The more I shoot custom rifles, the more I’ve come to appreciate accurate entry level rifles. I liked the Ruger American Rifle Predator in 6 Creedmoor when I reviewed it back in March 2017, but that was mostly due to the cartridge, a one trick pony that was soon converted into a custom rifle. I recently saw an ad for the American Rifle in 223 and was intrigued by the fact that it took standard AR-15/M16 M4 style magazines. While this is something that Mossberg did with the MVP a number of years prior, I never found the Mossberg rifles I bought for testing to shoot particularly well. I decided to give the Ruger Predator a try.
Ruger makes a few variants of the American Predator with the AR style magazine. This model is SKU 26944, it has a green plastic stock, 22″ long 1:8″ twist barrel with a threaded muzzle. If you don’t like the barrel length or color, Ruger offers a couple of different options which can be found on their site.
The rifle ships in a cardboard box with one MAGPUL PMAG10 magazine and a lock. It was nice to see Ruger provide a real magazine, in the old days it seemed like larger manufacturers were set on making their own instead of using a quality aftermarket like this MAGPUL. Ruger deserves Kudos for this.
The rifle is not equipped with iron sights. Ruger includes a Picatinny scope rail installed on the rifle. Much to my surprise it was properly installed and tight (an anomaly with many factory installed bases).
Like all Ruger American Rifles, this one has a 3 lug, short throw bolt that is retained and guided through the action via an external bolt release. The trigger with a integral blade type safety is adjustable. Mine came from the factory with an average trigger pull of 4 pounds 6 ounces. While it wasn’t the best trigger I’ve felt on a factory rifle (Tikka gets that vote), it was significantly better than some of the other options out there.
Much like earlier models, this rifle continues to use Ruger’s “Power Bedding System”. This is a pair of steel v-blocks that mate to corresponding surfaces in the bottom of the receiver. In practice I’ve found it to be an excellent system for plastic stocks. It mitigates problems due to a lack of rigidity typically encountered in plastic stocks by having the two action screws pass directly through the blocks. I suspect this is one of the reasons the American Rifles shoot so well.
The rifle accepts AR-15 style magazines through a plastic insert on the bottom. The magazines are released with a standard AR-15 type button on the right side of the magazine well. When the bolt is retracted on a empty magazine, the bolt is held open by the magazine follower and cannot close, a nifty feature you don’t often encounter on contemporary bolt action rifles.
For testing and evaluation purposes I only needed to add a bipod, scope and rings. I opted for my tried and true Harris bench rest bipod and a TRACT TORIC 3-15 scope with Warne rings.
To test accuracy I made up 10 different loads using new Starline brass. I was shocked at how well the 6.5 Creedmoor brass performed and wanted to see how well it worked in other cartridges. I paired it with 3 different Sierra bullets, the 52 BTHP, 69 SMK and 55 HP. Since this rifle feeds from an AR magazine, OAL was limited to 2.250″ and the long heavy bullets were off the table. Bill’s note: I’ll be covering the specifics of load development for this rifle in an upcoming post.
For all ten loads, 5-shot, 100-yard group sizes ranged from .488″ to 1.508″. While I had expected the rifle’s accuracy to hover right around 1 MOA with the right load, I never expected it to shoot 1/2 MOA with multiple loads! I was impressed!
While most of us spend ours days hammering 223 down range with a gas gun, it is a great cartridge in the bolt action rifle. For target shooting, plinking, or varmint hunting, 223 is at home in a bolt action rifle. With the addition of an AR-15 style magazine, it becomes even more enjoyable.
So what did I think of the Ruger American Predator in 223?
- Great little rifle. Compact and accurate. 5-shot groups below 1/2 MOA out of the box, what’s not to like!
- Magazine system works well. Sometimes the introduction of a detachable magazine system doesn’t go so well. The rifle fed reliably and ejected 100% of the time.
- Accurate. I was shocked at how well it shot out of the box.
- Trigger is acceptable. It won’t win awards, but you can still get the job done.
- Fun little rifle that won’t break the bank.