I got to shoot the new Ruger American the other day and I will also say that it was impressive for the price. What MetalGod is saying is right on. I also agree that I flat-out refuse to trust most of the gun mags anymore... every new firearm is MOA and "revolutionary". I love it when a magazine has a glowing review a few pages away from full-page advertisements.
That said, I think this particular rifle holds up to most of the hype.
Things I like:
- price. $360 for a quality, American-made rifle is amazing. I believe in a global marketplace, but when it comes to firearms I think we need to keep making them right here at home.
- safety. The safety is on the tang (where God intended). It could stand to be bigger though, and I like the big tang safety on the Savage much more.
- trigger. The "Marksman Adjustable Trigger" is basically an accu-trigger and is very nice. There is absolutely no movement in the trigger until the blade is pressed, and then it is very smooth. HOWEVER, adjusting the trigger requires removal from the stock first (yuck) and then retightening to a specific weight (ie an accurate torque wrench is required).
- bolt. The full diameter bolt does exactly what it is supposed to: keeps the bolt in line while reloading. I've had other rifles that liked to bind when fully retracted and this wasn't an issue at all.
Things I don't like:
- stock. The stock is the typical flimsy "composite" on most rifles at this price point. The barrel was free-floated out of the box but definitely caused contact when used on a front bag (and would with a bipod too). I will say, though, that the stock "fits" the shooter well... I like Savage rifles and thought I wanted a Savage Axis until I picked one up and it fit like crap (personal opinion on fit). The American also has a quality recoil pad, which many manufacturers skimp on.
- no iron sights. Considering the design, this is likely a walk-around hunting rifle and I always like to have backup iron sights when hunting. You never know when bad weather or a stumble/impact could negate your scope and I wouldn't want to sulk out of the woods without firing a shot.
- no upgrade path. This is a big one for me. $300 could get you a basic Stevens/Savage rifle. Drop in a good aftermarket trigger and you're on par for cost and feature set with the Ruger American... but you can then, if you later decide, buy any of a thousand stocks, barrels, etc and install them yourself. Walnut stock? No problem. Stainless fluted barrel? No problem. And on and on.
Tradeoffs (good or bad depending on your use):
- The rifle is LIGHT (6.25 lbs). If I had to carry a rifle slung over my shoulders while hunting in the mountains this would be high on my list. However, the light rifle does beat you up more than most .308s. It is still manageable but more of a "carry a lot, shoot a little" type rifle.
- sporter contour barrel. Again, this makes it light and perfectly suited for cold-bore shots at game animals. It definitely heats up quickly though and that means you'll have to set it down for a while at the range.
- accuracy. I did shoot MOA with the rifle, but just barely. More than enough for hunting, but won't win any competitions. Again, I don't think you can ask anything more out of a $360 rifle, and a $1000 rifle probably wont shoot 3x smaller groups.
In conclusion, it is a quality rifle and definitely worth the price but I'll probably pass for now. If the rifle has the features you're looking for then I say buy it. If you want any additional features, though, you're better off looking elsewhere because trying to add them brings the price up to midrange rifles. As a new rifle there are NO aftermarket parts, and I doubt there will be aftermarket parts in the future because of the intended audience. Personally I already have a heavy-barrel 308 and a sporter-weight 7mmRM so this doesn't really give me much extra.
BUT, if they expand the line into 7mm-08 I'll be the first in line to buy one.