wild is a handy and effective rifle that will appeal to those who think basic black is too blasé. When you factor in the camo stock, Cerakote finish, muzzle brake and all the standard features the American is famous for, it’s a good gun at a good price.