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Favorite Loads for a Pair of Ruger 6.5s Part II, The Ruger Precision Rifle
Ruger’s Precision Rifle is the polar opposite of the trim little American Predator 6.5 Grendel. It was designed from the ground up as a precision chassis rifle built for robustness and accuracy. Beyond the obvious features, there are a host of clever ideas and subtle refinements that make this rifle a first in class product. All firearms manufacturer’s request that the purchaser read their manual, which is a usually just a list prepared by lawyers to protect against lawsuits, but Ruger is not kidding when they suggest the user take a brief look at their manual. There are so many subtle features that either Ruger’s manual, or their videos are necessary to use the rifle to its maximum capability. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CYvQ3YwZzT4
The Rifle at a Glance
These rifles are big. With a maximum length of 46.75 inches and weighing in at 10.7 pounds empty and without optics, the Ruger Precision is physically impressive. Its lines are stark and modern. Several people at the range remarked when they realized that it was a chassis bolt action rather some form of an AR-10. It is an easy mistake to make at a distance.
Chassis rifles use a free floating barrel protected by a handguard to do away with the need for traditional bedding. This allows the barrel to oscillate freely and promotes better accuracy. It also gives a chassis rifle the distinctive in-line bore axis of an AR platform. And, like the AR rifles, the low bore axis requires high scope mounting to bring the line of sight up to the shooter’s eye level. Because of this, cantilever mounts are very common on precision rifles, which adds to their Modern Sporting Rifle looks.
The quality of Ruger’s barrels lagged behind their industry competitors from the mid-70s until Ruger began bringing barrel manufacturing in-house in the early 90s. Now boasting some of the most advanced barrel manufacturing capabilities in the world, Ruger hammer forged barrels compete well with the most custom manufacturers. The Ruger Precision Rifle in 6.5 Creedmoor uses a 24-inch, 1 in 8″ twist, 5R rifled design that even custom barrel manufactures will quietly admit is quite good. The Ruger representative laughed when asked about the barrel and its surprising accuracy saying, “An inaccurate precision rifle wouldn’t be much of a seller, would it?” No it wouldn’t. And truth be told, the Precision Rifle has been a big seller.
Detachable box magazines are an expected part of all chassis rifle designs. The short action Ruger Precision offers two different magazine choices. The rifle ships with two 10-round Magpul PMags. It will also accept the AICS-style magazine that fits Ruger’s Scout rifle.
This is a pretty good mechanical trick, because the AICS clicks into position on a rear latch, where the AR-10-style magazines latch on the side. To engineer around this, Ruger made a rear lever that actuates a latch for the AICS that when further depressed releases the magazine detent that can hold an AR-10 type magazine. Ruger literature also cryptically mentions that the rifle is compatible with “some M-14” magazines, but the stock military magazine I tried would not lock into position.
The action uses a three locking lug bolt that is similar to the rest of the American centerfire line of bolt action rifles. With three lugs, bolt uplift naturally becomes shorter, with the Ruger only moving 70-degrees from a locked to unlocked position. The uplift is fast and positive, aided by an oversize bolt handle. Because chassis rifles use a manually operated bolt in what would normally be an enclosed semi-automatic action, extra length is added to the bolt via a plastics shroud to fill the void in the exposed bolt raceway. Ruger elected to fill this shroud with two useful doodads. Once the bolt is removed, the shroud may be removed to expose the cocking piece. Inside the shroud are an Allen wrench to adjust the trigger (Adjustable from 2.25 to 5.0 pounds) and a useful tool to remove the firing pin assembly from the bolt body. These pictures explain the process:
The upper and lower receivers are easily separated by removing two Allen bolts. This allows the safety to be moved for left handed shooters or for the user to service the trigger.
The Ruger Precision Rifle comes with a built in Picatinny base secured using #8-40 screws. It is important to note that the Ruger’s rail has a built in 20 MOA cant built into the design. In some scopes this will make it difficult to zero the rifle at 100 yards because the angle is greater than the scopes internal adjustments will allow. If the shooter selects a cantilever mount it is important that it not also have a 20 MOA cant or the zeroing process may begin at about three hundred yards.
I talked with Sean Ash at Warne Scope Mounts and asked what their company recommended for mounts on a Ruger Precision. I was in luck. Ash told me he owned several. His choice was the 7221M 34mm medium rings, which were the lowest that would accommodate my optic’s 50mm bell. For the shooter looking for an easier cheek weld with larger diameter objective lense optics, he recommended the 7222M high rings. I’ve taken his advice and ordered the high rings.
At 10.7 pounds unloaded and without optics, this rifle isn’t for the faint of heart if they intend to use it as a hunting rifle. That isn’t to say it can’t, or won’t be done, but it probably won’t be done by me. The Burris XTR II added an additional 31 ounces which along with the rings made the whole package about 2.25 pounds. At this weigh, my bullet selection was pretty easy. It is going to shoot on the range most of the time and target bullets are in order.
The Berger 140 grain Long Range Boat Tail Target bullet (LRBTT) is quite a mouthful, but is seemed an excellent place to start exploring the Precision Rifle’s accuracy. With an enviable reputation for accuracy, these J4 jacketed bullets are designed to have a Total Indicated Runout of +/- .0001″. The tangent ogive design makes the bullet easier to load accurately than its sexier secant ogive VLD siblings and is especially useful when used in within tight internal magazine dimensions. Grant Cunningham wrote a great piece about these two bullet styles. The link is included here: https://www.grantcunningham.com/2015/04/ogives-secant-tangent-and-why-the-hell-should-i-care-whats-an-ogive-anyhow/
Powder and Primer Selection
There are going to be several of these stories on load testing for the Ruger Precision Rifle. First on deck is Ramshot Hunter, a spherical propellant that is on the slower side of the burn range for the 6.5 Creedmoor. With its very small grain diameter, Hunter fills cases very efficiently, and with the added volume of slower burning powder it also tends to produce good velocity. Among target shooters, Hunter has earned a reputation for accuracy when paired with hot and consistent primers.
My initial testing used Winchester Large Rifle primers, which have provided good accuracy with other spherical powders. The Precision rifle hated this combination. Since these were the first rounds fired downrange after breaking in the barrel, these initial groups left me concerned. The first group measured 1.350 center to center. The second shot two rounds within half an inch of each other and then dutifully shot a flier almost three inches out of the group. By the fifth three-shot group, I was worried.
The next day I replaced the Winchester primers with Federal GM210M match primers and the groups closed up significantly. There is a lesson here. Priming plays a role in accuracy. It isn’t necessarily the powder. The next group averages are recorded below. Each row is the average of 3 three-shot groups fired at 100 yards.
Sometime next week, I am going to reshoot these powder charges using magnum large rifle priming to measure their impact on velocity and accuracy.
Ruger Precision Rifle Accuracy
The rifle showed an accuracy “node” very quickly using 40.8 grains of Hunter. The accuracy was impressive but the velocity was well below what I was hoping to see. At less than 2500 fps, the load seemed questionable for longer range shooting. The next groups opened up as velocity increased but never crossed over one minute of angle, unlike the Winchester primed cartridges. At 45.0 grains, the groups once again tightened up but the primers were beginning to show pressure signs. 45.0 grains was the end of the road for this powder/bullet combination. I am going to shoot several more sets of groups at 44.5 to 44.9 grains of Hunter to see if it will settle into a consistently tight group. If so, I may explore bullet seating depths. If not, there are a lot of great powders within the 6.5 Creedmoor’s performance envelope. We’ll see. Accurate 4350 is next up to bat.
There just isn’t anything not to like when using the RPR. The ergonomics from is adjustable stock, although futuristic-looking, are excellent. With a recoil impulse of 2.68 lbs-sec and recoil energy of 8.87 ft-lbs, the rifle feels more like a varmint rifle in .220 Swift rather than something that has just fired a 140 grain projectile downrange. Critics worry at its size, but this type of rifle is always going to be heavy. It is built for accuracy first. Portability is much further down the list. If you want a lightweight hunting rifle, it is my understanding that Ruger makes models to fill that need. But, if you want a precision rifle, Ruger has produced the most cost-effective model on the market. The Ruger Precision Rifle is a specialty rifle for shooters with well-defined interests. Within its niche, it is a very, very good value.
Click here to view Western Powder’s data for the 6.5 Creedmoor. 6.5 CM data