Bolt-action rifles are so popular that we often forget there are other types of manually-operated long guns available. One such class of firearm is the single-shot rifle. Although most shooters dislike these rifles for their lack of firepower, single shots are capable hunting arms.
Currently, there are two general types of single-shot rifles available. On the lower end of the price scale are guns, such as the Harrington & Richardson Ultra and the New England Firearms Handi-Rifle, which have break-open actions. This type of rifle has a barrel that is hinged to the frame, like that of a over/under shotgun. The other, more expensive type of single-shot rifle, such as the Browning Model 1885 and the Ruger No. 1, utilizes a falling block action. A rifles of this kind has a vertically moving breech block, which is actuated by a lever on the underside of the action. When the lever is moved down and forward, the breech block is lowered into the receiver well, uncovering the chamber end of the barrel.
For this test, we evaluated a Ruger No. 1 International Rifle chambered for the .30-06 Springfield cartridge. This $699 model featured a walnut stock with a full-length forend, which extended all the way to the front of the barrel. It also had a lightweight 20-inch barrel and open sights. The gun was also offered in three other calibers: .243 Win., .270 Win. and 7x57mm.
Our No. 1 International’s receiver and barrel had a uniform shiny blued finish. The polished white sides of the breech block were textured to retain oil. The interior edges of the action were a but sharp, but no tool marks or other blemishes were found. Moving parts, such as the trigger and action lever, had a minor amount of play.
Both portions of the two-piece stock were made of American walnut with an even satin finish. The forend’s grain pattern was plainer than that of the buttstock, but both had clean and sharp 20 line-per-inch checkering. The forend cap, the pistol grip cap, the front sling ring and the rear swivel stud were made of durable blued steel. All of these parts and the black rubber recoil pad were expertly installed. We felt wood-to-metal mating was very good. Our testers were especially impressed with how well the full-length forend was fitted to the barrel.
We considered the No. 1 International’s handling qualities to be very good. This single-shot rifle was several inches shorter and about 1/4 pound lighter than the typical bolt-action hunting rifle. This made pointing and target acquisition quick and responsive. Muzzle stability was satisfactory. Shouldering was natural. The rubber recoil pad comfortably fit the shooter’s shoulder and wasn’t slippery. The straight comb afforded a stockweld with good cheek and jaw contact. Although the 1.43-inch-wide forend and the 1.39-inch-wide pistol grip were relatively thin, they allowed a solid grasp. Felt recoil was a little heavier than normal for a .30-06 rifle.
Both of this Ruger No. 1’s controls worked equally well for right- and left-handed shooters. Depressing the action lever latch, located on top of the action lever, readily unlocked the action lever from the trigger guard. The manual two-position safety on the tang, which blocked the sear and retracted the internal hammer when slid rearward, engaged and disengaged with a loud “click.” To indicate when the action was cocked, the spur of the internal hammer could be seen and felt through a hole in the front of the action lever.
Functionally, our test gun’s performance was faultless. The action readily accepted the Remington and Federal ammunition we tried. But, the breech bolt closed stiffly when using the Winchester load, which had the longest overall length. The rifle’s “snap action” ejector, which could be converted to extract only, expelled live rounds and empty cases straight to the rear.
In our opinion, movement of this Ruger’s trigger was above average for a factory-made rifle. Its pull had no slack and released crisply at 3.50 pounds. There was only a minuscule amount of overtravel. The trigger itself had a grooved 1/4-inch-wide face with two factory-set adjustments screws in the top. The upper screw was a trigger stop, and the lower one was a trigger spring adjustment screw.
We thought the open sights provided a good sighting reference out to about 75 yards. The front sight, which sat on a 1/2 inch high ramped base, consisted of a blued steel blade with a gold-colored bead on its face. The folding rear sight, which had a U-shaped notch, was mounted on the barrel’s quarter rib. This rib was also the attachment point for Ruger-type scope rings. For accuracy testing, we installed a Burris 3-9x Fullfield scope on the rifle.
Our test gun’s accuracy was better than the average .30-06 rifle, but it wasn’t as good as that of other Ruger No. 1’s we have tested. The smallest three-shot average groups, 1.30 inches at 100 yards, were obtained with Winchester 168-grain Ballistic Silvertips. Remington 125-grain pointed soft points could be counted on for 1.50 inches. However, groups opened up to 2.40 inches with Federal Premium 150-grain Sierra GameKing boattail soft points.
According to the figures published by Federal, Remington and Winchester, the loads we used had estimated muzzle velocities of 2,790 feet per second to 3,140 feet per second out of a 24-inch barrel. From the No. 1 International’s 20-inch barrel, average velocities ran from 2,765 feet per second to 3,127 feet per second. So, the loss of velocity from the Ruger’s shorter barrel was small and insignificant.
The Bottom Line
Our Ruger No. 1 International Rifle wasn’t capable of minute-of-angle accuracy with the ammunition we tried, but it was more than accurate enough for most kinds of hunting. Most of our testers liked the looks of this model’s full-length forend, but a few didn’t.
One of the advantages of a full-length forend is that the barrel doesn’t come in to direct contact with the shooting rest, which tends to reduce accuracy. It also does a good job of keeping the shooter’s support hand away from the barrel when its hot.
Regardless of what our testers thought of the stock, everyone felt that this rifle’s shorter length and lighter weight was a definite advantage. It handled faster and with less effort than most bolt-action .30-06 rifles. We recommend the Ruger No. 1 International Rifle for hunters who are looking for something besides a bolt-action rifle.