Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Ruger American 308 Compact Rifle Review

Ruger American 308 Compact Rifle

In my article Practical Testing of the Cooper Scout Rifle Concept I heavily tested the Ruger American 308 and was impressed with what it deliver from a price vs cost perspective. It is probably the lightest .308 in production and considering the $350 street price on these Ruger American's, it may be one of the least expensive and lightest options for the hunter looking for a rifle they may not shoot much.

From a fit and finish perspective the Ruger American is good but represents the lower end of Ruger’s quality capabilities. The 6lb Ruger American with detachable rotary magazine has never been noted as a "Scout Rifle" since its recent introduction however with the right optic, I wanted to prove that it could be an effective alternative to Ruger's other namesake design. The Ruger American tested is the Compact version which drops the barrel length from 22” to 18" and shortens the length of pull by 1.25" to deliver a very compact and ultra-light Scout Rifle variation - about 3" shorter and 1.1lbs lighter than Ruger's Scout Rifle.
To keep the weight down and deliver the both eyes open shooting capabilities noted by Cooper, I opted for something unusual on a 308 bolt action, a Nikon 1-4x P-223 AR optic. On 1X it delivers the defensive CQB distance engagement Cooper noted and on 4X allows some precision at distance.

The Ruger American in .308 is not the most pleasant thing to shoot, but it is freaky light if you are packing out a long distance. Personally my choice would be the Ruger Gunsite simply due to the massive difference in recoil for the shooter, however the Gunsite is quite a bit heavier. But there is a place for Ruger American and that is for the person that wants a good quality gun for a very inexpensive price.
During my Testing the Cooper Scout Rifle Concept I put the Ruger American 308 through its paces. I set up four tests varying the shooting positions and respective distances; standing - 50 yards, kneeling - 75 yards, sitting -100 yards, supported prone 200 yards & 400 yards. Standing, kneeling, and sitting positions were stabilized via national match style sling and the 200 & 400-yard supported prone position was shot with the rifle supported over my pack. The idea was simple to hit a large 4” can of corn at each distance out to the 200-yard line and then be able to ring the 400-yard 12” gong and do it at a pretty brisk pace.  Hit a can of corn with a 308 round and you know it… “corn it's what’s for dinner in a 20-yard radius.”
In most cases this pace meant that if I hit each shot of the entire five shot string, the entire test would be over in around 30-40 seconds with a rather joyous spray of corn everywhere. This was also a no excuses test repeated three times. If I screwed up, flinched, or didn’t concentrate on the fundamentals of the shot, then it reflected in my performance.
With the American, things were not so easy the first round. Part of this was that the 1lb lighter gun and shorter (read that as 1” too short for me) may be lighter to carry, but it is harder to stabilize offhand and packs a brutal recoil on multiple shots.  After the first very brutal round, I added a slip-on Limbsaver over the existing buttpad and the American was suddenly transformed into something I wanted to shoot. The result was that attempt one at the 50 and 200 yard lines required second shots, however once the extra pad was on, I nailed every shot on the next two runs except another miss on the 200-yard line.  My first time was just under 60 seconds, one under 45, and the perfect last run timed in at 35 seconds.
The Ruger American in .308 is not a tack driver, but it will deliver 100-yard group accuracy around the 1”-1.5” mark which is fine for any general hunting duty. I would be shocked stunned and amazed if a $450 gun delivered sub-MOA groups, so I was actually pleased with the good useable accuracy of the Ruger American .308 and I think the 1-4x Nikon optic was a great choice for the shots this rifle is likely to take.
My bet is that Ruger will sell thousands of these to the type of hunters who shoot 3-5 shots total a year with the rifle they sighted in back in the 80’s. Most of the guys I know like this have not finished a box of ammo in the last decade but still manage to bring home a deer every year. If you don’t shoot a lot and want a light, dependable, and durable gun in a caliber that can take any game in North America, then the Ruger American is a great gun to consider, however I would highly recommend adding a slip on recoil pad to make things more enjoyable to shoot.
Material Alloy Steel
Finish Matte Black
Stock Black Composite
Sights None Bases Supplied
Length of Pull 12.50"
Grooves 6

Mod. # 6907
Caliber .308 Win
Cap. 4
Barrel Length 18"
Overall Length 36.75"
Weight 6lbs
Twist 1:10" RH
MSRP $449.00


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Unknown said...

Thank you for your review, the shortened trigger pull concerned me and you addressed it; I appreciate your attention to details that affect real hunters. steamboat springs colorado

DMJ said...

nice review, i have an m77 Mark ii in .260 rem with a 16.5 inch Barrel that is a tack driver.Thinking of a Hawkeye compact in .308 for some versatility with bullet options up to 178 with hornaday ammo for Kodiak.