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[Review] Ruger American Predator: Affordable 1000 Yard Rifle

How much do you really have to spend to get repeatable long-range performance?

I submit to you that you can put together a reliable and accurate rifle in 6.5 Creedmoor for under a $1,000 . And I’m talking about everything… rifle, scope and some ammo.

Enter the Ruger American Predator Rifle
Enter the Ruger American Predator Rifle

The Predator hit the scene in 2016 and provides an affordable option for those looking for an accurate hunting rifle as well as those who may want to try the PRS (Precision Rifle Series) matches.

Best Budget Bolt-Action
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Regardless of your intent, the Predator will likely meet the accuracy standards of many shooters.

I will say upfront that the Predator has a fairly light barrel and the stock is probably not as stiff as some would like. The barrel is free-floated, accurate and it’s threaded to accept muzzle brakes or suppressors.

Also included in the stock model is the Ruger’s Marksman Adjustable trigger adjustable from three to five pounds.

Table of Contents


It Started With a Raffle

The Predator I have access to actually belongs to my dad. He won it in a raffle at our local Safari Club International banquet about a year and a half ago.

So he has a grand total of five bucks into his rifle!

When we went to the local gun shop to pick it up and do the paperwork we chose the 6.5 Creedmoor model. We could have grabbed a .308 Winchester or a .223, but we already have multiples of those two fine cartridges and the 6.5 Creedmoor looked like a very interesting cartridge to tinker with.

Best Budget Bolt-Action
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

After some reading and research, I convinced dad to put a decent scope on the rifle.

The 6.5 is certainly capable of 1,000-yard shooting so I told him to get enough magnification and elevation adjustment to get the most out of his new shootin’ iron. He elected to mount a Vortex Viper 6.5-20×50 with zero-stop turrets.

at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

You have to understand my dad doesn’t shoot a whole lot and has never shot at anything more than 200 yards distant.

So this rifle project for him was way out his comfort zone and he now had more money in his optic than any of his other guns!

With the scope mounted we grabbed a couple of boxes of Hornady {recision Hunter loaded up with 143-grain ELD-X’s and headed to the ranch to zero the gun. One of the best things about the 6.5 Creedmoor is that there is a LOT of ammunition options!

Hornady ELD
Hornady Superformance 143gr ELD

The first three shots were on paper at 100 yards and all touching. We centered up the group and shot a five-round group. All five shots could be covered with a dime.

OK…we have a gun that shoots. This is going to get very interesting as we start stepping out the distance and teaching dad about ballistics apps, MOA and those dials on the scope that it’s OK to turn back and forth.

at Lucky Gunner

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

At that first range session, my niece and nephew also tried their hand with the rifle. My nephew was ten years old at the time and his sister was fourteen. Both shot groups just over an inch and loved the fact that gun did not recoil much.

That said, dad decided to send the barreled action off to Defensive Edge for one of their excellent muzzle brakes so the kids would have an even easier time with the rifle. He delivered the gun to the North Idaho workshop and picked it up three weeks later.

Defensive Edge Muzzle Break
Defensive Edge Muzzle Break

Back to the Range

The first group with the new brake was a one-quarter inch higher than our previous zero. We adjusted the scope, reset the zero-stop and picked out something far away.

High on the hill, we spotted an old stump with a grey branch on it. The true horizontal distance according to my rangefinder was just a touch over 500 yards. We dialed the scope, told dad to get a good rest and shoot the branch off the stump.

And he did! The world of the long-range shooting had just been revealed to an 80-year-old shooter who had no idea such things were even possible. All from a five-dollar raffle ticket, a decent scope, and some good factory ammo.

Fast forward to this spring. My hunting partner donates an introductory long-range shooting class to our local SCI chapter each year. We have access to a private range with steel hanging from 100 yards out to a mile.

The stated objective is to teach participants what their maximum effective and ethical range is with their rifles for big-game hunting purposes. That said, every student has chipped the paint off the 1000-yard target over the past three years.

My partner brings some very nice hardware for folks to try including a Remington 700 SPR .308 and a Ruger Precision Rifle in 6.5 Creedmoor. Each of those rifles wears a Nightforce scope of some flavor and suppressors.

The whole fam
The whole fam

Students show up with everything from dedicated long-range rigs to off-the-shelf hunting rifles. And I showed up with the Predator in my gun case this year.

I already knew the gun would shoot, but I was curious as to the real velocity of the Hornady Superformance ammo.

After strapping on the Magneto Speed Chronograph we determined our velocity was 2582 fps. About 120 fps slower than the advertised 2700 fps on the box. We entered all the pertinent info into the Shooter App and went to work.

at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

This group was fired at 100 yards with the Magneto Speed Chronograph attached.  Velocity was 2582 fps.

This group was fired at 100 yards with the Magneto Speed Chronograph attached. Velocity was 2582 fps
This group was fired at 100 yards with the Magneto Speed Chronograph attached. Velocity was 2582 fps

I dialed for the 430-yard steel and drilled the center. Three more shots inside an inch at 430. We set the zero at 430 and dialed for 620 yards. The first round hit.

Dialed for 730. The first round hit.

Dialed 800. The first round hit.

Dialed 900. The first round hit.

I had one round left in the box. I ran out of elevation in the scope for 1000 yards but was only 2 MOA out. So I held 2 MOA on the reticle and missed. Right over the target.

Turns out the Diamondback has ¼ MOA adjustment but has Mil-Dot increments in the reticle. A note to those of you using the dots in a Vortex scope for hold-offs. Be sure you know if your holding MOA or Mils…there is a difference.

That said, I grabbed a couple of Allen’s 142 grain Sierra Match King handloads and, with the proper hold, rang the 1000 steel. We also fired a group at 100 yards with his ammo just to see how the little Ruger liked the Sierra bullets.

My first two shots were in the same hole. I called shot three high about a half inch then put the fourth shot right on top of the first two.

100-yard group with 142 grain Sierra MatchKing at 2620 fps
100-yard group with 142 grain Sierra MatchKing at 2620 fps

So let’s recap what we have here…

A Ruger rifle that will retail for about $489 but I’ve seen these under $300 as Christmas promos at a local sporting goods store. A Vortex Viper scope for $469, Warne steel rings at $47 and an add-on .857” Defensive Edge brake for about $135 installed. We have a grand total of $1140.39 street price.

Shop around a bit and you’ll find the rifle and scope for less and if you don’t add the muzzle brake your long-range rifle comes in at well under $1,000.

Ruger American Predator Specs:

  • Barrel Length: 22 inches. 1:8”RH Twist. 5/8”x24 Muzzle Threads
  • Overall Length: 42 inches
  • Length of Pull: 13.75 inches
  • Trigger Pull: Ruger Marksman Adjustable Trigger™
  • The rifle tested measured 3# 6.5oz from the factory
  • Capacity: Detachable Rotary Magazine: 3+1
  • Weight: 6.6 Pounds. As tested with scope and muzzle brake: 8.4 pounds
  • Stock: Lightweight synthetic with Power Bedding® integral bedding block system and soft rubber recoil pad. Also includes sling swivel studs.
  • Sights: None. Comes with factory installed rail.

By the Numbers

Ergonomics – 4/5

The rifle has a very trim feel to it. There are some raised and textured ridges on the forearm and grip that provide for a positive grip. The recoil pad is very soft and grippy so it doesn’t slip on your shoulder. The bolt is easy to operate from the bench or other positions without lifting your head off the stock. The forend is built like a sporting rifle, not a bench rest gun, so some may not feel it is stable enough on the bench.

Accuracy – 5/5

As attested by the targets and my experience so far this gun shoots. Whatever else Ruger is doing, they are building great barrels for the American Predator series of rifles. To have a box stock rifle shoot ½ MOA groups with factory ammo and no break in is awesome.

Reliability – 5/5

We have experienced no issues to date. The rifle has fed, fired and extracted with no failures. The safety functions as it should and the rifle can be easily single-loaded as well as fed from the magazine.

Customization – 5/5

The Predator rifles shoot and make a great rifle for those new to long-range shooting or those wanting a longer-range hunting rifle. If you want a lighter trigger you can upgrade to a Timney trigger that also allows you to adjust take-up and overtravel.

Muzzle devices including brakes and suppressors are easily sourced for the standard threads on the barrel.

Aftermarket stocks are becoming more available as well. Check out the offerings from Boyd’s, Magpul and Bell and Carlson to update your rifle.

Looks – 4/5

Personally, I like the looks of the Predator. Some think the stock is too narrow and flimsy. Others don’t think the barrel is heavy enough. Remember, this is an economy rifle that shoots very well. It is trim enough to carry in the backcountry and accurate enough to give anyone with a custom long-range rifle a run for their money.

Price – 5/5

For a rifle with the features the Predator has and the accuracy this rifle exhibits you are getting a great deal in the $400-480 range. I would not hesitate to buy this rifle to build up a great little backcountry hunting rifle or a predator rifle.

Overall Rating – 5/5

The money this is just an outstanding rifle. Period. Hunting, plinking, or getting your feet wet in long-range precision shooting, Ruger has delivered a great rifle at a competitive price point.

Best Budget Bolt-Action
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Vortex Viper 6.5-20×50 Scope

Vortex Viper 6.5-20x50 Scope

Over the last few years, I’ve had the opportunity to shoot several Vortex scopes, some Nightforce scopes and hunting model Leupold and Burris scopes. For someone looking to put a decent optic on a varmint gun or get started in the PRS game or just to learn long-range shooting the Viper offers a budget-friendly option.

With 20x magnification, you can see the targets you are engaging out to 1000 yards pretty easily. The side focus parallax adjustment makes it easy to fine tune the scope with your cheek on the gun.

At 14x the scope is calibrated to allow ranging using the Mil-Dot reticle. Of note…the scope’s turrets are ¼ MOA click adjustable.

However, the reticle in the Mil Dot model is in mils (milliradians). As I mentioned earlier I shot over the 1000 yard steel holding what I first assumed was two MOA, when I was actually holding two mils.

The difference at 1000 yards is pretty significant. 1 Mil = 36”. 1 MOA = 10.475” So I was actually holding 72” over instead of roughly 20” over the target.

If you hate math or if you are planning on doing a lot of long-range precision shooting, you might want to opt for one of Vortex’s scopes that have the reticle and turrets in either MOA/MOA or Mil/Mil.

The turrets are easy to use and you can easily feel each click
The turrets are easy to use and you can easily feel each click

The zero reset feature requires you that you pull up on the turret, turn back to zero and release. You are now ready to dial for distance and easily return to your preferred zero without having to track every adjustment you make. The turrets are protected with easily screwed on caps.

Is the glass Nightforce or Leica clear? No. But we’re at a roughly $500 price point vs. a $2000 plus price point.

Is it clear enough for precise shooting at 1000 yards and maybe a bit more? Yes. Will it serve the majority of shooters and hunters? Yes.

The power ring is easy to turn and there is a hash mark at 14x to remind you where to set the magnification to use the Mil-Dot reticle for ranging purposes, that’s a nice touch.

at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Viper Specs:

  • Weight: 21.6 ounces
  • Length: 14.4 inches
  • Tube Size: 30 mm
  • Magnification: 6.5x20x
  • Objective Lens: 50 mm
  • Turret Adjustment: ¼ MOA
  • Max Elevation & Windage: 65 MOA
  • Eye Relief: 3.1 inches

By the Numbers

Ergonomics – 5/5

The Viper has easy to use adjustments and turrets. The scope is clear and has generous eye relief. All dials and adjustments are clearly marked and easy to see. The turrets have very distinct clicks that are easy to feel.

Accuracy – 5/5

All adjustments for zeroing and long-range target engagement are precise and repeatable. The zero stop brought the 100-yard group right back on top of the previous sighting shots.

Reliability – 5/5

So far there have been no issues of any kind with the scope. The scope is covered by the lifetime VIP Warranty if you should ever need service, repair or replacement.

Customization – 4/5

The Vortex scopes have some options to aid in your shooting. You can add a bubble level ring to ensure your gun is square to the target. There is also a sunshade available for this scope as well as several different scope caps.

Looks – 5/5

The Viper is a no-nonsense matte black scope. The Vortex logo is engraved on one of the scope caps and the model is engraved on the objective bell. There is not a bunch of brand names and advertising all over the tube and body like some optics you see today.

Price – 5/5

For less than $500 you are getting a lot of scope for the money. With ample adjustments, zero-stop turrets and clear glass this scope can serve you well for hunting or long-range casual or competition shooting.

Overall Rating – 5/5

Vortex is one of my go-to brands for optics because of their consistent deliverance of high-value products and their simply unbeatable customer service.

Final Thoughts

With all the great cartridges, bullets, and rifles being built today that allow for accurate long-range shooting there is no reason to stand on the sidelines and watch.

The Ruger American Predator and Vortex Viper combination allow any shooter serious about learning the intricacies of long-range shooting a viable platform to start from without spending thousands of dollars.

There is a lot that can be said about the 6.5 Creedmoor, so be sure to take a look at our 6.5 Creedmoor [Ultimate Guide]!

If you have some range time with a Ruger American Predator rifle tell us what you think and how your gun shoots! Do you have another 1,000 yards for $1,000 build? Let us know in the comments!

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12 Leave a Reply

  • James

    Does anyone know the part number, or where to buy the baseplate/magwell assembly to make the Predator take AI Mags? I can’t find them anywhere.

    December 20, 2020 7:17 pm
    • kevin obrien

      you can get them at Boyds gunstocks website. Look in the accessories tab

      January 4, 2021 2:07 pm
  • Jonathan

    How does this rifle compare to the Savage Axis 2? Which do you think is a better buy? Do you have any comparison articles on the two?

    October 10, 2019 1:43 pm
  • Don from CT

    I would never buy a scope with MOA clicks and Miliradians in the reticle. Its got to be either MOA/MOA or Mil/Mil.

    Any other way sets you up for failure.

    August 2, 2019 8:07 pm
  • Jerry

    @Randy - Nice review! I just purchased my first bolt action riffle, which is a Ruger American Predator in 6.5 Creedmoor. Did you or your dad performed the barrel break in procedure? I am new to hunting riffles and I have read many debates on this topic. Has anyone opted out of the break in procedure and still have an accurate riffle or is it a must? Thank you in advance for any feedback.

    April 4, 2019 4:36 pm
    • David, PPT Editor

      From hunting rifles to AR-15s, to high-end precision rifle setups, I've never seen any kind of difference between a rifle I broke in and a rifle I didn't.

      I normally slow fire the first 5 or 10 rounds, normally using those rounds to sight in my rifle, then let it cool a bit, then start to have fun - whatever that is with that system. My goal is to let the barrel fowl, cool, and then start using it as intended.

      April 4, 2019 4:41 pm
      • Dave

        Couldn’t agree more! ☝️What he said

        February 1, 2020 12:30 am
  • Scott

    I've got a Ruger American in .243, that rifle can ring a 4" steel plate at 400 yards with just about any round I've loaded up for it.. Haven't shot farther than 400 but maybe a antelope will run from me...

    October 9, 2018 10:32 am
  • Jamie

    In the review, you say you used Hornady Superformance, but the Box, and bullet type (ELD-X) show as Hornady Precision Hunter. Great review.

    October 6, 2018 7:18 am
    • David, PPT Editor


      October 6, 2018 7:25 am
  • Greg

    Remington 700 .243 with a Leopold 6x22x42 optics is a nice starting point easily obtained for under $800.

    October 4, 2018 6:47 pm
  • Joe in FL

    Great review. Something this good for this price is pretty impressive. I have a lot of respect for Ruger.

    October 4, 2018 10:58 am