The Ruger American Rimfire | Outdoor Channel
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The Ruger American Rimfire

By: Ed Head

From Down Range TV

Do you remember your first rifle? I do, and I still have it. Purchased when I was 12 years old, that bolt action .22 caliber rifle was my near-constant companion for many years and many thousands upon thousands of little rimfire rounds fired. I even took it to school with me when I participated in our high school rifle team. As I grew older and other activities and calibers captured my attention I drifted away from my first rifle and forgot how much fun good bolt action .22 rifles can be. The new Ruger American Rimfire has reminded me of the fun I had growing up with a .22 rifle and I don’t intend to forget the lesson.

The folks at Ruger introduced us to their new centerfire bolt action rifle a couple of years ago. Called the American Rifle it was designed by a team who were given a blank sheet of paper and a mandate to come up with an all new, accurate, reliable and economically priced rifle. After only a year, a very short time by firearms development standards, the team completed their work and the American Rifle went into production. As you might expect the rifle has been very popular. Now Ruger has a rimfire version that shares many of the features of the larger American Rifle and should prove to be just as popular.

I’m going to cut right to the chase and tell you I like this rifle and I’m buying it from Ruger. It’s a really good .22 rifle for beginning shooters or those of us who are delighted to rediscover the joy we experienced when we started shooting. The rifle is being marketed in two calibers and a standard and compact version. Calibers are .22 Long Rifle (LR) and .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire (WMR). My rifle is chambered in .22LR and according to the instruction manual it will chamber and shoot the full range of .22 rimfire ammunition, although Short, Long and other ammo such as CB caps will probably not feed from the magazine and will have to be single-loaded into the chamber. Speaking of the magazine, the American Rimfire comes with one 10 round rotary magazine Ruger has borrowed from the 10/22 semi-automatic rifle. This is a proven design and if you happen to have a 10/22 your spare magazines will work in the Rimfire. Any of the higher capacity 10/22 magazines, including Ruger’s 25 round BX-25 magazines, can be used as well. For getting beginning shooters started Ruger has 1 shot and 5 shot magazines available at

The standard rifle has a 22 inch barrel, a full size composite stock and weighs 6.0 pounds. The compact version weighs 5.38 pounds and comes with an 18 inch barrel and a shorter stock with 12.5 inch length of pull (the distance from the face of the trigger to the middle of the butt stock) to fit smaller shooters. But here’s the really cool part: Both rifles come with two stock inserts. One has a low comb for use with the open sights and the other has a higher comb to bring the eye into alignment with a riflescope should you choose to mount one. So let’s say you buy the compact rifle as a first rifle for a youngster. They can start with the open sights as they learn about marksmanship then the stock can be changed as they grow in experience and learn to use a scope. Later the longer stock inserts for the full size rifle can be purchased from Ruger to fit the rifle to them as they grow in stature. Or, you can start with the full size rifle and size it for a smaller shooter by replacing the stock inserts with the short ones. What a great idea, and I applaud Ruger for coming up with it.

The American Rimfire comes with an adjustable rear sight and a green fiber optic front sight. Riflescopes can be mounted in the 3/8″ rimfire scope base machined into the receiver or Weaver #12 bases can be attached to the alloy steel receiver that is drilled and tapped for scope bases. Like the American Rifle the rimfire version features a free floated barrel with the action bedded in an integral bedding block system, a hammer forged barrel and Ruger’s Marksman trigger that is user adjustable from between 3 to 5 pounds. The bolt throw, meaning the distance the bolt has to be pulled back, is short and this makes for quick reloading. The safety is located on the tang, where it should be, and has two positions; safe and fire. On safe the trigger is blocked but allows the bolt to be opened for safer loading and unloading of the rifle.

Before shooting the rifle I removed the two action screws, took the barreled action out of the stock and adjusted the trigger pull to about 3.5 pounds. This is easy to do by turning the hex head adjustment screw on the front of the trigger assembly. When I put the rifle back together I made sure to snug down the action screws to seat the action in the bedding block.

I mounted a Leupold 2 X 7 scope on the Rimfire and changed the stock insert to the one with the high comb. This is easily accomplished by unscrewing and removing the rear sling swivel stud and pulling the insert off the stock. After sliding the other insert into place the swivel stud is screwed back in and you’re done. For accuracy testing I installed a bipod on the front sling stud and fired the rifle from prone at 50 yards. Several brands of 22LR ammunition averaged 5 shot groups right at, or just a bit less than 1 inch.Conventional wisdom has it that .22 rifles show distinct preferences for one brand of ammunition but I found the rifle to be very consistent from brand to brand with the differences in group size probably more attributable to my shooting skill than differences in the ammunition. This is good news as these days .22 LR ammo is hard to come by so it’s comforting to know whatever you can get your hands on is going to be more than accurate enough in the American Rimfire.

After finishing the group shooting I got up off the ground, inserted a BX-25 magazine into the rifle and enjoyed shooting until I had used up all of my ammunition. Whether as a rifle for learning to shoot, for plinking, or small game hunting, this new Ruger fits the role perfectly. The American Rimfire makes an excellent companion rifle to the American Rifle and can be used for inexpensive practice and training. The American Rimfire Rifle has a suggested list price of $329. As I said, it’s a keeper, and one I hope to enjoy for many years to come.

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