Ruger’s American II By:

Ruger American II on the back of a truck
The Ruger American II has several upgrades from the initial version.

In 2011, Ruger introduced the American bolt action rifle that was designed to be a budget-minded hunting gun. It features a great synthetic stock, Ruger’s excellent Marksman adjustable trigger, and a cold hammer-forged barrel. It is a durable hard-use rifle that became an immediate success. It was fitting that Ruger used a rotary-style magazine for the American.

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  • Ruger’s Bolt Action Wonder
  • The American II
  • Action and Barrel
  • 300 BLK and the American II
  • Range Time With The American II
  • Accuracy
  • Some Ammo Thoughts
  • Summary

When it was introduced, the MSRP was under $550 making it a great trial, truck, and hunting rifle. If I remember correctly, the American was initially offered in .308 Winchester, .243, and .300 Blackout. As the rifle’s popularity grew, other calibers were added, increasing the versatility.

In late 2023, Ruger announced the launch of the American II. The American II offered great new upgrades while only increasing the MSRP $130.00 over the original model. When I saw the new model, I reached out to Ruger. I requested a Ranch model, chambered in .300 BKL with the flat dark earth Splatter stock.

Recoil pads on a Ruger gun

The new rifle features an improved synthetic stock with a radiused rubber recoil pad and spacers that adjust the length of pull from 13.75” to 12”. The Splatter finish provides a texture that allows for a positive purchase in all conditions, without being overly aggressive. A raised comb provides improved alignment with the shooter’s preferred optic. The stock’s forend features grip reliefs in a tapered channel on each side. Ruger’s patented Power Bedding system consists of an integral bedding block that anchors the receiver and free-floats the barrel. Swivel studs are included for use with a bipod or a sling.

Action on the Ruger American II

The action and barrel are finished in a matte black Cerakote that is corrosive and abrasion-resistant. The 16.1” barrel has a 1:7 right-hand twist and has been upgraded with spiral flutes that reduce weight, improve balance, and improve cooling. Standard on the American II is a threaded barrel with a ported muzzle brake.  Ruger’s Marksman trigger allows the user to adjust the weight to between 3 and 5 pounds. The one-piece bolt is CNC machined from a single block of stainless steel and features a three-lug design. Finally, the American II has a factory-installed, one-piece Picatinny scope base.

Spiral fluted barrel on the Ruger American II

I am a long-time fan of the .300 Blackout cartridge in AR and bolt action rifles. I was excited when I got an American II Ranch model in Blackout. The rifle came with a standard 10-round Magpul 5.56×45 magazine. The trigger on our test rifle average 3 lbs. .14 oz. and was very smooth with minimal overtravel. The bolt travel is exceptional given the price point of the American II. I mounted an older Leupold Tactical 2.5-8 optic with an illuminated reticle.

While the .300 BLK has been touted as an ideal, all-purpose caliber, that is an oversimplification. Yes, the rifle will accommodate loads ranging from 100 grains to 200 grains but this creates a large variance in optic zero. The user should identify the primary purpose, pick a preferred load, and zero to that load. It’s fun to throw 220 gr. subsonics at 50 yards but the practical use of that load is very limited. The efficiency of subsonic loads, in both trajectory and terminal ballistics, is limited to 75 yards with 100 being the outer limits.  Depending on the subsonic load, with a 50-yard zero, the drop at 100 yards can be 10 or more inches.

Range time with a Ruger rifle

I contacted my friends at Wilson Combat and requested a sample of their line of .300 BLK ammunition. They were kind enough to send me five different loads to test in the American II. Bullet weights ranged from 110 grains to 220 grains with a variety of projectile designs. We did most of our shooting with the SIG SRD762TI suppressor mounted on the rifle. We shot groups at both 50 yards and 100 yards.

The question is always asked about the point of aim shift between having the suppressor mounted and shooting without it. The SIG SRD762Ti is 9.3” in length and weighs 17.6 oz. I zeroed the American II at 50 yards using Wilson Combat’s 200 gr. HPBT round. The shift without the suppressor was approximately 1: low right. At 100 yards, the shift, depending on the ammunition was six to eight inches low right

I shot the accuracy groups with five rounds and measured the best three rounds. This was done in an attempt to eliminate shooter error. At 50 yards, the little rife shot some amazing grounds with the best measuring 0.04” using the 200 gr. HPBT. At 100 yards, the American II held most of the groups to sub one inch. Obviously, the shift between loads was substantial and required adjustments. However, the American II really shined! We even hit a few steel plates out to 200 yards.

Most of the loads functioned without a problem in the Magpul 5.56 magazine. However, we noted that the Lehigh 198 grain CF had an overall length that would not feed from the 5.56 magazine. Fortunately, I had a number of the Magpul AR 300 magazines are specifically designed for .300 BLK. This solved the issue.

This chart reflects the specific results of our testing:

BrandLoadAvg. Velocity50 Yard100 Yard
Wilson Combat200 gr. HPBT986.04”.93”
Wilson Combat110 VMAX2,440.31”.45
Wilson Combat110 TME2,377.51”1.04”
Lehigh125 CC2,092.49”.75”
Lehigh198 CF930.29”.75”
target with Wilson Combat ammo

A quick note about Wilson Combat ammunition. Wilson Combat purchased Lehigh Ammunition and they sell loads under both brand names. At times the description or acronym can be confusing. The 110-grain TME load tested is a Lehigh Tipped Maximum Expansion projectile designed to penetrate barriers while expanding in soft tissue. The 110-grain VMAX uses Hornady’s proven projectile designed for smaller game and varmints.

Target with Lehigh Defense Ammo

One of my favorite loads was the Lehigh 125-grain Controlled Chaos (CC) projectile. As the projectile hits tissue, it sheds the petals while maintaining the core projectile. This maximizes the terminal ballistics of the round. The Lehigh 195 grain CF is a solid copper projectile designed to deliver good terminal ballistics at velocities around 1,000 fps for subsonic use.

READ MORE: Testing the Ruger American Gen II: Full Review

Ruger American II rifle with ammo and target

So, what would I set up my American II for? For general hunting, where sound is not an issue, I would choose the Lehigh 125-grain Controlled Chaos. For inside 200 yards, this is an ideal round for most game found in the southeast. If I were doing a hog eradication, or hunting other predators, where sound might be an issue, and most shots were inside 75 yards, the Lehigh 198 grain CF is ideal. Such a wide variety of loads makes the .300 BLK so versatile.

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