Ruger American Rimfire .22 Win. Mag. Rifle

By Randy Wakeman

Ruger American Rimfire
Illustration courtesy of Sturm, Ruger.

The Ruger American Rimfire bolt-action rifle, chambered for .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire (WMR) cartridge, is one of the most impressive rimfire rifles I've tested in years. The same basic rifle is available in .22 LR and a .17 HMR version is said to be in the works. The 2013 MSRP is $329 for all models (standard, compact, .22 LR or .22 WMR).

Over the last several years, rimfire rifles have been largely dominated by the Ruger 10/22 for autoloaders and Savage Arms for bolt action rifles. When Savage applied a version of their Accu-Trigger to their rimfires, it changed the rimfire rifle market. It would probably surprise no one to learn that a Ruger 10/22 is my most often used .22 autoloading rifle and a Savage Mark II BV is one of my most often used .22 bolt action rifles.

The subject of this review is a standard length Ruger American Rimfire .22 WMR rifle. Included with the rifle are two different buttstock modules (see photo at top of page), one with a raised comb and one with a straight comb configuration. It has a folding rear sight and a fiber-optic front ramp. The trigger module is the new Ruger Marksman Adjustable Trigger. The receiver is machined for the common rimfire 3/8 inch dovetail (tip-off) scope mounts and also drilled and tapped for Weaver #12 bases. There is a receiver mounted release for removal of the rear locking bolt.

The American Rimfire uses the ubiquitous, flush mounted, Ruger 10/22 rotary magazine, but the extended magazine release protrudes far below the bottom of the stock.There has been room for improvement in just about anything and that is true of most rimfire bolt action rifle magazines. For example, Savage single stack, sheet steel box magazines are not particularly well-done, as they are rattle-prone and aesthetically vulgar. A flush-fitting rotary magazine, if well-done, is a very good thing. The Ruger rimfire rotary magazines used in the Model 10/22 autoloaders and Model 77/22 bolt actions are convenient and they tend to help make bolt-actions work and feel smoother. This fine rotary magazine is also used in the new Ruger American Rimfire rifles.

Specifications

·        Catalog Number: AMER-RF

·        Model Number: 8321

·        Action: Bolt

·        Chambering: 22 WMR

·        Magazine: Ruger rotary JMX-1; 9 rounds

·        Metal finish: Satin blued

·        Stock Material: Black plastic

·        Barrel: Hammer forged, 22 inches long, target crown

·        Twist: 1:14 Right Hand, 6 groove rifling

·        Sights: Adjustable folding rear, Williams fiber optic front; receiver grooved for tip-off scope mounts

·        Overall Length: 41 inches

·        Length of Pull: 13.75 inches

·        Catalog Weight: 6 pounds (empty)

·        2013 MSRP: $329.00

 

Warne Scope Mounts makes excellent, quick release, 1 inch rings for 3/8 inch dovetail receivers. If you want to use your iron sights, you can remove your scope in a few moments. I used these Warne rings to attach a Burris Fullfield E1 2-7x35mm scope to the American Rimfire with no issues.

 

The ammo used for the shooting portion of this review was what I had on hand, Winchester S22M2 Supreme 30 grain jacketed hollow point at 2250 fps (B.C. of .0893; 1450 fps retained at 100 yards). This ammo has now been relabeled as the Winchester “Varmint HV” round, yet is the same loading. Sighting in at 50 yards was effortless, taking only a few three-shot groups. Accuracy was good and functioning was reliable. There were no issues during my test firing.

The Ruger American Rimfire has enough interesting and useful features that I'll examine several areas, point by point.

TRIGGER

The Ruger Marksman Adjustable Trigger is superb. Listed as user-adjustable from 3-5 pounds, my sample rifle's trigger released at a crisp three pounds out of the box, so no further attention was needed. The barreled action must be removed from the stock to adjust the trigger. Turn the screw at the front of the trigger assembly in (clockwise) to increase the trigger pull, or out to decrease the pull weight. There are about six full turns of adjustment.

 

The comparisons to the Savage Accu-Trigger beg to be made. As a practical matter, there is little discernible difference in break or feel. The Ruger Marksman trigger is going to be preferred by some shooters, though, and here is why. Savage Accu-Triggers require that you pull on the trigger correctly (straight back). If you don't, side-swiping the trigger, the gun decocks. You'll have to cycle the action, recocking, in order to fire.

The Ruger trigger also requires that you pull on the trigger correctly. However, with the Ruger American, if the center flap of the trigger is not pulled flush with the trigger face, the trigger is frozen in place and cannot be pulled. You'll be forced to correctly pull the trigger and the rifle will then fire with no recocking required.

 

STOCK

 

It is hard to love blow-molded plastic stocks. Properly done walnut stocks are generally stronger, stiffer, far easier on the eyes, feel better and can be fitted and refinished. The issue is cost. For example, Lufthansa had no problem trashing the extremely nice piece of walnut on my Browning X-Bolt, but they also sent me a check for $580 to cover a new stock, fitting and bedding. That's twice the price of the complete Ruger American Rimfire rifle for just a factory replacement stock. (You get what you pay for in gun stocks. - Editor.) The average consumer doesn't want to pay for walnut stocks, so polyethylene is with us for good. Laminated hardwood stocks are stronger, more rigid and more weatherproof than generic plastic, with their hefty weight the only drawback. They cost more than plastic, as well.

 

As hollow plastic stocks go, the Ruger American Rimfire example fares better than most. It feels better than most in the hands and the interchangeable buttstock ends are easy to install. Detachable sling swivel studs are included. In the tested example, the Burris Fullfield E1 scope mounted low enough that the included higher comb stock module was not needed. If you are using a scope in high mount rings, you may appreciate the factory included stock module. Removing the rear sling swivel stud allows the stock modules to be changed.

 

Ruger's new Power Bedding integral bedding block system positively locates the receiver and free-floats the barrel, thus avoiding the necessity for precise barrel bedding at the factory. Unscrewing two hex head machine screws allows removal of the barreled action from the stock.

 

My sole quibble is that the factory Ruger stock has no rubber buttplate, just hard plastic at the butt. Rubber isn't needed for .22 rimfire recoil attenuation, but it does help keep the rifle from slipping and sliding around in a gun cabinet or at the shoulder. A rubber buttplate should have been part of the stock module system.

 

ACTION

 

The action is smooth, with positive and error-free feeding, extraction and ejection. The nine shot rotary magazine fits flush and with the extended magazine release, is very easy to change. The bolt, assembled from several pieces, locks at the rear of the tubular receiver, using the root of the bolt handle. A hook at the front of the bolt, assisted by a flat spring that holds the cartridge case in position, serves for extraction and there is a fixed, receiver mounted ejector. The 60-degree rotation bolt has a smooth, pear shaped, nicely turned bolt knob and it can be cycled with the safety on. The bolt travel is approximately 1-1/2".

 

The barrel is a friction fit in the receiver and pinned in place, a basic process common to many economy .22 rifles. Overall, it is a well-designed and machined little action.

 

SAFETY

 

The two-position tang mounted safety is easy to switch on and off. There is no problematic over-stiffness and it doesn't rattle. The safety is well-done.

 

BLUING

 

The tool-blackening oxide finish evenly applied and the barrel exterior has a better level of polish than rough, matte treatments. The metal work is better finished than most offerings in the low price category.

 

THE VERDICT

 

Based on a superb trigger, flawless functioning, excellent accuracy, good handling and a reasonable price point, this is the most satisfying new rimfire rifle I've tested--at this price point--in a long time. Ruger has done a respectable job in design and execution; this rifle will probably sell like crazy. The Ruger American Rimfire richly deserves a positive recommendation. Ruger has accomplished a lot with this product, particularly considering its excellent price / performance ratio.

Editor's Comment: If you want a higher quality, rotary magazine, bolt action rimfire rifle with a stronger (dual locking lug) action, flat top receiver, deluxe features and a better stock, get one of the Ruger 77/22 models.




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Copyright 2013 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.


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