If you are one of those folks who would enjoy precision shooting as a hobby, but you don’t have the unlimited funds of the military, federal government or even those of a large law enforcement agency you’ve been out of luck — up until now.
You can easily spend $3,000 to $7,000 on the gun and that doesn’t even count the scope rings, bi-pod, sling, extra magazines, drag bag and especially the glass. Now, count in the ammo and you’ve got one really expensive hobby. You may as well collect muscle cars. However, the folks at Ruger have a reasonably inexpensive solution. It’s called the Ruger Precision Rifle (RPR) and you can get the gun for under $1,000. (Compare all 7 versions of the Ruger Precision Rifle at GunGenius.com)
A Well Built Gun
This gun is really built well. The upper receiver and one-piece bolt are precision CNC-machined from pre-hardened 4140 chrome-moly steel. The lower receiver and magazine well halves are precision machined from aerospace-grade 7075-T6 aluminum and then Type III hard-coat anodized.
The barrel is cold hammer-forged 4140 chrome-moly steel with 5R rifling. It was designed so a competent gunsmith using AR-style wrenches and headspace gauges can easily replace the barrel.
The attached and free floating Samson Evolution Series, KeyMod, alloy, floating handguard on the Gen-1 model is topped with a 20 MOA Picatinny rail for increased long-range elevation capabilities and it covers the full length of the handguard. On the Gen-2, the Picatinny rail is also 20 MOA, but only atop the receiver portion and removed from the handguard to allow more room for a scope with a very large objective lens.
The RPR has Ruger’s 3-lug bolt featuring dual cocking cams, a smooth full diameter body and a 70-degree throw. The bolt disassembly tool is stored in the bolt shroud for easy striker channel cleaning. An oversized bolt handle allows positive manipulation and it’s easily replaced with a number of 5/16″-24 thread aftermarket bolt handles.
One of the really cool features of the RPR is the Ruger Precision MSR stock with QD sling attachment points featuring a bottom Picatinny rail and a soft rubber buttpad. The stock folds to the left and is attached with an AR type buffer tube assembly. It’s fully adjustable for length of pull and comb height.
Related Stories: New Ruger Products for 2017
Shooting the RPR was my first experience with the Ruger Marksman Adjustable Trigger. It’s externally adjustable with a pull weight range of 2.25 to 5.0 lbs. The adjustment wrench is stored in the bolt shroud. The trigger breaks crisply and there’s absolutely no creep at all. It’s one of the best production triggers I’ve shot in a long time. But, for those of you who demand a trigger system you like even more, there are quite a few aftermarket choices out there.
Old vs. New
There are two versions of the RPR, the original (Gen-1) has a full-length Picatinny rail, from the receiver to the forward tip of the KeyMod, alloy, floating handguard. The Gen-2 version generally runs about $200 more than the Gen-1 and has done away with the Picatinny rail on the handguard in order to increase scope clearance. Personally, I like the increased Picatinny real estate and have never had an issue with scope mounting clearance. The Gen-1 easily handled the Meopta ZD 6-24X56 scope pictured.
The Gen-1 gun is equipped with a plastic bolt shroud where the Gen-2 version has an aluminum shroud. The aluminum shroud is certainly more durable. Since the RPR was introduced there are a number of third-party accessories now available — a third party aluminum bolt shroud runs around $40 and many have some very interesting sayings or graphics printed on them.
Perhaps the biggest difference between the two generations is the inclusion of Ruger’s Precision Rifle Hybrid Muzzle Break. Both the Gen-1 and Gen-2 are fitted with 5/8″-24 threaded barrels and include a thread protector. Ruger claims up to a 58-percent reduction in recoil with their hybrid break. The Ruger Precision Rifle Hybrid Muzzle Break will cost you just under $100 if purchased aftermarket.
Related Stories: Ruger 10/22 History
The RPR Gen-1 is available in .308 Winchester, 6.5 Creedmoor and the very rare .243 Winchester. You can find the Gen-2 in .308 Winchester, 6.5 Creedmoor and now, a new edition, the .223 Remington.
Since I had the Gen-1 version RPR I chose the Precision Armament M11 Severe-Duty Muzzle Brake and their Accu-Washer Muzzle Device Alignment System. It runs about $20 more than the Ruger break. The M11 has a massive symmetrical blast baffle combined with two compensated front baffles. It redirects gas to the sides and upward minimizing muzzle rise and pushes the gun straight back. It also negates almost all ground disturbance so you’re not spitting out pebbles when shooting prone in the dirt. It takes the .308 Winchester recoil impulse and reduces it to about that of a .223 Remington.
If you want to hit your target you have to be able to clearly see your target — thank you Command Sergeant Major Obvious. There are a great deal of top-notch Scope manufacturers out there. One on the thriftier end of the spectrum is Burris. But, don’t discount them because of their lower prices. I have been truly impressed with their quality of build, clarity and light gathering capabilities. The Burris Tactical offerings are very fine scopes.
Vortex is in the mid-ground cost wise. They have some of the clearest and most robust scopes on the market today. The Vortex warranty is second to none. If it breaks — no matter how — send it back to them and they’ll replace it. I saw one of their high-end spotting scopes come in under warranty. There was an unmistakable bullet hole right through the barrel of the scope. They promptly sent a brand new scope to the owner and put the totally destroyed scope in the “You Won’t Believe This Crap” display case.
This is a Czech company that has been around over 100-years. They’ve been quietly engineering and producing the glass for a number of the highest end European scope manufacturers. They have headquarters located in Prerov, Czech Republic and a second headquarters in Long Island, NY. The New York State facility conducts state of the art engineering, manufacturing and assembly. It’s the home of their aerospace, general defense contracting and North American sports optics divisions.
I opted for the Meopta ZD 6-24X56 RD model. This is a tactical scope with a lighted reticule and parallax adjustment along with tall easily used — even with gloves — adjustment turrets. This particular scope was equipped with their MilDotII ranging reticule. It was clear, crisp and easy to use. The scope was specifically engineered for 7.62×51 NATO (.308 Winchester), .338 Lapua Magnum, .50 BMG or 12.7mm calibers. You can get Meopta scopes at GunBroker.com.
I have the luxury of living in rural southern Colorado with lots wide open spaces and huge ranches. Over at a friend’s thousand-acre ranch we have a pretty cool range set up. I zeroed the gun at 100-yards using 168-grain Black Hills Match A-Max ammo as I’ve always had the best luck with it right out of the box. I wasn’t disappointed. After 10-rounds it was in the ‘X’ ring. Then I shot for a group from sandbags. It was a 5-round group measuring just under .5″. The next box of ammo was the new Sig Sauer .308 Win 168-grain OTM Match Rifle that steps out at 2,700 fps. Again, .5″, but just about an inch high and two inches left. A couple of scope adjustments and it was on the ‘X’ as well. I think that a reasonable conclusion would be that this gun really likes 168-grain ammo. And, I believed that was true until I fed in a magazine load of Black Hills .308 Win Match 175gr Boat Tail Hollow Point. From the bags at 100-yards the gun grouped at just a hair over .25″. The groups opened up, but were still below one-MOA with Hornady 155-grain A-Max. So, I believe with factory ammo the sweet spot for this gun is 168 to 175-grain ammo.
Next we went over to the long-range area. Because I had such good luck with the Black Hills 175, I loaded up the two included magazines. I had first round hits at 350-yards, 525-yards and 670-yards. Then I handed the gun over to my friend, who did precision shooting for a living over 26-years with US Army Special Forces and he proceeded to ring the steel 8″ targets at 700 and 850-yards. I would have to say the combination of this gun, the Precision Armament M11 muzzle break, the Meopta scope and really good ammo is not only fun to shoot, but would be a real winner in precision rifle competition.
Get into the Game
The Precision Shooting hobby is a whole lot of fun. You can meet great friends and learn the craft in some terrific schools all across the country. Don’t be intimidated by the prices of the equipment and think you need a $7,000 gun with a $3,000 chunk of glass on top of it. I’ve seen a lot of guys that can’t hit anything with that type of equipment. They curse it and generally don’t have a good time. You can have a great time with the Ruger Precision Rifle. It all comes down to Operator Head Space and Timing.
For more information, visit www.ruger-firearms.com
Get your own Ruger Precision Rifle at GunBroker.com
RUGER PRECISION RIFLE® SAFETY BULLETIN
Ruger has issued a Product Safety Bulletin for certain Ruger Precision Rifles due to the potential for interference between the aluminum bolt shroud and the cocking piece (also known as the firing pin back). Learn more here.