Ruger American Predator .223 Bolt Action Rifle
The new Ruger American Predator is an economy bolt action rifle. It is offered in .204 Ruger, .223 Remington, .22-250 Remington, .243 Winchester, 6.5mm Creedmoor and .308 Win. calibers. The Predator model is supposed to be a more accurate, heavier profile barrel version of the standard Ruger American. The rifle that is the subject of this review was chambered for the .223 Rem.
It has a streamlined, investment cast, alloy steel receiver with a one-piece, aluminum, Weaver-type scope mounting base factory installed. The latter is a useful feature, since the rifle does not come with iron sights. The three lug, 70-degree bolt provides ample scope clearance for its handle during operation. The bolt has a full diameter body (a-la Weatherby) and dual cocking cams for smooth, easy cycling from the shoulder. Cartridges are reliably fed from a plastic, flush fitting, detachable, rotary box magazine.
The barrel has a heavy sporting taper and screws into the receiver. It is cold hammer forged. Ruger says this method results in ultra-precise rifling that provides exceptional accuracy, longevity and easy cleaning. The barreled action wears a matte black (in other words only roughly polished) finish.
Some color contrast is provided by a moss green, Ruger American style composite stock. ("Composite" of what, I wonder; it looks like a molded plastic stock to me. -Editor.) The stock comes with a soft, black, ventilated recoil pad and sling swivel studs. Power Bedding, an integral bedding block system, positively locates the receiver in the stock and free-floats the barrel.
Aside from the color, this stock appears identical to the stock on the standard Ruger American Rifle previously reviewed, fluted comb and all. There is no checkering, just molded, raised gripping surfaces. The shape of the pistol grip is good, while the slanted finger grip area on the forend is both pointless and ugly.
The Ruger Marksman adjustable trigger, which incorporates a Savage Accu-Trigger like safety blade in its curved front surface, offers a crisp release with a pull weight that is adjustable between three and five pounds. There is a top tang safety that provides security, visibility and accessibility.
To cut to the chase, the test rifle did about everything you'd want in a rifle at this price point, except shoot good groups. In terms of basic function, the tang safety was excessively hard to disengage, but the bolt is smooth, the rotary magazine smoothly and reliably feeds cartridges, and the user adjustable trigger is excellent.
After topping the Ruger American Predator .223 Remington with a Sightron Big Sky SII 3-9x42mm scope, four different types of premium factory ammunition were tried at 100 yards. Regardless of whether it was Hornady, Barnes, or Lapua factory ammo, the rifle did essentially the same thing: it shot to two distinctly different points of impact. It did this on two separate range sessions. Call it the luck of the draw, or whatever, but based on this test rifle the accuracy is disappointing.
I contacted Ruger about this. They thanked me for my honesty and are going to examine this rifle. It has been my experience that around 95% of good quality product falls into a very close range. Then, you have roughly 2.5% that is spectacularly good, shoots everything you feed it accurately and for some esoteric reason is just crazy good. Then, you have the other 2.5%, which for various and sundry reasons just isn't up to snuff. It looks like this is one of those not up to snuff moments.
There isn't much else to say at this juncture except that poor accuracy is not usually a characteristic of recent Ruger rifles. The Mini-14 I recently tested was MOA accurate and a Ruger American Rimfire .22 Win. Mag. recently tested shoots better than 1/2 MOA. This review will be updated as more information becomes available.
08/30/2014 Update: The test rifle was returned to Ruger. Ruger determined that the example rifle was indeed shooting some 17 inches high. According to Ruger, it wasn't worth attempting to repair, so it was cut-up and thrown away. A replacement rifle is being sent.
10/24/2014 Update: The replacement rifle arrived and it did not have an excessively stiff safety, but there was obvious interference between the bolt and the receiver, not an acceptably smooth action. There is obvious poor machining on the receiver, not present on the first rifle that was tested.
The accuracy of the replacement Ruger American Predator was frustratingly poor, shooting 2.5 to 3.5 inch groups at 100 yards with premium ammunition. Ironically, the "Predator" model is promised to be a more accurate, heavier barrel profile version of the standard Ruger American. With a very rough action with obvious bolt receiver interference and completely unacceptable accuracy, there is little else to say.
Ruger was immediately advised of these issues and this second poorly performing rifle has been returned to Ruger for their inspection. If Ruger has some findings or other commentary, it will be reported here in yet another update.
11/07/2014 Update: According to Ruger, " . . .checked the bolt and do agree that something is not right with the lock-up of the bolt. In discussing with the engineers, they agreed that this rifle needs to be looked at and are in mid-autopsy today."
Although things can change in concert with chambering, after two consecutive brand-new rifles with multiple problems, we have to simply call it a day with the Ruger American Predator, actually six days of range time, and move on.
While the majority of Ruger product tested in the last few years has been very good to excellent, it isn't possible to recommend such a poorly made, poorly performing product as the American Predator. Both of the tested rifles have obvious manufacturing flaws that should have been caught during normal quality control. While feedback from Ruger that states, "something is not right with the lock-up of the bolt" this is hardly resolving anything.
The poor workmanship, poor quality control and unacceptable accuracy on two consecutive rifles with no resolution is enough to suggest avoiding this product. I expect better from Ruger bolt-action rifles and so do Guns and Shooting Online readers.
Copyright 2014, 2016 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.