Shooting trends seems to move in cycles, and right now long-range precision rifle shooting is running hot. No matter if it’s for serious competition or just for the joy of hitting targets a half-mile or more away from you, this sport is one of the fastest growing segments in recreational shooting.
There are several configurations of rifles used for long-range shooting, but one of the most popular is the precision bolt-action rifle built on a chassis. The chassis replaces the traditional stock and it allows for very precise bedding of the receiver. It is often a modular design that allows swapping parts. Most chassis systems have buttstocks with adjustments for critical areas such as comb height or length of pull.
The problem from a potential owner’s perspective is that these guns are expensive. An entry-level rifle starts at about $2,500 and goes up from there. But Ruger has a rifle that is going to change that.
The Ruger Precision Rifle is a high-performance long-range precision rifle that will re-write all the rules. MSRP is $1,399, which puts the real-world price at close to a grand. One of my local gun shops is blowing them out the door at $950. That means this gun is selling for a lot less than half of the going rate of chassis-built precision rifles.
I also found that this gun can run with the top dogs as far as performance and accuracy are concerned, which is really what matters. I first shot the Ruger Precision Rifle while I was attending the launch of the new Swarovski X5i long-range scope system at the FTW ranch and long-range shooting school in Texas earlier this year. There were a few pre-production rifles available for writers to use (as long as we pledged our lives, our fortunes, and our honor not to write about them until Ruger was ready to launch). We were shooting out to 1,400 yards, and we had some very expensive custom rifles on the line too, yet those Rugers held their own.
Later I was able to get a Precision Rifle in my hands for some formal test shooting, the results of which are posted below. As you can see, even right out of the box this gun is a shooter. The data listed below were the first shots out of the rifle. Accuracy was continuing to improve as it broke in, and I honestly believe that if I returned to the range to reshoot the formal test now, the results would be even better.
I have one of the new Swarovski X5i 5-25X56 P scopes on the gun, which has the best dial-up system I have used on a long-range scope. A few days ago I was at our 500-yard range, and with this set-up was able to dial up for each distance and make first-shot, head-shot hits on USPA-style targets from 100 to 500 yards. No doubt the gun is capable of longer distances, but that’s the limit of my home range.
I had set a steel ram at 500 yards that was painted white. I told my spotter I was going to give the ram an eye—and I did so, better than if I walked down there and painted it on. Then I proceeded to make the “eye” bigger with shot after shot. I was holding less than a 3-inch group at 500 yards.
The Ruger Precision Rifle has a hammer-forged barrel with 5R rifling. While a lot of “snobs” turn up their nose at a hammer-forged barrel, this is a big part of keeping the cost under control. Besides, what matters are the results. If you have a gun capable of achieving ½-minute of angle accuracy, who cares how the barrel is made?
The Ruger Precision Rifle is available in three chamberings and barrel lengths. The .308 Winchester has a 20-inch barrel. The 6.5 Creedmoor (my choice) has a 24-inch barrel, and the .243 Winchester has a 26-inch barrel. Ruger says that tight dimensions on the rifling bore and groove dimensions, as well as minimal headspace, are held during the manufacturing process.
The handguard is a Samson Evolution Keymod, but the gun accepts any AR-style handguard. The rifle has a 20 MOA Picatinny rail, meaning that elevation is built into the scope mount so that you will have the ability to dial up the scope to a longer distance.
The upper receiver and one-piece bolt are CNC-machined from 4140 chrome-moly steel. The gun features a “Multi-Magazine Interface,” which means that you can use a multitude of different magazines including M110, SR-25, DPMS, and Magpul magazines. It even works with some M14 magazines. The gun comes with two 10-round Magpul PMAG magazines.
That leads to my only complaint about the rifle. The bolt will lock back on an empty magazine, at least with the magazines provided. This makes single feeding cartridges a pain in the neck. You must remove the magazine, but once you do there’s nothing to support the cartridge.
Its three-lug bolt has a 70-degree throw and dual-cocking cams. It is easy to operate from prone, and with a full-diameter bolt body it runs smoothly and snag free.
The Ruger Marksman Adjustable trigger is externally adjustable within a pull-weight range of 2.25 to 5.0 pounds via a wrench that is stored in the bolt shroud. My gun’s trigger pull was 2.5 pounds right from the factory.
There is an oversized bolt handle with 5/16-24 thread for easy replacement. Because the bolt handle says a lot about your rifle, adding a custom handle should be easy. The bolt disassembly tool is stored in the bolt shroud, which is much better than the traditional approach of it being lost when you need it.
The gun is set up so that the recoil path is in line with the bore, which moves recoil energy straight back and so is easier to manage. Recoil is soft anyway in this heavy rifle. There is an extended trigger-reach AR-style pistol grip and a reversible safety. If you want to tinker, any AR-style grip or safety can be added.
The stock with QD sling attachment points features a bottom Picatinny rail for adding a rear support. There is a soft-rubber buttpad. The buttstock folds on a hinge to shorten the rifle for easier carrying or storing. It also is easy to remove the bolt when you have the cheek piece raised. The stock locks into the open position. The buffer tube is an AR-style and will accept any AR-style stock. The buttstock is adjustable for length of pull as well as comb height.
Whoever designed this rifle is a shooter and clearly also listened to other shooters. The gun is ergonomically well designed and is easy to run prone or from a bench. The easy availability of magazines and parts is a big issue for those who want to “tweak” and customize their rifles.
Other than bolting on an optic and adding ammo, there is nothing a shooter must do to make this gun competitive in long-range shooting. The fact that it can run with the big dogs for a grand or less is game-changing. I would expect to see this rifle at a lot of long-range competitions and on any range where you can reach out some distance. I also expect that a lot of other gun companies are scrambling to catch up.
Ruger Precision Rifle Specifications
Caliber: 6.5 Creedmoor (as tested); also available in .243 Win. and .308 Win.
Magazine Capacity: 10 (larger capacity magazines available)
Stock: Folding with an adjustable length of pull and comb
Barrel: Cold hammer, forged, 5R rifling
Barrel Length: 24 inches
Overall Length: 42.25 inches to 45.75 inches, depending on stock position
Folded Length: 34.60 inches
Height: 7.30 inches
Width: 3.30 inches
Weight: 10.60 pounds
Length: of Pull: 12-15.50 inches
Twist rate of rifling: 1:8 inches (6.5 Creedmoor)
Shooting Results: Ruger Precision Rifle in 6.5 Creedmoor
(Three, 5-shot groups at 100 yards)
Cartridge A: Hornady 140-grain A-Match; Velocity at 15 feet: 2704 fps; Smallest Group: .8 inches; Largest Group: 1.0 inches; Avg. Group Size: .9 inches.
Cartridge B: Nosler 140-grain Match HPBT; Velocity at 15 feet: 2611 fps; Smallest Group: .6 inches; Largest Group: .8 inches; Avg. Group Size: .68 inches.