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Ruger American Ranch September 2015
Gerhard Schroeder  

Top: Ruger American Ranch - Bottom: Gerhard’s favorite “meat gun”, the Tikka T3

Why did I buy a Ruger American? Primarily because of the caliber. Way before they called it the 300 Blackout, I had a Contender rifle barrel chambered in .300 Whisper. Nothing wrong with that rig. Enjoyed it tremendously when it was new, killed a deer, two javelina and a couple ‘yotes with it. At some time I caught bolt-action fever, and that TC did not get to out much anymore. This year, in fact the day before javelina season, a Cabela’s ad showed a Ruger American Ranch Model, available in 300 BLK. Didn’t even know they had such a thing going at Ruger. During the hunt, at times when things went slow, I pondered about the offer. And came to the conclusion to upgrade: sell the barrel, buy the bolt gun. Took me over a month before my barrel turned to cash. And then many more before Sportsman’s Warehouse had the Ruger Model 6968.

I also want to mention that my main purpose for a 300BLK/Whisper is as platform for tinkering with lead bullets, offering such small powder capacity. Regarding the ‘whisper’, well, the thing is only quieter (not really quiet) with reduced loads. It can sound like a .22 when throwing not so heavy projectiles at subsonic speeds. Loaded to maximum with Li’l Gun and 110 grainers, it barks as loud as a .223 Remington.

Yes, there is a secondary reason – Tikka doesn’t offer a 300BLK. I was hoping for an MVP version in 300BLK, but no such thing listed on the Mossberg site. So I gave in to the American. What follows here is my opinion of what the Ruger is, and how it compares to a T3.

Highly subjective subject. I have to look twice to see which is which when I see either the American or the T3 depicted in a gun magazine. It is easier with the Ranch model because its plastic stock is light green (or Flat Dark Earth, as Ruger labels it). None of this has any effect on function anyway, and to me rifles are tools, so I leave it at that. Magazine and scope base may be the best differentiator between the two.

To me both are equally ‘fitting’, equally fast to the shoulder. Note that Ruger offers a second Ranch Model (6970) which is slightly shorter. Trouble is, on my rifle the stock contacts the barrel on one side. Have not gotten around trying to correct this via shimming.

Ruger-rugged applies here. This bolt has a larger diameter. You don’t need a caliper to determine that. It certainly also is rugged. I tested that because I had plenty of loaded ammo from my TC days and fired them in the Ruger. That sometimes required a little sizing-by-bolt, if you know what I mean. This Ruger did not care. Ammo, by the way, is now available commercially. Back in the day I had to roll my own. First cut down a .223 Rem case to a little more than final length, namely that of a .221 Fireball. Then lube that case and run through a FL sizer. Mine is from Redding. And yes, it works just fine for 300BLK. Then trim to final length, chamfer and load as any other bottleneck case. Back to the bolt, a beast, but not as smoothly running as a Tikka. Also see ‘Magazine’.

The Ruger Spec says their 300BLK mag holds five. Mine accepts one more. That I like! You can get a 6-shot mag for a Tikka in .223 Rem (4-shot is standard), but that’ll cost you at least sixty bucks. The Ruger mag also inserts and removes quickly, smoothly and positively. Plus it does not protrude from the stock. But that’s where the good ends. As we know them from our 10-22s, the magazine is a rotary design. Except mine anyway is somewhat awkward to load, especially the first round. Worse, at least in my gun the only types of ammo which would feed smoothly were those topped with 110 grain Vmax and 147gr FMJs, both utterly pointed. 110gr Sierra HPs and 110gr round nose occasionally caught something and needed diligent bolt manipulation. And lead flat noses were best fired by ‘rattle one down into the chamber most of the way and close the bolt over it’. Rem 125 grain SPs fed OK also.

So, who should we give credit to – Glock? Savage? This “trigger within the trigger” concept is also present on the Ruger American. By now you should know my view on triggers. Darn right, first thing I did is read and then adjust that sucker down to minimum. Except, I was not overly impressed. Oh, it’s alright. Just nowhere near my Tikkas. The Mossberg MVP has the same type of trigger, and that one beats this Ruger also.

This one is short, 16.1”, with a 1-in-7 twist, in honor of stabilizing even the heaviest of 30-caliber projectiles. The muzzle features 5/8x24 threads and comes with a thread protector cap. Yes, I can easily swap the muzzle brake between MVP and this rifle. Finish is matte. The action, by the way, comes with a Weaver-style scope base installed. The T3s come with a set of rings. But those limit you to a 1” scope tube and no more than 44mm scope objective.

This Rig
So, taken all together into the rifle this Ruger American Ranch is, what will it do with real ammo? I have not and don’t intend to engage in some elaborate pursuit of possible accuracy. Then again, looks like that’s not needed anyway. Off the bags we can easily overcome not-so-perfect triggers. And this Ruger rifle shoots! Several types of ammo produced 4-shot groups of 5/8” at 100 yards. As before in other 30-caliber rifles, the Sierra 110 HPs held a small edge on accuracy. The other two 110 grainers, Hornady Vmax and Remington round nose (bought years ago when they were the cheapest jacketed projectiles in this size) also grouped slightly better than ¾”. So did the 125 grain soft points from Remington. Shooting was done with a 6x scope installed.

Then Dan sent an email again that he needs a ‘story’. Steve, David and I had planned anyway to meet out in the desert. So I decided on a little comparison test using 180 grain cast lead bullets, loaded on top a full case of TrailBoss. That was 5.5 grains in the 300BLK and 12.5 grains in the .308 Win, the latter fired from my Tikka meat gun. Again, the Tikka trumped – see picture. But we’ll see … over time I’ll play with different powders to see if the 300 will group better with cast bullets.

And of course I had to run the Ruger empty in a fast way, firing at a 12” steel plate some 65 steps away. No contest, no chance. Compared to my meat gun, the Ruger needs more force for cocking, has a rougher bolt travel and feeding of cartridges (although this is no fair contest because of the difference in calibers), and its shorter barrel is so much easier to move off target.

However, compared to what this Ruger replaced, it meets my expectations. In fact, I did not expect it to be as accurate. Certainly no regrets trading up from the TC single shot. Although I won’t, I’d readily take this one after deer in areas which are wooded, where distances to game are most likely to be under 150 steps. Or after javelina. I do intend to try the 300BLK after squirrels, using whatever the most accurate quiet load with a cast bullet will be at that time. I enjoy it when heavy metal rips through bark and branches, as compared to the traditional .22 squirrel rifle.

Still … for between $100 and $150 more, depending on what sales you’re willing to hold out for, one could buy a T3. Should Tikka decide to market one in 300BLK someday, then you will be able to buy this Ruger from me.

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