Review: Ruger American Rimfire

posted on January 30, 2014

Ruger introduced its American bolt-action rifle in 2012. It was a radical departure from the company’s respected Model 77 and its Mauser-inspired claw extractor. It was also much more affordable. The Ruger American is a perfect example of the American tradition of firearm manufacturing and it's a hit with hunters, which is undoubtedly why Ruger recently introduced the American Rimfire.

The American Rimfire shares many features with its centerfire counterpart: the same synthetic stock, which features the Power Bedding system, a rotary magazine, the Marksman adjustable trigger, a tang safety and a hammer-forged barrel. In addition there is an extended magazine release, and the rifle uses the same rotary magazine as Ruger’s 10-22. The stock is surprisingly modular, meaning it can be altered to fit different-size shooters and used with open sights or optics.

All considered, it’s hard to imagine retail prices being less than $300. But they are. Not only can you not find another rimfire rifle with all these features, you’ll be hard pressed to find a comparable option anywhere near its price tag. To add a little sweetness to the deal, since the American Rimfire looks, feels and functions just like its American centerfire counterpart, it makes for a great understudy rifle.

I believe the American Rimfire’s most interesting feature is the modular stock. Ironically, it is also the simplest aspect of this new rifle. It is essentially a two-piece affair: The butt and comb are one piece and the rest of the stock another. By loosening the rear sling swivel stud the comb module can be removed and replaced.

There are four comb modules to choose from and two are provided with each rifle. Two have the standard length of pull (LOP) of 13.75 inches and two have the compact LOP of 12.5 inches. If you purchase the standard model you get the two standard-length modules, if you purchase the Compact model you get the two compact modules. The difference between the two supplied with each rifle is that one is set for use with open sights and the other for a riflescope. All modules are available direct from for $19.95 each and they are interchangeable across the platform.

This means you can purchase the Ruger American Rimfire Compact for your son and adapt it to fit him for shooting with open sights or a scope. You could then install a standard comb module (this takes about 15 seconds) and the rifle will fit you or fit him after he grows a bit. It is an ingeniously simple and affordable answer to a problem that has plagued us for as long as rifles have been around. Ruger should give a hearty bonus to the engineer who came up with this system.

The rifle does not use the common Ruger integral scope mounting system. It is drilled and tapped to accept Weaver No. 12 scope bases and it is also dovetailed to accept 3/8-inch rimfire rings. Bases or rings are not included but every American Rimfire is fitted with a folding leaf rear sight and a green, fiber optic front sight.

I mounted an affordable but feature-packed Redfield TAC-22 2X-7X-34mm Battlezone scope on the rifle and fired five, five-shot groups at a distance of 50 yards, from a sandbag rest, using three different loads. The rifle averaged 1.83 inches for all 15 groups.

The rifle did not feed smoothly with the square-nose (truncated cone) Remington Yellow Jacket loads. It took a bit of force to shove them into the chamber, and that resulted in some deformation of the bullet nose. This also was likely the reason this load did not turn in its usual stellar accuracy. Round-nosed bullets fed flawlessly and shot well.

The .22 LR version of the American Rimfire is built on the same action as the .22 Magnum version, so there is a slight gap behind the magazine on the .22 LR model. Work the action very gingerly (there is no practical reason to do this) and sometimes an empty (fired) case can fall into this void, creating a stoppage. If the bolt is cycled like it should be, like you’re serious about it, this is not an issue.

I spent some time in the timber squirrel hunting with the little Ruger. The stock was very comfortable, accuracy was more than sufficient and the extended magazine release was handy. I turned loose my 13-year-old son with the rifle and he accidently bumped the release and had to spend some time on his knees, in the leaves, looking for the magazine. That, however, did not stop him from his squirrel sniping success.

The Ruger American Rimfire might be the best new hunting rifle of 2013. This is not merely unsupported conjecture. It’s priced right, it’s dependable and it’s accurate. And, with its modular stock system the rifle offers unmatched adaptability for use by a family of hunters. It’s also a perfect rimfire understudy for inexpensive training for those who are also smart enough to buy the Ruger American Centerfire rifle.

Never before has such an affordable and adaptable rimfire rifle, which mirrors a centerfire rifle in feel and operation, been available. That, my fellow hunters, is American firearm building at its best! Ruger has set the bar high.Ruger American Rimfire

Type: bolt-action, rimfire rifle
Caliber: .22 LR, .22 Magnum
Barrel: 22" Standard, 18" Compact; 1:16" RH twist .22 LR, 1:14" RH twist .22 WMR; 6 grooves
Trigger: Marksman adjustable, 3.5-lb. pull
Magazine: detachable rotary-style, 10+1 cap. (9+1 Magnum)
Sights: folding rear leaf with green fiber optic front
Safety: tang
Stock: straight comb; synthetic; LOP 13.75" Standard, 12.5" Compact; drop at comb 1.1"; drop at heel 1.25"
Overall Length: 41" Standard, 35.75" Compact
Weight: 6 lbs. Standard, 5.38 lbs. Compact
Metal Finish: atin blued
Accessories: interchangeable stock for use w/scope (drop at comb .50", drop at heel 1.25")
MSRP: $329


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