Range Report: Ruger American Bolt Action Rifles

OK, first off, I was a bad boy…

A Very bad boy…

We’re not sure how we are going to cover all the costs of repairing our home and replacing the stuff we lost in the flood and I bought a new rifle. I could not resist the temptation and I purchased a Ruger American Rifle Ranch Model in 7.62×39 (Darn It Ruger, Why Now?). Then I broke down and ordered a Vortex 2×7 scope for it along with a set of rings. Oh, and I also ordered two extra magazines and they should be in shortly…

My New Rifle

Yes, I feel a little guilty about buying a new rifle…

However, I do plan on selling another rifle I have had for a while and that should cover the cost of the rifle, scope and magazines. There might even be a little left over.

First, a quick refresher on this rifle. Bolt action rifle based on the budget “American” series of rifles from Ruger. The Ranch variants all sport short, medium weight barrels. The barrels are cold hammer forged and threaded for suppressors or the muzzle device of choice. The 7.62×39 feed from standard Ruger Mini-30 magazines. These rifles also come with a scope rail already installed and the actions are set in lightweight polymer stocks.

How do I like it?

Well, let’s start with the bad.

The action on the 7.62×39 is nowhere near as smooth as on its .308 counterpart. I don’t know if this is a function of feeding from a magazine designed for a semi-auto or if it is because I bought one of the first ones manufactured or what. I will say that as more rounds went down range the action did get much smoother but still not up to the standards of its bigger brother.

I also had some feeding issues. There were times that the rounds didn’t feed properly. That could have been operator error as I tend to tilt bolt action rifles a bit when cycling the action. It was definitely operator error when it failed to feed an entire magazine of ammo, each one jamming up before it entered the chamber. That was because there was already a round in the chamber…Doh!

The action seems to work best when worked quickly and with some force (you are chambering a Russian designed round after all).

I tested a couple of rounds of dirt cheap TulAmmo and it seemed to feed and run fine but I would need to run more rounds through the rifle to really determine how well it works in the little Ruger. I didn’t test any American made ammunition either although I am sure it will work fine. I sent almost 100 rounds of Brown Bear (Barnaul) 123 Grain soft point down range today and there were no issues with feeding or extraction.

This is a good thing because I like this ammunition. It seems to be very consistent, accurate and reliable. In side by side testing it has been just as reliable and accurate as American made ammunition but with significantly more punch. The manufacturer loads this round close to the maximum specifications for the cartridge. Plus it runs less than a quarter of the price of American manufactured 7.62×39 ammunition!

How about accuracy?

First five round grouping

I used a laser boresight to “get me on paper” before my trip to the range so I wasn’t expecting much from my few first shots. I started out at the 25 yards line to get started and to my surprise the fist shot was on the upper edge of the bullseye. Thinking it was a fluke I dropped four more shots into the target and ended up with a single ragged hole. I am not a great shot with rifles and, to be honest, this was one of the best groups I have ever shot at this distance.

Next up 50 yards:

4 Shots, 50 Yards

Again, this little rifle was right on target.

How about 100 yards?

Six shots, 100 Yards

Again, I am not a great rifle shooter and 100 yards is a long shot for me but again this rifle helped my put together on of the best groups I have ever shot at that distance. So, yeah, I think the accuracy is there.

All in all I like this rifle. The action could be smoother but I can live with that. The accuracy is there, It is lightweight, around six pounds including the scope. Since it uses the same magazines as the Mini-30 I have the option of 5, 10 or 20 rounds magazines and although they are not as cheap as AR or AK magazines they aren’t super expensive either. It would be a fine rifle for hunting deer or pigs, especially in the East Texas Piney Woods where shots would rarely be more than 100 yards and would more likely be less than half that. At around $400 it could serve as a truck gun for whatever needs a medicinal dose of lead applied around the property.

For me, this rifle will probably spend most of its life at the range. It is essentially identical to the Ruger American Predator I plan to hunt with this year but the ammo costs are a fraction of what .308 costs. It’s already topped with the same scope as I have on the .308 and the trigger is identical. So this will be my go to practice rifle allowing me to get a lot more range time at a lower cost.

So about that Ruger American Predator…

I did a quick range report on this rifle back in June (link). The action is very smooth and at 25 yards I was able to do pretty well but at longer distance I was really having trouble with it. My groups were a bit more like patterns, although still better then the Marlin 336 I used to hunt with. To be honest I was getting pretty frustrated with it once I moved over to the 100 yard line.

After a fair amount of frustration, I noticed that there was a tiny bit of play in the scope. Upon further investigation I finally discovered that the scope rail (attached at the factory by Ruger) was loose. I didn’t have the tools with me needed to remove the scope at the range so I packed it away after only about 10 or 12 rounds.

Once I got it home and took the scope off I found that all four screws holding the scope rail to the rifle had backed out. It didn’t appear that any sort of thread locker had been applied at the factory and the screws had backed out under recoil (which is pretty stout in such a light rifle). Needless to say they are now secured by Loctite now and I doubt they will back out again and I can’t wait to check the accuracy now that the scope is mounted solidly.

That’s it for this little range report.

God bless.

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Darn It Ruger, Why Now?

Apparently while my world was under water (OK, only partially underwater) Ruger made an announcement; they released a Ruger American Rifle Ranch Model (say that three times fast) chambered in 7.62×39 (link).

Like the other Ranch Models it features a picatinny rail and a short (16 inch) barrel that comes threaded from the factory for mounting either a suppressor or muzzle device. Like the other Ruger American rifles it features a polymer stock and free floated barrel. For the really cool part, this rifle uses the same magazines as Ruger’s Mini-30 so magazines can be had in 5, 10 and 20 rounds sizes.

I’m looking at tens of thousands of dollars for repairs on the house but I really want one of these little rifles!

Darn it, Ruger!

God Bless…

What Did You Prep This Week?

There not much point categorizing my efforts for this week. I just didn’t get that much done.

Our monthly order of Thrive dehydrated foods arrived. This month we added #10 cans of Seasoned Chicken Slices and Red Bell Peppers. We also ordered a pantry can of potato chunks to try out.

We also restocked our emergency pantry with canned and dried goods from the grocery store and rotated some items from the emergency pantry to the regular pantry.

I also bought some ammunition. Remington is offering a rebate of $5 per box of their CoreLokt brand of ammunition so I picked up a couple of boxes of 150 grain .308 ammunition. We’ll see how the little Ruger likes it as soon as I can get out to the range. I also picked up two boxes of 300 Blackout ammunition; one subsonic and the other supersonic to test out my new AR pistol…once I get it finished. That’s it for me. That’s what I prepped this week. How about you? What did you Prep this week?

God Bless

Range Report

I finally had a chance to make it out for a much needed trip to the range last weekend. I wanted to sight in the new Ruger American Predator .308 my home defense AR and get some practice time with my handguns. For the most part I accomplished my goals although not quite in the way I had hoped. First, a lesson learned.

Test Your Gear

I say this all the time and try and live by it as much as possible but received a refresher in the lesson this weekend. Working with my home defense AR, the one that sits in the safe next to my desk all day was one of my top two priorities. I had used a laser bore sight on it to set up the red dot optic a month or so ago but had not had a chance to verify the zero on the range. I bore sight rifles all the time but never have I been this far off. At only 25 yards, the point of impact was almost two feet off to the right! Within my house I don’t have many shooting angles at this distance but the point still remains that had I needed this rifle in the last few weeks I would have been in real trouble…to say the least.

I typically have a light mounted on all my home defense weapons, both pistols and rifles. I have had a habit of removing them when I go to the range. Doing so make it easier to pack them into their cases for travel and I feel kid of silly with a light on my gun in the bright sunlight of an open range. Most of the lights mount straight onto the picatinny rail but this new rifle has MLOK attachments on and I used the MLOK to attack a small rail and then mounted the light  to the rail.  Three shots into the range session the rail piece dropped off the rifle. Either the MLOK wasn’t properly secured (likely since this is my first experience with it) or the mounting hardware is flawed. I won’t know until I make it back out to the range and test it…again.

In the meantime I am a little wary of using this rifle for self-defense.

Other Observations

I purchased a “lead sled’ from Caldwell to make sighting in rifles easier (and cheaper but consuming less ammo). Maybe I am doing something wrong but so far I am not all that impressed. I don’t think it saved me more than a couple of rounds in the whole process. I can do just as well with sandbags…

On the other hand I am pretty dawn happy with the little Ruger .308 bolt gun. It took me about four rounds to get it dialed in at the twenty five yard line and then I was able to put two rounds into the same hole in the bullseye. Even at only 25 yards that’s pretty good shooting for me (I am not much of a rifleman).

I prefer to work a bit more methodically and go from 25 to 50 to 100 yards when sighting in a new rifle but the 50 yard line was under construction so I went straight out to 100.Using the lead sled I was all over the paper. It appeared to be more of a pattern than a group. Finally I dropped the lead sled and went with plan old sandbags. I still wasn’t getting a consistent grouping but at least the pattern tightened up. The four shots 2 inches down and one to the left were all off sandbags. I adjusted the scope a bit and put the last one in the bullseye. It was a hot day and getting hotter and my blood sugar was starting to tank so at that point I called it a day with the Ruger.

As I said, my initial observations on the Ruger American Predator in .308 are pretty good. From what I can tell this rifle is probably more accurate than I am. It is lightweight, about 6 lbs without the scope, and handy with an 18 inch barrel and an overall length of 38 inches. So, it should be an easy gun to drag through the brush but still more than accurate enough to reach out from a stand well beyond my typical shooting distances.

Being so light the 150 grain rounds I was using and will probably hunt with pack a punch and my shoulder was complaining a bit the next day. I also tested a 180 grain rounds and I could feel the difference in recoil. Shooting one or two when the adrenaline is pumping shouldn’t be an issue but a long range day would be a bit of a challenge. This is definitely a fun gun to shoot though I wouldn’t hand it off to Wonderful Wife or my grandson.

Next, I walked over to the pistol range for a few minutes.

One of the nicest things about carrying a revolver is the reloads (on speed strips) are very thin and light. One bad thing is that they are so thin and light I have, on occasion, forgotten them in a pocket and they ended up going through the washer. While I would not rely on them for self-defense I was curious if these rounds would still fire…yes, they all fired with no issue.

Unfortunately, my shooting was not as reliable as the ammunition. Using two different revolvers I was consistently shooting to the right by almost six inches. I tried changing my grip and changing the positioning of my finger on the trigger all to no avail. As I mentioned it was getting pretty hot and my blood sugar was getting a bit low so I didn’t spend any more time trying to fix the problem and packed my stuff and headed out.

All in all, it was a productive and much needed trip to the range. Now, to get back out there…

God bless!

What Did You Prep This Week?

Walk With God/Fitness/Health

This was not a particularly good week. In fact, it was a pretty bad week in terms of what is most important to me. I only spent time in serious prayer twice this week and my efforts to get in better shape were about the same, not much activity. My energy levels have been very low this week but I don’t know if that is the cause or the effect.

Towards the end of the week this started ot turn around for me, a little. Hopefully, this will carry over into next week.

Self Defense/Hunting

I did make it to the range this week, finally. I’ll post a report a bit later in the week.

I bought quite a bit of ammo this week including .308 and 5.56 to replace most of what I shot on the range as well as more .38 Special self-defense ammo.

I also purchased a new optic for my self-defense AR. Once I have a chance to test it out I will write a post on it.

Supplies/Gear

Bought another first aid kit. I probably won’t use the kit itself but will use some of the components to top off my supplies and the kits I carry.

I have been meaning to purchase a safe for my car to store my firearm in when I enter non-permissive environments. It has been a worry for some time that if my car was broken into I would be arming a criminal and I finally did something about it. In fact, I purchased two car safes and installed one in my car and one in Wonderful Wife’s care too.

Finances

Nothing accomplished financially this week either.

That’s it for me. That’s what I prepped this week. How about you? What did you Prep this week?

God Bless

The Tactical Hunter Project (Part 4: Accuracy and Ammo)

Now that the rifle was completed I needed to find self-defense and hunting ammunition to feed it. For both applications I wanted a round that was accurate out to 100 yards and would expand reliably. Although I might be willing to stock up on cheaper ammunition for SHTF or practice rounds I was also willing to pay a little extra for premium rounds for hunting and self-defense rounds. A quick search showed a bit of a downside for selecting this caliber; there wasn’t a very good selection of hunting ammo.

Hornady had a round listed on their web site but finding it (at the time) proved to be an impossible task. Winchester had the Hog Hunter Special for $24.99 per box of 20. TulAmmo had offerings in 154 grain soft points as well as 122 grain hollow points. Brown Bear (Barnaul) had a 125 grain soft point that seemed to be reasonably priced and fairly easy to find online. So, I bought a couple boxes of each and headed to the range.

Ammo evaluated:

TulAmmo 154 grain soft points

TulAmmo 122 grain hollow points

Brown Bear 125 grain soft points

Winchester Hog Special 123 Grain “Power-Points”

The TulAmmo didn’t make the cut. It was inconsistent and not nearly as accurate as I would want it to be for hunting.

Three shot group to verify my results

The 122 grain hollow point was suspect in terms of its effectiveness as a hunting round and the accuracy left even more to be desired. It was the least accurate ammo tested with a four to five inch spread in even the best groups. Based on this ammo I was really worried that this project would fail.

The TulAmmo 154 grain soft points were my favorites going into the testing. Reasonably priced and fairly easily found I also liked the idea of the heavier soft pointed bullet. The accuracy wasn’t bad but the bullet drop and inconsistency concerned me.

154 grain rounds dropped 8-10 inches

The Winchester Hog Special 123 Grain “Power-Point” were my ace in the hole but at $24.99 for a box of 20 it was a very expensive card. The printed specs claimed 2365 fps at the muzzle. That would calculate out to be around 1527 ft/lbs of energy which was pretty good and I figured American-made ammo would be pretty accurate and consistent.

Even with my shooting, instead of the ringer I brought along to verify my testing, I was able to see 2 inch groups at 100 yards. Any flyers were my fault not a problem with the rifle or the ammunition.

The Brown Bear 125 grain soft points were brought along as a it of a lark. I really didn’t expect anything better than I have seen from the TulAmmo. Both are made in Russia and everyone knows Russian quality control, right? Boy was I wrong. These rounds have a claimed velocity of 2445 fps which translates into around 1659 ft/lbs of muzzle energy according to my calculations. The manufacturer (distributor actually) only claims 1633 ft/lbs. Still the best energy numbers of the bunch. The big question would be the accuracy and consistency. Just to make sure of the results I was seeing, I called in my “ringer” to shoot a three shot group. Because of time restraints we used the same target as we did for the 122 grain TulAmmo.

Three shots, two holes less than a one inch grouping

At 100 yards with three shots he was able to group them within less than an inch and two of the shots went through the same hole. The Brown Bear ammunition had the best numbers, the best accuracy and was very consistent. At a little over $7.00 for a box of 20 there were not exactly a bargain but they were pretty close. The only question, how would they perform against something a bit tougher than paper.

Between time, weather and other factors it took me almost two years to get an answer to that question. I’ll only make you wait a week.

Next week we’ll take a look at the effectiveness of this round for hunting.

God bless

 

A few side notes:

Prvi Partizan (PPU) makes a 123 grain round nose soft point in 7.62×39. It is brass-cased and boxer primed so it can be reloaded and can be used on ranges that don’t allow steel-cased ammunition. I tested this round in a separate test session several months after I tested the other ammunition. It performed very well at the time in terms of accuracy and consistency. The claimed specifications looked good (2640 fps and 1659 ft/lbs of muzzle energy). The price was OK at around $11.00 per box of 20 but as I mentioned the cases could be reloaded. During that range session I was basically feeding each round by hand as I had run out of the house without any magazines. I was concerned about how these rounds would feed since they are significantly shorter in overall length that the specs for the caliber call for and the bullets were round nosed instead of pointed. Sure enough, once I started feeding them from a magazine the accuracy went out the window and I experienced jams about every three or four rounds. The jams weren’t in the rifle but in the magazine itself. The rounds were so short that they would move around under recoil and jam up. I also discovered that the long gap and to the feed ranp and rounded nose resulted in the bullets deforming against the ramp and/or chamber mouth. Bullets with big gouges in the nose don’t fly as straight even over relatively short distances. I have recently discovered that they offer a pointed version of this round as well. I may try it in the future.

Reloads – I have yet to find a bullet/powder combination in any reference book that can give me the performance of either the Winchester or Brown Bear loads. I am not sure that the loss of several hundred fps and energy is balanced by the higher quality bullets I can buy and use.  

Recoil magazine performed a pretty comprehensive set of tests using a CZ-527 bolt-action rifle chambered in 7.62×39. Their focus was more geared towards the self defense side of things but the results, although more comprehensive in every way, were similar to what I was seeing with my AR. To see their results click here

What Did You Prep This Week?

Walk With God

My walk with God is not as strong as it was last week but it is still going well. I was able to give back a little by helping a man in need a little north of here. He’s been through some seriously trying times over the last few years that have left his body weak but his faith is still strong. A local company re-roofed his home for free and we helped pull out some of the drywall and insulation that had been damaged by the years of water leaks. Another crew will be in later to replace it all. We also helped clean up his yard. Removing the years of built up leaves and trash that he had not been able to take care of himself. We were also able to catch up on some charitable donations that I had committed to but have fallen behind on.

My daily Bible study and prayer is still going well this week and I am learning a lot from both.

On the down side, I got sidetracked working on something and missed our Wednesday night bible study.

Self Defense/Hunting

I bought myself a Ruger American Predator bolt action rifle in .308 Winchester this week. I have been eyeing that rifle for several months now and when I saw it on sale I broke down and bought it. It has a fairly short (18 inch), threaded barrel should the hearing protection act pass), and an integrated picatinny rail. The calibers and rifles I own and use are fine out to maybe 150 yards. This rifle will allow me extend that and start practicing and hunting out well past 200 yards. I also bought a quality set of rings to mount the scope on it. I can’t wait to get it out to the range to start sighting it in.

To mount the scope I purchased a torque screwdriver set. I have always “winged it” on tightening certain screws to spec, especially on scopes and scope mounts. No more! I can do it up “right and proper now.”

With all the sales on AR parts I picked up a lower parts kit and three lower receivers. I may start another pistol build before long. I also plan to build an AR for each of my grand kids. They are too small for them now but one day they will be big enough and old enough and then they will have one…built by their Papa.

Several weeks ago I ordered a number of collets for the RCBS bullet puller die. After several weeks on back order the .22 caliber collet finally came in. This gives me a collet for each of the calibers I reload.

Supplies

Also on sale was a nice 700 lumen flashlight. I have a couple of these lights and they are awesome.

Finances

We placed an online order for gold. This is the first time I have purchased something like that online so it will be interesting to see how well it works.

Fitness

I have done pretty well exercising this week. I did miss one day but I was still able to increase the number of reps I do each day. I still want to get Wonderful Wife to start exercising as well. But with the number of hours she’s working that still hasn’t happened.

Other

Last week we bought a Ring doorbell to provide a little extra security at the front door. It wasn’t working as we would have expected so after a call with their support staff they sent out a Ring chime to help extend our wireless network and improve performance of the video and audio. I have it installed but haven’e had a chance to test it out.

We also called to set up some time to check out a few pieces of land that look like good spots for hunting, camping and, eventually, retirement. Looking at the weather forecast this will probably have to be postponed.

That’s it for me. That’s what I prepped this week. How about you? What did you Prep this week?

God Bless