Skip to main content

Ruger American Rifle Generation II: Full Review

Ruger's new American Gen II rifle is incredibly accurate and a worthy successor to the original.

Ruger American Rifle Generation II: Full Review

Ruger American Rifle Gen II Standard (Michael Anschuetz photo)

I’ve been sold on the Ruger American from day one, and my first-production-run American in .30-06 is a go-to rifle in our house because it’s accurate, light and handles great. My wife has killed elk and a once-in-a-lifetime Colorado bighorn with it. So I guess it’s not actually my rifle anymore; she’s never going to let me have it back.

But as luck would have it, there’s an all-new American, the Generation II, and it is definitely another go-to rifle. The sample I received is the Gen II Standard—there’s also a Ranch version—and it incorporates some big changes over the original.

While the barrel is still cold hammer forged, on the Gen II it is 20 inches long instead of 22, finished in silver Cerakote and deeply spiral fluted. The contour is much stouter than the barrel on my Gen I, but thanks to the fluting the Gen II’s weight is a just-right 6.5 pounds—only one-third pound heavier than my ’06.

The barrel is also threaded 5/8x24, and it ships from the factory with a radial muzzle brake attached. A thread cap is not included.

The ejection port is partially enclosed, and up top sits a Picatinny rail. If you prefer another mounting setup, the hole geometry is the same as the original American.

The Gen II features a CNC-machined full-body bolt with 70-degree throw, and this new version gets a larger bolt handle to improve cycling. Unlike the original, the Gen II’s knob is threaded 5/16x24, so you can swap it out.

Another big change is the safety. It’s still on the tang, but now it’s a three-position. As Ruger’s Matt Willson told me, customer requests for a bolt-locking safety go all the way back to the original American’s debut. When the safety is in the fully rearward, bolt-lock Safe position, two white bars show at the top; one white bar shows when it’s in the unlocked Safe position; and a red mark is revealed at the rear when on Fire.

The Ruger Marksman Adjustable trigger can be adjusted between three and five pounds. As received it was three pounds, 13 ounces with a slight amount of creep.

While the original American fed from a flush-fit rotary magazine with integral latch, currently all but the .223 and .450 Bushmaster Gen IIs employ an AICS-style magazine—three-round capacity in this case. The release lever is located just forward of the trigger guard.

Externally, the Gen II looks a lot different than the original—with a gray splatter stock and Cerakote finish—but there are also subtle tweaks to the action to make it better. (Michael Anschuetz photo)

This setup made its debut with the original American’s Go Wild version, and when I reviewed that model I asked Willson why the company moved away from the rotary magazine. He said they’d heard reports of feeding issues in extreme temps and decided to go with the AICS type for 100 percent dependability, hence its use here.

Ruger made big changes with the Gen II’s stock. For starters, it ain’t black. Ruger calls it “gray splatter,” and the finish is both attractive and functional thanks to the extra texture it provides.

Lots of rifle fore-ends sport gripping grooves, but the Gen II’s seems especially well-designed to me. The groove starts at an upward angle before becoming parallel with the barrel, and this angle proved to match the way my thumb and fingers grip a fore-end, especially when shooting offhand.


The buttstock comes with a low cheek riser. You can order a cheek riser kit for $20 from that provides medium and high combs. For point of reference, the supplied low comb adds 1/2 inch of height while the medium and high inserts increase comb height by 5/8 and 3/4 inch, respectively.

The new buttstock offers the ability to easily customize length of pull—either with the components that ship with the gun or an optional kit—as well as comb height and stock weight via optional kits. (Michael Anschuetz photo)

To change them, insert a small Allen wrench or punch into the hole in the rear swivel stud and turn it out five turns. This permits the stock spacer to move back sufficiently to swap combs.

The Gen II ships with a spacer/recoil pad unit that produces a 13.75-inch length of pull. Similar to the comb system, Ruger sells a length-of-pull kit for $30. This kit provides spacers that, when assembled with the recoil pad, can change the length of pull to 12.75 or 13.25 inches.

To do this, turn the sling swivel stud all the way out and remove the spacer/recoil pad unit. Separate the recoil pad from the spacer with a 3/16-inch Allen through the hole in the recoil pad and a 7/16 socket on the nut behind the spacer. From here, you can either reinstall just the recoil pad for a 12-inch length of pull or go with one of the spacers in the kit.

The stock has one last trick up its sleeve. These days a lot of hunters affix bipods to their rifles, and the threaded muzzle on the Gen II means you can mount a suppressor, too. Both of these accessories add weight out front, and at least for me, forward weight makes a rifle harder to shoot from field positions other than prone off a bipod or pack.

To counteract this, Ruger offers a stock weight kit for $100. It installs as a cassette within the stock with simple tools and doesn’t physically modify the rifle. You can add up to 1.6 pounds in four-ounce increments, and this will not only shift the balance rearward but, depending on how much weight you add, it can also reduce recoil.

When I reviewed the Go Wild, which has the same AICS magazine well as this particular Gen II, I wasn’t thrilled about the relative complexity of removing the barreled action from the stock. It was a process that required disassembling and later reassembling the magazine latch in order to access the rear action screw. It was a pain in the ass.

Ruger changed the original’s rotary magazine to an AICS style on most models. The magazine latch no longer has to be disassembled to access the rear action screw. (Michael Anschuetz photo)

Gen IIs with the AICS mag well have a notch that allows you to access the rear action screw without the latch assembly/reassembly hassle. Push the latch to get at the screw with a ball-end 3/16-inch Allen wrench; the ball-end type is necessary because you can’t go directly at the screw.

When you pull the barreled action, you’ll find that the Gen II retains Ruger’s Power Bedding system, a pair of V-blocks inletted into the stock. Based on my and others’ experiences with the American line, this has proven to be an excellent design that is conducive to great accuracy.

With the barreled action out of the stock, you can also adjust the trigger via a set screw at the front of the trigger housing. Note that locking compound is applied to the set screw, so it won’t turn easily. Ruger recommends adjusting only half a turn at a time and then measuring pull weight before making additional changes.

I was fortunate enough to attend the unveiling event for the American Gen II at my favorite place to shoot: FTW Ranch in the Texas Hill Country (FTW It’s my favorite because not only do Tim Fallon and crew do a fantastic job of teaching and hosting, the ranges are terrific for wringing out a rifle—with varying terrain and shooting angles and distances out to 1,000 yards and even beyond.

The Gen II proved easy to hit with, and we stretched the distance way, way beyond what I would shoot at game. When I got the test rifle months later and installed the same Leupold Mark 5HD 3-15x44mm scope I’d used in Texas, I found out why it was so easy to ring steel: This is one incredibly accurate rifle.

Take a gander at the accompanying accuracy chart. You’d have a hard time matching that with any production rifle or even a custom/semi-custom gun. Every super-small group I’d shoot at 100 yards I’d think, “Well, it won’t do that again.” And then it would.

Toward the end of testing and running low on ammo, I had a choice: reshoot one type with a suppressor or try 200 yards. I opted for the latter with the Fiocchi Hyperformance 129-grain load. After a quick clean and a couple of foulers, I shot a group measuring 1.48 inches. I let it cool for a few minutes—temps were under 20, so it didn’t take long—and then fired a 0.35-incher. At 200 yards! I couldn’t believe it. I almost didn’t want to shoot the last three-shot group, afraid I’d blow it, but the final one came in at 1.1 inches for a 0.98-inch, 0.49 m.o.a. average.


I shot the rifle from field positions as well. The Gen II handles just as nicely as my original, and I particularly like the slight palm swell on the stock’s wrist. As I mentioned, the fore-end feels like it was made just for me. The rifle shoulders smoothly and sits really nicely on shooting sticks.

At first I struggled with inserting the magazine until I figured out the trick. It goes in easier if you first press the back of the magazine against the latch.

The bolt was a little stiff on the upstroke, which is par for the course with bolts of this type, but it ran smoothly through the cycle and on locking. Willson told me customers felt the bolt on the original American was too “zippy,” and Ruger addressed this with a new bolt stop and some tweaks in the fit and finish on the bolt itself. Heck, I always liked the way the original operated, but I certainly can’t complain about the Gen II.

Here I do have to weigh in on the things I don’t like about the Gen II. I dislike magazines that don’t fit flush because that’s where I like to hold a gun in one-hand carry. Gripping the Gen II just in front of the magazine isn’t terrible, but it’s not what I would prefer. I’m also on record as disliking three-round single-stack magazines—especially if they can’t be topped off through the ejection port—and I stand by that.

I’m a bit leery of the magazine release, a plastic piece sticking down like it does. Since the design has already seen action in the field with the American Go Wild, I asked Willson for his take. He said most concerns about unintentionally releasing the mag or damaging that latch have been theoretical and not realized in the field.

The barrel is a 20-inch medium contour, and it’s deeply fluted to keep weight down. The gun ships with a radial muzzle brake installed. (Michael Anschuetz photo)

I do wish the gun came with a thread cap because I don’t shoot muzzle brakes unless I have to. Sure, I could use my Silencer Central Banish 30 suppressor, but I’d like the option to go with just a plain barrel. Ruger doesn’t currently offer 5/8x24 thread caps at, but Willson said the company does plan to expand its offerings. At this time it’s unknown whether the caps will be available in matching Cerakote or plain black.

Last, I wish the accessories that would make this rifle fit me perfectly—the medium-height comb and the 13.25-inch length-of-pull spacer—came with the rifle. The obvious comparison here is the Savage AccuFit, which includes an almost bewildering array of combs and length-of-pull spacers. However, AccuFit-equipped Savages cost up to a couple hundred dollars more than the American Gen II.

“Cost is certainly a factor, and our experience with the American so far has been 13.75 inches is a great length for a ‘one size fits okay’ stock,” Willson said. “The Gen I Compact at 12.5 inches was pretty good but not always short enough. The Gen II stock is both 13.75 inches and 12 inches length of pull from the factory, with no additional parts needed.”

The option of the intermediate spacers and combs is there for those who need them—without making the rifle more expensive for those who don’t, he said. And in the end, the company is merely responding to what people want.

“The goal of the American Rifle Gen II was to implement customer feedback,” Willson said, adding that the rifle incorporates a variety of other, less noticeable changes to make the rifle feel more solid and smooth.

 “There are many other invisible engineering and manufacturing improvements that build up over a decade of production,” he said. “All of those changes—no matter how small or seemingly insignificant—worked to make rifles more accurate, reliable and repeatable.”

The Gen II is all that, and my gripes largely stem from being an old fogey. As the late, great guitar picker Norman Blake sang, “Just give me something I’m used to.” It’s the trap many of us fall into at some point in our lives, but rifle tastes are forever evolving.

For example, a lot of today’s hunters, especially those not nearing or in retirement, are quite familiar with single-stack detachable mags that extend below the stock. It’s something they’re used to. Ditto today’s seeming preference for muzzle brakes.

Taken as a whole, the Gen II’s features fall right in line with what a majority of rifle shooters—regardless of age or experience—should want. It’s accurate as hell, with a just-right field weight. It has a good-looking, well-designed stock that can be easily modified to fit the shooter, and the Cerakote metal finish and fluted barrel add a welcome touch of pizzazz.

A big customer-driven change is the three-position, bolt-locking safety. White bars indicate condition. The Gen II bolt knob is also larger and removable. (Michael Anschuetz photo)

The price is sure right. Ruger brought out the original American during the industry’s mad race to build economy rifles that shot well, and in my opinion it has been—and is—best in show in that category. At this point, you might be wondering what will happen to that original American. Time will tell. For right now, Willson said both the Gen I and Gen II are in production.

While I don’t love everything about the new American Gen II, superior accuracy trumps pretty much all else. It’s a nicely executed upgrade to the original American, and a rifle that shoots this well deserves a spot in any hunter’s safe.

Ruger American Generation II Specs

  • TYPE: Three-lug bolt-action centerfire
  • CALIBER: .204 Ruger, .223 Rem., .243, 7mm-08, 6.5 Creedmoor (tested), .308 Win., .450 Bushmaster
  • CAPACITY: 3+1 AICS-type (as tested)
  • BARREL: 20 in. fluted; 1:8 twist; threaded 5/8x24; radial muzzle brake installed
  • OVERALL LENGTH: 41.25 in.
  • WEIGHT: 6.5 lb.
  • FINISH: Silver Cerakote
  • STOCK: Gray splatter w/optional cheek riser, length-of-pull spacer and weight kits
  • TRIGGER: Ruger Marksman Adjustable; 3 lb. 13 oz. pull (measured, as received)
  • SIGHTS: None; Picatinny rail installed
  • SAFETY: 3-position tang
  • PRICE: $729

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

Recent Videos

The Remington Model Seven is ready, willing and able to handle just about any task.

Kimber Hunter Pro Desolve Blak - A Lightweight Heavy Hitter

The Remington Model Seven is ready, willing and able to handle just about any task.

Browning BLR Lightweight '81 Stainless Takedown Lever Rifle

The Remington Model Seven is ready, willing and able to handle just about any task.

Hodgdon Reloading

The Remington Model Seven is ready, willing and able to handle just about any task.

Savage Impulse

The Remington Model Seven is ready, willing and able to handle just about any task.

Mossberg Patriot Predator 6.5 PRC Rifle Review

The Remington Model Seven is ready, willing and able to handle just about any task.

Marlin Model 1895 in .444 Marlin

The Remington Model Seven is ready, willing and able to handle just about any task.

Review: Springfield Armory M1A Loaded Rifle in 6.5 Creedmoor

The Remington Model Seven is ready, willing and able to handle just about any task.

Long-Range AR Shooting

The Remington Model Seven is ready, willing and able to handle just about any task.

Colorado Pronghorn Hunt

The Remington Model Seven is ready, willing and able to handle just about any task.

RCBS ChargeMaster Lite Review: Not 'Lite' on Ability

The Remington Model Seven is ready, willing and able to handle just about any task.

RS Sako Finnlight II

The Remington Model Seven is ready, willing and able to handle just about any task.

Remington Model Seven SS HS Bolt-Action Rifle Review

RifleShooter Magazine Covers Print and Tablet Versions

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


Buy Digital Single Issues

Magazine App Logo

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the RifleShooter App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Rifle Shooter stories delivered right to your inbox.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All RifleShooter subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Enjoying What You're Reading?

Get a Full Year
of Guns & Ammo
& Digital Access.

Offer only for new subscribers.

Subscribe Now