A couple of years ago I was in the market for a 308. I was choosing between a Savage Axis 2 and a Ruger American. The Axis went on sale, so my decision was made. I didn’t pay any attention to Ruger bolt guns again until a few months ago when I started looking for a compact rifle in 300 Blackout.
Lightweight, compact, and it accepts a standard magazine: the Ruger American Ranch Rifle fits the bill perfectly of a suppressor host.
Before 300 BLK there was 300 Whisper. 300 Whisper is a wildcat cartridge developed in the early 1990s by J.D. Jones of SSK Industries. Jones created a series of “Whisper” cartridges by cutting down common casings and resizing them to take a larger diameter bullet. The 300 Whisper uses a 221 fireball case to fire a .30 caliber bullet. “Whisper” is a trademark of AAC so to avoid copyright issues gun manufacturers that wanted to use the round would often call it by other names such as 300 fireball, or 300-221.
300 BLK is a variant of 300 Whisper derived from a 5.56 case. While basically identical to 300 whisper the 300 BLK is much more common thanks to its 2011 SAAMI certification. This defined specifications for the cartridge and insured compatibility between manufacturers and across the industry.
300 Blackout is a unique cartridge in the fact that both supersonic and subsonic loads are commonly manufactured. The larger bullet diameter allows for a range of bullet weights. Supersonic loads range from 110 to 150 grains and perform like 7.62X39. 200-grain subsonic loads have similar muzzle energy as 45 ACP and are able to carry that energy to distance better than pistol rounds. In addition to the better ballistic coefficient offered by the .30 caliber projectile when compared to pistol bullets, it also requires a smaller endcap on your suppressor which makes it somewhat easier to suppress. Being able to have the capabilities of both supers and subs in one rifle with only a mag change in between is pretty cool. Although, having them in a bolt gun where action noise is not a factor is even cooler.
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The 16” threaded barrel is the main feature that sets this rifle apart. Because my intended purpose for this gun was to shoot suppressed, I wanted to keep the barrel as short as possible to accommodate the additional length of a suppressor. 300 BLK was intended for use in shorter barrels with subsonic loads achieving complete powder burn at only 7.5 inches. Unfortunately, the 16″ legal minimum makes that a bit tricky so I’ll take what I can get. The barrel on this Ruger came with a 5/8×24 thread protector, but I swapped it for a SilencerCo three-prong ASR flash hider.
I am happy that it takes standard AR mags because I already have plenty of those. I tried multiple magazine brands and sizes in addition to the ten-round Magpul PMAG that it came with, and I didn’t have issues with any of them. The magwell seems a bit snug as some mags did not drop free when released but this tightness may be necessary to keep the mag aligned properly since this magwell is about half the depth of one on a standard AR. The mag release is positioned so that you can drop the mag with your right index finger without breaking your grip.
The safety is located on the tang just below the rear of the bolt. It feels well-made and has a tactile click when switched between positions. It can only be put on safe when the striker is cocked, and the fire position is color filled for easy identification.
This rifle uses a three-lug bolt with a 70-degree throw. This throw angle should leave plenty of room between the bolt handle and your scope. The bolt can easily be removed by depressing a retainer lever on the left side of the receiver.
The stock is very sturdy and has a nice finish. It uses Ruger’s patented Power Bedding system which secures the receiver and free floats the barrel for improved accuracy. Injection molded stocks can sometimes feel cheap or flimsy, but this rifle doesn’t have that problem.
The trigger can be set anywhere between three and five pounds, but you have to remove the stock to make the adjustment. I got consistent breaks at 3.5 pounds, so I left it as it was. The trigger pull feels great. There is very little take-up and the wall is firm right up to the moment the trigger breaks.
The average group from the three brands of ammunition I tried was about 1.3” with the best group being 0.8″ from 147gr Winchester FMJ. This is more than accurate enough for my uses seeing that most of my shots when hunting deer or hogs are within 150 yards.
This rifle serves its purpose well. It is lightweight and compact even with a suppressor. 300 Blk has little recoil while being fully capable of taking medium game, and subsonic loads don’t get any quieter than when shot from a suppressed bolt action. Even if you don’t own a suppressor, this may still be a good choice if you’re looking for a compact rifle in an intermediate cartridge. The MSRP is currently $660 but they can be found under $550 pretty easily. There aren’t many rifles that offer this combination of features, so I think the price is fair. Check out Ruger’s website if you would like more information on this or any of Ruger’s rifles.
has a wide variety of skills and interests. His profession as an engineer in the steel industry falls right in line with his hands-on approach to his hobbies. Whether it’s ham radio, shooting, hunting, etc., Garrett is always happy when he has a project to work on. You can keep up with his current projects on his YouTube channel “Thrifty Operator”
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