May 14, 2020
By Lane Pearce
Since the Ruger American centerfire rifle debuted eight years ago, the line has expanded to include 17 different chamberings in six configurations (Standard, Hunter, Predator, Compact, Magnum, and Ranch). They’ve proven to be modestly priced rifles that typically perform better than many more expensive ones. The one I’m reviewing here is the Ranch model chambered for the newly introduced .350 Legend straight-wall cartridge.
The Ruger American rifle has an injection-molded synthetic stock with V-shaped, integral bedding blocks and sling-swivel studs. It also has a soft rubber buttpad to help reduce recoil, but the .350 Legend recoils so little (recoil ranges from about 9 ft-lbs to 13 ft-lbs) that the pad is really not needed.
The rifle features a full-diameter bolt body with three locking lugs. Bolt throw is 70 degrees. The Marksman trigger is adjustable for pull weight from 3.0 to 5.0 pounds (my rifle consistently measured 3.75 pounds), and the trigger has a safety blade. The rifle also has a two-position tang safety.
The Ranch version of the rifle does not have iron sights, but the factory-installed Picatinny rail accommodates myriad red-dot optics and traditional riflescopes.
The rifle’s 16.38-inch, cold-hammer-forged barrel has a threaded muzzle so you can install a muzzle brake or a suppressor. A thread protector is factory-installed. The twist rate for the .350 Legend is one turn in 16 inches.
Several states have revised their game regulations to allow deer hunting with straight-wall rifle cartridges (within specific caliber and case length restrictions) instead of shotgun only. Randy Brown, owner of Randy’s Hunting Center in Bad Axe, Michigan, convinced Ruger to chamber the American rifle in .450 Bushmaster. That move was so successful that when Winchester’s new .350 Legend was announced, he ordered 2,000 Ruger American Ranch rifles chambered for the new cartridge. I received one of the first American rifles in .350 Legend from Brown when it was announced at last year’s NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibitions. He also sent along ammo samples from Winchester, Hornady, and Federal.
Most of the major ammunition companies offer at least one .350 Legend load. But if you expected to see yet another glowing review touting a new rifle/cartridge’s 1-MOA accuracy, you’ll have to look elsewhere. The test rifle, fired with three factory loads and three handloads at a distance of 50 yards, averaged 1.15 inches for two, five-shot groups with each load. I also fired two, five-shot strings with two loads at 100 yards. The Federal 180-grain JSP factory load averaged 2.06 inches, and the handload consisting of the Winchester 180-grain Power-Point bullet over 25.5 grains of Accurate 5744 powder averaged 1.98 inches. It’s basically a 2-MOA rifle/cartridge combo.
The .350 Legend is an excellent deer cartridge, given certain ballistic constraints. It’s widely accepted that 1,000 ft-lbs of residual energy is the minimum required to kill a deer with a well-placed shot. Based on the terminal ballistics obtained from my shooting results, I’d say the .350 Legend’s maximum effective range is approximately 175 yards. Sighted-in 2.0 inches high at 100 yards, the Federal 180-grain JSP is dead-on at 150 yards. With that, I can just aim and shoot any whitetail that comes within range. And to me, that’s still a lot better than shooting a “punkin’ ball” out of a smoothbore shotgun.
Ruger American Ranch Compact SpecsManufacturer:
Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc.; ruger.comType:
.350 LegendMagazine Capacity:
16.38 in.Overall Length:
34.75 in.Weight, Empty:
SyntheticLength of Pull:
Matte Black barreled receiver, Flat Dark Earth stockSights:
None; one-piece Picatinny rail installedTrigger:
3.75-lb. pull (as tested)Safety:
Ruger American Ranch Compact Accuracy & Velocity