This rimfire rifle is nicely weighted, good value and a viable tool for pest control, says Bruce Potts
Ruger has a knack of producing rifles that “real” shooters want, in an innovative way, at a good price. The rimfire market is swamped with bolt actions, pumps, semis and lever-action rifles, and you might think there is no space for another one, but Ruger has managed to fill a niche for a practical, accurate yet cheap rimfire alternative.
The .22LR American, as with its bigger brother centrefire models, is a good-value sporting firearm in a practical hunting format. Available in .22LR, .17HMR and .22WMR, this .22 rimfire model sports a short 18in barrel threaded for a sound moderator. It has a tough and comfortable synthetic stock, superior bedding system for consistent accuracy and interchangeable stock sections for
open sights or scope use. Best of all, it only costs £420.
Action/bolt and barrel assembly
The barrel and action are made from alloy steel, nicely machined and finished with a polished blued sheen, which contrasts well with the synthetic stock. The action is cleverly designed to sit on a bedding system called a “power bedding block”. It is integral to the stock so the action is perfectly bedded, allowing the barrel to free- oat and avoid pressure vibrations, thus greatly improving accuracy.
The action is trim at 6in long and comes machined with a in dovetail for scope mounting, but is also drilled and tapped for two bases to accept weaver-type scope rings. The bolt is nice and smooth and as a 60° bolt-handle configuration to avoid scopes in use. It is removed in the same way as a centrefire rifle by pushing a bolt release lever to the left of the action.
There is a single claw-type extractor with a sprung clip to locate the round, which also allows a positive ejection via a static action-located spur that protrudes through the bolt face as the bolt is pulled to the rear.
The barrel is slim, tapering down to 0.664in at the muzzle, which has a half-UNF thread for sound moderator use. This also has a target-type crown to protect it without a moderator fitted and to allow free flight as the bullet exits the muzzle. The hammer-forged barrels are 18in long with a six-groove one-in-16 twist rifling. Open sights are fitted in the form of a folding leaf adjustable rearsight and highly visible green dot Day-Glo fibreoptic foresight. All in all, the action is nice, compact and reliable.
Trigger and magazine
Ruger has upped the game with respect to the triggers fitted to rim res and the Marksman trigger unit is both safe and nicely weighted. You can adjust the weight from 3lb to 5lb, and it features the now popular extra safety inner trigger-blade that has to be depressed as you pull the trigger before the sear is operated. The trigger broke at just over 3.5lb in use and was crisp, with a positive and fast lock time to the ring pin.
Ruger has used its standard BX1 rotary magazine system (as on its semi-auto 10/22 model) and this 10-shot magazine has a good capacity and sits flush to the stock. Additional magazines are readily available, as are higher capacity, more traditional single-feed magazines.
The enlarged mag-release lever is a user friendly feature that protrudes by 1in in front of the trigger-guard which, when pushed forward, drops the magazine. The safety is well-placed on the tang behind the bolt and the large sliding lever is easily operated by the shooter’s thumb — it locks and blocks the sear for safety.
Many cheaper rimfires have synthetic stocks. There is nothing wrong with that, but a lot are just injection mouldings with two hollow halves, and they feel cheap. This Ruger American was a pleasant surprise. Its All Weather stock was solid but ugly, but this black synthetic stock feels solid, and I like the way it looks.
The length of pull is 133/4in — a bit short for me — but the American has an interesting party trick in that the stock can be separated along the comb section to exchange for a high comb/cheekpiece for scope use, or low comb for open sights. Just release the sling swivel and the top section of the stock can be removed or replaced.
The rest of the stock is well-shaped with moulded-in nger grooves and palm swells in the pistol grip area, and the foreend has a deep scalloped profile, aiding a comfortable and good hold.
Ruger .22LR on test
Forget the price — this rimfire shoots well. This is greatly aided by the one-piece bedding-block system, allowing a consistent metal-to-stock union, and the barrel free-fl oating qualities. Add to this the well-rifl ed bore on the American and you will shoot some surprising groups. I tested at 30 yards and 50 yards with subsonic and high velocity ammunition and had no malfunction nor magazine problems. I also fitted an excellent Hawke Vantage .22LR Subsonic reticule scope and B&T sound moderator.
Subsonic-wise, the American had no real preference with regard to ammunition as tight groups were the order of the day. The RWS Subs shot very tight groups of 0.35in at 30 yards and 0.75in at 50 yards, which is impressive and very quiet at 992fps. The Winchester subs, both 40-gr and 42-gr bullet weights, shot 0.5in groups at 30 yards, and at 50 yards opened up to just 0.75in.
If you wish to shoot high velocity (HV), again the RWS HV ammunition shot impressive 0.5in five-shot 30-yard groups and 0.65in 50-yard groups, so it was nice and consistent. The Federal HV 31-gr loads were also good, with 1,377fps velocity and 0.75in 50-yard groups with a flat trajectory.
It is good value and a viable addition to the vermin control market in Britain