Ruger American Rimfire
- By Pete Moore
- 1 Comments
- Last updated: 27/01/2017
One of my favourite 22 rimfire bolt-actions is Ruger’s now classic M77/22, built like a fullbore, it’s a shooter! However, it now costs over £1000, which is just plain mad, so who is going to bother in today’s market place? This must have been Ruger’s thinking too, as and though the 77/22 is still on their books, they have gone down the apparently ‘budget rifle’ route with their latest 22 ‘bolter’, the American Rimfire.
For some years now, the US gun industry has been offering budget, centrefire bolt-actions; synthetic stocks only, scope mounts and sometimes even an optic in the package. You may turn your nose up at this sort of marketing, but I have shot most examples and they perform as well as the more expensive guns and will not break the bank! Ruger got into this area quite late with their American model, but have now leapt ahead by offering a rimfire variant, that also solves the problem of the prohibitive cost of the 77/22.
Called, unsurprisingly, the American Rimfire it’s a huge departure from the 77/22 and as I discovered, is a well thought out and engineered design that delivers! It comes in three models and two stock options, a 22” Standard rifle in black polymer or wood, and the 18” Compact also in the black furniture. Unusual but innovative, the polymer models feature removable comb/butt pads (modules) that slide onto the butt lower and are retained by the QD sling stud screw. You get two included, with straight and raised combs for iron sight and scope use.
Yes, iron sights come as standard with a fixed, Williams™, green, fibre optic up front and a Ruger 10/22-style fold-down U-notch that gives limited windage and elevation adjustment. OK, few people use irons in the UK but I like them on a rifle and the ability to drop in the low combed module might just make it more attractive!
As I discovered, the Standard version offers longer modules, so the length of pull (LOP) differs between it and the Compact. The latter seems to be aimed more at the youth market with its 12.5” LOP which is a big sector in the US. Though I had a Compact on test, it came with the Standard modules, giving an LOP of 13.75”, which was good enough. The one-piece, wood stocked version (Model 8329) does not offer this facility and shows a low comb only with a fixed, 13.75” LOP.
Speaking to Viking Arms indicated that they are concentrating on the 18” Compact, with the 22” Standard to special order. Sensible really as a long 22 standard rimfire barrel does little if nothing for performance, only adding unnecessary weight and length! However, the wood stock version with its 22” tube only reduces its appeal a little!
The American Rimfire is totally different from the 77/22 with a round steel receiver complete with an integral 3/8” dovetail for scope mounting. The top of the action is also drilled and tapped to accept a Weaver base too; sensible! The cold hammer-forged, mid-weight barrel is screwed into the receiver, so doing away with the 77/22’s and 10/22’s barrel clamp system and is threaded ½ x 20 UNF for the UK with a protector. The stock is moulded and of solid construction with a mid-width forend and deep, angled fingerboards, with QD sling studs front and rear. There’s no chequering, just integral gripping lugs in the usual places, which work well.
Inside, Ruger has gone to town with a bedding block system (Power Bedding®) that the action bolts to and offers a free-floated barrel. It has the look and feel of the zinc alloy Zamak, but could be aluminium! Closer inspection shows twin, angled lugs moulded into the block that engage with cut-outs machined in the front lower sides the receiver. This is the sort of belt & braces set up you might see on a centrefire. Though most rimfires shoot well just bolted to the stock, I wondered how much difference this would actually make?
Unlike a lot of the cheaper 22 rimfires, which can be butt ugly, the American is attractive with a slim action and faired-in bolt. The handle sticks out a bit and gives lots to get hold of and offers a 60° lift angle, the shroud is angled back nicely and to the rear is a tang-mounted safety catch; my favourite! The last time Ruger offered this set up was on their original Mk 1 M77 centrefire, a system I much preferred to the latter Mk II and Hawkeye with their 3-position levers! It pushes forward to FIRE and reverses for SAFE, with minimal disturbance to the shooting hand. A separate bolt release catch is located rear/left of the receiver too. Feed is from; you guessed it a 10/22 rotary magazine, well if it ain’t broke don’t fix it!
The release catch is an extended paddle at the rear of the well; a vast improvement over the flush, release plate of the 77/22 and 10/22 families.
Taking a leaf from Savage’s book is their Marksman Adjustable™ trigger! It shows a similar blade-within-blade of the AccuTrigger and is user-adjustable between 3 and 5 lbs and shows a short and crisp break. To adjust, the action must be removed from the stock, and then it’s just a single Allen screw at the front of the trigger mechanism block.
Ruger wisely chambered the American in the three most popular rimfire calibres – 22 Long Rifle, 22 WMR (Winchester Magnum Rimfire) and 17 HMR (Hornady Magnum Rimfire). Capacities are 10 in 22LR and 9 for the WMR and HMR, doubtless these two use the larger, JMX-1 version of the magazine. Both these calibres offers the same model options as the 22. The 22 LR gun will also accept Ruger’s in-house, 25-round, highcapacity BX25 mag too.
So far the American Rimfire impressed me in both design and handling. Articles I had read about it indicated it was also accurate, due to the barrel manufacture method, bedding block and fully floated tube. I opted for a rather unusual scope choice, which to me seemed well suited to the calibre and mainly hunting application of the rifle and calibre!
Hawke’s 2-7x32 AO AIRMAX is a compact with parallax-adjustable objective and uses a modified Mil-Dot reticule, which offers both full and ½-Mil subtensions; so a good amount of range and windage marks, this went into Sportsmatch mounts. Ammo went from sub-sonics, through standard, Matchtypes, and high velocity. Up front was an A-TEC Wave, the latest rimfire can from Jackson Rifles.
The change over from low to high butt modules is easy; unscrew the rear QD stud and lift off the module, then slide the new one in and re-tighten. With iron sights, I really did appreciate the lower comb, which does make them easy and comfortable to use. The magazine filled easily and the extended release catch made changes so much more practical!
I set zero at 50 yards and surprisingly with the diversity of ammunition I used there was very little difference in group sizes. A ball park figure of an inch +/- would be a fair appraisal; in order of accuracy from large to small groups it went MagTech, Winchester and Fiocchi sub-sonics, but as always with any rimfire ammo there were poppers and crackers indicating velocity shifts. The Match fodder showed little improvement with perhaps a bit more group and speed consistency.
Out at 100-yards the American was capable of keeping it inside 2” sometimes better, which is more an ammo thing. Suffice to say it’s capable of body shots at that distance, so again good enough!
Feed and function was 100%, and bolt operation smooth, its raised and curved lever being easier to break out of its closed position. Equally, its 60° lift angle offered slicker functioning! No complaints either on the tang-mounted safety, which is just a push of the thumb away with little disturbance to the firing hand position. It would also be easy enough to fit a night vision optic, most of which use a Picatinny base.
PRICES: £419.00 Compact or Standard (all calibres) £545 Wood stocked
Viking Arms Ltd, 01423 780810
A-TEC moderators – Jackson Rifles;
Hawke Optics – Deben Group,