February 09, 2022
Ruger’s Custom Shop has taken the popular Ruger Precision Rifle and created what may be the ultimate production-class PRS (Precision Rifle Series) competition rifle. When Ruger’s Precision Rifle broke upon the still-nascent PRS scene several years ago, it was revolutionary. A production-line factory rifle with a suggested retail price of around $1,300, it was configured with a set of features that enabled new PRS shooters to walk onto the shooting line and be competitive with shooters firing custom rifles that cost four times as much.
The Precision has an innovative hybrid chassis-type folding stock that’s configurable to fit the individual shooter, a heavy 26-inch barrel and an AR-type free-floating handguard. Its aluminum magazine well is compatible with multiple different high-capacity magazines, such as the popular AICS types and Magpul’s proven PMags. Prior to the original Precision’s launch, I was fortunate to attend a writer event at the SAAM shooting school in Texas, and the standard-production gun I was issued shot groups under 1/2 m.o.a. from the get-go.
Introduced late in 2020, the new Custom Shop version of the Precision Rifle was initially available in 6mm Creedmoor, which has for several years now vied for the position of most popular factory-loaded cartridge competing in PRS circles. For 2021’s mid-year launch, Ruger added the versatile 6.5 Creedmoor, which is what I tested.
Shooting legend Doug Koenig was the guiding force behind the Custom Shop Precision Rifle. Koenig is best known for his skill with a handgun—he’s won more national and world championship titles than you can shake a stick at—but he’s also a sharp hand with a rifle.
Koenig proved that fact resoundingly last summer at Hornady’s PRS match in northern Utah, where he handily won the Production division with a stock Precision Rifle and factory Hornady ammunition. His scores also bested most of the Open class shooters, proving once again that hard-earned skill trumps gadgets and gear.
Like an AR-type rifle, the Precision receiver is in two halves. The upper is CNC-machined of pre-hardened 4140 steel. Cutting the action to shape after heat-treating takes longer and is harder on tools, but it eliminates the warping common to actions hardened after machining. The lower half of the receiver is made of 7075-T6 aluminum—the best kind there is—and is Type III hard-coat anodized. The Custom Shop version features a modified mag well flared to facilitate fast magazine changes.
The stock hinge and AR-type stock-mounting tube are directly behind—and in line—with the bore. Why is that important? Because recoil is transferred rearward in a straight line, rather than into an angled stock that imparts muzzle jump. As a result, with the Precision Rifle it’s particularly easy to stay on target and spot your own impacts through your scope.
The hinge allows the shooter to fold the rifle for more compact stowage or carrying. The hinge locks in both the open and folded positions, and it’s released by pressing the catch.
The bolt is a three-lug, full-diameter affair with a 70-degree throw. The full-diameter body ensures it will run smoothly in its raceway. The three lugs have a tripod effect on lockup, naturally finding equal-bearing equilibrium that promotes consistency and accuracy. And the relatively short throw enables the shooter to function the bolt fast.
Adding to that, dual cocking cams make it easy to compress the firing pin spring as the bolt is opened. A special firing pin tip is engineered to effectively detonate primers without requiring a traditionally heavy spring. Nitride coating prevents corrosion and adds natural lubricity. All this equates to a fast, smooth bolt that’s nearly effortless to operate.
The bolt handle is threaded, so the shooter can swap to a different knob if desired. The aluminum bolt shroud is a long, hollow affair that rides in the stock’s mounting tube, much like the buffer of an AR rides in the receiver extension. Contained inside the shroud is a bolt disassembly tool.
Special cut-outs engineered into the lower portion of the bolt’s body enable it to function well with various magazines. Two 10-round Magpul PMags are included with the gun.
Several of the Custom Shop treatments are set off with bright red Cerakote. One is the TriggerTech go-switch, which is an adjustable two-stage affair. On my test sample rifle, the first stage weighs one pound, 12 ounces, then the trigger breaks at a perfectly crisp three pounds, two ounces.
The safety is also bright red and has dual, ambidextrous AR-type levers, one on each side of the receiver. To disengage, thumb the lever down 45 degrees. It’s worth noting the safety will not engage unless the firing pin is cocked.
A slender magazine release lever is positioned just forward of the trigger guard, where it’s easily reachable with the tip of the trigger finger.
Secured into the front of the steel upper half of the action is a heavy-profile stainless steel barrel that Ruger bills as a custom contour, measuring 0.850 inch at the muzzle. A caliber-specific, indexable APA brake—popular among PRS cognoscenti—graces its muzzle. This maximizes recoil reduction and enables shooters to most effectively spot their impacts downrange.
The 6.5 Creedmoor version features a 1:7.5 rifling twist rate, with 5R lands and grooves. There’s a lot of verbal lather and enthusiasm about 5R rifling, and while the skeptic in me rebels, I have to admit that much of it proves out in practice. Particularly in production-grade barrels, 5R rifling seems to benefit accuracy—at least in my experience.
The barrel is cold-hammer-forged. The process results in a work-hardened interior bore surface that generally wears well and provides extended barrel life. Ruger touts minimum chamber specs, which also benefits accuracy and increases brass life.
For those who shoot enough to burn out a barrel or two or three per year, it’s also important to mention that the Precision Rifle’s barrel is easily swapped out. However, Ruger notes it’s best done by a professional gunsmith who has the proper headspace gauges to fit the new barrel.
Mounted to the front of the lower half of the action is a red-Cerakoted barrier stop. It’s designed to enable the shooter to lean hard on improvised surfaces and achieve the stability vital to making precise shots from hastily assumed field positions.
Forward, a well-conceived 15-inch aluminum handguard-type fore-end fully surrounds the free-floating barrel. Its bottom is machined with an Arca-type 1.50-inch dovetail rail. This makes it compatible with premium-quality, heavy tripods such as the RRS, Leofoto and Feisol so popular among the PRS crowd. Naturally, Arca-railed bipod adapters and other accessories fit too.
M-Lok slots are located at three, six and nine o’clock for mounting additional accessories. Additionally, the lower receiver itself is machined with M-Lok slots to allow shooters to mount a “match saver” cartridge holder.
Atop the action is a long Picatinny optic rail with 20 m.o.a. of elevation built in, setting the rifle up for optimal scope performance at extended distances. It’s secured to the action with robust 8-40 screws, rather than the more common and less strong 6-48 screws.
The AR-type grip is bolted on and easily swappable should you prefer a different grip. However, I doubt any savvy shooter will. The version Ruger picked is Magpul’s outstanding MOE K2+ grip. It positions the shooting hand nearly vertical, comfortable and torque-free, and it features a rubberized surface that minimizes slip with sweaty or cold or wet hands. Hollow inside, it’s compatible with Magpul’s optional storage cores, so you can carry a mini tool kit or spare parts if you want.
As I mentioned earlier, the stock is attached to an AR-type buffer tube, and any AR stock will fit. But no shooter in his or her right mind would change the provided stock. Configurable for length of pull and cheek weld, it can be made to fit any shooter size from Peter Pan to Paul Bunyan. Just open the locking levers on the right side of the skeletonized stock, fine tune it until it fits and feels perfect, and lock the levers back down.
On the toe of the stock is a flat surface machined parallel to the barrel. Designed to sit on a rear sandbag, it will ride straight rearward during recoil. Dual M-Lok slots in the bottom of it provide a position for a monopod should you want one mounted there. The buttpad is a durable but malleable rubber and will mitigate felt recoil as well as provide non-slip shoulder contact.
Each Custom Shop Precision Rifle comes with a Sorbothane cheek pad on an adhesive, which you can stick to the top of the cheek rest for a comfy feel. I prefer the hard, smooth polymer surface because the rubbery Sorbothane cheek rest tends to pull out my already-sparse chin whiskers.
An M-Lok-compatible section of rail and an M-Lok QD sling attachment point are also included, along with two 10-round Magpul PMags, as mentioned earlier.
All metal surfaces are either Type 3 hard-coat anodized (aluminum) or Cerakoted (steel) against corrosion. Colors are a subtle but attractive blend of gray and black, and on the stainless-steel barrel, there’s just a tinge of bronze in the gray. Oh, and then there are the bright red trigger, safety levers and barrier stop. It’s one of the most attractive chassis-type precision rifles I’ve seen.
Features, ergonomics and aesthetics aside, how does the rifle shoot? To find out, I mounted one of Vortex’s new 5-25x56mm Venom scopes, scrounged three different factory loads that typically provide excellent accuracy, and headed to the range.
With an MDT Ckye-Pod mounted to the Arca rail on the bottom of the handguard and a sandbag beneath the toe of the stock, the Custom Shop Precision Rifle was rock steady on the concrete bench.
Because the Precision is designed to shoot 10-round strings in a short amount of time, I chose to test the rifle by firing three consecutive three-shot groups without allowing the barrel to cool. It’s a fairly aggressive test protocol, but it’s appropriate for the rifle type and enabled me to track and document whether group size opened up or point of impact shifted as the barrel heated.
Morning breezes were light but fickle, and in the 20-degree temps even a bit of warmth in the barrel caused mirage to warp the view through the Vortex, making the target shimmer across the crosshairs like a hula dancer.
Still, the rifle pounded bullets into nice small groups. All three loads averaged less than 3/4 m.o.a., even in the challenging conditions and my fast-paced test procedure. Two of the three nudged near that magical half-m.o.a. threshold, and in ideal shooting conditions, they almost certainly would have crossed it.
Even better, there was no discernible point of impact shift as the barrel heated. If anything, groups actually tightened, going from good to great as it heated. That’s a sign of an excellent, stress-free barrel.
Back when the original Precision launched, it was in such demand that gun stores sold out minutes after receiving them, and shooters willing to sell one were getting a 20-percent premium above suggested retail. I don’t think that will happen with the Custom Shop Precision Rifle, simply because it’s no longer the only player in the game.
This rifle is made to compete with upper-echelon production-class models such as the Tikka T3x TAC A1, GA Precision Pinnacle and others. At $2,399—which qualifies it to compete in PRS’s Production division—I’m convinced the Custom Shop Precision Rifle is worth the price of admission.
Being supported by Ruger, one of the giants of American firearm manufacturing, and sporting the quality and innovation that is clearly built into it, I suspect the gun will prove a force to be reckoned with in PRS and National Rifle League matches across the nation.
Ruger Custom Shop Precision Rifle Specifications
- Type: three-lug bolt-action centerfire
- Caliber: 6mm Creedmoor, 6.5 Creedmoor (tested)
- Capacity: two 10-round PMags included
- Barrel: 26 in. stainless, 1:7.5 twist, 5R rifling
- Overall Length: 45.25 - 48.75 in.
- Weight: 12 lb., 12 oz.
- Stock: folding, aluminum and composite, configurable
- Grip: Magpul MOE K2+
- Finish: Type III hard-coat anodizing, Cerakote
- Trigger: TriggerTech two-stage, adjustable; 3 lb., 2 oz. (measured)
- Sights: none; 20-m.o.a. Picatinny optics rail
- Price: $2,399
- Manufacturer: Ruger, Ruger.com