Value-priced and ready for action, Ruger’s new American bolt-action is…

Value-priced and ready for action, Ruger’s new American bolt-action is available in several calibers, including .243 Win., .270 Win., .30-06, and .308 Win. Its unique action is smooth and easy to maintain. Photo Steve Woods

At 700 yards, a disk the size of a steering wheel looks like an aspirin, even at 9X magnification. That’s all the magnification I have. “Give it a minute left wind.” Tim knows this canyon; his calls get my attention. The trigger yields. Pow! Cycling the bolt prone, I’m thinking this exercise won’t let me see them print. My bullets will never be found.

“Got it!” Tim is still in the spotting scope. A long second later, the faint clang floats back. “Same wind.” He expects a follow-up. I feign complacency. Another shot brings the same result. So do the next. Three is enough, I yawn. No sense courting boredom. It’s only 700 yards.

O.K. I’m not bored. Eventually a gust will mug a bullet, and I’ll have to confess a miss. As it is, I can say all bullets from my 6-pound, entry-level .30-06 have smacked Tim’s small steel more than a third of a mile downrange. Factory ammo. Ordinary 3-9X scope.

No, a .30-06 American isn’t an elephant rifle. But who can resist FTW’s dangerous game course?

Full disclosure my fellow shooters: Though Ruger’s new American is so inexpensive even jobless grads moving back home can afford it, this rifle has much to offer veteran riflemen, too. And it actually weighs 6.25 pounds.

Rough-Country Ready

My introduction to the American came at the FTW Ranch, 12,000 acres of Texas Hill Country laced with shooting ranges designed for hunters and snipers. In one venue, steel gongs at short intervals from 200 to 1,000 yards take full advantage of devilish winds sweeping in from side canyons. “It’s where we teach humility,” grins Tim Fallon, who owns FTW. A world-traveled big game hunter, Tim also has military credentials. With Doug Prichard and Chip Beeman, he conducts SAAM courses. “We launched the Sportsman’s All-Weather, All-Terrain Marksmanship program in 2005,” says Tim. “It gives hunters a concentrated dose of variables they’ll find afield. We coach them on range estimation and wind-doping, firing in cover and at steep angles, no-look reloading—every impediment to center hits.”

You might shrug off 1,000-yard steel as irrelevant. I don’t shoot at game 1,000 yards off—nor do most hunters, or the crew at FTW. Doug Prichard, retired Navy SEAL and sniper instructor, points out that FTW’s animal targets “test you to 300 yards. That’s far. Your goal should be a lethal hit, not just a bullet in the animal.” Doug drills shooters from field positions. “Anyone can be a hero from the bench.” He recalled a “drop-and-shoot” course in which a third of 42 trained snipers missed with their first round at an 18-by-30-inch target—think double kitchen sink—at 427 yards.

Before heading down for this visit to FTW, I learned the virtues of Ruger’s rifle. Mark Gurney and Ken Jorgensen trucked in eight of my colleagues as well, evidently to ensure that someone punched a tight group. Mark, a Ruger product manager, assured me that the American was indeed made in the U.S.A. “Every part.” And no, it won’t replace the M77 Hawkeye. “We’re courting different customers with the American. At $450 MSRP, it’s priced well below our other big game rifles.”

I coughed dismissively. Plumbing the depths. The bottom is getting crowded. Every factory that can cut an ejection port in tube steel and pull polymer from a mold is racing to beat the competition in a price war exacerbated by a rubber-legged economy. To be sure, even in good times a bargain makes me tingle, but the buzz of high quality lasts longer. At a street price of $400 or so, the American can’t deliver much—or so I thought.

“It evolved quickly,” Mark told us. “A year ago, we had just a concept. Now rifles are shipping.”

Load Comments
  • Jim Mullin

    I need a 300 Winchester Mag and a 338 Winchester mag,guess i’ll have to wait.How about a “budget” 458?

  • adam

    I’ve gotta ask, is it available in a left handed model? I sure hope so

  • Harry Carlin

    I predict this new Ruger will become as iconic as the M77……..I love the idea of a rotary mag for a centrefire……….gonna bite the bullet and buy one !!

  • Sumner Thompson

    Sounds interesting and affordable. Let’s go..