There’s never been a better time to buy a “budget” rifle. Between the Ruger American, Savage Axis, and TC Compass- today’s budget-minded rifle shopper will be faced with some compelling choices with a LOT of features. And that can lead to “analysis paralysis”!
My friend Eric Peterson was recently faced with this quandary while he decided which rifle to buy in 6.5 Creedmoor. Eric decided to go with a familiar platform: the Ruger American Rifle. This time, he decided to upgrade from the two “base model” Ruger American rifles he already owns: one in .243 Winchester, and one in 7mm Remington Magnum. This new rifle from Ruger is called the “Ruger American Rifle with Go Wild Camo“. The Go Wild is essentially the Ruger American Predator, with some nice upgrades: a bronze Cerakote finish (which looks amazing), a muzzle brake, and a Go Wild camo stock. In this article, we’ll do a complete unboxing, and put this Ruger American Go Wild through its paces, including an initial 100 yard range trip!
What’s In the Box
The Ruger American Rifle Go Wild comes with the following: (for 6.5 Creedmoor, some options may vary depending on caliber)
- Rifle and bolt with installed picatinny rail and muzzle brake
- 3-round AICS polymer magazine
- Magazine cap
- Mag release installation block and slave pin (helpful when installing barreled action into stock)
- Instruction booklet
- Safety lock
The Ruger American Rifle Go Wild 6.5 Creedmoor has some impressive specs at its $629.00* MSRP price-point (12/2018). From the product page:
- Stock: Go Wild® Camo I-M Brush
- Magazine: AI-Style
- Barrel Length: 22″
- Thread Pattern: 5/8″-24
- Finish: Cerakote Bronze
- Weight: 6.6 lb.
- Twist: 1:8″ RH
- Accuracy gurantee: 1 MOA
- Overall Length: 42″
- Length of Pull: 13.75″
- Barrel Lands/Grooves: 5
- Muzzle threading: 5/8″ x 24 TPI
- Muzzle accessory: Muzzle brake (included/installed)
- 70° bolt throw
- 3-5lb adjustable trigger**
- Suggested Retail: $629.00*
*This rifle was purchased for $500.00 + tax from a local store, 12/2018
**The rifle tested in this article had a measured minimum trigger pull weight of about 3.5lb, for more information see “Trigger Scans and Adjustment” below.
We decided to see how much the rifle (without magazine) would weigh, so we put it on a scale:
With a claimed weight of 6.6 lb, this rifle came in very close at 6.76 lb! This means the Ruger American Go Wild is very well suited for hiking and hunting.
Trigger Scans and Adjustment
The specification for this the Ruger American Go Wild trigger pull weight is 3lb – 5lb (adjustable, with a small allen screw). We thought it would be interesting to put the Ruger American Go Wild on my DVORAK Instruments TriggerScan TS-11 trigger profiling instrument to see how the trigger would perform.
Trigger Scans with factory trigger setting
From the factory, the pull weight for the Ruger American Go Wild is about 4.5lb. Takeup measured 0.200″ and overtravel was 0.048″. The trigger was mostly consistent at this setting, showing some fluctuation in peak force. While you could hunt with a trigger set like this, It’s too heavy for my taste!
Ruger American Go Wild Trigger Adjustment
Eric and I both agreed it would be a good idea to test the trigger at minimum pull weight- most likely where Eric would want it set for both target shooting and hunting. So we removed the barreled action from the stock, and backed out the adjustment screw to the minimum setting, and ran some more trigger scans.
In order to adjust the trigger on the Ruger American Go Wild, you perform the following:
- Remove the magazine catch from the stock
- Remove the action screws (one is under the magazine catch, the other is just forward of the magazine well)
- Adjust small screw on front of trigger
For installing the magazine catch, Ruger provides a small plastic block and slave pin that makes it easier to install the magazine catch, spring, and pin. The process was still a somewhat clumsy (even with the tool), perhaps one that gets easier with practice.
Trigger Scans with minimum pull weight trigger settings
The minimum pull weight setting for the Ruger American Go Wild was a bit heavier than advertised on Eric’s rifle: about 3.5lb instead of the factory spec of 3.0lb. All of the other metrics were similar compared to the factory setting. The minimum pull weight setting also showed the same level of inconsistency for peak force. Personally, I’d like for the trigger pull weight to be adjustable down to somewhere near 1.5 – 2.0 lb for a factory rifle with safety blade. When we shot the rifle at 100 yards, the trigger pull did indeed feel heavy: it makes shooting accurate groups “challenging”. In fairness, for a ~$550. street price rifle with Cerakote, camo stock, threaded muzzle, and muzzle brake- this trigger is great. I have been shooting custom rifle with ~1lb triggers lately, and that can “spoil” you in terms of trigger preference.
*Note: If you are interested in buying your own DVORAK Instruments TriggerScan TS-11, I can get you a discount! (not for large corporations, OEMs, etc) – just submit an inquiry via the Ultimate Reloader Contact Page!
The bore is perhaps the most important contributor towards accuracy and precision. With out a good bore, a rifle simply won’t shoot well. And what better way to evaluate a bore than with a borescope! Fortunately I have a Lyman Borecam Borescope– and with this tool we can look at the bore *and* the chamber!
So rather than just look at the Ruger American Go Wild bore, let’s compare it with a similar rifle, and a match-grade barrel.
Ruger American Borescope View
As seen in the video, Eric’s Ruger American Go Wild bore looked pretty good overall. There weren’t a lot of tool marks, but we did see some copper fouling- presumably from the factory test firing. The chamber also looked good- especially for a $500-600 street price rifle.
TC Compass Borescope View
When we inspected the TC Compass bore, a couple things stood out. First, you can see the different look that 5R rifling has- the sloped transitions between lands and grooves are visible as dark and light “lines”. This bore was just cleaned, so there wasn’t too much copper fouling, but we did notice a different type of tool marking pretty consistently in the bore. Very interesting. Even with the tool marks, the TC Compass rifles shoot really well.
Benchmark Match Barrel Borescope View
The benchmark bore is stainless, and this section of barrel was brand new- a cutoff section from the AR-15 build I recently put together (including chambering) with a barrel blank from Benchmark Barrels. It’s pretty obvious when you look in the bore that this barrel blank is “top shelf”. The only marks visible in the bore are from the hand lapping process. Very nice- not a direct comparison to the Ruger American, but helpful for context.
It will be interesting to see how Eric’s Ruger American Go Wild bore looks after more shooting and cleaning. Will it be susceptible to copper fouling? Only time will tell. From what I see so far, I think this barrel will clean up good!
The Lyman Borecam is on sale at Midsouth Shooters Supply at the time of this writing!
100 Yard Range Results
While Eric decides on what scope to buy, we decided to put my Vortec HSLR 4-16x50mm scope on the Ruger American Go Wild. We used some Vortex Precision high rings for the install, which are too tall to be optimal, but worked just fine! After a through-the-tube boresight (all of the first 5 shots landed on an 8.5″x11″ target at 100 yards) we decided to test a few different types of ammunition. Nothing too comprehensive, more like trying out a few things. What was interesting was: the rifle shot well with Hornady 120 grain 6.5 Creedmoor Match ammo, but didn’t seem to shoot real well with anything else we tried! This A-Max ammunition has been replaced by the updated 6.5 Creedmoor 120 Grain ELD Match ammo.
We tried the following ammunition (while breaking in the barrel, and working on our form- so we won’t go into exhaustive detail on results):
- Hornady 120 grain A-Max Factory Match
- Hornady 140 grain A-Max Factory Match
- Gavin’s Hornady 143 grain ELD-X hunting load
- Norma 130 Grain Hunting Swift Scirocco II
Highlights: Hornady 120 Grain A-Max Match Ammunition Results
Here are a few examples of groups we shot with this ammunition:
These results tell me that this rifle is definitely a sub-MOA rifle with the right ammunition. Since Eric and I had decreasing group sizes as we shot more and more, it’s also clear that practice makes perfect. A lighter rifle with a medium recoiling round like the 6.5 Creedmoor takes some work. With practice, one can shoot this rifle confidently!
Lowlights: Everything except Hornady 120 grain A-Max
You can see below a sampling of the results we had with some of the ammunition “tested” (I use the word test very casually here). The sight-in target is first from left, and the other targets represent a variety of the ammunition we had on hand.
The 120 grain Hornady Match ammunition just seemed to group much better than anything else. It’s evident that some load development and perhaps careful handloading will be needed to get the most out of this rifle!
The Ruger American Rifle Go Wild is a great rifle at a very competitive price. Packed with features that would be found only on much more expensive rifles just 10 years ago, the “Go Wild” edition is a great upgrade to the Ruger American Rifle lineup. There’s definitely much more to the story here including load development, more range time and practice, and taking the rifle to 600 yards, 1000 yards, and beyond. I’ll keep you all posted with Eric’s experiences.
Do you have a Ruger American Rifle in 6.5 Creedmoor? We’d love to hear about your experiences, and what loads are working for you. Do you have a Ruger American Rifle Go Wild? Please drop a comment to share your experiences!
To stay up to date with Ultimate Reloader, please make sure you’re subscribed!