July 28, 2020
By David M. Fortier
Ruger’s American Rifle caught the attention of many shooters. Here was a nicely built rifle capable of excellent out-of-the-box accuracy at an economical price. There is a lot to like about the action, but the factory plastic stock left a bit to be desired as a precision rig as opposed to a hunting rifle.
And then there was the magazine. Many shooters wished it took a readily available popular model already in common use. Having the option of buying a magazine with a higher capacity would be a plus as well.
Well, Ruger listened to the feedback and responded with the American Rifle Hunter. While still being economical, it features a Magpul stock and feeds from popular AC-pattern magazines—definite improvements, in my opinion. Available in two popular calibers, .308 Win. and 6.5 Creedmoor, I chose the latter to review for this article.
The heart of the rifle is a beefy, modern-looking action with a bit of European flair. The American Rifle’s design is a distinct departure from the Mauser 98-based Model 77 line.
Gone are Ruger’s proprietary integral scope bases; they’ve been replaced by a conventional aluminum scope rail with 1913-type slots—but not for its entire length. Due to this a 1913 one-piece mount may or may not fit, although you could change to a different rail if you wanted to.
The fat bolt has three locking lugs, a beefy claw extractor and plunger ejector. It features cock on opening, and dual cocking cams ease the initial upward bolt stroke. Machining on the bolt body is a little rough, but it’s nothing to complain about.
The three-lug bolt features a relatively short 70-degree rotation which enhances speed. An easy-to-reach tang safety is southpaw-friendly and out of the way of low-mounted optics.
The cold-hammer-forged barrel is 20 inches long and rifled with a 1:8 twist (as tested), allowing shooters to use a wide range of bullet weights. The barrel tapers from approximately 1.15 inches just ahead of the receiver to 0.85 inch just behind the muzzle threads.
The muzzle features 5/8x24 threads for attaching muzzle devices and comes with a Ruger hybrid muzzle brake installed. The brake reduces recoil while minimizing noise and blast to the sides of the shooter. The rifle features Ruger’s Marksman adjustable trigger, which can be set between three and five pounds.
Rather than a traditional Mauser style internal box magazine, the American Rifle Hunter feeds from a Magpul five-round 7.62 AC detachable box magazine. The magazine release is an easy to reach ambidextrous paddle at the rear of the magazine well.
The good-looking gray synthetic Magpul Hunter American stock is adjustable for length of pull via a spacer system. Spacers are included. Comb height is easily adjustable using different-height combs, but no spares are included, so you will have to purchase these from Magpul.
M-Lok slots are provided at three, six and nine o’clock on the fore-end. A sling slot is provided on the left and right side of the butt. Overall length is 41.75 inches (with a 13.5-inch length of pull), and weight comes in at 9.2 pounds.
I was turned off by the stock on the original American, and the Magpul stock is a welcome option. It is ergonomic, comfortable and easy to adjust while also keeping the rifle’s weight and price down. However, you must remove the included cheek riser in order to install or remove the bolt. This is simple enough and requires removing only one screw.
A 20-inch barrel would not be my first choice for a 6.5 Creedmoor if I was competing with it, but it’s fine on a hunting rifle. The shorter barrel is handy if you plan on mounting a sound suppressor. I like the bolt’s short rotation, and it’s a fairly smooth and fast action once you get the feel for it. The trigger is also quite good. It exhibited no creep and broke crisply at 4.5 pounds with almost no overtravel.
I found magazine swaps to be fast, although I do wish the entrance to the mag well was a bit wider for when first inserting the magazine. Rounds fed smoothly from the magazine and extracted and ejected cleanly.
For testing I installed a Meopta Meopro 5-30x56mm RD FFP Optika 6 scope. The rifle performed quite well. The brake and soft recoil pad make it comfortable to fire, so recoil is not an issue. The fairly wide and flat fore-end as well as the butt sit nicely on bags. While the pistol grip is bit smaller in diameter than I’d prefer, overall I found it comfortable.
Accuracy firing from a rest at 100 yards was good. Results are shown in the accompanying table. Best single group came using Federal’s 140-grain OTM Gold Medal Match— 0.5 inch.
Moving to firing off a Harris bipod, I proceeded to stretch the Ruger’s legs a bit. Starting at 280 yards I worked my way out to 800 yards while engaging various steel plates. At 500 yards I also fired a five-shot group with the Federal load and was rewarded with a 3.7-inch cluster.
With the reduction in velocity from the 20-inch barrel you will notice a bit more wind drift, but such is life. At 800 yards I was able to make consistent hits on an eight-inch plate. Next, I did some position shooting and shot from a “tank trap” and other improvised supports. Across the board the Ruger American Rifle Hunter performed well.
While the Magpul stock is not perfect, it’s certainly a nice upgrade. Yes, the bottom metal is polymer and the stock is not as rigid as a more expensive piece. Even so, it performed well. What do I like best about the Ruger American Rifle Hunter? Its $799 suggested retail price. For the money it’s a pretty nice deal.
Ruger American Rifle Hunter Specs
- Type: Three-lug bolt action
- Caliber: 6.5 Creedmoor (tested), .308
- Capacity: 5-round detachable box magazine
- Barrel: 20 in. cold hammer forged, 1:8 twist, 5/8x24 threads
- Overall Length: 41.25–43.25 in.
- Weight: 9.2 lb.
- Stock: Magpul Hunter American
- Finish: Matte black
- Trigger: Ruger Marksman adjustable; 4.5 lb. pull (measured, as received)
- Sights: None; optics rail
- Safety: Two-position tang
- Price: $799
- Manufacturer: Ruger, ruger.com
Ruger American Rifle Hunter Accuracy Results