GUN TESTS GRADE: F/B+
We hear all kinds of stories about the torture tests to which gun writers purportedly subject their test samples. We don’t. We inspect them when they first arrive for fit, form and function, lubricate them properly, take photos as needed and head to the range. We also need to know if they are going to function properly. That means, while not trying to cause malfunctions, we give them every opportunity to do so.
|Overall Length||36.5 in.|
|Barrel||16.5 in. long, 1:16 twist|
|Overall Height w/o Scope Mount||6.0 in.|
|Weight Unloaded||6.0 lbs.|
|Weight Loaded (145 grain, 5+1 rounds)||6.5 lbs.|
|Action Finish||Matte blue|
|Barrel Finish||Matte blue|
|Magazine Type||Detachable box|
|Drop at Comb||0.62 in.|
|Drop at Heel||0.62 in.|
|Buttplate||Soft rubber recoil pad|
|Length of Pull||13.8 in.|
|Receiver Scope-Base Pattern||Ruger|
|Trigger Pull Weight||4.3 lbs.|
|Made In||USA, North Carolina|
We received the Ruger Ranch Rifle in 350 Legend, inspected it, mounted the Nikon scope and took it to American Shooting Centers. Using Winchester 350 Legend 145-grain full-metal-jacket target ammo, we sighted it in at 100 yards and started our test protocol. Recoil was very mild. Bolt throw was a little rough in the beginning, but that is not that uncommon. Accuracy was only fair, which surprised us a bit. After firing round 19, we lifted the handle to cycle the bolt, eject the spent round, and chamber another. As we did so, the bolt disassembled itself, and the firing-pin assembly was ejected from the bolt body. Spring pressure was minimal, so there was never any danger there. As we examined the bolt, it appeared to us that the cocking piece over rotated, allowing the bolt to disassemble. We stopped what we were doing, took photos and contacted Ruger. This is the same-pattern bolt that Ruger uses in many of its rifles and which we have tested many times. None of those tests have had any issues. To their credit, Ruger responded immediately with a new Ranch Rifle, and we proceeded with the tests. Still, as we have noted before, things can happen, and the firearms manufacturers want you to be very satisfied with your purchases. Call them first when something happens and let them take care of it for you.
Our second rifle arrived just a few days after we contacted Ruger. It looked just like the first rifle, which we thought was a good thing. The bolt handle has an almost polished-blue look, but the rest of the metal parts are definitely matte black. It would appear that flat dark earth is the new black, so the Ranch Rifle’s polymer stock is appropriately FDE. The stock is reasonably rigid. Our testers could easily compress the fore-end to the point where it touched the barrel, but that didn’t happen under the normal weight of the rifle, so you don’t have to worry about those pesky barrel harmonics. The fore-end is also textured and indented right where the fingertips should go. The grip area is textured as well, with some raised molding to help the shooter create a solid hold on the rifle.
Many of Ruger’s rifles have a similar type stock with an internal box magazine. For this model, Ruger removes the area where the internal magazine would normally reside and replaces it with an adapter that allows for a detachable AR-style magazine. The Ranch Rifle ships with a single five-round magazine marked “Duramag by C Products Defense.” We have had considerable experience with C Products magazines used with 6.8 SPC ARs and were well satisfied with their quality. Larger-quantity mags are available from Cheaper Than Dirt and others. The supplied magazine also worked well, and the rifle fed rounds perfectly, whether from the magazine or just dropped on top in the action. The magazine release even somewhat mimics the AR release, being located just forward of the trigger on the right side of the stock.
Two action screws can be removed, allowing the magazine adapter to be withdrawn and the stock to be separated from the action. It is easy to see the reinforcement in the fore-end of the stock that creates the rigidity. Also visible are two patented V-shaped blocks, known as power bedding, that mate with mortises in the action. When the action screws are inserted and tightened, the bedding system positively locates the action and free floats the barrel, both of which substantially aid accuracy. Removing the stock allows the Ruger Marksman Adjustable trigger to be accessed and tweaked if desired. Average trigger weight on our sample was a bit over 4 pounds but was easily adjusted down to approximately 3 pounds. Two sling swivels and a soft, functional recoil pad are mounted on the stock as well.
The barreled action is short and stiff — another possible aid to accuracy. The barrel is 16.38 inches in length and utilizes a 1:16-inch twist rate. It is cold-hammer forged for accuracy and threaded 1⁄2×28 for a suppressor or muzzle brake — not that you need a brake on a rifle chambered in 350 Legend. A thread protector is supplied as standard equipment. The rifle comes with a 14-slot 0-minute-of-angle-elevation Picatinny rail sturdily attached with four screws. There is plenty of room on which to mount a scope. The bolt release is on the left side of the receiver at the rear. One pushes on the protruding part of the lever to allow the bolt to be removed. On our samples, that end of the lever did not protrude very much and made us work at it a bit to get the bolt to release. Maybe the problem is that we all have old, fat fingers? The bolt is a full-diameter one-piece three lug design with a 70-degree throw. Bolt throw on our second sample was much smoother than the first, so there may have simply been something wrong with the bolt. With the short throw, there was ample clearance for optics and dual cocking cams made working the bolt easier. The bolt utilizes a plunger ejector along with a pivoting extractor. The rifle sports a two-position tang safety, easily visible and operated by either hand. There is a cocking indicator that protrudes from the bottom of the bolt shroud. Like it or not, the bolt stays open after the last round in the magazine is fired and the bolt is drawn to the rear.
The Ruger Ranch Rifle only had a 16.38-inch barrel compared to the 22-inch tube found on the Winchester. We wondered if the shortened barrel would provide a handy, compact rifle at the expense of some performance. It would appear that is not the case. Using the same ammo from the same lots in both rifles, the Ranch Rifle, with a barrel more than 5 inches shorter than the Winchester, only lost about 2% in velocity. Five-shot groups averaged about 2.5 inch for the Ruger, with the smallest coming in at just under 2 inches and the largest at more than 3.5 inches. Somewhat disappointing perhaps, but if the true comparison of this rifle is to an iron-sighted 30-30, the Ruger 350 Legend did just fine. We saw information posted on the web stating as much as a 20% reduction in recoil for the 350 Legend versus a nice Model 94 Winchester in 30-30. Our calculations were not quite that optimistic, coming in with just a 4% reduction in recoil energy. That being said, a reduction is a reduction and that was accomplished, by our computations, with a 6% to 10% increase in energy.
Our Team Said: With a 16.38-inch barrel and a short 12.5-inch length of pull, this would be an outstanding starter rifle and a great brush gun.
350 LEGEND RANGE DATAAll groups were shot at 100 yards from a solid bench using a Caldwell TackDriver front rest ($44 at MidwayUSA.com) and a T.A.B. Gear large rear bag ($30 at TABGear.com) with the heavy fill. Muzzle velocity was determined using a LabRadar chronograph ($559 at BuyMyLabradar.com). Location: American Shooter Centers (AMShootCenters.com) in Houston.
|Winchester 145-grain FMJ||Ruger American Ranch Rifle||Winchester XPR||Savage 110 Hog Hunter|
|Average Velocity||2193 fps||2234 fps||2155 fps|
|Muzzle Energy||1548 ft.-lbs.||1608 ft.-lbs.||1496 ft.-lbs.|
|Best Group||2.09 in.||0.95 in.||1.83 in.|
|Average Group||2.39 in.||2.10 in.||2.03 in.|
|Winchester 150-grain XP||Ruger American Ranch Rifle||Winchester XPR||Savage 110 Hog Hunter|
|Average Velocity||2251 fps||2308 fps||2223 fps|
|Muzzle Energy||1688 ft.-lbs.||1775 ft.-lbs.||1646 ft.-lbs.|
|Best Group||2.19 in.||1.54 in.||1.01 in.|
|Average Group||2.42 in.||1.77 in.||1.33 in.|
|Hornady 170-grain Soft Point||Ruger American Ranch Rifle||Winchester XPR||Savage 110 Hog Hunter|
|Average Velocity||2211 fps||2250 fps||2212 fps|
|Muzzle Energy||1847 ft.-lbs.||1911 ft.-lbs.||1847 ft.-lbs.|
|Best Group||1.98 in.||2.35 in.||0.99 in.|
|Average Group||2.71 in.||2.57 in.||1.52 in.|
VALUE GUIDE: BOLT-ACTION RIFLE SCORES
|Winchester Model 70 F’wt Stainless 308 Win., $951||Apr 2020||A||Our Pick: Smooth handling, very good accuracy and classical styling.|
|Remington Model 7 CDL 26423 308 Win., $798||Apr 2020||A||A nice piece of wood, a good trigger and a compact 20-inch barrel on a rifle that could really shoot.|
|Tikka T3x Lite Stainless JRTXB316 308 Win., $748||Apr 2020||A-||Best Buy. Functional polymer stock, the smoothest bolt in the group, and the best out-of-the-box trigger.|
|Ruger Hawkeye Compact 37139 308 Win. $691||Apr 2020||B+||Short length of pull and a 16.5-inch barrel; could be a great truck gun or suitable for a smaller shooter.|
|Savage 110 Scout 57139 450 Bushmaster, $829||Jul 2019||A-||Best Buy. The Savage Axis proved accurate, reliable, and fast handling. Adjustable LOP.|
|Ruger Scout Rifle 6830 7.62 NATO, $1139||Jul 2019||B+||The Ruger Scout comes closest to the original Scout rifle concept, but it falls short due to weight.|
|Mossberg MVP Scout Combo 7.62 NATO, $780||Jul 2019||B||Not a true interpretation of the Scout Rifle concept. Accurate, well-handling short rifle at a good price.|
|Ruger 77/44 Model 7401 44 Remington Mag., $754||May 2019||A-||The 77/44 offers accuracy and power in a lightweight rifle. We disliked the magazine.|
|Ruger American Rifle 6903 Standard 308 Win. $382||Dec 2018||A||Light enough, accurate enough, and inexpensive enough for us to want to keep it.|
|Savage Axis II XP 57095 308 Win. $411||Dec 2018||A-||Best Buy. It works well, is accurate enough for hunting, and it is affordable.|
|Savage Model 12FV 18393 308 Win., $420||Dec 2018||A-||Most accurate rifle tested. Modest recoil. The rifle never failed to impress us.|
|Mossberg Trophy Hunter 308 Win., $240||Dec 2018||C||Overall, the rifle was worth the modest price, but there are better choices.|
|Ruger American Rifle Ranch 06968 300 Blackout, $420||May 2018||A-||Shot well both suppressed and unsuppressed. Short length would make it handy.|
|Remington Model 700 SPS-T 84205 300 Blackout, $680||May 2018||A-||Shot well in 300 BLK supersonic and subsonic.|
|Savage Arms 10PT-SR 22356 308 Win., $550||May 2018||B+||Good build. It did shoot sub-MOA with one round. We loved the handle and AccuTrigger.|
|Remington M700 SPS 85538 308 Win., $600||Oct 2018||B+||This short rifle isn’t the most accurate, but the overall handling is superb.|
|Remington Model 700 SPS 84218 308 Win., $606||Oct 2018||B+||Hard to find a production rifle that is capable of greater practical accuracy.|
|Savage Axis 19223 308 Win, $240||Oct 2018||C||Accuracy wasn’t the best. The rifle was dogged by a heavy trigger that we fixed.|
|Remington 783 85847 308 Win., $340||Mar 2017||A||Best Buy. This was the most accurate rifle tested, and there were no demerits.|
|Remington 700 SPS 85538 308 Win. $655||Mar 2017||A-||There are few rifles that are as handy as this one.|