Review: Ruger American Rifle Predator Model in 308 Win
Pat Cascio 08.10.16
There’s not much that’s really exciting about bolt-action centerfire rifles. I mean, they all pretty much look and operate the same. But there was just “something” about the Predator model of the Ruger American rifle, so I requested a sample in 308 Winchester.
A quick rundown on the Predator is in order. First off, you’ll notice the short 18″ barrel. I’ll admit that you will lose some velocity because of the short barrel, but not enough to worry about. I don’t recall taking any deer beyond 150 yards, and most are taken within 100 yards. I just don’t see the need to shoot out to 800 yards in order to hunt deer or most other big game.
The Predator is a lightweight at just 6.2 pounds, and with an overall length of just 38 inches, it’s fast-handling. The rifling twist of 1:10 should handle just about any bullet from a 308 Win. The length of pull, which is perfect for me, is 13.75 inches, and the synthetic stock is moss green with a black recoil pad.
This rifle wears no sights, and rather than the special Ruger scope rings, it comes with an aluminum picatinny Weaver-style rail on top of the receiver for scope mounting with rings of your choice. The detachable rotary magazine holds 4 rounds. Steel finish is matte black.
The Predator comes with the Ruger “Marksman” trigger, which is their user-adjustable trigger with a pull weight range of three to five pounds. It is easy to adjust pull weight. After removing the action from the stock, adjust the little screw with an allen wrench. My sample was a bit heavy for my taste, so I adjusted it to my liking.
A sliding tang-mounted safety is also there–quick and easy to operate with your thumb.
The bolt is massive, and that’s not a bad thing. Ruger has always impressed me by over-building most of their guns so they can take a beating. The bolt has three lugs, a short 70-degree throw, and it operates smoothly.
The stock has “Power Bedding” in the stock. This consists of aluminum bedding blocks in just the right places to anchor the receiver and allow the barrel to free-float. Speaking of the barrel, it is a heavy tapered barrel–a bit heavier than those on the standard Ruger American rifles. The barrel is cold hammer forged and is threaded on the end (thread protector cap included), so you can install a sound suppressor, flash hider, or muzzle brake. It is threaded 5/8″-24, so it will take all AR muzzle devices. Nice touch, Ruger!
I mounted a Nikon 3-x9x 40mm ProStaff scope to my Predator sample, and it is a match made in Heaven. I was ready to take the gun afield to see what it could do.
I tested with the following ammo:
- Black Hills 168-ghrain A-Max
- Black Hills 175-grain Match HP
- Buffalo Bore 175-grain “Sniper” HP
- Winchester white box 147-grain FMJ
- Prvi Partizan 145-grain FMJ
Once I had the scope zeroed at 100 yards, I set about to really see what the Predator was capable of. Trigger pull was outstanding. First up was the Winchester FMJ, which gave me consistent 2″ groups. Both of the Black Hills loads would give me 1-1/2″ groups if I did my part. The Buffalo Bore ammo went a tad larger, with groups just a bit over an inch and a half.
Last up was the Prvi Partizan ammo. This was the first time I’d used this ammo in a bolt-action rifle, and I found that the bolt was tight with this ammo–both closing it after chambering a round, then opening it after firing. After a few rounds, I stopped using this ammo. Group size was around 2 inches.
I later tried this ammo in another bolt-action rifle with the same results (tight bolt, no sign of overpressure on the brass).
The rubber recoil pad that came with the Predator did an outstanding job of absorbing recoil. It’s not that I find the 308 Win to be punishing, but I was a bit concerned with felt recoil because of the light weight of the rifle. My fears were unfounded.
I was hooked on the Ruger Predator, so I took it out on several more shooting sessions. The tightest group I ever managed to shoot with it was 1.25″ with the Black Hills 175-grain match HP. I believe the Predator is capable of 1″ groups if you find the right ammo.
I’m not complaining. Remember, the barrel on the Predator is only 18″ long. And after firing more than 300 rounds through my sample gun, I am going to have to mail a check to Ruger because this sample is staying put!
You can get the Predator in 223 Remington, 204 Ruger, 22-250, 243 Winchester, and 6.5 Creedmoor – as well as in 308 Win.
Anything I didn’t like about the Predator? Well, to be honest, I did have some concerns about the polymer 4-round magazine that comes with the gun. It just seemed a bit fragile. However, I loaded the magazine and repeatedly dropped it onto some rocks. None of the rounds popped out and the magazine didn’t get damaged, other than some scrapes and scratches. So, my concerns were unfounded.
Full retail on this Ruger Predator is $529.00, and I believe it is a well-built and accurate rifle. If the Predator model isn’t for you, look around; they have a full line of Ruger American Rifles.