What used to cost several thousand dollars for a custom rifle can now be purchased for around a grand. And it’s a shooter with sub minute-of-angle standards beyond the coveted 1000 meter mark right out of the box.
Although long-range shooting is becoming wildly popular, the costs associated with this sport still remain a major impass for newcomers to the sport…until now. Ruger, a company with a long-standing commitment to manufacturing traditional firearms, has rocked the corporate boat with its latest bolt action rifle. The (RPR) Ruger Precision Rifle looks unlike anything that has left Ruger’s Newport, New Hampshire facility. It’s such a break from tradition that I’m confident the initial design would be on the drawing room floor had Alexander Sturm or William Ruger still walked the earth.
Fortunately, Ruger recognized the dire need for an affordable rifle in this segment and with this radical design comes a shift in the precision rifle paradigm. What used to cost several thousand dollars for a custom rifle can now be purchased for around a grand. And it’s a shooter with sub minute-of-angle standards beyond the coveted 1000 meter mark right out of the box. In fact, the current CEO, Mike Fifer was quoted saying, “1600 yards. Enough said” in reference to the Ruger Precision Rifle.
As an Army Ranger, I’ve spent a lot of time behind the sights of my issued M4 and sidearm but never a precision rifle. Aside from a few range days where the Sniper Section let us play with their surgical tools of death, I was never formally taught how to dial-in for that long shot. In these next few articles, I’ll cover both the equipment and training required for the average Joe to shoot effectively at longer than conventional distances. My goal is to unleash that “inner sniper” that has been bottled up inside me since my childhood days shooting at rodents through the crosshairs of some cheap pellet gun.
If you are an average guy like me and want to explore the possibility of breaking into this tight-knit group of precision shooters, here are a few of the topics I’ll be covering in future articles. I plan to maintain a reasonable budget and show you the potential upgrade path to this already competent system.
- Ruger Precision Rifle (affordable precision)
- Optics (rifle scope & spotting scope)
- Accessories and areas to upgrade
The Loadout Room has published several great articles on building a precision rifle, but I feel a fresh look at this subject based specifically on the Ruger Precision Rifle is warranted. Its affordable price point and long list of high-end features make it much easier for someone exploring precision shooting to pull the trigger without the financial commitment previously required.
The Ruger Precision Rifle was designed from the ground up to be a game-changer. And change the game it has. Originally introduced in 2015, this rifle has created a lot of buzz in the media and within the firearm industry. The RPR is offered in 3 different short action calibers, .243 Win, 6.5mm Creedmoor and the trusty .308 Win, all based on Ruger’s proven American rifle action. The Ruger engineers were using their collective minds when they designed a receiver that would accept AR bits and pieces, allowing owners to easily personalize their RPR.
With an MSRP of $1399 and a street price hovering closer to $1000, this rifle has the ability to reach the masses as long as Ruger can crank them out fast enough to keep up with the high demand. I was on a waiting list for a 6.5mm Creedmoor variant at my local gun shop for just longer than my patience could last. Anticipation got the best of me so I jumped at the chance when one became available on Gunbroker well below retail. I chose the 6.5mm Creedmoor caliber because it was a cartridge specifically created by Hornady for long-range shooting. So what do you get for around a grand?
The ass-end of the Ruger Precision Rifle may be one of the more complex pieces of this firearm. Ruger designed the adjustable buttstock to attach to the receiver via an AR carbine length buffer tube. Why does a bolt action rifle need a buffer tube you may ask? The short answer is, it doesn’t. What it does provide is a straight recoil path from the barrel through the receiver into the buttstock which eliminates the traditional bedding process necessary for conventionally stocked rifles. It also allows the flexibility to use any AR compatible buttstock should the Ruger version not suffice. The importance of an adjustable buttstock is paramount because the majority of the shooter interface is with this portion of the rifle.
First, the generous butt pad is a welcome addition for anyone planning to spend a day at the range with any high powered bolt action rifle. It not only mitigates the recoil felt by the shooter but also provides a surface that will allow a solid purchase in the shoulder pocket. The buttstock allows an ample LOP length-of-pull adjustment that will accommodate most shooters.
To adjust the LOP and comb height, Ruger decided to go with a cam style quick release which I’ve come to dislike after playing with it. The problem is minor but it just doesn’t operate very smoothly as you adjust the LOP. Understanding that once you get these adjustments dialed in, you probably won’t need to fiddle with the levers ever again so it remains a minor complaint.
The comb height is adjusted the same way as the LOP so my gripe with the locking mechanism carries over here. The adjustable cheek piece design is well thought out, however. An adequate amount of comb height is achievable with this setup. The cheekpiece itself is a symmetrical piece of hard plastic that doesn’t discriminate against left-handed or off-hand shooting and is reasonably comfortable. It can also be adjusted front to rear to ensure the second point of contact, your cheek, is well established.
Finally, the toe portion of the buttstock can easily be grasped with the shooters offhand to assist securing the rifle to the shoulder. The flat bottom of the buttstock features an integrated picatinny rail where the installation of a folding monopod, like the one from AccuShot, can help level and stabilize the rifle while shooting. The buttstock also has a built-in QD sling mount to help haul this beast around.
In between the buttstock and the receiver lies a clever folding mechanism that significantly reduces the overall length of this rifle for travel and/or storage. As lengthy as the Ruger Precision Rifle is, at 45″ overall, folding it to 34″ meant I didn’t have to rearrange the interior of my gun safe for this tack driver to fit next to my carbines.
Unlike other folding stocks I’ve handled, this one is rock solid with absolutely zero play once it’s extended. Folding the stock out of the way allows the bolt to be removed and an easy path to cleaning the chamber and bore which is why I suspect Ruger elected to go this route in the first place. A second QD sling mount can be found machined into the back of the receiver once the buttstock is folded.
The Ruger Precision Rifle’s upper receiver is CNC machined from pre-hardened 4140 Chrome-moly steel and mated to a 2 piece lower receiver which is precision machined from aerospace-grade 7075-T6 aluminum. The upper receiver houses a 3 lug solid bolt identical to the one found in the reliable Ruger American Rifles.
The bolt arm is pre-threaded in case the supplied oversized handle isn’t what you prefer. The compact 70-degree throw and smooth action of this rifle are quite pleasing and easily actuated while laying behind the rifle. The plastic bolt shroud found at the rear of the bolt cleverly houses an allen key for trigger adjustments.
I really wish the guys at Ruger would have built the shroud from aluminum, rather than flimsy plastic, but more often than not the price point will dictate these finish details. And there’s always the aftermarket that can address these details if you feel you need something different, like this bolt shroud from LRI.
Atop the receiver sits a 20 MOA rail which is an advantage found on custom long-range rifles allowing the shooter enough elevation adjustment to make those shots at ridiculous distances. The user-adjustable Ruger Marksman trigger is about as good a stock trigger as I’ve ever felt and can be adjusted with the supplied Allen key between 2.25-5 lbs.
The trigger on my gun broke at 2.5 lbs from the factory and I highly doubt that I’ll change a thing. The take-up is so minor and the break exceptionally clean and crisp that the aftermarket segment will be hard-pressed to build a better unit. The pistol grip is a very basic plastic AR grip and will be one of the first things I replace on this gun. I always run the Magpul MOE+ pistol grip on my AR’s and this rifle will be no different.
The magazine well of the Ruger Precision Rifle houses a little piece of engineering nirvana, a system called the multi-magazine interface. This innovative system can accept M110, SR25, DPMS, Magpul and AICS magazines. Pushing the mag release forward not only disengages a magazine with a rear catch, it will do the same for magazines utilizing a side catch. This allows the shooter a wide selection of available magazines, both metal and polymer, like the pair of Magpul 10 rounders that are included with the rifle.
A critical area often overlooked is the front of the magazine well. Ruger designed it with an angled geometry to help bite into a barricade in a situation where you’d need to brace the weapon against one.
The medium contour barrel is secured to the receiver with an AR style barrel nut facilitating the use of any AR style handguard. Ruger chose the 15″ KeyMod unit from Sampson for the Ruger Precision Rifle which by most standards is a decent piece of kit. The Sampson handguard has a full-length picatinny rail along the top and uses KeyMod to allow attachment of any additional accessories. Ruger includes a short piece of KeyMod picatinny rail as well as a QD sling swivel mount which allows you to install a bipod and sling.
Another advantage of using an AR style barrel nut is the ability for the end-user to remove the barrel. If you own a vise and an AR armorers tool along with the Ruger “go/no-go” gauges, you can easily install a new barrel. Before you even think about swapping barrels, know that the one you already have is capable of sub MOA groups at a kilometer or better. Ruger chose a cold hammer-forged 4140 chrome-moly steel barrel with 5R rifling at minimum bore and groove dimensions. Barrel lengths are caliber optimized with .308Win getting a 20″ barrel, 6.5mm Creedmoor a 24″ barrel and finally a 26″ pipe for the .243Win. Each medium contour barrel measures .75″ at the end and has 5/8-24 threading to allow the use of a muzzle device or suppressor.
Ruger Precision Rifle Specs courtesy of Ruger.com:
- Medium-contour (.75″ at the muzzle) barrel features an installed thread protector with 5/8″-24 threads.
- Cold hammer-forged 4140 chrome-moly steel barrel with 5R Rifling at minimum bore and groove dimensions, minimum headspace and centralized chamber.
- Equipped with a Samson Evolution KeyMod™ Handguard. May be configured with any AR-style handguard.
- 20 MOA Picatinny rail secured with four, #8-40 screws for increased long-range elevation capabilities.
- “Upper” receiver and one-piece bolt are precision CNC-machined from pre-hardened 4140 chrome-moly steel to minimize distortion.
- Three-lug bolt with 70° throw features dual cocking cams and a smooth-running, full diameter bolt body.
- In-line recoil path manages recoil directly from the rear of the receiver to the buttstock, not through a traditional bedding system, providing maximum accuracy potential.
- Ruger® Precision MSR stock with QD sling attachment points features a bottom Picatinny rail and soft rubber buttpad. The left-folding stock hinge is attached to an AR-style buffer tube and accepts any AR-style stock.
- Barrels can be easily replaced by a competent gunsmith using AR-style wrenches and headspace gauges.
- Magazine well front is contoured for a positive grip for bracing against shooting supports.
- Oversized bolt handle for positive bolt manipulation, with 5/16″-24 thread for easy replacement.
- Bolt disassembly tool is stored in the bolt shroud for easy striker channel cleaning.
- “Lower” magazine well halves are precision machined from aerospace-grade 7075-T6 aluminum and are Type III hard coat anodized for maximum durability.
- Patent-pending multi-magazine interface functions interchangeably with M110, SR25, DPMS and Magpul-style magazines and AICS magazines (works with some M14 magazines).
- Ruger Marksman Adjustable™ trigger is externally adjustable with a pull weight range of 2.25 to 5.0 lbs.; wrench is stored in the bolt shroud.
- Extended trigger-reach AR-style grip and 45° reversible safety selector. May be configured with any AR-style grip and selector.
- Also includes two, 10-round Magpul® PMAG® magazines.
If you’ve been running a mental tally of features in this article and are fairly knowledgeable of the costs associated with a custom rifle build, you’ll be hard-pressed to cash out under $3000, much less Ruger’s MSRP of $1399. At the time of writing, the snow is melting in Michigan and I’m shopping for a suitable rifle scope. I’ve also enrolled in a Long Range 1 & 2 classes as well as a Ballistics class at the Marksmanship Training Center in Lake City, Michigan, and will share with the Loadout Room readers the skills learned and the equipment needed to shoot beyond conventional distances. For now, I suggest getting in line at your local gun shop for a Ruger Precision Rifle as the demand is currently exceeding the supply.