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I have a soft place in my heart for rimfire rifles and and an extra soft spot for Ruger rimfire rifles. My first gun was a 10/22 which still keeps chugging despite the tens of thousands of rounds of poor quality ammuntion, dirt, and poor maintenance I’ve thrown at it over the years. And while it has been a great gun, there’s something to be said for having a bolt action gun in the safe. Especially for teaching new shooters the finer points of marksmanship. Enter the Ruger American Rifle in .22 LR . . .

Our test model is the Standard model which sports a 22 inch barrel and 13.75 inch length of pull on the buttstock. The RAR is also available in a Compact model which features an 18 inch barrel and 12.5 inch length of pull. Additional buttstocks are available from Ruger for those who like a shorter LOP on a long barrel rifle or a longer LOP on a Compact model. The RAR is also sold in .17 HMR and .22 WMR flavors. However, our test model is a .22 LR version.
Introduced late in August of 2013 (link for the presser here), the American Rifle boasts some really nice features for not a lot of money. Starting at the back and moving forward, I immediately noticed the aforementioned interchangeable buttstocks which allow for a “low” comb for iron sight shooting, and a “high” comb for use with optics. Additionally, the short and long length can be swapped out from the Compact and Standard versions. The high and low comb addresses one of my major issues with modern bolt guns as most manufacturers still see fit to use a low comb on rifles shipped without irons.  The combs are easy to change as they are a friction fit locked in place with the rear sling swivel. I managed to swap them back and forth in less than five minutes.
Further forward, the RAR has a crisp trigger that looks suspiciously like a Savage AccuTrigger, but isn’t. This test model breaks cleanly at 3 lbs with zero takeup or creep. Astute readers will also notice that the RAR takes the same detachable rotary magazines as its sibling, the 10/22. That alone is a major selling point for me. I hate how many different magazines I’ve collected over the years and having readily available, cross-platform magazine functionality is awesome.
Flipping the gun over reveals a very well thought out receiver that includes machined dovetails for 3/8″ tipoff rings, and mounting holes for Weaver #12 Bases. Worrisome though that the set of tipoff rings that worked so well on my 10/22 don’t seem to fit here. It appears they were made for a different shaped receiver than what I have in my hands. I wasn’t able to find a recommended set from Ruger, but I’ll keep researching. Either way, this gives the owner of a RAR the flexibility to utilize the mounting system of their choice.
Forward of the receiver is a familiar sight (pun intended). Ruger has elected to utilize a rear dovetail, and fiber optic front. I’ve never been a huge fan of this arrangement as I prefer a ghost ring rear. However, the Williams front sight is VERY bright and nestles naturally in the V. The screw pattern on the rear two receiver screws matches the 10/22 perfectly and TechSights advertises their MXT 200 as being a perfect fit for those that prefer the longer sight radius and easy sighting a ghost ring provides.
From a cursory once-over and some limited dry fire, I’d say Ruger has a winner on their hands. This rifle is a great choice for the novice shooter or experienced pro. Once the fundamentals of iron sight shooting are established, a scope can be added, the comb can be swapped and you’re off to the races. Additionally, the move to a 10/22 will be very easy given a similar sighting system, and the cross-platform magazine compatibility.
While .22 LR is rarer than hen’s teeth at the moment, supply will eventually catch up with demand, and we can go back to enjoying the finer points of plinking. If you happen to have a cache of ammo, or know that one day you will, Ruger wants you to grab one of these guns. Before you do, stay tuned over the next month or so while we put the RAR through some testing to see if first impressions last.

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  1. My son’s been wanting a bolt action to experiment with longer range accuracy (up to 400 yds at our local range). I’d like to oblige on a limited budget basis. One proposal was to get a bolt action .22 rimfire as above. You get to practice “long range” at 100 to 200 yds at a much smaller entry fee. Maybe a .22 magnum instead to be more consistent at 200 yds. I’m very interested in your review of how well it shoots. Here’s hoping it’s a good rifle.

    • If your thinking of saving money on entry fees, then maybe you should be thinking about ammo fees too.

      When 22 rim fire again becomes plentiful, it’s almost a certainty that the price will be higher, which means that 22 magnum will probably sell for three times the price of 22 long rifle, just as it has in the past.

      Neither the long rifle nor the magnum should be considered a 200 yard gun, although an expert rifleman may sometimes make a kill at that range.

      • As for ammo costs, any bolt action at all will be cheaper to feed than my AR. And I got a little stash of rimfires. A 10-22 would chew through it pretty quick, but a bolt action would make it last longer.

        As for range, the .22 mag should be good at 200 yards – for punching paper. It’s just a proper matter of compensating for range and drop. The downside as I see it is bullet selection. Most rimfires are lead roundnose style bullets versus the better wind-cheating designs of centerfire rounds. So wind deflection will be a bitch.

        If it turns out he likes the longer range challenge, then he can get a fricking job and buy his own high-end piece. Daddy’s free ride is coming to an end real soon. I got my own toys I want to buy.

    • If it’s newbie 200-400 yard, consider 223 or 308. 22lr can reach 400 yards, but the drop and wind drift can be frustrating.

      • 300-400 meters is doable for good shooters (long range shooters) with .22. It is actually a favorite of the long range shooters who don’t have easy acces to a 1000 meter range.

        100-200 is doable with a .22 if you practice a bit. I would recommend subsonic ammo (1050 fps, may be marked “standard velocity”). Mainly because the regular stuff goes transsonic at about 75 meters and accuracy suffers.

  2. In experience, 22lr is frustrating at best at 100 yards. 50 is pretty ideal, and you can focus on the basics of marksmanship, without worrying about the variables involved with longer range shooting.

    • I’m by no means a “good” shooter, and I’ve never had issues shooting a bolt action .22 rifle at 100 yards.

      Hell, with 15 minutes of instruction, I was consisting ringing steel at 200 yards with my Woodsman…

      • This is definitely the case with new Ruger rimfires. My 10/22, 22/45, and SR22 all specifically mention dry-firing as OK in the user manuals. They have a firing pin stop that prevents the pin from hitting the breech face when there’s no cartridge chambered.

  3. My first rifle, that I still own, is a Savage Mark II with a Brownell 4x scope. It has been an absolute tack driver with jacketed rounds, not liking lead bullets much at all. The one think I don’t like is the 10 round mag, which tends to get in the way of things, and that is a distinct advantage that the Ruger has. The Savage does not have an adjustable trigger either, but it isn’t really necessary, as it breaks cleanly. I don’t know about the barrels for the .22s, but Savage runs button rifled barrels that will usually outshoot the Ruger hammer forged barrels.

    Don, a .22LR will consistently hit a target at 250 yards, if you can figure the holdover, which at that point is four or five feet. There was a vid posted here with Plinkster dropping rounds fairly consistently on target at 450 yards (HUGE holdover). A more comfortable range is about 150 yards, where the drop is less than a foot with standard velocity rounds, less with high velocity rounds (aka Velocitors). Oh, and when you can find it, the ammo is cheaper than .22 mag.

  4. I bought this rifle the day it came out, put a Nikon 4x on it, and it shoots great. It is safe to dry fire, just like the 10/22, and any of the Mark pistols, as they ALL have a firing pin stops on them.

    • As always, RTFM (Read the Factory Manual!) Some rim-fire firearms (like my Ruger SR22 pistol) can be dry fired, just make sure the manufacturer approves of it.

    • Get your head out of 1980. Many modern rimfire firearms can be dry-fired as they have a stop on the firing pin that prevents it from impacting the breech face. That pesky user’s manual that comes with the gun will confirm if it is safe to do or not.

      If not, get some snap caps or make a few blanks. Problem solved.

    • Just shoot it lefty and cycle by reaching your left hand over, snagging the handle with your fingers, and using your palm against the receiver for leverage. Its a 22 so I doubt there’s much resistance cycling the bolt, I don’t have any problem cycling my Mosin Nagant like that. Try it at the store, its how the sniper from Saving Private Ryan did it.

      • I’m a lefty, and that’s how I have to work bolt guns. There are very few left-handed bolt action rifles, and the ones that do exist cost at least twice as much as the standard version. They just aren’t worth the money.

        • Savage makes lefty bolt actions, pretty good too.

          I do avoid bolt actions though. Mainly because I can shoot ambi and like to switch it up now and then.

      • My uncle is a south paw and has never owned a left handed rifle as he’s become so accustomed and efficient at operating right handed bolt action rifles in a manner similar to what B described.

    • The worst part of that recall is that while anyone who is affected gets a free magazine for their trouble, “Residents of Connecticut will receive a gift certificate to Ruger’s web store in lieu of a free magazine.”

      Because, I suppose, basic 10-round rotary magazines are disallowed in Connecticut. The stupidity level is astounding.

    • Not the .22 LR ones, it seems.

      “Ruger is issuing a recall of a batch of Ruger American Rimfires chambered for .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire and .17 Hornady Magnum Rimfire

  5. That is nice. But releasing a rifle of a caliber of which ammunition is nonexistum must be tough for Ruger. It must be disappointing for customers to have a rifle which you cannot fire for a couple of years. Heck, it may as well be a 45-90 Well, all things to those who wait I guess.

    • The day I bought my daughter’s rifle (American Rimfire in .22LR) I was able to buy ammo at three different stores.

      • That is good to know. Maybe things are finally turning around. One can only hope. Maybe it will reach my area.

  6. I just got in the door from my son’s house where we mounted the redfield 3×9 scope on my new Ruger American .243. That rifle feels so good and the trigger sort of works like a Glock trigger. Take up the slack on the doohickey in the middle until it reaches the main part of the trigger and it breaks clean.

    It’s raining right now but I’m hoping to get to the range tomorrow and sight it in.

    One thing I did notice about the centerfire version. It had a counter bored barrel. Is that true of the rimfire? I have a russian made .22 bolt gun sold under the winchester name here that has a counter bored barrelo and it’s a tack driver even with a cheap scope on it.

    • Thats really weird. I’ve got a 1923 Hex Nagant thats been counterbored, I presumed because the barrel crown was damaged at some point. Did a google and apparently some target rifles get counter bored from the start, including some Ruger 10/22s. The Russian’s apparently used counter boring on new rifles to reduce muzzle flash as well. No clue about whether its true or not.

    • Can someone explain what’s actually so bad about the barrel being counterbored, except that you effectively get a slightly shorter barrel (which, in most cases, doesn’t matter in the slightest – especially on longer rifles).

      • A new from the factory barrel that’s counter bored is not wrong. Maybe DG can fill in the details but my understanding is that counter boring proctects the most important part of the barrel, the muzzle crown.

        In the case of milsurp rifles that were not made with the counter bore adding the counter bore is removing damage to the muzzle crown which ruins accuracy. So your MN that is counter bored had the work done after manufacture to restore the damaged rifles accuracy.

        • Yep, that was my understanding. So a counterbored rifle is (assuming that counterbore is done correctly) just as accurate as a non-counterbored one, and basically sacrifices the length of the barrel equal to the depth of the bore to restore accuracy.

          So why are people making it a big deal? I often see complains about counterbored Mosins on the forum – not about any specific issue, just about the very fact itself.

        • I can only assume that the people complaining see the counter bored MN’s as damaged goods that needed a repair. none of mine have the counter bore. But I bought when they were plentiful and you had dozens to sort thru and pick the best. I only have 2 left. 38 izzies that are in decent shape. With the exception of an m44 that I destroyed I have given the rest away.

        • I hope I am not rude but how did you destroy a Mosin? Next thing will probably be that you destroyed one of the old Nokia cellphones.


        • It was a rough old m44 that I couldn’t get to shoot right. I didn’t so much destroy it as neglect it to death. All the x54 that I shoot is spam can milsurp which is corrosive. Every time I shot it I didn’t clean it and I stored it uncased in the garage.

          To its credit it remained fully functional even though it looked like a leaky cesspool after a lot of shooting and a damp winter. Basically my nerve gave out and I felt it was unsafe to shoot.

          On a good note I sold it to a gun buyback when they were still paying cash for guns. I got more from the cops than I paid for it and took the money to the next gun show and bought an SKS that I still have.


        • The point of the “counter-bored” muzzle is indeed to protect the crown.

          In the counter-bored case, the actual crown is the point where the bullet leaves the lands inside the counter-bore. When you break down the edge that is the true crown, you start to destroy accuracy. The bullet leaves the muzzle with an uneven gas pressure on one side or the other of the base of the bullet, and you start to see it show up downrange in larger groups.

          There are several types of crowns, and all of them have the same job: to protect that cut between the face of the barrel and the bore of the barrel. Some crowns are rounded (the classic American sporting rifle), some are an “11 degree target crown” and some are counter-bored. I’ve put a slight counter-bore (0.005″ into the bore, cut 0.010″ diameter outwards from the axis to take out the lands to the bottom of the grooves) inside rounded or “target” crowns to re-crown a barrel without touching the external profile (at customer requests).

  7. Got one (compact version in .22LR) for my daughter as her first rifle. Of course, I had to check it out. I’ve only had it to the range once. Incidentally I also have a 10/22 (agree about the magazines… sweet), a M&P 15-22, and a Browning BL-22. Love me some rimfires (the ammo situation notwithstanding). Fortunately, I stocked up on ammo (including .22LR) for years before the current panic.

    In my limited experience with the American Rimfire, I would declare it a “must have.” It’s that good. The trigger is the best I’ve experienced in a stock rimfire rifle.

    It will also come in handy for teaching newbies to shoot.

    You won’t be disappointed.

  8. If only a CZ 455 could take a Ruger-style rotary mag… that’d be the perfect low-cost .22 bolt action IMO. I handled an American Rimfire and while the ergos and sights are decent and the trigger is great, I don’t care for that synthetic stock. Too slippery. Looks and feels cheap. And the action is also inferior to a CZ or Savage, it seems to work fine but not as fluid or smooth. You could do far worse for the price though.

  9. I’m really looking forward to buying my 3 month-old son his first .22LR rifle, and I’ve been excited about the American Rifle. It would be a great start for him before he moves on to the Marlin 60 and beyond.

    I do wish that Ruger would team up with Tech-Sights and include one of their sights as a standard option, but perhaps Ruger just feels that not enough buyers care for iron sights.

  10. Is there a version with a threaded barrel? I’m looking for a .22 bolt to buy to go with my can, and so far I’ve had my eyes on Savage Mark II FV-SR, which looks perfect in almost every aspect… but I’d much prefer the Ruger magazine.

  11. I bought the exact same rifle for my daughter’s birthday recently.
    I did so because I have a number of other Ruger products and this rifle is essentially a rimfire version of the American in 30-06 I have.
    I dig the sights, the mag, the action, and the trigger.
    However, this rifle series has a significant point of departure from it’s center fire predecessor: the ejector.
    It’s attached to one of the bedding blocks which are embedded in the stock.
    Right away, any after-market stocks are going to be a challenge: not likely to be cheap and I’m not sure how successfully the bedding and ejector will be reproduced and what kind of fit and float it will give to the barrel and receiver.
    I took my daughter’s rifle home, cleaned it and decided to cycle some snap caps through the action to make sure all is in order before I go and break in the barrel.
    I used the blue A-Zoom brand caps.
    The dual extractor claws have no problem pulling out the cap, but the ejector was not kicking them out. Closer examination showed the ejector to be very loose and wobbly. Another RAR in 22 mag at the store where the gunsmith has their shop had an ejector that was immovable.
    Since my daughter’s birthday is less than two weeks away, and Ruger customer service indicated that they may not be able to get the bun back to me in time for the birthday (never mind getting to break in the barrel), I had to pay $45 for a repair (something about an adjustment (ie bending?) of the ejector and replacement of a spring).

    Very curious to hear if others have observed/encountered a similar ejector issue.

  12. You mentioned using 10/22 mags in the RAR. I read a lot of blogs and manufactures ads and I seem to remember something about the tolerances on the RAR mag well are a little differant from the 10/22 so all 10/22 mags won’t work in the RAR.

  13. Looks like another classic in the making. Love my 10/22, but I’ve had my eye on this one for quite some time. Would be a perfect choice for the beginner shooter and would probably have fewer occasions to choke up than the semi-auto 10/22 if/when you run across lousy .22LR ammo, which is rather notoriously dirty and so forth if you are buying the relatively cheap stuff.

  14. I wish that a US manufacture would make a high quality bolt action .22 again. I mean a real quality .22 – like the Winchester 52’s of old. To do this, I’d have to convince the marketing yahoos to give me a MSRP price point of at least $1500 and tell the lawyers that gunsmiths and engineers don’t try to write briefs, lawyers should quit trying to design triggers.

    As it is, we’re likely stuck with offerings like this. Plastic stock, cheap sights, etc. I

    • What are the options for good 22lr bolt guns? I dislike synthetic stocks, laminated wood does a good enough job of resisting weather without weighing a ton and looking boring. I thought looking through Buds I found one, but its a different Ruger model thats over $600 and sold out. I’d consider lever, but I’ve heard bad stuff about recent Henry’s. Basically looking for a classic lightweight squirrel sniper gun.

      • My Henry Frontiers (a pump action in .22S/L/LR and lever in .22 WMR) have both been excellent. You’ll probably pay about $50-75 more than this Ruger but they’re pretty well finished and good value for money. No reliability issues to speak of. Not sure about the base H001 though.

      • FWIW, I love love love my Browning BL-22 (lever-action). It’s my first and only real “pretty” gun. Got mine with the Maple stock and got lucky with some very nice “flaming” in the wood. But, the BL-22 isn’t cheap.

      • CZ is about the only new option out there in a reasonable price range. Take a look at the CZ 455.

        If you want to spend lots of cash, Anschutz makes sporters as well as target rifles.

  15. Regarding the rotary magazines for the RAR… I seem to recall that the 10/22 and RAR magazines are different due to the slimmer design in the receiver area of the RAR. Does this prevent (if this is indeed the case) a complete interchangeability of the rotary magazines between the RAR and the 10/22?

    • The magazines are completely interchangeable. The issue is one shared with synthetic stocked 10/22’s. The plastic of the magwell can be slightly off due to the manufacturing process. Usually a few minutes work with some sand paper will fix it problem.

  16. I can speak from personal experience about the Ruger 77/22 – bolt action .22 with a wood stock, looks like a scaled-down Ruger 77 bolt action. NICE little gun. with a 2.5-10X scope on it, using CCI Green Tag (good like finding any now), I can consistently put 10 rounds into a 6″ circle at 200 yards (from a cross-stick rest on a bench). Consistently – no flyers. If the new 22 American is anything like the 77/22, it will be a very nice little gun – especially for the price.


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