Ruger needs no introduction among shooters; they are an American Icon. Since 1949, they’ve been cranking out quality firearms for the US Market. And they’ve never changed hands or gone out of business, so that tells us that they’ve been doing something right.
Today we’re going to take a look at the Ruger American Predator and explain why it needs to be near the top of your list as the next rifle to buy.
Breaking the Mold
As a former sniper, my mindset was historically on one rifle platform: the Remington 700. That’s what I was issued and that’s what we always used. Most snipers use the Remington 700.
So when the owner of my local (and favorite) gun shop pitched the idea of me buying a Ruger rifle, I just kind of shrugged. Until he showed me the target that he shot at 200 yards with it. The group was tiny! I’ll admit, I was intrigued—he had my attention!
He’d mentioned that he had used it to bag a deer during hunting season and then put it back on the shelf to sell at a reduced price. The added bonus of it all was that the rifle was already zeroed for 200 yards, so that would save me the hassle of sighting it in. Naturally, I’d want to fine-tune the scope adjustments, but they were extremely close to what I’d need. The price for the rifle and scope was a little over $500, which was quite reasonable.
Initially, I wasn’t too sure about the caliber: 6.5mm Creedmoor. I’d heard about it, but I didn’t know if it was one of those odd calibers that’s hot this week and disappears by next week into the forgotten annals of shooting lore.
After some research and asking those in the know, I discovered that the 6.5CM is here to stay.
Long story short, I had decided to purchase the rifle and reported to the gun shop to do so—only to learn that the rifle had already been purchased. This was another example of “If you snooze, you lose.”
Not too long after that, on Christmas morning, I learned who the buyer of the rifle was. It was my wife! She’d heard me talking about it and, unbeknownst to me, went to the gunshop and bought the rifle as my Christmas gift! Yes, she’s a keeper! My wife, I mean, not the rifle. Well…the rifle is a keeper too! But I digress.
What role will this rifle play in my arsenal?
Being a former sniper, I look at most bolt action rifles from that perspective. I can’t help it, that’s just how I was trained and how I think.
Is this a “proper” sniper rifle? No, not technically. Many purpose-made sniper rifles today have stocks specifically designed for that mission, with a good portion of them having adjustable stocks and various modifications that help the shooter to snipe effectively.
The Ruger American Predator does not have that. It’s as KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) as you can get.
Despite that, I can put rounds on target in a tiny group at a far distance with it, so in my book, that makes it my sniper rifle for my inventory. It’s not tremendously different than the Remington 700 that I was issued some 30 years ago, other than a slightly different stock and heavy barrel. The American Predator is at least as accurate as that sniper rifle was, and I believe even a little more accurate.
Certainly, it would make a dandy hunting rifle, which was its main intended purpose.
Alright, enough of my babbling, let’s get into the rifle!
Rifle Specs And Features — The Nitty Gritty
Ruger introduced the American Predator in 2016. The barrel was immediately interesting to me, in that it’s not a heavy barrel, nor is it lightweight in profile. Rather, it’s a medium-weight barrel, which I consider the best of both worlds. Heavy barrels lend themselves to accuracy because they are stiffer and flex less when fired. They also maintain more accuracy when they heat up during a string of fire.
Light barrels are nice because they weigh less. However, they flex more (especially when the shooter is using a sling as a shooting aid, which puts pressure on the stock and barrel, causing flex). And when they become warm, the bullet impact can be altered.
So the medium-weight barrel isn’t terribly heavy, but it will lend itself well to accuracy. And I will talk more about accuracy shortly.
There’s a surprise at the end of the barrel; it is threaded! This makes it easy to attach a suppressor or other muzzle devices such as flash suppressors. The rifle comes with a thread protector that screws onto the end of the barrel in the event that no devices are attached.
The Predator’s safety is tang mounted, so it’s conveniently placed and operates very easily. Slide it forward to take it off safety and back to apply the safety.
The bolt is of the three-lug variety similar to what Mauser pioneered so many decades ago. It has a 70-degree throw and operates very smoothly.
Atop the receiver is perched a Picatinny rail, which makes mounting optics incredibly easy. These days, so many scope mounts are set up for the rail system. This system allows even simpletons like me to mount scopes in a heartbeat! Another nice aspect is that it gives a good amount of leeway for mounting the scope forward or farther back, depending on what amount of eye relief is needed. That flexibility is appreciated.
From the factory, the Ruger American Predator comes with a green-colored stock that is some form of plastic. This stock has been the object of much scorn in the gun community, but I’m not sure why. The criticisms are that it “feels cheap,” as best that I can gather. People seem to want Kevlar or fiberglass, or other space-age materials.
However, my experience with the stock has shown me that it’s solid and effective. Yes, it does flex some, but I’ve not found it to affect my accuracy so far. It free-floats the barrel, which I suspect is one reason that this rifle shoots as well as it does.
This is a rifle intended for economy so the average shooter can afford it easily. To that end, it excels. If you’re looking for elite materials, perhaps you should move on and not purchase the American Predator. On the other hand, if you don’t want to break the bank and get a rifle that shoots like a house on fire, this is the one.
Remember when I mentioned heavy barrels weighing more? The base rifle weighs 6.6 pounds, which isn’t bad. No, it’s not a rifle that they shaved off every possible ounce, but it’s sure not a super-heavy bench rest rifle either. I’ve taken it hunting in the field and it can be toted around without undue fatigue.
Ruger chose an all-black, matte finish for the rifle that seems to protect it from corrosion effectively and eliminates shine. In the end, I decided to take a rattle can to my rifle and scope and give the whole thing a Flat Dark Earth finish. I’m not worried about resale value because I will never sell it (it works too well and it was a gift).
The factory trigger is adjustable from three to five pounds. It is a thing of beauty, with a light, crisp pull. I’m not certain of the exact weight that mine is set on, but I’m not going to touch it. It’s not too light and not too heavy. Goldie Locks would heartily approve! The crispness when it breaks is excellent, and is a contributing factor to the rifle’s accuracy.
Each rifle ships with a standard, detachable four-round magazine that fits flush with the bottom of the stock. The magazines are polymer and are marked “308 Multi-Caliber.” The 6.5 Creedmoor rounds fit well in it and work just fine. I’d like to see magazines with a slightly higher capacity be available.
My Ruger American Predator came equipped with a scope as a package. The scope is a Vortex Crossfire II 4-12x44mm scope. It’s made from a solid piece of aluminum and is water and fog resistant. It features a duplex reticle with holdover marks. Overall, this scope functions well for medium and longer ranges. The 44mm objective is large enough to let a good amount of light in for making shots in lower light
It also has target knobs so that the shooter can record the numbers for shooting at various ranges. Adjustments have proven to be easily made. So far, it has held its zero very well.
This isn’t a high-dollar scope. However, the clarity has been excellent; far better than I was initially expecting. For a modestly priced, foreign-made scope, it has surpassed my expectations thus far.
I’ve added a sling and a bipod to the rifle, which are the only add-ons that I’ve done to the rifle since getting it. I really feel it needs nothing else.
Overall, I could not be more pleased with the results of the package. It gives me a rifle that I can surgically place shots with. And it does so without beating up my shoulder. The modest recoil does contribute to the accuracy, as does the excellent trigger and quality scope.
I also want to go on record and indicate that Ruger did not send me this rifle for evaluation; as mentioned, it was a private purchase. So they are, in no way, influencing this review.
If you’re looking for an extremely accurate bolt action that won’t break the bank, look no further than the Ruger American Predator. It will deliver.