November 2016

We Like Ruger’s Enhanced 6.5 Creedmoor Precision Rifle

Since our January 2016 test of bolt-action rifles chambered for 6.5 Creedmoor, Ruger has released an Enhanced version of its Precision Rifle. Are the new features worth another $200?

Ruger Precision Rifle 18008 6.5 Creedmoor

One of the first aftermarket components available for the Ruger Precision Rifle was replacement of the plastic shroud at the tail end of the bolt. The Enhanced RPR features a bolt shroud made from billet aluminum. Similar items ring up at about $60 plus installation from catalogs such as Brownells and LongRiflesinc.com.

In the January 2016 issue we published a test of bolt-action rifles chambered for 6.5 Creedmoor, including a Howa Austrian Brown Cerakote, a Savage Arms Model 12 LRP, and a Ruger Precision Rifle. All three rifles were impressive, but since then Ruger has released an Enhanced version, so we thought we’d better get one and see if the new features were worth the extra $200.

The model number for the (original) 6.5CM Ruger Precision Rifle previously tested was 18005. The Enhanced version is number 18008. Both rifles utilize a 24-inch-long medium-contour cold-hammer-forged barrel with a 1:8 twist. It is attached to an adaptation of the Ruger American action fed by a 10-round removable box magazine. The fully adjustable butt stock was the same, and so was the adjustable trigger. Our earlier test gun came trigger-pull weight adjusted to 2.6 pounds, with variation measured to be 1.4 ounces. Despite the owner’s manual claiming that the adjustable range was 2.25 pounds to 5.0 pounds, our Enhanced rifle arrived with a 2-pound trigger with variation of only about 0.8 ounces. We left the pull weight as set for fear of losing the overall feel of the trigger that we thought was clearly articulated.

Ruger Precision Rifle 18008 6.5 Creedmoor

The Enhanced Ruger Precision Rifle added a billet aluminum bolt shroud to replace the plastic component, a proprietary design handguard, and muzzle brake. These are three key parts that were commonly being replaced aftermarket. Given the Enhanced rifle lists for $1599 versus $1399 MSRP for the original model, buying the Enhanced could save the shooter about $150 or more.

Ruger Precision Rifle 18008 6.5 Creedmoor, $1599

GUN TESTS GRADE: A

Ruger Precision Rifle 18008 6.5 Creedmoor

This is another solid effort by Ruger. They took an already good gun and made it a touch better. The add-ons work great, but you may want to accessorize it yourself.

ACTION Bolt, 3 lugs, parkerized finish
OVERALL LENGTH (min/max) 43.25 in./46.25 in.
FOLDED LENGTH 35.60 in.
BARREL 24 in. long, 1:8 twist, 5 grooves; parkerized finish; fluted, 5/8"-24 threads; RPR hybrid muzzle break
OVERALL HEIGHT (w/o scope) 7.3 in.
WEIGHT UNLOADED 10.75 lbs.
WEIGHT LOADED 11.25 lbs.
MAGAZINE (2) 10-rd. Magpul PMAGS
BUTTSTOCK Adjustable, folding; anodized aluminum
BEDDING Modular free float
BUTTPLATE Rubber, adjustable cant
LENGTH OF PULL (standard/set) 12 in./15.5 in.
HANDGUARD RPR short action
RECEIVER SCOPE-BASE PATTERN Picatinny
TRIGGER PULL WEIGHT 2 lbs.
SAFETY Rotating thumb
WARRANTY None written
TELEPHONE (336) 949-5200
WEBSITE Ruger.com
MADE IN USA

Ruger Precision Rifle 18008 6.5 Creedmoor

The original-issue rifle came with a threaded barrel that was capped for protection. Some shooters added a suppressor, but given the legal hoops the shooter must jump through to own those, muzzle brakes are more popular. The Ruger Hybrid Muzzle Brake was not as loud as some and did a good job of keeping the rifle still, which helped us stay on target. Muzzle brakes can cost anywhere from $100 to $200.

The 18008 (Enhanced) rifle weighed about 0.1 pound more, even though the Samson Evolution Key Mod handguard was replaced by Ruger’s trimmer RPR Short-Action handguard, which also does away with the integrated top rail. We guess that whatever weight the 18008 gives up in top rail it gets back plus a little more by adding Ruger’s proprietary Hybrid Muzzle Brake plus Ruger’s Billet Aluminum Bolt Shroud, which replaced the plastic shroud.

Ruger Precision Rifle 18008 6.5 Creedmoor

The bolt action of the Ruger Precision Rifle showed three heavy lugs. The bolt is proprietary and mates with Rugerís American rifles.

On our second range day with the 18008, we discovered several other RPR shooters, each with aftermarket upgrades of their own applied to the original-issue rifle. The addition of a muzzle brake was common, so were aftermarket bolt shrouds and handguards. To compare the difference in cost between the suggested retail price of an RPR Enhanced with common upgrades purchased aftermarket, we visited the RPR Pro Shop at LongRiflesinc.com. We found a bolt shroud for $60 and a muzzle brake for $180. Brownells offered handguards starting at $175, so the enhanced model did offer a discount. But how did it shoot compared to the original model 18005?

Ruger Precision Rifle 18008 6.5 Creedmoor

The folding stock helps with transport, as well as providing step one in removing the bolt. The hinge was sturdy, but it had no provision to lock open.

For recording accuracy data, we were able to fire two of the three rounds used in our earlier test. They were Hornady’s 120-grain A-Max and the Hornady 129-grain SST. Hornady’s 143-grain ELD-X Precision Hunter rounds were fired in place of the 140-grain A-Max ammunition we shot in the first test. After a careful break-in consisting of 50 rounds, we mounted a Steiner 5-25x56mm Military Scope with Horus Reticle and recorded the groups fired from the 100-yard bench at American Shooting Centers. Called bad shots were counted. Firing the 120-grain and 129-grain resulted in widest groups of 0.93 and 0.95 inches respectively. We still managed to record average groups measuring less than 0.75 inches across because the smallest groups for the 120s measured 0.60 inches and the SST rounds delivered a 0.57-inch-wide group. The 143-grain rounds showed the most consistency, with groups measuring between 0.45 inches and 0.6 inches.

Range Data

Hornady 6.5 Creedmoor 120-gr. Hornady A-Max 811492 Ruger Precision Rifle Enhanced 18008
Average velocity 2815 fps
Muzzle energy 2111 ft.-lbs.
Average group 100-yd. bench 0.73 in.
Average group 200-yd. prone 1.40 in.
Hornady 6.5 Creedmoor 129-gr. Hornady
Average velocity 2879 fps
Muzzle energy 2374 ft.-lbs.
Average group 100-yd. bench 0.74 in.
Average group 200-yd. prone 1.5 in.
Hornady 6.5 Creedmoor 143-gr. Hornady
Average velocity 2565 fps
Muzzle energy 2089 ft.-lbs.
Average group 100-yd. bench 0.52 in.
Average group 200-yd. prone 1.25 in.
To collect accuracy data, we fired 5-shot groups from a sandbag rest. Distance: 100 yards. We recorded velocities using a CED chronograph, with the first skyscreen set 12 feet from the muzzle.

Ruger Precision Rifle 18008 6.5 Creedmoor

One of the reasons why 6.5 Creedmoor is becoming popular is its relatively flat trajectory. Moving to the 200-yard line, we decided to shoot from the prone position. Required adjustment in elevation was only 0.4 mil, which was miniscule in our view, especially when the Steiner was ready to offer multiple revolutions of the dial. We put away our Caldwell Dead Shot bag and mounted an Atlas bipod up front and attached an AccuShot monopod to the Picatinny rail integrated with the buttstock. Firing 5-shot groups, we averaged 1.4 inches shooting the 120-grain ammunition, but our best group was actually less than 1.1 inches across. The 129-grain SST rounds averaged 1.5 inches, and the 143-grain ELD-X ammunition produced an average of about 1.25 inches. What was also impressive was the consistency in terms of velocity. The 120-grain rounds ranged from 2801 to 2824 fps, but the 129-grain SST rounds and the 143-grain rounds each registered pairs of identical velocity readings.

Ruger Precision Rifle 18008 6.5 Creedmoor

Rugerís proprietary handguard subtracted the top rail but still left facility for adding sections of rail where desired. We used some of the supplied rail to make room for attaching the superb Atlas bipod. Then we added a Bravo Company keymod flashlight mount.

Our Team Said: After the maker has had time to review its initial work, Ruger likely thought, “We think we can do this a little bit better.” The change from a plastic to an aluminum bolt shroud was a no-brainer. The muzzle brake was not as loud as others and definitely helped keep the rifle from moving upward or torqueing away from point of aim. A comparison on the accuracy chart shows the Enhanced wins out. Maybe not by a lot, but we think more accurate results were easier to achieve. If you should miss the Picatinny top rail, one can still be attached. We used the Keymod system to experiment with adding weight to the rifle, but hog hunters might like to add lights, etc. Several shooters are attaching barricade lugs for the new action shooting series for precision rifles that the RPR seems to be fertilizing by making it affordable. To answer the question as to which rifle is a better buy, it’s probably a question of how much you want to modify the rifle. Costwise, the Enhanced certainly has a leg up versus aftermarket costs, and there’s always something to be said for buying a second-generation product.

Written and photographed by Roger Eckstine, using evaluations from Gun Tests team testers.

Comments (2)

Article begs the question, what would it take to upgrade Gen 1 18005 to Gen 2 18008 status? Are parts available? Can it be done without a gunsmith? At what cost? Thanks.

Posted by: GeorgeH | October 29, 2016 10:49 AM    Report this comment

There's an important data point you left out of the original and subsequent review of the RPR: it's substantial and apparently deepening order backlog. I've seen the Savage 10 BA Stealth and even a Bergara LRP in 6.5 Creedmoor on the shelves, never a RPR in that chambering.

Posted by: JHackley | October 28, 2016 9:57 PM    Report this comment

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