Photos by Mark Fingar
Ruger made a splash a couple of years back with their highly adjustable Ruger Precision Rifle (RPR) designed for long-range shooters. It not only works well from the bench and from the prone for competition, but it has so much adjustability and flexibility that the RPR has proven to be capable in the field.
From that same vein, Ruger’s new Precision Rimfire is mining every nugget of precision ingenuity and putting it into an ideal platform for anyone trying to learn how to shoot from positions other than the bench or the prone because it is lighter and less expensive to shoot. It is one of the best positional shooting training rifles to come along in a long time.
While it is natural to assume that a .22LR rifle is perfect for new shooters and youth to begin on (because it is), no rifle is enjoyable to shoot if it doesn’t fit the shooter well. While some rifles lack the adjustments necessary to be very good for anything more than the most basic shooting positions, the Precision Rimfire’s adjustability and plenty of forend real estate is where the Ruger earns its positional shooting stripes.
The Precision Rimfire has an easily adjustable length of pull and comb height. It also offers the ability to move the comb fore and aft to ensure good contact between the shooter’s cheek and comb, regardless of scope placement or length of pull. Most adjustable combs sit a fixed distance from the receiver. Shortening the length of pull pushes the shooter’s face off the front edge of the comb. This is especially a problem for very young or small shooters.
Every adjustment made to the Precision Rimfire’s stock occurs by disengaging one throw lever. Once loosened, the length of pull and comb can all be moved to fit the shooter. There are markings molded into the stock to serve as reference points to quickly size the rifle for multiple shooters.
The stock’s toe has a section of Picatinny rail molded into it for use with a monopod. Should the shooter not desire a monopod, rail covers smooth the toe out enough that it rides comfortably atop a rear bag.
There are flush sling socket cups that accommodate quick-detach swivels near the toe on both sides of the stock. Being able to quickly add or remove a sling lets the shooter practice with a sling when desired and then remove it for snag-free storage.
Once the back end of the rifle has been set up correctly for a given shooter, the next most apparent feature is the long forend. Some folks will not care for its octagonal appearance, but a long forend that free-floats the barrel is essential for shooting from field positions and improvised supports. The longer the forend, the more options (such as rocks, tree limbs, bumpers, fence posts etc.) the shooter has available to support the front of the rifle.
The 15-inch, free-float, M-Lok handguard is ideal for this rifle. In addition to the generous real estate it offers for grip or support, there are many potential attachment points that a savvy shooter can experiment with and develop their personal preferences. Such lessons include learning the best location for the front sling swivel, when to move the bipod close to the magazine well and when it needs to be pushed out towards the muzzle.
The entire rear portion of the Precision Rimfire that hosts the barreled action and aluminum forend is made from very rigid polymer. This keeps the cost and weight of the rifle down. Cost and weight are important considerations for any rifle when you want to venture beyond the range. The lighter the weight, the easier it is to carry afield. The lower the cost, the less likely you’ll worry about wear and tear. Any rifle that will be laid across rocks, fences and bumpers is going to get beat up. That’s an easier pill to swallow if the rifle getting beat up doesn’t cost a ton.
The Rimfire comes with Ruger’s adjustable Marksman trigger. It shares a similar appearance to the trigger found on the centerfire RPR, but the two triggers are not interchangeable. Gaining access to the Precision Rimfire’s trigger for detailed maintenance requires removal of the two action screws, the barreled action and forend from the polymer magazine well and stock assemblies.
To adjust the trigger, you are not required to remove the barreled action. There is a small Allen wrench stored near the action’s tang. Remove the polymer cover just behind the tang to access the wrench. The wrench fits into an angled opening just forward of the triggerguard.
Adjusting the trigger pull weight is a simple matter of turning the Allen wrench. Turning the wrench to the right increases pull weight, to the left decreases pull weight. Only six complete turns of the wrench are necessary to traverse the trigger’s entire range of available pull weights. Any more than that is just turning the screw with no effect. There is some thread locker on the screw to prevent incidental adjustment, so it’s a little harder to turn than expected. Pull can be adjusted anywhere between 21/4 to 5 pounds.
Having an easily adjustable trigger is a big deal. Shooters learning the ins and outs of positional shooting will have to move with a loaded firearm (i.e., a full magazine in the rifle) without one in the chamber. If competition is the goal, you’ll have to learn to move quickly with such a loaded gun. Once in position, the shooter can run the bolt and start shooting.
Light triggers aid accurate shooting, without a doubt. However, I’ve seen even experienced shooters fire a round before they were completely ready because the trigger was too light. The Precision Rimfire allows us to tailor the trigger pull to a new preference or to accommodate the stress level expected when it’s time for hits to count. Start heavy and lighten the pull as you become more proficient.
Part of getting really good with a rifle is being able to load and shoot quickly. Of course, accuracy is paramount. Any rifle that’ll be good for more than just hunting must have a detachable magazine. Unfortunately, this complicates loading the rifle.
The Precision Rimfire is fed from the same detachable magazines used by the ubiquitous Ruger 10/22. It ships with one 15-round magazine. It is an ideal capacity for this rifle because it leaves plenty of magazine body to grip on to during insertion and removal, but it isn’t so long that it interferes with shooting from the prone position or off a bipod. The rifle’s grip hangs lower than the 15-round magazine, so it’ll hit the ground first.
The magazine catch sits just forward of the triggerguard and is pushed forward to release the magazine. The release is a small tab that sits inside a recess. Although it doesn’t protrude more than a quarter-inch away from the polymer housing, it is still easily activated. The recess provides good protection to prevent accidental dumping of the magazine.
The magazine and magazine catch are both perfect for practicing serious rifle work and will require very little practice to activate quickly. Besides that, the magazines are big enough to have the capacity that you won’t need to reload every couple of minutes and they’re small enough that you can keep two in a pocket to practice loading quickly.
One of the most unique and relevant features on the rifle is the ability to adjust the rifle’s bolt travel, or how far the bolt moves fore and aft when cycling the action. The rifle ships from Ruger set up for about 1½ inches of bolt travel, which is typical for just about every .22LR bolt-action rifle.
To make bolt travel longer, remove the rearmost spring-steel ring that surrounds the bolt. (It takes 30 seconds.) This gives the rifle about 3 inches of bolt travel, which is what most short-action rifles have. Having a rimfire rifle with longer bolt travel is a definite advantage for practicing ahead of a competition.
Normally, a shooter that uses a rifle with 1½ inches of bolt travel will, if done enough, create muscle memory that is accustomed to that range of movement. So, when it’s time to go to the centerfire rifle, the shooter now has to move the bolt 3 inches. Bouncing back and forth between 1½ and 3 inches of bolt travel is a good way for the shooter to short-stroke the action when experiencing stress. Since Ruger allows its .22LR to mirror the handling characteristics of a short-action centerfire, training scars such as short-stroking aren’t a problem.
The Precision Rimfire has an 18-inch, hammer-forged barrel and a ½x28 threaded muzzle. The barrel contour is heavy, measuring .86 inch in diameter for its entire length. There is no way to ever shoot this rifle fast enough to overheat this barrel. It will also have no point-of-impact shift from the additional weight of a suppressor, should you choose to use one. Both of these factors are beneficial to anyone interested in pushing the training pace and/or doing some high-volume shooting.
I’ve never seen a more configurable .22LR rifle come straight from the factory than Ruger’s new Precision Rimfire. Only the owner’s knowledge of rifle shooting will determine how much use they get out of this rifle’s capabilities.
Whether it’s shooting groups from the bench, hunting vermin, or shooting in a local rimfire match, there is no .22LR rifle-shooting task that this beauty cannot manage.
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