Modern Classic: The Ruger No. 1B
By Chuck Hawks
The No. 1 single shot rifle was one of Bill Ruger's pet projects. Introduced in 1966, it was the first of the modern single shot rifles.
The No. 1 uses a completely modern but classic looking Farquharson-style hammerless falling block action of great strength. The barreled action is finished in a polished deep blue, and the satin finished walnut stock is hand checkered in a borderless pattern. The No. 1 is Ruger's premium rifle.
Like any single shot rifle, the absence of a long repeating action makes the Ruger No. 1 about four inches shorter than a bolt action rifle with the same length barrel. Or, to look at it another way, the No. 1 can have a barrel four inches longer than a bolt action rifle of approximately the same overall length. This maximizes the ballistics of modern high intensity and magnum calibers, and is a considerable advantage for the long range shooter.
There are several variations of the No. 1. The model reviewed here is the 1-B Standard rifle. This is probably the most popular version of the Number 1, and the model available in the greatest number of calibers.
No. 1-B rifles feature hand fitted, select American walnut stocks. The stock has a fluted comb, moderate pistol grip with cap, black recoil pad, and comes with detachable sling swivel bases. Other nice features include a sculptured receiver, trigger adjustable for weight of pull, sliding shotgun-type tang mounted safety, quarter rib barrel with integral scope base, and an ejector which can be set for extraction only. No. 1-B rifles are supplied with Ruger scope rings. The hand cut chechering pattern is adequately executed, but on the skimpy side.
The instruction manual supplied with the rifle is so larded with safety warnings that it is difficult to read and it doesn't cover things that you really would like to know, such as how to adjust the trigger. This is a terrific rifle, but only a lawyer could love the instruction manual.
The available 1-B calibers at the time this is written (2009) have been reduced to: .204 Ruger, .223 Remington, .25-06 Remington, .270 Winchester, 7mm Remington Magnum, .30-06 Springfield and .300 Winchester Magnum. Many other calibers have been offered in years previous.
Here are the basic specifications for the Ruger No. 1-B Standard rifle:
The No. 1-B rifle reviewed for this article is chambered for the excellent 6mm Remington cartridge. Guns and Shooting Online Technical Assistant Gordon Landers participated in the shooting chores, which were conducted at the Isaac Walton Rifle Range south of Eugene, Oregon. This is an outdoor range with 25, 50, 100, and 200 yard target positions. All recorded groups were fired from a bench rest over sandbags.
The 6mm Remington cartridge, like the .257 Roberts, is based on a necked down 7mm Mauser case. But the 6mm is factory loaded to higher pressures than the .257 and delivers higher velocity and flatter trajectory. Its performance can be exceeded by the 6x62mm Freres or .240 Weatherby Magnum, but only at the expense of considerably increased muzzle blast and shortened barrel life.
The 6mm Remington is a fine combination varmint/big game cartridge. Its 100 grain bullet (SD .242) at 3100 fps is serious medicine for antelope and deer, yet its recoil in a scoped rifle weighing 9.25 pounds (like a scoped Ruger 1-B) is only about 9 ft. lbs. For more information see my article "The 6mm Remington."
Premium rifles deserve premium scopes. Our No. 1 Standard test rifle wears a Leupold VX II 4-12x40mm variable power scope with an objective adjustable for parallax correction. It is sealed against fogging and has fully coated optics. This rather bulky scope provides a magnification range suitable for long range varmint, medium game, or target shooting. The excellent Leupold optics were appreciated at the range and gave sharp, clear views of the target.
The test rifle's trigger has been adjusted for a pull weight of 3.25 pounds with only a slight amount of creep before letoff. Unlike most bolt actions, the Ruger No. 1 action is smooth and tight, a pleasure to operate.
Like many Ruger No. 1 rifles, varying the pressure on the forearm of the test rifle, especially laterally, would change the point of impact of the bullet. This is due to flex in the forearm hanger, which allows the forearm to make contact with the supposedly free floating barrel. It is a problem endemic to Ruger No. 1 rifles.
The fix is to have a gunsmith drill and tap the forearm hanger near its end for a set screw. The set screw is then adjusted to put a constant (light) pressure against the underside of the barrel, eliminating the flex in the forearm hanger and keeping the rest of the forearm away from the barrel.
Before the installation of the set screw, three shot groups with this rifle averaged about 2 inches at 100 yards with Federal Classic, Federal Premium, and Winchester Super-X factory loads using 100 grain bullets. Remington Express factory loads with the 100 grain Core-Lokt PSP bullet averaged slightly smaller groups of about 1 3/4 to 1 7/8 inches. This is perfectly acceptable accuracy for big game hunting, but not for long range varmint shooting.
After having a set screw installed to stabilize the forearm hanger, the Ruger 1B proved that it is capable of fine accuracy. We shot a number of groups using Remington Express ammunition with 100 grain PSP Core-Lokt bullets at a MV of 3100 fps, the factory load preferred by this particular rifle. The result was that the three shot, 100 yard groups fired by both testers averaged just a hair over 1 inch.
The best 3 shot group measured 1 1/16 inches at 200 yards! Handloads developed specifically for this rifle could probably shrink groups even more. As expected, there were no malfunctions of any kind with the Ruger No. 1-B rifle.
The Ruger No. 1 single shot is a high class rifle. It is for the connoisseur, the rifleman and the traditionalist. The late Bill Ruger was all of these and he has left us the No. 1 as part of his legacy.
RIFLE REVIEW SUMMARY
Copyright 2002, 2012 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.