Spend any time on social media or reading the gun magazines and competitive shooting continues to grow in popularity. It may well be the fastest and most consistently growing sector of firearms use and sales.
While 3-gun is big, precision rifle competitions continue to grow in popularity. But the only thing holding it back is the cost of the rifle – especially if you want to win.
Top shooters use specialized calibers requiring extensive reloading. Rifle costs range from very expensive to stratospheric. Getting set up with a proven rifle and scope could cost you as much as ten grand. With chassis systems starting at over a grand and reaching twice that, it is just not easy to get started.
Sure, you can take a less capable rifle and have some fun, but it remains very difficult to do well, and that can be frustrating.
Most new shooters don’t expect to take the Pro Series by storm, but no one likes losing. What this discipline really needs is an affordable rifle that will do well, in a caliber that performs at long range, and does not break the bank.
There are some budget options out there that have done well, but Ruger has just brought a game changer to the deal: the Ruger Precision Rifle.
What’s In The Ruger Precision Rifle’s Guts
Ruger started with its proven American bolt action and built an entirely new rifle around it. Using a 70-degree bolt keeps things smooth and fast. The 4140 steel receiver is pre-hardened using an inline recoil path sending the bolt directly to the buttstock with no traditional drop.
Each upper includes a 20 MOA Picatinny rail secured by four 8-40 screws. Barrels are mated to the action requiring no bedding. Available as a 20-inch 308, or 24-inch 6.5 Creedmoor each barrel is cold hammer forged from 4140 steel using Ruger 5R rifling. Medium contouring keeps it light yet ensures precision accuracy. Threaded to 5/8 x 24 facilitates popular muzzle attachments and a competent gunsmith using standard AR tools can attach sound suppressors and barrels.
Covering the barrel is a standard AR (5.56mm) hand guard allowing complete user interchangeability with standard AR tools.
The 7075-T-6 lower consists of “halves” that accept multiple magazine platforms using the patented multi-magazine interface. Both SR25 and AICS patterned magazine can be used interchangeably without changing anything.
Ruger’s Marksman trigger is adjustable from 2.25 to 5 pounds using the included wrench located in the barrel shroud. The safety selector is located similarly to an AR, can easily be swapped to either side and is standard AR spec. Equipped with an AR style pistol grip, you get the perfect fit. Mated to the lower is a strong folding stock mechanism with a Ruger Precision MSR stock that includes a recoil pad and lower rail for a monopod.
It will accept any AR buffer tube, so pretty much any AR stock can be attached easily including rifle length sniper version. Molded into the lower is a magazine well front section contoured for use as a brace against barricades or obstacles. Stocks, grips, hand guards and the like can all be configured to your preference with nothing more than simple AR armorers tools. Hard anodized aluminum and phosphate coated steel protects it from the elements.
My test rifle was chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor and came in a cardboard box using custom fit foam along with two ten-round PMAGS.
Taking It To The Limit
Initial testing was completed during a Ruger media event held at the FTW outfitters located outside San Antonio Texas.
Each rifle was equipped with a Burris XTR scope mounted in Burris rings, mine was a 5-25 power model with a Mil reticle and Mil adjustments.
My worst 100-yard group through the entire course measured half an inch. with several in the .35-inch range. Shooting Hornady’s 140 grain AMAX, this rifle exhibited and maintained accuracy and consistency commensurate with rifles three or four times its $1,399 retail price let alone its expected street price at closer to a grand. Conditions were anything but pristine, yet it more than lives up to its precision name.
Stretching it out, we hit at 1,000 yards in the first shot. Shooting in shifting high winds, it was on steel at 1,200 yards pretty quickly. The bolt is smooth, fast, and reliable. Ejection is consistent at 4:00 over your control arm. Testing with both 10 round PMAGS, and Accurate AICS style magazines, the rifle worked perfectly. Both dropped free and fed well. If you already have a supply of expensive metal AICS magazines and you are set up, but the $15 PMAGS worked just fine.
Adjusting the stock to fit was simple without tools, and it stayed put throughout testing. Once in place it is very solid. Cleaning is simple — just fold the stock, remove the bolt, and go to work. My safety was moved to the right side for a thumbs forward grip. The trigger takes some getting used to — but it was crisp, and the trigger safety makes it feel like a two stage. It held consistent weight throughout.
Throwing On A Can
Testing for accuracy using three different loads Hornady won the day with my best five shot group measuring .40 inches at 100 yards. Everything grouped at around .50 inches. Adding my Delta P Design Brevis II Ultra 6.5mm suppressor recoil was all but non-existent. Designed specifically for Pro Series competition, it is perfect for this rifle. Weighing in at only 7.5 ounces it is short at only 5.5 inches adding 4.9 inches in overall length. At 1.4 inches in diameter you barely notice it is there, yet it’s ear safe with noticeable recoil reduction.
Using a straight back design for the rifle sends any recoil directly to the rear, making for better accuracy. Bolt reach and lift is about perfect, so it’s easy to stay locked in. Everything about this rifle is built for accuracy – fit, trigger and smooth operation.
Just for kicks we tested a couple other magazines. Mil-Spec M1A magazines worked just fine, same with a high quality AR10 magazine. For those wondering about Accuracy International AW magazines there was no such luck. They would not insert quite far enough to lock in, or allow the bolt to pick up a round. Using several other SR25 patterned magazines, Lancer, Larue and DPMS, they all worked just fine.
This is easily one of the most versatile and affordable precision rifles to hit the market in recent memory. Ruger put a ton of thought into this process from start to finish. Using inexpensive high capacity SR25 magazines is huge. Competitive stages with high round counts no longer require a magazine change. Bolt manipulation is fast with a large knob and smooth pull and lift.
Being able to swap out the hand guard, grip and stock lets you fit the rifle to you without adding a $2,500 stock. Using a 24-inch barrel in 6.5 Creedmoor you get out to 1,200 yards with factory Hornady 140 grain ammunition, plenty for most competitions and precision shooting.
Having used a number of vary expensive custom builds, this rifle just flat out does it all, and remains within reach of just about anyone. Even at retail it is less than most .308 ARs that will never reach this level of accuracy. It is going to bring the fun and challenge of true precision rifle shooting and competition to the masses, and that is a fantastic thing.
- Caliber/Gauge: 6.5 Creedmoor
- Barrel: 24 inches
- OA Length: 32.6 inches (folded) – 45.5 inches (extended)
- Weight: 10.6 Pounds
- Sights: Tapered or flat top rail
- Stocks/Grips: Ruger Precision MSR stock / AR pistol grip
- Action: 70 Degree 3 Lug Bolt Action
- Finish: Black Anodized
- Capacity: SR25 or AICS pattern Magazines
- Price: $1,200.00
Load Velocity Accuracy
Hornady 140 Grain AMAX 2700 .40 Inches
Nosler 140 Grain BTHP 2725 .48 Inches
Double Tap 127 Grain LRX 2800 .55 Inches
Bullet weight measured in grains, velocity in feet per second (fps) using a Magnetospeed V3 Chronograph. Accuracy in inches for three five round groups fired from 100 yards using a bipod as a rest from the prone position.