Tuesday, May 21, 2024

The Ruger American Predator in 6.5 Creedmore

(Editrix's Note: I am pleased to report that George Groot has agreed to become a full-time contributor for Blue Collar Prepping. Please give him a warm welcome!)

The Ruger American Predator in 6.5 Creedmore is a hunting rifle with a medium sporter profile 22” barrel. This is in contrast to the Ruger American Hunter in the same caliber which has a heavy sporter profile 20” barrel with an attached muzzle brake. However, I know that all firearms are a series of deliberate compromises, and having 2 more inches of barrel in a lighter package was the compromise choice I made. I’m still not sure if it was the optimal choice, but I’ll live with it for a while before making a final decision.


Before I ever fired a shot I did these things. 
  1. I swapped the trigger return spring for an MCARBO spring to drop the trigger pull down to something that resembles a precision rifle trigger at around 2 lbs pull.
  2. I installed a three chamber “tank” style muzzle brake that’s really just a placeholder until I figure out what type of muzzle brake and suppressor combination I can afford.
  3. I dropped all that into a KRG Bravo chassis, because I plan to use this rifle more for competition than hunting. 
  4. I then topped it off with a very heavy Vortex Venom 5-25x56 rifle scope. 
I counted it all up, and I probably should have chosen a Ruger American Hunter in 6.5 Creedmoor since it comes with the better Magpul stock and muzzle brake installed, which would have saved me about $200 over the total cost of my build. But my current build comes in at 12.5 lbs with empty magazine and bipod installed, so that's not bad at all for getting after my goal of a relatively lightweight precision rifle. 

How does it shoot? 
So far I’ve run only loads I had on hand through it, and a 140gr Nosler Custom Competition bullet over a charge of H4831SSC powder in Hornady Brass with CCI 200 primers is printing acceptable groups. That is literally zero load workup for this rifle, so the fact that it isn’t consistently printing half inch groups at 100 doesn’t bother me just yet. I have some StaBall 6.5 and Barnes Match Burner 145gr bullets on hand that I hope will produce a winning combination in this rifle, but that will be a post for a different day.

The 6.5 Creedmoor is most often compared to the .308 Winchester. Both will push a 140ish grain bullet to around 2,700 feet per second; the Creedmoor just does it with a higher ballistic coefficient bullet and has become a serious contender to replace the .270 Winchester as the “handy, light recoil option for North America.” Honestly I couldn’t tell any recoil difference between the 6.5 CM and my .308 Win rifles, as the laws of physics are the laws of physics and total weight out of the muzzle (bullet + powder weight) is what causes recoil. The muzzle brake helps quite a bit, as does the heavier chassis stock and 2+ lb optic. 

In my initial range session I noticed that the groups “tended left” as the barrel heated up. Ruger advertises that the barrel is a “cold hammer forged” method of manufacture, which doesn’t normally produce a barrel that drifts with heat. One possible explanation is that the barrel nut isn’t perfectly true to the receiver, and so it heating up adds a minute amount of torque to the system. 

To test this I stapled up two printed target sheets with four individual targets on each sheet (available for free here) and shot one round at each target until I “broke the black” on the center circle. It took me 11 trigger pulls to break the black on the eight 1” centers of the targets, one of which was a called flyer (I knew I broke the shot low), but the two uncalled misses were to the left. It could also be that my shooting technique from a range bench leaves a lot to be desired, so further testing from the prone is on the menu before I really determine that it’s the rifle and not me.

"Break the Black Drill" 6 of 8 first round hits at 100 yards.

The bolt action on the Ruger American is “okay” in my opinion; it’s better than a Savage 10 or Axis bolt lift, yet not as good as a Remington 700. The stock bolt handle is serviceable, but I find it a tad on the small side, and I plan to upgrade to a longer “tactical” bolt handle in the future to get better leverage. which hopefully will allow me to move less between shots as I cycle the rifle. The bolt body has an imperfect finish, with machine marks providing that “zippy” sound as you manipulate the bolt, but there are plenty of YouTube videos on how to fix that.

Final Thoughts
The Ruger American Predator is a fine hunting rifle out of the box, and the MCARBO spring upgrade is worth it for 20 dollars. 

If you're looking at a longer range option at a decent price, it's really hard to argue that there's anything better in the price bracket. Dressing mine up as a precision rifle ended up costing almost as much as a Ruger Precision Rifle, although I did save about a pound of weight over the RPR offering in 6.5 Creedmoor (and when you're endurance ruck marching with a rifle, ounces make pounds and pounds make pain).

If you plan to upgrade later there are plenty of aftermarket stocks, triggers, and muzzle devices to choose from, but generally those just make the rifle more comfortable to shoot for long sessions, rather turn it into a better hunting tool.

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