The Ruger American &
Russian Castaways

Comrades in Arms for the 7.62x39?

The Ruger American Ranch rifle in 7.62x39 is a compact,
rugged rifle perfect as a truck or trail gun.

Every time I shoot a Ruger American rifle, I’m amazed by its accuracy. How Ruger’s engineers designed a basic entry-level-priced rifle capable of shooting as good, if not better, than rifles costing five times the price of the American is amazing.

I can’t help grinning when less-expensive rifles like the American outshoot their more expensive brethren — and it happens a lot with guns bearing the Ruger insignia. It’s why I love them. Besides, it’s fun driving my friends nuts when my peanut-butter-priced Rugers outshoot their caviar-priced shooters, proving price doesn’t necessarily mean better accuracy.

Bullet choices (left to right) — MP Molds 132-grain HPGC,
MP Molds 142-grain HPGC, Lyman 314440 and Lee CTL312-1602R.

New Caliber?

Having great experiences with my Ruger Americans, I decide to order another one (my 4th) in a caliber I have no experience with. I’m talking about the 7.62×39 Russian. Never shot it, never had the desire to shoot one — until now. Like many things, I’m a day late and a dollar short but the cartridge grabbed my attention when giving it a closer look.

Being not much bigger than the 300 BLK I have, it provides nicer ballistics, velocity-wise. I liked its efficiency; it doesn’t need a lot of powder to achieve respectable velocities. During today’s powder/bullet crunch, efficiency is particularly nice.

The most accurate load consisted of the MP Molds 132-grain HPGC with 22 grains AA 1680.

The American Way

What can I say? Ruger’s American Ranch rifle is the perfect configuration for a truck or trail gun. Its short 16.1″ barrel and rugged synthetic stock make it easy to maneuver in tight quarters. Its five-shot detachable magazine makes it convenient to load when ready to shoot, too.

Its adjustable trigger, 70-degree bolt throw and full-diameter bolt body make manipulation smooth and positive. The secret to the American’s accuracy is the patented integral bedding block. When the barreled-action is snugged down, it free-floats the barrel. The cold hammer forged rifling helps things too.

The tang safety is convenient, as is the 5/8″-24 threaded barrel, easily accommodating the addition of a suppressor. Scoping is easy with the factory-installed Picatinny scope base. I mounted an old Weaver compact 2.5-7×33 scope on the gun, its compact size balancing well with the rifle.

Factory Standard

Testing included shooting three groups of three-shots at 100 yards using 6″ Shoot-N-C targets. Factory fodder consisting of TulAmmo steel-cased 122-grain FMJ bullets averaged 1.3″ DoubleTap 125-grain Rifle Defense, 1.53″ and Hornady 123-grain SST shot the best at 1.17.”

Who says the 7.62×39 isn’t accurate? Not me! Maybe in a rat-a-tat-tat Kalashnikov, but surely not in a Ruger American Ranch rifle. Pleased with the accuracy, I wasn’t flabbergasted. After all, this is my 4th Ruger American rifle.

Here’s a sampling of how the Ruger American shot the cast bullet loads.

Russian Castaways

Checking my cast of characters shows I have several .32 caliber bullet molds for my .32 handguns. Dropping out at 0.314″ make them usable for the 7.62×39 Russian by simply sizing them down to 0.311″. Molds included MP Molds 140- and 150-grain HPGC style molds. In hollow point (HP) form, they weigh 132 grains and 142 grains, Powder Coated, and Gas Checked (GC). I also have a Lyman 314440 mold dropping a very blunt, round-nosed design, with GC I call the “Flying Fist.”

Lastly, I ordered a Lee CTL312-1602R mold. Bullets were sized and GC applied using my Lee APP press. I’ve started using Sage Outdoors aluminum GCs as they’re cheaper and don’t seem to affect accuracy. Who doesn’t like less-expensive handloads?

There are several good powders available for the Russian round, but I keep things easy, sticking with AA 1680. I use 22 grains with all cast bullet weights, Winchester LR primers, achieving just over 2,100 FPS, which is all I am looking for. Accuracy-wise, the 132-grain HPGC from MP Molds was the most accurate, shooting around 1.4″ groups at 100 yards If I could only choose one mold, it would be this one, as the option of solid or HP configuration is as easy as swapping mold pins.

The 142-grain HPGC groups consistently in the 1.5″ range. The Lyman 314440 shoots basically the same, maybe a hair larger. This is the bullet to use where deep penetration is needed. Lastly, the Lee CTL312-1602R bullets stay under 2″.

These cast bullet loads provide economical, efficient and viable loads to shoot in the American rifle. These loads will easily take deer-sized game and I look forward to doing so this fall with this combination. After all, we’re all brothers in arms.

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