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Like a lot of people in this country, my first rifle was a Ruger 10/22. And as Bill Ruger himself planned, thanks to the first rifle, my second rifle was also a Ruger, a M77 Mark II. In the years since that second Ruger found its way into my safe, the company has revamped their bolt action lineup. Taking a cue from the market at large, they’ve focused on building accurate rifles with great triggers on a budget. I recently had the chance to test out Ruger’s latest entry to the market, the American Rifle Predator, chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor. After a few boxes of premium ammo, I ended up pleasantly confused . . .

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As I mentioned in my preview, the overall finish on the Predator is a little rough. Where the finish on my M77 MK II was smooth and free of defects, the American Rifle has clear machining marks on the receiver and bolt, and really anywhere you bother to go looking for them. Not exactly a deal breaker, but I work hard for my money, and I like seeing smooth finishes on my new guns. But this is a budget gun and budget guns don’t typically look pretty.

Let’s discuss that budget part shall we? Ruger sets the MSRP at $499 for this little gem. Several online retailers list it for less than four bills, some of them down under $375 at the time of this writing. But let’s call it $400 for round numbers. Here’s what you get for your $400.

You get a cold hammer forged barrel with a three lug, seventy degree throw bolt. You get a rail along the top for mounting optics. You get a threaded barrel. You get a detachable magazine. You get an adjustable trigger. It’s an impressive feature set considering that any one of those items might add $100+ to add to an existing rifle. On paper, this is quite the list of “must haves.”

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There’s a darker side at work, though. While that bolt has a short(ish) throw, there’s some grit and a little play. Not the end of the world of course, and somewhat par for the course, but it’s worth noting that this isn’t the precision rifle you’ve been jonesing for.

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That rail along the top is not a standard Picatinny rail. It has several enlarged areas that mess up the spacing of the slots. The one in the middle appears to be there for no other reason that to prominently feature Ruger’s logo. The others give the hex screws that hold the rail in place some purchase. This locks the end user into using a two-piece mount. Again, not the end of the world, but some of us have one-piece bases we really like.

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The barrel is threaded 5/8″-24, the standard for most .30 cal silencers and muzzle brakes. The threads are fairly clean and I had no trouble screwing a can to the end. The problem is that the twenty-two inch barrel is not stiff enough to support the weight of all but the lightest silencers on the market. With Nick’s Liberty Chaotic in place, I saw POI deviation of roughly eight inches in elevation at 100 yards. And that number was subject to change as the barrel heated and cooled.

You get a detachable magazine with the Predator…just one though. And it only holds four rounds. And buying a few extras will set you back $39.95 each. For that sort of money, you could save up a bit more and buy an AICS magazine. Or wait until Magpul releases their PMAG AICS mag which is slated to retail for $34.95. None of those will do you any good in this rifle, though as the Predator takes proprietary magazines. All that said, the magazine is stout, it holds the rounds as it needs to, and effortlessly feeds them into the chamber.

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Last on that list was the trigger. And honestly, I have no gripes. It is far superior to the majority of factory triggers, and sits even with the feel of a Savage AccuTrigger for sure. I was able to successfully adjust it in the range that Ruger advertises, and it broke clean and crisp every time I asked it to. Is it as good as a Timney? Absolutely not, but it’s also housed in a sub $400 gun. You really can’t ask for a better trigger in the price range.

My biggest gripe with the American Rifle Predator is the stock. Normally, I’d just complain about the comb height and be done with it. And for the record, the comb height on this gun sucks. Why a manufacturer ship guns out the door with a stock comb designed for iron sights on a gun without iron sights will be forever be one of the great mysteries of the universe. This is especially perplexing as my Ruger American Rimfire has interchangeable height combs. Someone at Ruger clearly recognizes the problem, but that person hasn’t knocked on the centerfire guys’ door yet.

That’s actually not the most frustrating thing though. The most frustrating thing about the stock is how much it flexes. With a Harris bipod out front dug into the dirt or somehow blocked from forward movement, you can flex the entire stock loading the bipod. I fought and cursed and shook my tiny fists at the sky as I tried valiantly to shoot this rifle accurately from a bipod. Any loading of the bipod amplifies the smallest movements and sets up an annoying vibration that is truly maddening. I did my very best to quell it, but the vibration is like nothing I’ve ever seen. Breathing, your heartbeat, and minor shifts of the tectonic plates will set it to wiggling, and good luck trying to stop her once she starts.

Resorting to sandbags, it becomes immediately apparent that the slim forend, great for shooting offhand, is far too slim for bags. With a big optic mounted — which makes the gun top-heavy — it wants to list to starboard or port.

Despite all that, though…

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It became blindingly obvious early on that the Predator is a shooter. Above is the best group I was able to lay down, but five-shot sub MOA groups are well within the realm of possibility for this gun. It likes the 120 gr. and 140 gr. A-Max Hornady loads the best, though. I also tried out Winchester 140 gr. ammo and found it to be only meh-worthy in terms of accuracy.

140 gr win - 465 yards

That didn’t stop me from getting the gun glove melting hot (ask me how I know), and putting five rounds of the aforementioned Winchester ammo in the torso region of a steel IPSC target at 465 yards. Ten inches of spread just so happens to be the approximate size of the vitals on a white-tail deer according to Chuck Hawks so I figure that something closer to 400 yards is about the edge of effective accuracy for that round through this rifle. Which is too bad because at that range, the ultra slick 6.5mm bullet is still cruising along at about 2000 fps. It needs to be out closer to 800 yards to slow down below 1500 fps.

None of the bullets tested with the exception of the GMX are considered hunting bullets so I’d never advocate shooting a game animal with a match bullet. That said, you could poke a pretty decent hole in something with a 140 gr. bullet at 1500 fps. Hornady says the GMX needs a minimum of 2000 fps to open properly which puts the effective range from this gun at right around 500 yards according to my ballistic calculator. Not half bad for a budget rifle with moderate recoil and relatively affordable quality ammunition. Below is the data I was able to collect on all of the ammunition I tested.

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  • 120 gr. A-Max
    • Velocity: 2829 fps
    • Std Dev: 27.85
    • Best Group Size: 0.888 MOA
    • Worst Group Size: 1.085 MOA
    • Average Group Size: 0.999 MOA
  • 120 gr. GMX
    • Velocity: 3033 fps
    • Std Dev: 10.07
    • Group Size: 2.161 MOA
  • 140 gr. A-Max
    • Velocity: 2658 fps
    • Std Dev: 21.91
    • Best Group Size: 0.828
    • Worst Group Size: 1.498
    • Average Group Size: 1.068 MOA
  • 140 gr. Winchester HPBT
    • Velocity: 2679 fps
    • Std Dev: 30.12
    • Group Size: 1.898 MOA

Seeing those types of groups made my heart hurt. I wanted…needed…this rifle to suck. With the fit and finish being almost on par with Soviet era manufacturing and the flimsy, ergonomically displeasing stock, I thought for sure that it would be a turd. But it’s an honest to God, real life, bonafide shooter. It isn’t fun or even comfortable to shoot, but damn if it doesn’t git ‘er done. Ruger seems to have stumbled upon Savage’s successful formula of building cheap shooters and cruising full speed ahead.

Here’s the thing, though. This gun gave me fits because it’s mechanically accurate, but hard to shoot accurately. Lock into a bench shooting from bags, and you can make this gun shoot. But take it out into the field off a bipod or try to use an improvised rest, and you’ll fight it the whole way. When you spend a lot of money on a rifle, you’re often paying for a gun that will work with you instead of against you. Those guns can be put in the hands of neophytes and they’ll look like Chris Kyle. This is not that gun.

The Predator forces you to work to put rounds where you want them downrange. Instead of Ruger spending the money on an upgraded stock — which would fix 70% of the issues I have with the Predator — the money was spent on fancy doodads like barrel threading, detachable magazines, and slotted rails for optics. None of those were particularly well executed either. So what you end up with is a $400 gun that you know has the mechanical accuracy to justify ergonomic upgrades, but any dollars spent will be always be framed as a percentage of the total cost.

Want to upgrade the scope base so you can use a one-piece mount? That’ll be $40, please (10% of the cost of the gun). Want to buy a Boyd’s stock to fix those ergos? Better be comfortable tossing Ruger’s heavily advertised bedded stock and parting with $125 (31% of the cost of the gun).

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Specifications: Ruger American Rifle Predator 

  • Stock: Moss Green Composite
  • Capacity: 4
  • Caliber: 6.5 Creedmoor
  • Material: Alloy Steel
  • Finish: Matte Black
  • Barrel Length: 22″
  • Overall Length: 42″
  • Thread Pattern: 5/8″-24
  • Weight: 6.6 lbs.
  • Twist: 1:8″ RH
  • Grooves: 6
  • Length of Pull: 13.75″
  • Sights: None-Scope Rail Installed
  • Suggested Retail: $499.00

Fit, Finish, Build Quality * *
It’s rough all over and then some. The controls work well, but there’s no finesse, no class, no panache. The parts that are important accuracy are stout, the rest of them are barely there.

Customization * *
It has a threaded barrel and sling swivels. There’d be three stars if it had a true Picatinny rail along the top.

Ergonomics * *
Two stars for the forend covering the barrel and having the relevant parts where they need to be. Unfortunately, the stock comb is too low, and there’s way too much flex in the stock. Get this thing up on a bipod and it bounces like a rubber band. Try to put it on some bags and the pleasant-to-the-hand forend will roll on you. This is a gun built like a lightweight stalking gun chambered in a cartridge meant to be shot at things far away from a sturdy rest. I finally broke down and drilled the stock so I could install a cheek riser.

Accuracy * * * * *
Simply stunning — $400 for five-shot 1 MOA groups? You gotta be kidding me. This is easily the highest accuracy per dollar gun I’ve ever shot.

Overall Rating * * * * 
Ultimately, I felt like I was shooting the gun version of a Dodge Neon SRT-4. You’ll recognize that as the car that made you exclaim, “THEY’LL PUT A WING ON ANYTHING!” It had a turbo and handled pretty well and cost about $20,000. But at the end of the day it was still a Dodge Neon. Everyone kept saying that they couldn’t fault a car that fast that only cost $20,000. But they also had to say, “It is still a Neon.”

The same applies to the Ruger American Predator. Spending another penny improving it would be foolish. Just shoot the damn thing. But know that the comb will be too low, it’ll wiggle like the girls in a Snoop video, and with Hornady’s ammo, it’ll punch sub MOA holes with regularity.

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38 Responses to Gun Review: Ruger American Rifle Predator In 6.5 Creedmoor

  1. I view my Ruger American .243 as a meat rifle. It shoots better than needed and is cheap enough that if I tumble with it any damage to it isn’t heart breaking. Never tried a bi-pod on that mushy stock. But my son picked up a pair of shooting sticks, cheap, that had a rubber bungee thingy between the 2 sticks.

    At 300 yards I was getting very acceptable results with the cheapo sticks. And out to 300 yards if I can put one in the engine room of a deer, I’m happy.

    On the issue of that spongy stock. Wearing that rifle on a sling for a long hike is more comfortable on me than a wood or more ridgid stocked rifle. YMMV.

    • I agree. 243 doesn’t get the credit it deserves because of the ignorant people in this world to relegate it to a “beginners” caliber. Glad that you figured it out.

      It is an outstanding cartridge that needs more attention than it gets. Sectional density is outstanding for the heavier bullets and I can’t think of a single, sub 600 yard, mainstream cartridge that could match it.

    • Seems like it would be a good seller if Ruger offered just the barreled action. Add your own rail, your own stock, etc, and end up with a pretty legit, precision rifle for a lot less than the norm (without wasting $$$ on the factory stock).

      • Agreed. I’d bet that stupid pic rail cost Ruger more to procure than a standard cut rail. Sometimes you have to wonder how some of these designers find their way to work in the morning.

        As for the stock it seems that it is so cheap and flimsy that you have no qualms to throwing it in the trash. You rationalize by saying that the price would have still been good if it was just a barreled action. But yeah a stockless option would be great.

        • I’d push for getting one “in the white” so I could finish the metal myself – or professionally if I did a good ennobled job of polishing the defects out of it.

  2. Good write-up and good assessment. Sounds like this would be a great little beater coyote rifle… not going to get upset if you bang it off a tree, scrape it on a rock, drop it in the mud, etc – and can reach out quite a ways with good accuracy.

    • Just going by the name, I’d imagine that’s exactly what they intended it’s use to be. If it was called the Precision Predator, picking nits over the mushy stock, and barrel contour would be in order.

    • Might as well put a cool caliber into a cool gun – one that doesn’t fight you with cheap materials. I love the smoothness of my Win 70 Ultimate Classic .30-06. Racking rounds is a joyful experience. I wish America wasn’t so into cheap guns. I’m not like Dyspeptic where I intimately know every moving part of a gun, but a quality design is just more satisfying. Maybe I’m just getting olde, and would rather have quality than marketing or technology.

  3. Yet another dumb question:

    Is mounting a real rail on top of (or replacing entirely) the proprietary rail an option?

    • You can get standard picatinny rails for the predator at Brownell’s, it’s the same action as the regular short action American models. Boyd’s also has normal style rifle stocks for them now just not any thumbhole stocks yet. If you wanted the thumbhole style stock I would imagine you could re-contour the barrel channel of the ones they have available for the regular American short action featherweight thumbhole versions.

      I hunted for one in 6.5CM at Cabela’s for 5 months before they got any in. They didn’t have ANY nationwide in their inventory! Solid review, looks like I’ll be sticking to 120gr Hornady!

  4. I think these budget rifles have to use a detachable box magazine because the cheaply built receiver has to be inclosed at the top to be rigid enough, which would make loading from the top exceedingly difficult. However it does raise the question of why they can put detachable magazines on $400 rifles but not $700 rifles.

    • I agree. Looking at photos of both, the mossy looks like it might be a little better quality, but if it is not accurate it would be worthless.

  5. These rifles and similar ones like some of the low-end Savages are meant to get you hunting cheaply and effectively. They do that with nothing short of amazing value. They’re not meant to be tacticool sniper wannbe rifles or F-class match rifles. They’re cheap hunting rifles, and they’re damn good ones. If you want to tinker a bit by adding and bedding a proper stock and optics mount, you’ll have a grade-A rifle for well under $700. I am thankful I shoot in a time when I have the option to buy an MOAish rifle for under $500. This did not exist in the past.

  6. Run a router through the inside of the fore-end, and bed in some steel pipe. Would add about $15 and a few ounces for a stock that lets you get the most out of it. Fifteen dollars that would double the total stock value, but it would be a lot more shootable. 😉

    Me, I like wood or fiberglass.

  7. I really wanted one of these in 6.5 CM but was only able to get one in .308 or .243 as the local Cabela’s isn’t enlightened enough to carry 6.5mm calibers it seems.

    Under $400 and much nicer than the Savage Axis. Better trigger, much better stock. The Axis stock will flex enough to touch the barrel whereas the Ruger stock won’t. Lots of people like to epoxy in a bit of drill rod though which will make the forend stiffer than anything else you could care for.

    It’s just about perfect for whacking yodel dogs, which is what I bought it for (and what it was built for).

  8. I just got the RAR Predator in .243. Have not shot it yet, but I too am impressed by the features available for the price. This rifle is just waiting for someone to make a good chassis for it. Thats my hope.

  9. For hunting, at any distance, the only shot that really matters is the first one, so…I take a hunting gun to the range every so often and take one shot (cold bore) and if it hits where I was aiming, then it’s good to go. 400yd shots out of a hot barrel does not mean much other than it did hit the target.

  10. HOLY SMOKES!!! Finally got out to shoot mine in 6.5cm and this thing is dead nutz! At 200m with swirling 10mph wind it shot 0.65 MOA with the Hornady whitetail 129gr and 120 amax 😀 I did a couple mods… Filled the fore grip with fiberglass resin and a strip of glass clothe, added a tanker style muzzle brake and lightened the trigger pull to about 2.5 lbs. Also filled the buttstock with a lb of lead shot to give it better balance and great stuff foam, the mild expanding type.
    >brand new before I even zeroed
    <img src="https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzssV0sjhv9dY05zM2FybUJKY1k&quot;

  11. I bought this rifle in 308 just before the Michigan firearm deer season for 2016. One very important fact for me that none of these dippy twit gun rag writers seam to be pushing and aught to push: is the fact of
    rugger contribution to the fight with their million gun and follow up donation drives for the NRA.

    @#$% the rest of the manufactures, none of the rest of the bunch stepped up to the plate to see our second amendment protected. Only Ruger, and that’s leadership by example, not just political smoke blown up your ass.

  12. Bought one because of several factors, Ruger’s reputation, Ruger’s donation to the NRA and Second Amendment freedom, the detachable magazine is good for hunting, the trigger, I dont have a 6.5 Creedmore in my collection, the price, and the good reviews. Took it to the range and got good accuracy with stock ammo from the out of the box rifle. Convinced me it was worth putting a little into it. Bought a Boyd’s stock with a raised comb, pachmar pad, custom laser designs in the checkering and had it accurized. Machined the pillar blocks and glass bedded the stock, which took care of the cheap stock issue. A little heavy to carry due to the epoxy but I’m a big guy and that isn’t an issue with me. By time I got the work done hunting season was here and I stuck with my trusted 30/06 as I didn’t have time to figure out reloads that match the rifle. I am ready to start reloading and sighting to find the right cartridge for my new rifle and I am sure I will like it. I agree it would be easier to purchase a Precision but I think I should get good accuracy at any distance I will shoot and have a custom rifle that no one else at camp will have, and it really does look sharp custom done the way I wanted it. It was fun to build and it will be more fun to shoot both at the range at decent yardage and in the field at any ethical range. As for the muzzle break a 6.5 really doesn’t need one but if you want one look at the reviews on the APA Little Bastard for this rifle. I’m thinking about it more for astetics than the need for one. Hey, at 60 I think I have the right to look cool by virtue of building something sharp looking and highly functional. All at a reasonable cost.

  13. I have bought two of these rifles. As stated in my comment above, I bought the first RAP chambered in 7.62-.308 for my nephew to use for the 2016 Michigan deer season/ unofficial holiday. It took him 5 round with my Nikon M308-800 sitting atop still sporting the tupperware rubbermade cheap shit. He fired two rounds of my SMK 186 gr, hpbt. The double punched hole gave him his hold and the next three shots covered the 10X. I love seeing Savage shooters become enlightened through personal experience. The side loading of the trigger is not an issue with the Ruger like it is with the Savage. Not that is really an issue; sideloading the trigger is the real issue, stop doing that ! Try pressing straight back on the center point of the trigger with just the fleshy pad of the tip of your finger and stop choking it like you’re stroking your bone. My nephew will become the owner of the .308 and I picked up the second one for me chambered in 6.5 creedmoor for my personal build. I already own the RGSS .308 I love my scout rifle and at this time it is only chambered in .308 and .223; thus the purchase of the RAP in 6.5 creed.
    For $160 delivered to my door in 4 days I have already dropped it into boyds Prairie Hunter laminate stock in pepper finish as a temporary upgrade. In March Boyds will be releasing their new “At One” stock. The price of this new totally adjustable tuneable and customizable stock will be my next upgrade. I have considered the $400 price tag on the MDT chassis but the price goes up from their as this is a naked Chassis at that price.
    My M77 .270 is bedded and pillared into a Boyds Feather Light Thumbhole; this makes me question the use of the Feather Light with the RAP, being that the RAP is a tang safety that drops at about 15* toward the toe of the but pad. I have used Richardson microfit stocks as well. I have the Wildcat Thumbhole that has a beautifully designed Cheek rest that rises slightly to form a saddle for your cheek. BE WARNED! Richardson advertise “unfinished stocks”. The true description or condition of the stock should be stated that their stocks arrive rough milled and look like someone just carved it with a chainsaw. Be Prepared! TO SAND YOUR ASS OFF!!!!!!
    Anyway I’m turning into a paperback writer here, got to go for now, “but”! I will say that if you want a reasonable priced upgrade to your RAP Boyds has your hassle free solid or laminate stock waiting for you for under $200.

  14. I’ve bought two of the predator rifles. A 6.5 and a .308 even though I already have the M77 and RGSS in 308. Nevertheless medium/heavy contour barrel, 70* action box mzg for $400. Help out the 6.5 with a $160 Boyds prairie hunter stock. will be buying there new “At One” stock in March or as soon as it is released, shot show Boyds stated a probable March release. If you have one of these rifles do yourself a favor and get it off that tupperware bullshit plastic stock.

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