Switch Hitter

Ruger’s Tackdriving American Rimfire Target Is
Still Handy Enough For Small Game And Varmints.

By Holt Bodinson

The pace of Ruger’s continuous introduction of new products is almost breathless. In the early months of 2017 alone, they announced an integrally suppressed barrel for the 10/22 Takedown, a Gunsite Scout in .450 Bushmaster, several new Mk IV pistol models, a variant of their highly successful LCP II carry pistol now factory fitted with an integral Viridian red laser.

Then there’s the rapid expansion of Ruger’s bolt-action American Rimfire models. What really caught my eye here was a target-grade model in .17 HMR, .22 LR and .22 Magnum. Ruger engineers have incorporated a series of design advances in the new American Rimfire Target.

The bedding system used in the American Rimfire series is different from what we’re used to. Ruger’s system is designed to firmly locate and bed the action in the stock without the need for a bedding compound and to establish enough clearance along the barrel channel of the fore-end so the barrel is permanently free-floated.

Removal of the barreled action from the stock reveals a V-shaped metal bedding block embedded in the fore-end where the front receiver ring rests. The underside of the ring has been milled out in a matching “V” to mate with the bedding block. When the barreled action and stock are assembled, the front action screw—which is centered in the bedding block—draws both units firmly together.

Ruger calls this their Power Bedding system. It’s rigid, strong and it enhances accuracy. It’s the same bedding system being used in all the centerfire Ruger American models as well.

The use of a bull barrel in a target model is a natural. It minimizes vibrations, heats up slowly and just hangs there on target. For offhand or rest shooting, it can’t be beat in the accuracy department. This 18-inch, steel alloy, hammer-forged bull barrel has a full diameter of 0.860 inches. Along with the black laminate stock, it brings the weight of the target model up to 6.7 pounds.

Anticipating the possibility of a silencer addition, Ruger threaded the muzzle (1/2×28 TPI) and capped it off with a knurled thread protector. Ruger’s own line of silencers is beginning to take off and we can only hope pending legislation at the Federal level will eliminate the NFA approval process and accompanying $200 transfer tax.

Holt’s Ruger/Federal combination accounted for two fine antelope jackrabbits.

The third component to the rifle’s overall accuracy is Ruger’s Marksman Adjustable trigger. It offers a crisp release with a promised weight-of-pull that’s owner-adjustable from “approximately” 3 to 5 pounds. I’ve worked on the triggers of two Ruger Americans and haven’t been able to reach 3 pounds yet. The lightest weight I could reach on this new American Rimfire Target trigger was 3 pounds, 10 ounces. One of the problems I ran into is actually addressed in the owner’s manual.

To lighten the pull, the trigger adjustment screw is turned out counterclockwise, but “turning the screw too far out may prevent the barreled action from reassembling to the stock.” This is exactly what happened. Trying to reach the magical 3 pounds, I unscrewed the screw to the point where the barreled action could not be reseated in the stock without turning the adjustment screw back in a thread or two.

In time, I’m sure the trigger will be redesigned to eliminate this interference problem. In the meantime, I can live with a 3-pound, 10-ounce, safety-type trigger. I just don’t like it on a target-grade rifle. Speaking of safeties, the American Rimfire Target is fitted with Ruger’s signature tang safety, which is completely ambidextrous.

Ruger did an excellent job in stocking this model. The laminate is very stable, the fore-end is mildly rounded and comfortable in the hand, yet flat enough to snuggle into a sandbag bag for precision work. A cool styling touch is the use of an Alexander Henry Schnabel fore-end tip, normally seen only on the Ruger No. 1. The rubber recoil pad is thick and squishy enough to soak up the recoil of a .30-06, but its real value on a rimfire is to anchor the butt to your shoulder and to prevent the rifle from skating across the floor when leaned against the wall of your shop.

The American Rimfire Target is not equipped with open sights. Instead, it’s delivered from the factory with a mounted Picatinny rail. This time of year, my game is “small game,” which calls for a lot of trekking. In trying to keep the weight down, I mounted the rifle with a 4x24mm Wolf Pup scope by Gru-Bee, Inc. The Wolf Pup has a 3/4-inch tube and weighs only about 6 ounces with rings, and I’ve been completely satisfied with its performance as a rimfire optic.

On performance, I have two reports to share—one at the range and the other from the field. At the range, firing 5-shot groups at 50 yards and measuring the best 4-out-of-5 shots in the group gave me confidence I could hit with this rifle afield.

I had been wanting to test Federal’s new Hunter Match small-game load featuring a 40-grain HP at 1,200 fps and the arrival of the new Ruger gave me the perfect excuse to do so on a fairly challenging critter. The antelope jackrabbit is the largest hare in Arizona, weighing up to 13 pounds. They derive their name from the white hair on their rump they flash when startled, just like a pronghorn. They prefer mesquite-covered grasslands. Their meat is excellent and my dogs consider them a royal treat.

When jumped, the antelope jack typically lopes away 50 to 75 yards and then stops to look back. This is your one chance to take a shot. It was a good morning hunt. The American Rimfire Target and Federal Hunter Match proved to be a winning combination and accounted for two large jacks. Both were heavier than the rifle I carried. Both didn’t move after being on the receiving end of one 40-grain HP.

The introduction of the Ruger American Rimfire line is a pretty exciting development in the World of Rimfire. The line consists of standard and compact models as well as the new target version. The synthetic stocked rifles are adapted to four interchangeable stock modules that change the length-of-pull and comb height so they can be tailored to any body size.

Best yet, they’re American made.

Gru-Bee, Inc.
1189 State Hwy 48
Durant, OK 74701

American Rimfire Target

Maker: Sturm, Ruger & Co.
411 Sunapee Street
Newport, NH 03773
(336) 949-5200

Type: Bolt-action repeater
Caliber: .22 LR
Capacity: 10
Barrel length: 18 inches
Overall length: 37 inches
Weight: 6.7 pounds
Finish: Satin blue
Sights: None (Picatinny rail installed)
Stock: Black laminate
Price: $499

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