The new Ruger American Magnum extends the manufacturer's American rifle series with a heavy-duty option for those pursuing big game.
Over the last many decades, Ruger has forged a reputation as one of America’s premier firearms manufacturers, with iconic models like the No. 1, Mini-14, 10/22 and the Mark I/II/III as its headliners. Ruger has also been the workingman’s gun company because of its ability to provide well-made, sweet-shooting firearms with blue-collar price tags. The Ruger American rifle series, which arrived on the scene back in 2012, epitomizes everything the company stands for and has, in a few short years, lived up to the prestigious Ruger name.
The newest edition to the lineup is the American Magnum rifle, which is available in either 7mm Remingtom Magnum or, as tested for this review, .300 Winchester Magnum. Like its predecessors, the American Magnum is well built but inexpensive, carrying an MSRP of $699 (the non-magnum, all-weather variant goes for $629, while the base model American runs $489). It’s hardly the stylish bolt gun our forefathers daydreamed about, but it’s part of a newer trend to make simple yet effective rifles for the everyman.
The American Magnum is currently available in two calibers and one configuration with a black synthetic stock and matte stainless steel barrel, which measures 24 inches in length regardless of caliber. The barrel is capped by a thread protector and 5/8”-24 threading for easy configuration with a suppressor or muzzle device. The optic mounting system is a continuous Picatinny (or Weaver-style) rail that runs the length of the action, something that, after playing with so many AR-style rifles, makes it a lot easier to mount an optic than the older style bolt gun scope mounts. For testing, I mounted a 4-20×50 Nikon Monarch 5 ED riflescope with the long-range hunting BDC reticle. Not only is the glass incredibly sharp and light transmission exceptional, the BDC (bullet drop compensation) reticle makes it possible to quickly dial in targets at various faraway distances, helping you get the most downrange effectiveness out of the .300 Win. Mag. With an MSRP of $599, the Monarch 5 ED gives you plenty of optical horsepower without blowing your budget.
The American Magnum features a detachable, single-stack box magazine that holds three rounds. The release lever is located on the front of the magazine and tucks up into the rifle, reducing the likelihood of an accidental detach while in the field. The single-column design, which is more and more common on rifles today, is remarkably simple to load and operates without flaw. The one downside is that you’ll need to load from the magazine, not from the top of the receiver, which is more practical in the field but slightly less so at the bench.
The action features a one-piece, three-lug bolt with 70-degree throw, giving you plenty of room to clear the scope. Dual cocking cams help create a smooth, easy cycling of the action from the shoulder. Time and use has already improved the smoothness of the bolt cycle, which is not bad to begin with. The rifle also features Ruger’s patent-pending Power Bedding system, which positively locates the receiver and provides a free-floated barrel. The rifle features a tang safety with a black “S” and red “F” for a quick, visible indicator of the firing position. The nylon synthetic stock is fairly light, holds up under rough weather and won’t swell or contract, and helps minimize recoil. The soft rubber buttpad also helps out in this regard, especially with magnum cartridges.
Lots of companies boast of “cheap” rifles, but none of that really matters if they can’t shoot straight. Lots of companies boast of MOA accuracy, too, but the claims of marketing folks don’t always jive with the range data. I’ve shot the original American rifles, however, so I had pretty high expectations for the Magnum series as I headed to the range. Not surprisingly, the American Magnum did not disappoint.
Testing was conducted with the aforementioned Nikon Monarch 5 ED scope and three loads: Hornady’s Superformance 180-grain SST and 150-grain GMX from the Full Boar line, and Federal Premium’s 165-grain Nosler Partition. Data was pulled from three, three-shot groups that were taken at 100 yards from a Caldwell Lead Sled from Brownells. As I’ve typically found, the .300 Win. Mag. performed exceptionally well with a heavier 180-grain bullet, which seems to be the sweet spot. The Hornady Superformance 180-grain SST posted the best group of the day at an impressive .39 inches, with an average group size of .86 inches. The larger 180-grain bullet carries plenty of energy and speed (3,130 fps at the muzzle in the Superformance load) out to considerable distances, making it ideal for elk and other hard-to-drop game. The smaller Full Boar load with a 150-grain GMX bullet produced a respectable average group of 1.83 inches and a best group of 1.57 inches. Federal Premium’s venerable 165-grain Nosler Partition averaged 1.48 inches with a best group of 1.34 inches; velocity is right around 3,000 fps.
In terms of shootability and feel, which are even more important with a hard-pounding magnum rifle, the American is comfortable to shoot, balances well and is designed to minimize excessive recoil (the option to add a muzzle device or suppressor would help a great deal more). As a 5-foot-8-inch male, the length of pull is too much (13.75 inches), but the weight is good for carrying (7.5 pounds without scope or magazine; in the 8.5- to 9-pound range fully equipped). The Ruger Marksman trigger, which adjusts from 3 to 5 pounds, is as good as ever and helps improve accuracy.
With a sturdy design, great trigger and accurate barrel, the Ruger American Magnum will likely be a staple among shooters, especially those who are already fans of the American series of rifles. The addition of two magnum calibers is a welcome one, particularly for Western hunters and long-range aficionados. The synthetic stock and stainless barrel will no doubt hold up to the worst conditions, and with an adequate optic the American Magnum is easily a long-range workhorse. With an MSRP of $699, and a retail price likely well below that, the Ruger American Magnum is another great offering for the workingman.
Ruger American Magnum
Caliber: .300 Win. Mag.
Stock: Black Synthetic
Barrel Length: 24 in.
Barrel Material: Stainless steel, matte
Twist: 1:10 in.
Magazine: Detachable box, single stack, 3 rounds
Weight: 7.5 lbs. (unloaded)
Length of Pull: 13.75 in.
Overall Length: 44.5 in.
Manufacturer: Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc.
Editor's Note: This article is an excerpt from the April 2016 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.
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