Ruger Reinvents the Rimfire Rifle: Ruger American .22 WinMag Review

The Ruger American Rimfire bolt-action rifle, chambered for .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire, is one of the most impressive rimfires I've tested in years. It retails for $329 in all models (standard, compact, .22 LR or .22 WinMag) with a street price in the $289 area. It is an extensive rethinking of the rimfire bolt-action rifle and very good thinking at that.

Over the last several years, rimfire rifles have been largely dominated by the Ruger 10/22 for autoloaders and Savage Arms for bolt action rifles. When Savage applied a version of their Accu-Trigger, developed in 2002, to their rimfires it did the same for rimfire bolt-action market as it had for the bolt-action market: it completely changed it. In what might surprise no one, a Ruger 10/22 is my most often used .22 autoloading rifle and a Savage Mark II BV is one of my most often used, and most accurate, .22 bolt action rifles.

There has been room for improvement in just about anything and that is true of the Savage rimfire bolt action. The factory Savage single stack magazines are not particularly well-done, are rattle-prone, and are aesthetically vulgar. A flush-fitting rotary magazine, if well-done, is a very good thing as far as I'm concerned, whether it is a Ruger 10/22 or a Browning X-Bolt centerfire. I find them convenient and they tend to help make bolt-actions work and feel smoother. The basic specs for the tested Ruger American Rimfire standard length model follow.

Catalog Number: AMER-RF
Model Number: 8321
Chambering: 22 WMRF
Barrel Length: 22 inches
Overall length: 41 inches
Length of Pull: 13.75 inches
Catalog weight: 6 pounds
Barrel Rate of Twist: 1:14 Right Hand, 6 groove rifling
MSRP: $329.00

Included with the rifle are two different buttstock modules, one with a raised comb and one with the standard configuration. It has a folding rear sight and a fiber-optic front ramp. No external scope bases are supplied, but the receiver is machined to serve as the common 3/8 inch base.

The trigger on this rifle, the “Ruger Marksman Adjustable Trigger,” is superb. Listed as user-adjustable from 3-5 pounds, it broke at a crisp 3 lbs. right out of the box so no further attention was needed or desired.

Warne Scope Mounts makes an excellent quick release set of 1 inch rings for 3/8 in. machined receivers, so if you want to use your iron sights you can do so in a few moments. They were used to attach a Burris Fullfield E1 2-7 x 35mm scope with no issues. The ammo used was what we had on hand, Winchester S22M2 Supreme 30 grain jacketed hollow point at 2250 fps (B.C. of .0893, 1450 fps retained at 100 yards). This ammo has now been relabeled as the Winchester “Varmint HV” round, yet is the same loading. Sighting in at 50 yards was effortless, taking only a few three-shot groups.

The Ruger American Rimfire has enough interesting and useful features that I'll take the time to go through several areas, point by point. It is hard to find fault with the rifle, though it is my job to try.


The comparisons to the Savage Accu-Trigger beg to be made. As a practical matter, there is little discernible difference in break or feel. The Ruger Marksman trigger is going to be preferred by some shooters, though, and here is why. Savage Accu-Triggers require that you pull on the trigger correctly. If you don't, side-swiping the trigger, the gun decocks. You'll have to cycle the action, recocking, in order to fire.

The Ruger trigger also requires that you pull on the trigger correctly. However, with the Ruger, if the center flap of the trigger is not pulled flush with the trigger face, the trigger is frozen in place and cannot be pulled. You'll be forced to pull on the trigger correctly and then you will fire the gun with no recocking required.


It is hard to love blow-molded plastic stocks, for properly done walnut stocks are generally stronger, more weatherproof, far easier on the eyes, better-feeling, and can be fitted and refinished. The issue is cost. Lufthansa had no problem trashing the extremely nice piece of walnut on my Browning X-Bolt, but they also sent me a check for $580 to cover a new stock, fitting, and bedding. That's twice the price of the complete Ruger American Rimfire for just a factory replacement stock. The average consumer doesn't want to pay for quality walnut stocks, so polyethylene is with us for good. Laminated stocks are stronger, more rigid, and more weatherproof than generic plastic, with their hefty weight the only drawback. They cost more than plastic as well.

As a plastic stock, the Ruger fares better than most. It does feel good in the hands, better than most, and the interchangeable buttstock ends are effortless to use. In the tested example, the Burris Fullfield E1 mounted low enough that the included higher comb stock module was not needed. When using a scope and mount combination that sits higher, you'll appreciate the factory included stock module, though.

My sole quibble is that the factory Ruger stock has no rubber buttplate, just hard plastic at the butt. It isn't needed for recoil attenuation, but it does help keep rifles from slipping and sliding around in a gun cabinet and should have been part of the stock module system.


The action is extremely smooth, with positive and error-free feeding and ejection. The 9-shot rotary magazine fits flush and with the extended magazine release, is very fast to change. The 90 degree throw bolt has a nicely turned bolt handle as well. Overall, it is a well-designed and beautifully machined little action.


The two-position tang safety is easy to get on and off, no problematic over-stiffness, and it doesn't rattle. The safety is extremely well-done here as well.


The tool-blackening oxide finish evenly applied and the barrel exterior has a better level of polish than the rough, matte treatments. The metal work is better finished than most offerings in this price category.


Based on the flawless functionality, excellent accuracy, superb trigger, excellent handling, and reasonable price point, this is the most satisfying new rimfire rifle I've tested in a very long time, at this price point. Ruger has done a fine job in design and execution: this rifle will sell like crazy and it really should. Congratulations to Sturm, Ruger & Company for upping their game at an affordable price. The Ruger American Rimfire richly deserves to be highly recommended, and that's what my opinion is with no hesitation. Ruger has accomplished a lot in general with this product, even more considering its very high price / performance ratio. Anyone will enjoy this rifle; I sure did.


 Copyright 2013 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.


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