• Michael W

Review: Ruger American Ranch in 7.62x39. An American rifle with a Soviet twist

Updated: Oct 3, 2020

**Disclaimer: The views expressed within this article, as an independent contributor to the Articles of The Republic blog, are written as solely my own and are not intended to represent the voice of the parent webstore or any of its affiliates**

Quite some time ago I realized that I am, for lack of a more respectable term, a long gun floozy. On top of my attention deficit disorder, I also have a habit of wanting to turn every gun into something better, even if it’s already perfectly fine the way it is. I think that many gun owners can relate to this debatably bad habit. I can buy a rifle with the sole intent of leaving it in a bone-stock configuration for hunting or plinking and then my brain and wallet will get the best of me. I’ll get maybe one solid hunting season or a few range trips in and then catch the “well, I could modify just this one part” bug. Next thing I know, the rifle is modified to hell and too heavy to enjoyably carry on a weeklong hunting trip. It doesn’t matter if it’s a Remington 700 in .308 Winchester, an AR-15 or a simple pump shotgun. If it can be fucked with, you better believe that I’m going to fuck with it.

This resulted in me finding myself in a predicament. It’s August, that wonderful time of year where I've finally gotten back my draw results AZ Game and Fish Department and know for sure which one of my favorite units I'll be in this deer season. Even though I have approximately 2-3 months between now and then, that time always seems to fly and I find myself struggling to get in any last minute scouting time. On top of that, the Remington 700 SPS in .308 Winchester that I’ve used for the last couple of seasons has seen a slow transformation into an overweight 800 yard capable bench rifle that I don’t feel like lugging around. I could always put it on a diet by returning it to a more “stock” configuration but, as Jamie Foxx said in Jarhead, fuck that shit. Sweet baby Jesus gifted us with gun stores so that I could buy more guns. Who am I to refuse this gracious gift?

I knew that I needed another hunting rifle and set myself some boundaries. It needed to be affordable, lightweight, in a caliber that I already owned, and capable of reasonable accuracy. Long range capabilities were not a factor in this because for the last few years I’ve found myself preferring units with thicker terrain and shorter distance shots, generally between 30 to 150 yards. I know that not every rifle is going to be precision accurate, so if I could get even 2-3.5 inch groups out of it at 100 yards, I would be willing to suck it up and say that is good enough for hunting.

I looked through my caliber selection and decided that I still wanted something in a .30 caliber. The concept of putting another .308 Winchester rifle in my safe honestly bored me. Then I looked over at my favorite AK and thought about the potential for utilizing the 7.62x39 cartridge for the task of hunting. I had heard of many others using this caliber for deer and found the concept exciting. It seemed like just the right caliber if I could ensure what I consider proper accuracy for humane hunting. It was time to do some research and acquire the right rifle.

I chose the Ruger American Ranch rifle (purchased retail, not sent by Ruger) and was immediately shocked at how light it was. Compared to my other bolt guns, this thing felt like a 10-22 or a quality pellet gun. It weighed in at 5.7 pounds, a tad bit lighter than the 5.9 pounds that Ruger claims on their website. The barrel was just a hair longer than 16 inches and was threaded in 5/8”-24 to accept a variety of muzzle devices. A thread protector was provided and installed from the factory. The rifle accepts the readily available Ruger Mini Thirty magazines and ships with a 5-rounder from the factory. A quick note on this, since the magazines were originally intended for the Mini-Thirty and have a follower designed to engage last-shot hold open, the bolt will not be able to cycle forward on an empty magazine unless you eject the magazine or push the follower down manually with your finger. This did not inconvenience me in the slightest but I figured it was noteworthy. The length of pull on the factory stock was a little short for my taste at 13.75 inches. I’m 6 foot 5 inches tall and have the long arms of an ape, so I usually prefer a little longer length of pull. For the rifles intended purpose though, it will do just fine. The stock is FDE in color and fairly close to Magpul’s FDE. The included buttpad brings the overall length of the rifle to 36 inches.

The Ruger American Ranch comes with a 1-piece picatinny rail mounted atop the receiver for easy scope mounting. The thing that really took me by surprise was the quality of the trigger. It is very reminiscent of the Accutrigger found on Savages and felt absolutely awesome, especially for a rifle in the $300-350 price range. While it is adjustable, mine felt perfect right out of the box and I felt no need to dick with it. Without putting it on a gauge, I’d estimate that it came set at just a hair over 3.5 pounds from the factory and had a very crisp break.

I decided that a Vortex Strike Eagle 1-8x24 that I had laying around would be the perfect LPVO to mount on this rifle and utilized a set of Vortex low rings to get it at the right height.

The rifle was all set up for its first range session. I brought along a few different ammunition types for initial break in and accuracy testing; PPU 123gr SP, Barnaul 125gr SP, Golden Tiger 124gr FMJBT, Golden Tiger 124gr HPBT and Fiocchi 124gr FMJ. I’ll obviously be spending the next few months purchasing and grouping a few different hunting loads to see what this rifle groups best with but I figured that some cheap to intermediate priced plinking ammo would allow me to do initial accuracy testing that would relate to the vast majority of real world users.

I performed my usually process of breaking a barrel in, which is something that I maintain as a personal secret but requires 60 rounds. I shot another approximately 40 rounds after that for general function testing, then progressed to shooting for groups at 100 yards on a beautiful 117 degree Arizona day. I was extremely impressed with the rifle's ability to place the cheapest plinking ammo into groups averaging between .75-1.5 MOA, with a couple of exceptions.

One result that surprised me was the PPU load and how it was actually the least accurate through this rifle, when the exact same PPU offering in .308 Winchester always shoots 1.5 MOA or better in all of my .308 bolt guns as long as I'm doing my part. Given how tight the other groups turned out, I'd have to say that this rifle is just not a fan of the PPU load comparatively. Average group size with this load was approximately 2.5 MOA

The Barnaul SP load has me very excited to test their FMJ and HP offerings through this rifle. Pictured above is a 5-shot group, the center was 2 shots in the same hole. Approximately 0.85 MOA

The Fiocchi shot like a warm turd, hand in hand with the PPU ammo. Average group size was 2 MOA.

The Golden Tiger, which I often call "the CCI Blazer of AK Ammo", had me very surprised. The HP load consistently gave me groups averaging right around 1 MOA.

Just like the previous HP load, the Golden Tiger FMJBT was no slouch. It gave me the same average 1MOA group size.

In conclusion, I'd have to say that the Ruger American Ranch in 7.62x39 is an absolute steal for the price they're asking. For the average $340 that the rifle is on shelves for, I could not be any happier with the overall quality and accuracy that my specific rifle had. I can't wait to take it out this season.


Michael is a lifelong Arizona native, avid hunter and unwavering supporter of the Second Amendment and all of this great Nation’s founding documents. He is currently employed with a County Government Security Department within the state of Arizona, with prior work experience in the Judicial field, as well as private sector security contracting. Michael currently holds multiple certifications and licenses related to Firearms Instructing. He has a degree in Administration of Justice, with aspirations of attending law school.

He may be reached at

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