Hunting With the All-New Ruger American Generation II

by Tommy Grant

The new Ruger American Generation II provides further proof of Ruger’s responsiveness to its customers via a steady stream of either new product models or improving on the existing. Stagnant is not a word that applies to Ruger. This brings us to our present topic–the Ruger American Generation II bolt-action rifle. The Gen II comprises a souped-up version of the original Ruger American bolt-action.

Ruger American Generation II

The 20-inch spiral-fluted, cold-hammer-forged barrel will raise eyebrows with its aesthetics and put the user on notice; something new is at hand with this Ruger rifle. The barrel is threaded and arrives wearing a radial muzzle brake. Barrel, receiver, muzzle brake, and bolt handle feature a Cerakote finish.    

It is important to point out that the Gen II is quite a leap forward from its predecessors. It is unrecognizable from its current Ruger American stablemate. The new stock features Monte Carlo-esqe contoured, raised cheekpiece. The cheekpiece can be lowered or raised via available accessories from Ruger. Length of pull and comb height is adjustable as well. Ruger’s patented Power Bedding integral bedding block system positively locates the receiver and free floats the cold-hammer-forged barrel for improved accuracy. The ergonomics of the stock allows for a comfortable, repeatable cheek weld combined with hand/finger placement conducive to pulling the 3-4 pound Ruger Marksman adjustable trigger. Ruger has even thought of the option of adding additional weight to the butt to balance out muzzle brakes or to help soak up recoil as calibers increase.  

Upgraded Trigger & More

Without going into minutia, the Ruger Marksman trigger features a distinctive release lever in front of the trigger shoe proper.  This is the secret to maintaining minimal trigger weight, without creep, while keeping the system safe. The release lever must be activated (i.e., pulling the trigger) before the sear will move, thus firing the cartridge 

The American Gen II’s steel receiver is topped with a factory-installed optics rail compatible with Picatinny-type scope mounting systems. This simplifies optic mounting. The single-piece, three-lug bolt cycles smoothly and features a full diameter bolt body, dual cocking cams and an oversized bolt knob that can be unscrewed and replaced by the end user. The bolt’s 70-degree throw keeps it clear of any mounted optic. Ruger has improved the finish on the bolt action for “slicker” manipulation. Tighter overall tolerances, including chamber, boosts accuracy potential. A three-round detachable box magazine feeds rounds into the chamber. A tang-mounted safety completes the action.  

Another important feature with the American Gen II is the three-position safety that can lock the bolt handle down. If you have ever been afield in thick terrain, you know that a bolt can be inadvertently opened, dropping a round out when pushing through brush. This can pose a problem when finally encountering your prey. This is an important detail that Ruger listened to their customer base about.   

Field Time—Game Time

I had the opportunity to handle the Ruger Gen II chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor extensively in the field and later at my home range. Other available calibers will be 204 Ruger, .223 Rem, .308 Win, 7MM 08 and 450 Bushmaster. There is even a American Gen II Ranch in the works. The Ruger A2 experience started with an excursion in Southwest Texas near Alpine with Backcountry Hunts. Ruger arranged the outing knowing the best way to feature a rifle is to hand it to someone and turn them loose on 40,000+ acres in search of scimitar oryx. A zero-confirming session upon arrival in camp produced 1.5-inch, three-round groups with a Hornady 143-grain ELD-X load and Leupold VX-5HD optic. Certainly, it proved acceptable off of a rudimentary bench and first-time firing.   

The scimitar oryx had been introduced into West Texas back in the 1970s, quickly flourishing in the arid rugged high plains. The animal has been extinct in its natural habitat of North Africa since 2000. The scimitar oryx stands just over 3-feet at the shoulder. The males weigh 310–460 pounds and the females 200–300 pounds. Typical of African animals, the hide is surprisingly thick. Important to know when selecting rifle/bullet combo. 

Ruger American Gen II and field gear.

On the Hunt

There is no better field test for a hunting rifle than pursuing a herd animal like the scimitar oryx. Spot-and-stalk is a favored method of hunting scimitar. With multiple pairs of eyds on you, stalks are challenging and generally long affairs involving lots of walking, even crawling, to take advantage of terrain to shrink every yard of distance before taking your shot. Typical engagement range is 200-300 yards. A rifle needs to be well balanced, portable, hardy, and accurate to excel in this type of hunting.  

The Ruger American Gen II proved an ideal rifle for hunting scimitar in rugged Southwest Texas. Camp was at 5,035-feet elevation with ever-changing terrain consisting of plateaus, canyons, ridges and rocky outcrops. Weighing only 6.5 pounds combined with the new stock design proved conducive to carry for miles at a time along with outstanding ergonomics when shouldering. The new Gen II forend is contoured in a way that guides your offhand fingers into subtle grooves on each side for a positive grip. The reticle was “there” and ready to go.  

No Lights … All Action

After a scimitar tutorial by my Backcountry Hunts guide David, including factoid that both males and females have the distinctive backwards curving straight horns, we were on our way. We sought out vantage points to maximize our spotting scope and binocular glass time. We strapped in the Ruger American Gen II inside our transport and headed out. Backcountry Hunts had two of their vehicles outfitted with high seats in the truck bed to facilitate seeing as much as possible of the terrain.   

The Texas adventure opened with miles of rocking back and forth atop high seats and two fruitless stalks. The scimitars were overly suspicious and untrusting where 800 yards was the mandatory takeoff zone. This is good policy for them but tough on hunters. If you did get closer by surprising them over a ridge, they would light the afterburners and disappear. Late in the day we began what would eventually turn into success. The scimitars were initially sighted at a water hole. 

Four miles of multiple “hook arounds” finally put us above and out of sight of a group of eight animals with two being good males. The final 50 some yards was a combination of duck walk and crawling. Dave had put me within 85 yards when we popped up setting up the shooting sticks. Four shots and four solid hits later, all within about 10 seconds, and we were looking at our hard-earned trophy.  The first shot had landed where intended behind the shoulder. However, previous experience in Texas had me committed to shooting until these tough transplanted African animals were down. The Ruger American Gen II had performed flawlessly. The animal was never lost in the scope, and the bolt functioned smoothly during the engagement. The Ruger American Gen II performed as an extension of my intent. It was “there” without thinking or having to adjust. 

Left view of Ruger American Gen II

Gear Sidenotes

As a sidenote, three of the four Hornady 143-grain ELD-X bullets were recovered from the opposite side of my scimitar’s hide. The bullets had stayed together all the way through scimitar. Upon skinning the scimitar, a hide of almost an inch thick was discovered. The other three hunters in camp experienced the same high level of bullet performance.    

Based on previous experience in Texas, I came well equipped in the glass department. I carried a SIG Sauer KILO 3000 laser range finder and ZULU6 HDX 16x stabilized binoculars. Instantaneously knowing range to your quarry and having a set of binos that behave like a spotting scope hanging on your neck is hard to beat with spot-and-stalk hunting.   

The importance of being able to layer your clothing is not only a concern in extreme cold. Temperatures in Alpine, Texas during the hunt started in the 40s in the morning getting up into the 60-70s during the afternoon. 511 Tactical’s Multi-Layer System was ideal for adapting to Texas conditions. Being able to wear a moisture-wicking base layer for warmth in the morning, yet still not overheat as the sun rose crucial. 511 Tactical’s variety of layers allowed for me to shed layers or switch out as appropriate based on air temperature and my activity level.  

Part of hunting is field dressing your game and then processing so meat can be harvested. A Nighthawk Custom Night Hunter was brought along on the Texas excursion. The Night Hunter was designed and forged by bladesmith Steve Woods. Steve chose CPM 154 steel, which he then heat treats to a Rockwell hardness of 58-59. Blade length is 4 inches and overall length 9 inches. The Night Hunter was a good choice to deal with the scimitar’s tough hide.  

Hunting big-game Texas style from vehicle post.

Ruger Recap

The Ruger American Gen II bolt-action equipped with Leupold VX-5HD optic and Hornady 143-grain ELD-X load proves you do not need a multi-thousand-dollar rig to have an accurate and potent combination to hunt with. Multiple hunters dragged, bumped, and bruised several Ruger Gen II rifles, loaded with Hornady ammunition and topped with Leupold optics, across the Texas high prairie. Events like Texas allow for instantaneous feedback from experienced–dare we say salty–users. Ruger literally assembled our rifles for the Texas hunt. Camp provided a great mix of hunters. All I will still stay in touch with. It is amazing how sharing a hunt together can bond people.  

Everyone can benefit from having an accurate economical rifle in the safe. Ruger started out with a mission statement during development of the American bolt-action. Wanting to build the best bolt-action hunting rifle in what many label the “affordable class.” This has been further enhanced with the new Ruger American Generation II offering. The American Gen II carries a $729 MSRP. Ruger incorporated as many features as possible that hunters would appreciate and thus reward them with their business. The American Gen II is an “entry level/affordable” rifle that is by no means basic. 

For more info, visit ruger.com.

Success in the field with the Ruger American Generation II rifle.

Ruger American Generation II Spec

  • Caliber: 6.5 Creedmoor
  • Overall Weight: 6.5 pounds
  • Overall Length: 41.25 inches
  • Barrel: 20 inches
  • Magazine Capacity: 3
  • MSRP: $729

Ruger American Rifle Generation II Ranch

In addition to the Standard Gen II, Ruger launches another really interesting update with the Generation II Ranch. Chambered in 5.56 Nato, the Ranch wears a Flat Dark Earth Splatter Gen II American stock for a distinctive look. The rifle uses AR-style magazines and ships with a 10-rounder, but accessories in that department make options limitless.

The Ranch features a Cobalt Cerakote finish on the 16.10-inch barrel. The barrel sports 1/2-28 threads for muzzle device attachment, while a Picatinny rail aboard the receiver provides the optic attachment point. The rifle weighs 6.2 pounds and measures a handy 37.35 inches overall. A soft rubber recoil pad, Ruger Marksman Adjustable trigger, Power Bedding block system and one-piece bolt round out this handy package well-suited as a truck gun, game-getter and more.

Ruger American Rifle Generation II Ranch Specs

  • Caliber: 5.56 NATO
  • Barrel Fluting: Spiral
  • Barrel Length: 16.10 inches
  • Finish (Barrel) Cobalt Cerakote
  • Thread Pattern: 1/2-28
  • Capacity: 10
  • Magazine Type: AR
  • Material: Alloy Steel
  • Overall Weight: 6.2 pounds
  • Twist: 1:8″ RH
  • Overall Length: 37.35 inches
  • Length of Pull: 12-13.75 inches
  • MSRP: $729

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