Ruger American Predator

Ruger American Predator Hands-On Review: Best Budget Rifle?

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The Ruger American Predator is a rifle made for varmint and predator hunting. But it’s not only for predators as many hunters also use it for deer hunting and large game. It’s a popular rifle known for its reliability and affordable price. But is the Ruger Predator the gun for you? Let’s find out in this hands-on review.

Pros
  • Affordable
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Adjustable trigger
  • Has a rail for mounting optics
  • Superb accuracy
  • Soft rubber buttpad proved excellent recoil mitigation
  • No tacticool factor
Cons
  • Rough finish with machining marks
  • Bolt has a short throw
  • Stock comb is placed too low
  • Flimsy plastic flush magazine

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Quick History of Ruger Rifles

Ruger is a popular and recognizable name in the firearms industry, known for its high-quality, affordable American-made lines of top-selling revolvers, pistols, rifles, and other accessories.

The rifle end of the Ruger firearms began in 1960 with the Deerstalker Model 44 and the M77 bolt action, Ruger’s #1 single-shot hunting rifle at the time. However, it wasn’t until 1964 that Ruger introduced their popular 10/22 rimfire rifle that the company did lament itself as a reputable hunting rifle manufacturer. The 10/22 was inspired by the M1 carbine, where it utilized a 10 (up to 25) round rotary magazine. It was a milestone in rimfire rifle production.

In 2012, Ruger introduced their line of American Rifles. The Ruger American rifle became Ruger’s entry-level bolt action multi-round hunting rifle. There are currently seven models under the Ruger American Line of rifles, each with six different rimfire configurations with an option for just about anyone.

Who is the Ruger American Predator for?

Although slightly more advanced than the standard Ruger American, the Ruger American Predator is still considered an entry-level, modern hunting rifle. The American Ruger Predator might be a gun for you if you’re new to large game hunting or shooting long distances.

For me, though, it’s not something you’d go purchase for just plinking, but it’s still a good option for long-range shooting. The lightweight build also makes it a good, affordable option for people who go camping or trekking.

Types of Ruger American Rifles

Ruger American Standard

The Ruger American Standard comes with a 22″ alloy steel sporter barrel with a 42″ short-action cap or a 42.5″ profile for long action cartridges. This was the original Ruger American released back in 2012.

Ruger American Compact 

Aptly named, the Ruger American Compact is a smaller profile, lighter-weight version of the Regular American Standard. It has a shorter length of pull and an 18″ barrel reducing the overall profile to just about 37″. The Ruger American Compact can only be chambered with short-action cartridges.

Ruger American Magnum

The Ruger American Magnum is built for distance. It comes with a 24″ threaded stainless steel barrel with an overall profile of 44.5″, the longest of the Ruger American lines. It also ships out with a factory Weaver rail and only shoots long-action cartridges .300 WM and .338WM).

Ruger American Predator

The premier hunting model of the Ruger American line, the Ruger American Predator is an affordable hunting rifle that comes in either an 18″ or a 22″ threaded alloy steel or stainless steel Medium Palma barrel. It ships with a pre-installed factory Weaver rail, a STANAG magazine for the 6.5 Grendel, and .223 Rem. It also includes an AICS style Mag for the 6mm Creedmoor, .204 .243 Win, some 6.5 Creedmoor models, .308 Win, and .350 Ruger.

Ruger American Ranch

Built with the farmer in mind, the Ruger American ranch is a short barrel version of the Ruger American Predator. It’s pre-installed with a Weaver or Picatinny rail and comes in a 16″ threaded alloy steel Medium Palma Barrel with an overall profile of 36″. It’s chambered for the 5.56 NATO, .223 Rem, .300 Blackout, .450 Bushmaster, .350 Legend, and 7.62 Soviet Cartridges.

Ruger American Hunter

The Ruger American Hunter is the most unique of the Ruger American Lines and made exclusive for medium to large game hunters. It comes bedded into the Magpul Hunter American stock with an AICS-pattern PMAG 7.63 AC box magazine. It has a heavy 20” threaded alloy steel barrel with a factory-equipped muzzle brake and is chambered for the 6.5mm Creedmoor and the .308 Win.

Ruger American Predator Specs

Let’s look at the Ruger American Predator, Ruger’s affordable yet quality magazine-fed, bolt-action hunting rifle.

Caliber6.5 Creedmoor
StyleHunting
ActionBolt action only
Capacity4 rounds
Rate of Twist1:8"
Weight Unloaded6.52 pounds
Overall Length42 inches
Barrel Length22 inches
BoltOne-piece three-lug with 70° throw
Trigger Pull3 to 5 pounds
Length of Pull13.75 inches
SafetyTwo-position tang safety
StockSynthetic polymer
SightsNone
Scope MountAluminum scope rail

Ruger American Predator Hands-On Review

Unboxing

We got to shoot our Ruger American Predator from a friend of ours, but a brand new Ruger American Predator will come in a Ruger Branded red and white cardboard box. Inside the box, you should find your user and instruction manual, warranty info, the magazine, the bolt in a separate box, and the actual firearm itself.

Remember that this firearm doesn’t come without a scope or any form of sight. So if this is your first hunting rifle, you might also want to pick out a scope.

Appearance

The Ruger American Predator is not going to win any awards for appearance. Out of the box, you can tell that the stock and materials used are made from some form of polymer. However, Moss Green does have a lot of appeal.

I didn’t get mine brand new, but there are some fitting issues that you can tell were there from the beginning. It doesn’t have the cleanest finish but frankly put, even though the firearm looks cheap, it’s not something to complain about for a $500 hunting rifle, nor does it affect performance.

Photos

Now, let’s look at some photos of our sample gun.

Ruger American Predator receiver
Receiver. Note the flush four-round magazine.
scope and bolt handle
Scope and nicely rounded bolt handle.
Ruger American Predator safety
The safety, right where it should be for both righties and lefties.
Ruger American Predator trigger
Trigger with integral safety lever.

The trigger guard is molded integrally with the stock as is the custom now with polymer stocks.

caliber stamp on the Ruger American Predator
Ruger logo
Ruger American Predator bolt body
Bolt body and face.
Ruger American Predator bolt face
Note the three-lug design, claw extractor, and ejector plunger.
Ruger American Predator bolt release
And, the way to get the bolt out – the bolt release.

You do not need to pull the trigger to remove the bolt as you do with Savage rifles.

Ruger American Predator muzzle cap
Threaded muzzle and protector
Ruger American Predator on scale
Weight with empty magazine
Ruger American Predator magazine
And, lastly, the magazine.

You can drop this one without too many worries about bending feed lips.

Handling

Even though it looks cheap and a lot of cost-cutting done to keep the rifle at under $500, the Ruger American Predator is a solid firearm. It’s lightweight, and the polymer is tough and looks like it can handle a beating. Compared to the Standard Ruger American, the heavier fluted barrel isn’t as thicker in profile as one would assume. However, it looks higher quality than what I would expect from a cheaper hunting rifle.

The trigger guard gives your finger enough to shoot even with gloves and produces a nice crisp pull. Some good texturing on the forend makes it easy to grip with your off-hand and produces good friction when shooting.

The safety is ambidextrous and placed right where you need it. However, the 70-degree bolt handle feels like it will get in the way of some of the larger scopes and might make reloading annoying. The gun tips in at 6.5 lbs, and the Predator is super easy to carry and maneuver. It would make a great camping or hunting partner.

Features

The Ruger American comes with a synthetic, durable polymer stock primarily responsible for its lightweight build. The barrel is tapered for better accuracy and has a standard 5/8×24 threaded barrel allowing you to add a suppressor or whatever muzzle device you need for the job. The barrel is also free-floating, which we know will translate to better performance and accuracy.

You’ll find an aluminum Picatinny rail on the top of the rifle for your scope mount and the ambidextrous top tang safety behind it. The trigger is also adjustable, which is nice, but it’s usually around 5 lbs out of the box. Also, the trigger is pretty crisp. Our model is chambered for the 6.5 Creedmoor, but all the other Ruger American Predators are pretty much the same.

Taking it Apart

Check out the video below for a better idea of taking apart your Ruger American Predator.

Shooting the American Ruger Predator Rifle

Here we see Glen behind the Lead Sled as he squeezes off the first shots he took with his new rifle.

shooting the Ruger American Predator

One target shot in my backyard — as stated, he had not shot the rifle before. His gun shop owner friend set up scopes on this rifle and a Ruger Precision for him and then he shot about a box of ammo through them, sighting the scopes in, but for Glen it was new.

target shot with the Ruger American Predator

His first shot was high and left, and his second shot was high/right. He then proceeded to put two bullets into almost the same hole as he became more familiar with the trigger and scope. With a little TLC and the right touch, this rifle might turn into a top-notch shooter. The trigger was excellent, with a 3-pound-even pull and no overtravel or take-up. That helps a lot in the accuracy department, as does the free-floated barrel.

Accuracy

The Ruger American Predator displayed great accuracy right out of the box. Give yourself time to get used to the trigger and zero in the sights before heading out, and you’re guaranteed to nail your target with ease. The trigger was excellent, with no noticeable overtravel or take-up. Also, the break was extremely crisp. 

You may need to try out different brands first to find the one that works best for you. You may also want to experiment with using a suppressor to get better groupings.

Recoil 

The Ruger American Predator is lightweight at 6.5 pounds, but with a scope and complete setup, you’re looking at carrying something closer to 10lbs. Even with this added weight, it still won’t be enough to help with recoil truly. Ruger has done a good job at designing the gun to minimize this issue, the recoil on the predator is still a bit more pronounced. 

If you’re shooting rounds in succession for an extended period, your shoulder will eventually feel like you’re shooting a 6.5 Creedmoor. The rubber buttpad is comfortable, but it’s not the highest quality out there, and it does an okay job at best. 

Performance & Reliability

The Ruger American Predator may look cheap, but it performs like an inexpensive firearm by no means. The rifle functioned correctly, and it was effortless to feed the rounds, even with the short 70-degree bolt. Again, if you have big hands or a large scope, you might have a harder time, and hitting the scope every time you load a round is pretty annoying.

Competition

Savage Axis II XP

The Savage Axis II XP is a great introductory hunting rifle and part of Savage Arms’ affordable, entry-level Axis rifles. It comes in various calibers and is ready to shoot out of the box. The gun ships with a 3-9×40 Bushnell Banner scope and has some interesting features you won’t get in other entry-level firearms.

The stock and forend are a lot ergonomic on the Savage Axis II, and the buttpad is plenty comfortable compared to the Ruger American Predator. The trigger is where it’s at, though, with the Savage Axis II XP’s AccuTrigger system coming in miles better than whatever the Ruger Predator has.

In terms of accuracy, you should expect around the same groupings with both firearms, and they perform relatively alike. The only place where the Ruger American Predator edges out is recoil, but both guns will still let you know you’re shooting a large round. For some reason, the Predator also feels like it’s more durable than the Savage Axis II XP.

If you had to choose between the two, you’re going to save a lot more money with the Savage Axis II XP. However, you’re going to get slightly better performance and a little more durability out of the Ruger American Predator.

Tikka T3x

A little over six and a half pounds, the Tikka T3x delivers a fantastic bargain at roughly $680. Available in various calibers for varmint and big game hunters alike, it boasts an adjustable trigger. It also features an action that’s neatly bedded and shoots and transports like a dream.

Even though a little more expensive than the Ruger American Predator, the Tikka will have a better and much less cheap look than its more affordable counterpart. It’s extremely accurate, more so the Predator.

Tikka is so confident with their guns’ accuracy that they include a 1-MOA guarantee. It also has far better stock texturing and better ergonomics than the Ruger American Predator, but the Ruger has a better, smoother feed, and you get one more round in the magazine than Tikka T3x’s three cartridge magazine.

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Accessories

Athlon Optics Argos BTR Rifle Scope 6-24×50 FFP

The Athlon Optics Argos BTR Rifle Scope is a great, budget-friendly scope that is accurate at up to 1000 yards away. The scope’s AO system will allow you to quickly adjust for elevation and windage while also compensating for varying field conditions. It will also work great even in low light conditions and comes with a competition-grade, variable zoom power.

Caldwell Lead Sled DFT 2

If you’re a casual shooter looking to take your rifle to the range or adjust your new sights, the Caldwell Lead Sled DFT 2 is a great companion. It can even help eliminate some of those factors that may cause you to miss that shot. Its dual-frame design is good at dispersing energy and greatly reduces the impact and recoil of your firearm.

The Baffled tray can hold up to 100lbs of lead shot and keeps your bags in place. There’s also a 2.5-inch elevation adjustment and a non-marring shock eliminator on the rear pad to help you zero in on your target and quickly set up follow-up shots.

Vortex 6.5-20×50 Parallax Adjustable Viper

The Vortex 6.5-20×50 Parallax Adjustable Viper scope will cost you as much as the actual Ruger American Predator. Yet, it’s a great middle-end scope that you can use for many rifles to come. The viper has a hard-anodized finish and offers solid shockproof durability. The MIL-Dot reticle is very accurate and can help you calculate the range, windage, and holdover on your target.

Conclusion

The American Predator rifle is a great buy. I look at my Savage Axis II XP in .243 and am happy, but the Ruger seems to take it one step beyond, as this company usually does. Also, Ruger’s customer service is second to none.

Are you looking for an inexpensive rifle to tote in the back of your truck? Want one that will be in one piece when you open its case? Want a gun that will put that first shot where you want it to? Check out this rifle. You might be surprised how accurate it is once you’ve figured out its favorite load.

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26 comments
  1. The Go-Wild in the 300 WM is a champ. Groups were touching at 300 yards with 125 grain at 3400 FPS handloads. Six inch group with Vortex Crossfire II at 600 yards.
    …And I’m a beginner.

    1. Rusty, yeah, it’s a winner, too. There are several good rifles out there – I review what is available, either locally or from manufacturers. Remington makes good stuff. Thanks for writing!

  2. Well Mike, again you hit another home run. Great article explaining the practicality of not spending too much money and getting great results. I see some of these younger fellows throwing money at weapons thinking it will somehow make them a better shooter.
    I have a lead sled, so the fact that all of my weapons can out shoot me, is not lost on me.

    1. Bert, I think you hit on something. Expensive guns can be great, but not all of us can afford to spend a lot of money on them. As always, I appreciate hearing from you-thanks for writing!

      1. Since the reality of living on a fixed income is not too far into my future, thought patterns and priorities have changed.
        Keep on doing what you do so well in reviewing guns. See you next time.

        1. Bert, seems like we have a lot in common. Being retired, I tend to review guns that are in the lower price ranges, as I know a lot of guys and gals who shoot are in a similar financial position. I certainly don’t turn down a chance to review a top=end firearm when given the opportunity, but most of my contacts provide medium-priced guns. The important thing isn’t the price of the gun, but whether it’s accurate, reliable and fun to shoot. Those are my criteria. Thanks again for writing!

          1. You are welcome. Price/value has always been a selling point, just moreso now.

          2. Bert, I hear you. I know what you mean – we now have to think about a purchase more than we might have when money was less tight. The good part is there are guns out there that are lesser-expensive but still do the job and are good buys. Thanks, again, for writing.

  3. As usual, a fine review. I opted for the Mossberg Patriot, 6.5 w/ Vortex Crossfire II. A terrifically accurate rifle for the money. I took two deer last fall at 100 yds with one shot each. I hope you can do a write up on that rifle as well.

    As far as baseball goes, the taking of a knee by Yankee and Nationals players and coaches during the National anthem was beyond disgraceful as was BLM painted on the pitchers mound. I’ll never watch or attend another MLB game.

    1. Rex, about baseball, you’re right – that was unfortunate. Politics should not creep into sports, but I guess that ship has sailed. As for rifles, glad your Mossberg and scope are in tune so well. I will check on getting a Mossberg to write about – I know where one lives locally. Thanks for writing!

  4. I like that rifle and have one & also a Mossberg Patriot, Ruger is an amazing brand but to me at this moment a better option is the Mauser 18 that you can get it right now for $399 the 30-06 and 7mm rem mag and for $429 the 308 and 6.5 Creedmoor, $419 the 300 win mag, $479 the 6.5 PRC. Plus $10 shipping.

    1. Rafael, where do you live? Just curious, as the Mausers are great but we don’t hear a lot about them in my neck of the woods. The price is right, though! Thanks for writing.

      1. Miami, FL. I hunt mostly hogs here and deer in SC. Yes they are, the bolt, 3 position safety, stock, trigger, cold hammered barrel and sub MOA at 100y made them my favorite rifles. My pleasure, I always follow the articles here I think they are great.

        1. Rafael, thanks for filling us in. Where I live hogs are rare but deer abound. Glad you like your Mausers – that’s a very old company that makes great guns. Thanks for writing again, and thanks for the kind words.

  5. Thanks for the review! I have found these rifles in left hand actions and for a lefty the calibers are exotic ! Growing up in the 80’s you were lucky if a factory gun shot 1moa ! Trigger job, bedding the action was in order and with handloads viola 1moa, times have changed! Now I can’t decide on a 7/08 or the 6.5 creedmore ! Speaking of creedmore, Mike I learned this shooting position for contenders and long barrel revolvers competing in IMSA, I have used this in the field with great success!

    1. Douglas, hello fellow southpaw! Glad you could find that LH version. As for the firing position, do you mean the one where you’re on your back, head propped up by a hand and the gun resting against your bent, strong-side leg? That became really popular, as you mentioned, in the silhouette shoots of the ’80s. Not being the athletic beanpole type, I had trouble twisting around like a pretzel so i used other positions. Glad it works for you – thanks for writing!

  6. Hi guys,
    I have owned a Ruger American since they were first introduced in 2012. It is in .270 cal.
    I load my own bullets with an old Lee press outfit using 150 gr. speer bullets , 56 gr. 4831 powder
    With this load and a lot of practice I have achieved three bullet holes touching like a leaf at 100 yds.
    I believe I paid $400 Canadian at the time. All I do now is black powder silhouette shoot with a 45-70 high wall. but my go to rifle when I do go deer hunting is the old Ruger American, just a great rifle.

    1. Michael, as a fellow reloader I’m impressed! A cloverleaf at 100 yards is every press jockey’s dream. Glad you figured it out. 4831 is a great powder, as you found out. Thanks for writing!

  7. Mike, I enjoyed the read. Nice job. I bought a limited production (at least I was told it was) RAR in 22-250 at Whittakers guns on sale ($275ish). Fast twist is what made it different (1:8 I believe). found a beautiful walnut stock for it on Boyds rapid fire sale page for under $100. fit like a glove, bedded it, and now it shoots 68gr and 75gr bullets exeptionally well. Really is remarkable. I have had some .5 moa groups at 200 yds, might be luck, but it is consistantly better then moa. It shoots better than I do. anyway, keep up the good work.

    1. Brent, thanks for the kind words. Looks like you’ve got a shooter there – the walnut just puts icing on the cake. (I like wood stocks, too). Thanks for the comments!

  8. Have the Predator in Winchester .308. Got this over the 6.5 specifically due to ammo availability. Tons of 7.62×51 floating around at .88¢ a rd. Just dropped it into a Magpul Hunter stock. A little extra weight, but overall a game changer in looks and feel.

    1. MistaShakes, sounds good. At least you are finding some ammo – others are not so lucky. That stock ought to help out a bit, too. Thanks for writing!

  9. I really enjoyed reading this article. You remind me of my father n law in a literary sense. O just bought this rifle at a local gun shop. I found this article while reading about my rifle. I look forward to reading more from you

  10. Ricky, I appreciate your kind words and I will take what you said about your father-in-law as a compliment! I think you’re going to like your rifle – let us know how it shoots when you get a chance. Thanks for writing!

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