Rifle Review: Ruger American Predator
An easy to manipulate bolt and the availability of stock blocks to alter the length of pull make the Ruger a wonderful choice for off the rack shooting. The flush mounted magazine has a potentially awkward release forward of the mag, but is not uncomfortable in getting used to. Relatively lightweight, even in the Predator model that is suggested for bench shooting, it is well suited for stalking or setting up for impromptu supported shooting.
When the right brand and load of ammunition the rifle can deliver impressive groups at 100 yards. There is some debate as to how much tinkering will be required to deliver the same results at 300 or 600 yards. It is not unreasonable to assume that those ranges will simply require a more expensive option, however the Predator can certainly be “tweaked” to get there: amount of effort may vary however.
While not a “tank” or a battle rifle, it is well made and capable of taking surprise abuse in the wilderness: the rifle will doubtless fare better in a drop than most scopes. The weakest link that is commonly cited is the stock, but the novelty of a free float on a full length stock and ithe affordability of a replacement arguably helps balance out any perceived detriments.
Lightweight chassis replacements are somewhat rare, though lightweight tactical stocks are available. The factory installed adjustable trigger offers some variation to shooter choice for specific applications, though it is a factory stock trigger: aftermarkets are also available if so desired.
It is not a space aged looking tactical modular rifle. The fact that rifles have the same general appearance suggests that it is not displeasing iof not entirely alluring. Ruger does a wonderful job on fit and finish, but that plastic stock will inevitably leave some feeling that it “looks” cheap. Some people just have not embraced plastics (or the internet) yet.
Real world market prices make the Ruger American Predator a real tempting choice for a rifle that can be set up for suppressors and close range tactical shooting or varmint hunting. Is it the best thing out there? No. But for those on a budget looking to have some fun or with a need of such a tool, there are plenty of worse ways to go about it.
In 2012 Ruger introduced the American line of rifles. These were marketed as a lower cost, bolt action sporting rifle that could deliver dependable performance without breaking the bank.
With the acceptance of polymer stocks as a sort of all weather protection, the thought of taking a $700+ Remington or Weatherby into the field to get scuffed and rained on seemed preposterous: better to leave such aspiring safe queens home where the elements would not harm their value and get a “beater” for the buck or for introducing a new hunter to the sport.
The Ruger American was introduced in centerfire calibers from .30-06 down to .223 and even in rimfire.
Using simplified, yet dependable manufacturing, the company produced a rifle that was both affordable and serviceable and helped establish the plastic stocked rifle as an acceptable option to adverse weather and wilderness mishaps.
Ruger introduced the Predator variant in 2015: this came with a threaded barrel for the installation of a suppressor where legal and was marketed as a varmint or target rifle. This often resulted in the assumption that it could be “tricked out” into a bench or precision rifle.
The reception of it for those purposes has been varied, but there is no denying that the rifle is a robust mechanism that offers some unique advantages to shooters in the field for a cost that makes picking up at least one of them a tempting proposition.
Ruger American Predator Review: What it Has
The receiver is made form 4140 chrome-moly bar stock mated to a hammer forged barrel. Finish is blued black oxide, though stainless is available for some models. All of this is set into a polymer composite stock with Ruger’s “power bedding”: two v-shaped aluminum blocks wedge the receiver in place resulting in a free-floating barrel. The Predator model comes with a Picattiny rail installed for a choice of optics, either tactical or sporting.
Magazines were initially a 4 shot rotary flush fit, though certain calibers such as 6.5 Grendel, .223 and .350 Legend can feed off of STANAG magazines. Three locking lugs allow for a shorter bolt throw that easily clears the scope.
There is a tang mounted safety and the trigger will remind most shooters of the Savage “Accutrigger”: Ruger’s own “Marksman Adjustable” allows for an adjustable pull weight of 3-5 lbs. Most are set from the factory at over 4 lbs: this is sensible for a stalking rifle, but bench shooters may find it a bit much.
The Predator is available in several calibers including:
- .308 Winchester: ideal for most medium to larger deer on down to boar. This chamber is also capable of firing 7.62 NATO cartridges which may be more suitable for precision shooting.
- 6.5 Creedmoor: released in 2008, the Creedmoor is a necked down .308 shouldered back a bit to allow for a bullet with longer sectional density for better stability and penetration. It is a very popular target round as well as for varmint hunting.
- .22-250: itself a wildcat kitten from an older wildcat cartridge (.250-3000 for Savage), this Remington round has long been a mainstay for high velocity varmint hunting.
- .223: needs little introduction, the .223 Remington was marketed for coyotes and is plenty popular owing to it being acceptable to the AR-15 platform: however, rifles in .223 should not be used to fire 5.56 NATO.
- 6.5 Grendel: introduced in 2003 this is a descendant of the 220 Russian cartridge meant to extend the effectiveness of common battle rifles out to 800 yards. It has become a popular choice for varminting and for “beefing up” a 5.56 or 7.62x39 platform.
- .204 Ruger: a necked down .222 Magnum, the .204 was Ruger’s effort to making one of the fastest 5mm class bullet that is commercially available and is popular with anyone looking for a flat trajectory.
- .350 Legend: a relatively recent offering by Winchester this is a necked up .223 offering similar ballistics to a .30-30. Its benefits are use in STANAG mags and a commonly available case for home reloaders.
How Does it Compare?
The American appears to have been introduced as a competitor to Savage Axis bolt action rifles as a light-weight, all weather, affordable hunting rifle available in a variety of calibers suitable for both target and hunting needs of small to medium sized game.
The Ruger American Predator rifle appears to be targeted for precision shooters or those off a bench.
After market stock options are available, but whether or not they can compare with others is up for debate.
For those complaining that a Remington 700 has more custom possibilities, they need to be reminded that the Ruger American was designed for economy: taking a $400 rifle and adding $400 worth of after market mods may yield a $500 rifle, when a $700 rifle will do. The American Predator offers magazine commonality with appropriate calibers and a threaded barrel at a price of generally under $500. Savage Axis generally comes in less than that but without the threaded barrel or the welcome heft one associates with Ruger.
Watch Ruger American vs Savage Axis vs Remington 700 from MarksmanTV
Is it still Dependable?
Mechanically the rifle is well built and after a bit of ammunition testing can be relied upon to deliver less than 1” groups at 100 yards or more. It is lightweight yet offers enough bulk to help mitigate some of the more harder hitting calibers (but it is still “lightweight” so bench shooting with the .22-250 round will likely develop at least some bruising after extended use).
All in all, it is a worth addition to the Ruger line which is prized for its long term serviceability and reliability.
Can it be accessorized?
The out of box stock only has one swivel stud on the forearm so those looking to mount a bipod will have to get one with a swivel mount if a sling is desired. The rail forgoes Leupold mounts which can either be a blessing or a detractor depending on the shooter’s preference. Suffice to say most scopes have Picatinny capable rings however.
Magpul has provided an American capable version of their precision stock which can negate the bipod or sling issue.
Aftermarket triggers are also available.
The lines of the rifle are actually quite traditional, and therefor assumedly not displeasing. The stock feels a little on the cheap side and is arguably the main detractor – which makes sense since it is also the most obvious place the company can bring the cost of the gun down. Nevertheless, as it delivers a free float barrel platform for that cost, the benefits balance out. Further, since the stock will bear the brunt of any field abuse, it being affordable to replace is a plus as well.
Manufacturer’s suggested Retail price is over $600 HOWEVER, one of the biggest draws of the American Predator is its market price, typically under $500 and close to the $400 mark. For an out of box rifle at this cost it is easy to budget money for a good scope and a silencer and tax stamp (if that is the intended route).
It is a lightweight rifle with a not lightweight barrel (though it does not really fit the definition of a heavy barrel). As such some have complained that the Predator cannot decide what it is: bench or stalking rifle. It can do both but is not entirely great for either.
Furniture is made light and affordable to keep the price down, but the performance and accuracy is there. It may just need some experimentation to find it.
For a low budget stalking rifle meant to go into the woods it does very well, and the stock, by virtue of its economy, is easy and cheap to replace should it come to that.
For prone shooting it offers a reasonable point of embarkation to build upon that will accept your suppressor and any scope on the market. If one is looking for all purpose gun that can take them a long-ways down any one route, there is little to argue against the Ruger American Predator Rifle.
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