Ruger American Rimfire .22 Magnum
From Down Range TV
The new Ruger American Rimfire rifle in .22WMRF is one of the most accurate out-of-the-box rifles I’ve ever tested. If you’re interested in an inexpensive, fully featured small game and varmint rifle then read no further – just go buy one and be done with it. If you would like to know more, read on.
I tested the American Rimfire in .22 Long Rifle a couple of months ago but I really didn’t think the .22 WMRF Winchester Magnum Rimfire version of the rifle was going to be anything special. After all, with the exception of the magazines the two rifles are identical. Boy, was I wrong. What impressed me? There were two things; the first being the exceptional accuracy and the second being the quality and explosive impact of the new Hornady V-Max ammunition. I’ll get to both of those subjects in a moment, but first, let’s talk about what it takes to produce an accurate rifle.
Mechanical accuracy – the potential accuracy of a rifle absent human influence – is largely related to the quality of the barrel and action and how they are mated to the rifle stock. The usual prescription for accuracy is to bed the action in the stock and free-float the barrel. This keeps the action from wiggling around and keeps the stock from pressing on any part of the barrel. Rifle stocks that don’t warp or react to changes in temperature or humidity are preferred and the best of these are usually made of composite materials. Practical accuracy is determined by how well the rifle works with the shooter to take advantage of the mechanical accuracy potential, so things like the fit of the stock and the quality of the trigger come into play. I’m told that Ruger’s engineers were given a blank sheet of paper and turned loose to create the American Rifle series with the goal of producing the best rifle they could in terms of features, accuracy and value. These characteristics were included in the American Rimfire.
The barrel is hammer forged, target crowned at the muzzle and available in 18 and 22-inch lengths. Hammer forging produces an accurate barrel that’s easy to clean because the bore is smoother than one produced with cut rifling. The action is tightly bedded in an aluminum chassis within the composite stock and the barrel is free floated for its entire length to further enhance accuracy. To wring the best accuracy out of the Rimfire I recommend you snug down the two action bolts on the underside of the rifle to seat the action into the bedding block before you start shooting. The bolt travel is short, meaning it can be flicked back and forth rapidly, and this combines with the light weight of only 6 pounds to make the rifle feel lively and quick in the hands. Another American Rifle feature shared by the Rimfire is the Ruger Marksman trigger. Although it’s user adjustable I found the trigger to be excellent right out of the box and left it alone. On my sample it breaks crisply at 3 ¾ pounds. The tang safety falls naturally under the thumb and has only two positions; back for SAFE and forward for FIRE. The safety locks the trigger but allows the bolt to be opened or closed so the rifle can be unloaded or loaded safely. Summing up, this rifle combines mechanical and practical accuracy to produce a superbly accurate and user-friendly rifle.
Before you get to thinking I’ve gone off the deep end with my praise for this rifle let me tell you what happened when I took it shooting: My first three shot group off the bench with a box of twenty-something year old Winchester ammunition measured an impressive .55 inches. Shooting Hornady’s new V-Max ammunition my next group measured .33 inches – at 100 yards! This is outstanding out-of-the-box accuracy for any rifle, regardless of caliber or price.
You have two options for scope mounting on the American Rimfire Magnum. The receiver is grooved for the installation of tip off scope rings and the barrel is drilled and tapped so that scope bases can be attached. I installed a couple of Weaver #12 scope ring bases I ordered from Brownells along with a set of Burris low rings.
Next, I mounted a compact, lightweight Burris Timberline 3x-9x-32mm variable scope atop the rifle. The rings set the scope down really low, just barely clearing the folded down rear sight, and, as it turned out, I was able to use the lower comb of the two included stock modules. The Burris scope is a good fit for this rifle, being lightweight, compact and offering a clear, bright view. Set at 3x or 4x it works well for most shooting but can be dialed up to 9x for precision shots at longer ranges.
After zeroing the rifle at 100 yards and shooting some surprisingly small groups I was in for another surprise. Hornady advertises their V-Max ammunition as being explosive, with a 30-grain polymer tipped bullet designed for rapid expansion traveling at a muzzle velocity at some 2200 fps. With this in mind I brought a water-filled one-gallon plastic jug with me to the range figuring to test this explosive performance claim. I expected the Hornady ammo would punch a hole in the jug and splash some of the water around but the results far exceeded my expectations and gave me a bath in the process. I set the water jug on a stand in front of the backstop, stepped back about ten feet and let fly. The jug exploded and water flew everywhere, most of it on me. As I stood there dripping I took a moment to reflect on what I had just done, followed by a bit of wisdom: That was stupid. But I learned something; the V-Max bullet completely fragmented in the jug while blowing it apart. When Hornady says this ammo produces explosive results they aren’t kidding.
Small game and varmint rifles need to be accurate and this Ruger provides all the accuracy you could want. In the .22 Magnum chambering you can select solid bullets for hunting small game like squirrels and rabbits or faster, lighter, fragmenting bullets for pest control and varmint hunting. The Ruger American Rimfire is well suited to these roles and with a street price under $300 it’s a lot of rifle for the money.
About the Author:
Ed Head is a regular on Shooting Gallery and Down Range TV. He has worked for almost 30 years in law enforcement, first in the United States Air Force and then with the United States Border Patrol, retiring as a Field Operations Supervisor. During his Border Patrol career, Ed worked in a variety of patrol, investigative and training capacities. Ed has an extensive background as a firearms instructor, having trained thousands, ranging from beginners to police, military and special operations personnel. Having taught at Gunsite for 20 years, Ed first trained there under the world famous shooting school’s founder, Jeff Cooper, then later ran the school as the operations manager for more than five years. Ed lives in Chino Valley, Arizona, where he continues to teach and write.