June 17, 2016
The Ruger Precision Rifle is incredibly modular. It can be customized into literally thousands of possible configurations. But with so many options available, some shooters are struggling to separate the rock star upgrades from gimmicky ones. To help make the process easier, I assembled my top upgrades to crank the Ruger Precision Rifle to 11.
Lancer Systems LCR5 Carbon Fiber Handguard
Admittedly, the Samson-made railed handguard on the Ruger Precision Rifle is pretty close to perfect. The only things I didn't love about it are its weight and heat conductivity. After scouring the back pages of countless online forums, I came across an old favorite of mine â€“ the Lancer LCR5.
'Carbon Fiber, old?'
OK, not really. However, I've been running one of the company's carbine-length carbon fiber handguards on my SIG 516 rifle for two years and am totally smitten with it. For a piston-driven carbine like the SIG, it helps offset the added weight of the piston. For longer rifles like the Ruger Precision Rifle, it helps keep the center of balance closer to the shooter.
This isn't as important on a precision rifle as say a carbine, simply because most shooters won't fire their Ruger Precision Rifle from the standing positon. However, it also reduces overall weight, making the gun less a chore to hike or ruck with.
Another advantage over traditional metallic rails is how cool the handguard stays. While most people wouldn't think it necessary on a slower-firing bolt-action like the Ruger Precision Rifle, black metal handguards also heat up like frying pans when left in the sun. The Lancer LCR5's carbon-fire body stays close to ambient temperature, even in direct sunlight. This has the added advantage of reducing mirage, which distorts sight picture leading to missed shots.
Shooters concerned with the handguard's lack of bottom rail can rest easy. Lancer Systems sells small rail segments that mount with a pair of machine screws, so installing your favorite bipod is a simple affair.
Atlas 5-H Bipod
Which brings me to my next recommendation, the Atlas 5-H. If you're anything like this author, you've been running either a Harris or some generic folding bipod that installs to a sling mount. Both are perfectly functional, but they are not designed for hard use.
Truthfully, I had resigned myself to simply baby all my bipods, believing only super high-end bipods built for light machineguns could handle real abuse. It wasn't until I saw the Atlas 5-H at the SHOT Show in Vegas that I began to dispel that notion.
Tipping the scales at a whopping 26 ounces, the Atlas 5-H feels like it could double as a battering ram. But the Atlas isn't one of those military-grade products that's heavy simply to increase its ruggedness. It has enough features to fill a catalog, and experienced long-range shooters are so smitten that Atlas can barely keep them in stock.
One of my favorite aspects of the design are the adjustable legs. Where most bipods use a simple spring-loaded plunger and perforated legs for lockup, the 5-H follows a different path. The inner legs of the Atlas are ribbed every half inch, and the outer legs feature a spring-loaded collar that pushes a ring of ball bearings into these ribs. This provides 360-degree lockup, allowing shooters to deploy their rifles with a vengeance and not worry about breaking a leg.
Another unique aspect of the 5-H is its capability to adjust for +/- 15 degrees of both pan and cant, providing shooters with a stable, level shooting surface regardless of terrain. Also, this panning system also incorporates a 180-degree locking cam system to pivot the support legs away from and towards the shooter for unparalleled adaptivity.
Magpul PRS Stock
I really like the included buttstock on the Ruger Precision Rifle, but it's not the most comfortable thing in the world for smaller shooters like my wife. The Precision Rifle includes a buffer tube adaptor that allows use of any AR15 stock, but M4-style collapsible stocks, while compact, are far from ideal, given the 20 MOA optics rail on the Ruger Precision Rifle.
Initially I tried running an M16A1 stock. While it was comfortable for my wife, it didn't provide the added comb height necessary for her to get a proper sight picture. In response, I went digging through my box of AR-15 parts and happened upon an extra Magpul PRS stock I had traded some ammo for a few years back.
After installing a rifle-length buffer tube and the PRS, I found that both her and I preferred the new stock, which shouldn't be surprising. Magpul has established quite a following for improving both the reliability and ergonomics of rifles. Why should the PRS be any different?
What makes it so comfortable is a combination of great ergonomics, durable and flexible polymer construction and fully adjustable design. Available in a myriad of tactical colors, the PRS is ideal for AR-15-based target rifles. It features fully adjustable length of pull and comb and a bottom rail for installing a monopod. However, my wife's favorite improvement is the rubberized butt pad at the rear, taking what little recoil the Ruger Precision Rifle has and further taming it.
Rugged Suppressors 3-Port Brake
Speaking of recoil reduction, muzzle devices are a fantastic way to achieve this. Specifically, muzzle brakes and compensators. In both cases, these function by redirecting escaping gas to counter the rifle's recoil and reduce muzzle blast. By doing so, the amount of recoil impulse transferred to the shooter is significantly reduced.
Rugged Suppressors makes a quality 3-Port model that does a fantastic job of diverting the blast away from the shooter. It has the unfortunate side effect of making the world a very unpleasant place for anyone caught beside it, though. However, anyone dim enough to stand next a powerful rifle's muzzle will learn soon enough why it's a bad idea. The 3-Port Brake is threaded for AR-10 standard 5/8x24 and thus interfaces perfectly with the .308 version of the Ruger Precision Rifle.
I'll be honest, though, I didn't choose the brake for its ability to reduce felt recoil, but rather because it allows me to mount one of my favorite sound suppressors.
Rugger Suppressors SURGE
The Surge is one of the longest 30-caliber sound suppressors around, measuring some nine inches in total length. This gratuitous length lends itself to increased internal volume, which in term reduces the detonated round's sound report.
More volume = less volume. Get it?
The problem with any suppressor that long is that it becomes unwieldy and shifts the rifle's point of balance further towards the business end. This makes the Surge a terrible choice for lightweight carbines or any rifle meant to be fired from the standing position.
Thankfully, the Ruger Precision Rifle does its best on either sand bags or a quality bipod. So all the weight of the Surge only goes to reduce felt recoil and increase shooter steadiness. However, for finicky shooters who might want something a little more compact, the Surge can actually transform into a shorter 7.5-inch suppressor by unscrewing the last baffle from the end of the suppressor and replacing it with an end cap.
It's a very simply conversion to perform and gives the Surge more mission adaptivity. So while the 9-inch version might be too long for rapid field work, the 7.5-inch might fare a little better. In testing, both lengths still easily reduced the muzzle blast of full-powered .308 Win to hearing safe levels. However, the full-length configuration was slightly more effective.
Also, you might be wondering why I'm suggesting a QD suppressor for a precision rifle. It's simple. I always prefer fast to slow, and with modern QD mounts, point of impact shift has been negligible. Also, transporting a rifle as big as the Ruger Precision Rifle with a suppressor attached is really tricky. It's like attempting to pack a javelin in a rifle case.
For optics (riflescopes), I was really torn. Selecting a 'perfect' scope is nigh impossible and very subjective. If I were going to stretch the legs of the Ruger Precision Rifle out past 800 yards, I'd want something with a minimum of 15 times magnification. But for targets inside of 400, this is normally too much zoom, making it tough to follow moving targets.
So rather than suggest one optic that can do both jobs pretty good, I'll instead offer two different solutions for the two very different problems.
Short Range Scope: Elcan SpecterDR 1.5-6x
For short range use within 500 yards, my go-to optic for both .308 and 5.56mm is the Elcan Specter DR series of prismatic scopes. Those of you familiar with the brand are already reeling. These aren't cheap optics. The Specter DR 1.5-6x .308 BDC model currently atop my Ruger Precision Rifle retails for around $3,000.
The reason the optic runs so high isn't obvious when simply looking at photos online. It's only when a shooter picks one up in person that the cost starts to make sense. The Raytheon-designed Elcan is one of the few optics that can truly be described as "soldier-proof." Though, it isn't without its problems.
The Elcan suffers from very short eye relief, so shooters have to get pretty close to the optic to get a perfect sight picture. Once they do, they'll be treated to one of the brightest, widest fields of view in the industry.
So the Elcan is worth the cost because it's increadibly clear and ultra durable? Well, yes, but there's also the matter of the DR portion of its name. It is an acronym for Dual-Role. By this, Elcan means the prismatic scope is either a 1.5x and 6x magnified optic. Notice I said "and" not "to."
The Elcan switches between magnifications by rotating a small prism inside. The prism has two sets of faces polished to two different magnifications. As such, the scope's magnification doesn't go from 1.5x to 6x, but rather toggles between the two. This allows the Specter to serve both as a reflex sight and magnified combat optic with built-in .308 BDC.
Long Range Scope: Burris XTR II 5-25x50mm
Wait, I'm going to recommend a $3,000 short range optic, and a $1,400 long range scope in the same breath?
Yep, I was very surprised as well. I actually didn't know that Burris made long-range optics until I was sent one for use in reviewing the Ruger Precision Rifle. When I first received the optic, I was skeptical. This is not because Burris doesn't make good stuff, but simply because I've never heard of the company's long-range offerings.
Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised with the feature-heavy XTR II. With a huge 50mm aperture and 34mm tube, the XTR II does a phenomenal job picking up light, and delivering crystal clarity to the shooter's eye. This is due, in no small part, to solid glass and a proprietary Hi-Lume multi-coat.
While it might not be on par with the $3,000 Elcan Specter, shooters won't miss any targets because of the Burris. Plus, the XTR's ability to go from 5x to 25x makes it incredibly versatile, making it effective in all but the most point-blank encounters.
As with most things, customizing a rifle is a very personal affair. What works best for me might be ill-suited to a 300-pound seven-foot guy, or a 4'11" woman. This is part of what makes the Ruger Precision Rifle so magnificent. It can easily be tailored to suite shooters of all shapes and sizes. So even if these upgrades don't fit you just right, the nearly endless array of available accessories ensure that something will.