The Ruger American is the company’s first venture into any kind of entry-level bolt gun, although the price of all Ruger products has always been very reasonable for what you get. The American is a big divergence from the company’s previous bolt action offerings; about the only thing it has in common with other Ruger cousins is the reappearance of a two position tang safety like that found on original Model 77s.
Action-wise, this new Ruger has three locking lugs and a 70 degree bolt lift. Multiple bolt lugs are nothing new — the Weatherby Mark V, T/C Venture and the old Texas Rifle all have more than two lugs; currently there seems to be a resurgence of interest in the idea. The American’s trigger is adjustable and the action is bedded, both features which generally improve accuracy. The overall package is trim and feels light with good balance for offhand shooting. Ruger’s traditional receiver-integral dovetails for scope mounting have been abandoned on this model, but the new scope base is included in the box. Some folks will miss the dovetails, but if the new scope mount works well most will get over it. The most interesting feature of the American might be its magazine. While detachable magazines on bolt guns are no longer uncommon, the American has a polymer three-round rotary magazine, which makes it unique. At first blush a plastic rotary magazine might seem like a bad idea, but Ruger turned out a lot of them for their 10-22’s over the years and they were very reliable. No centerfire magazine will see nearly as much use as one for a 10-22, and rotary magazines are less prone to rattle in the gun or in the pocket.
With The American we have been cautious in our scoring. It lost points in the scope mounting, fit/finish, loading, safety and accuracy categories. The average grade for accuracy should be expected on a very light sporter in early production. The rest of the points were lost because the rifle is such a radical departure from Ruger’s time-tested designs. When people step into new territory they may stumble. This might be unfair to a company like Ruger that prides itself on breaking new ground, but we’ll have to wait and see which of the new concepts fail or flourish. The new Ruger American has a lot going for it and they are going to sell a lot of these rifles. Ruger has an extremely loyal following and some folks will buy this rifle just to have another Ruger product.