Ruger Precision .308 Rifle, by Pat Cascio

I’m sure this will ruffle a lot of feathers, but here goes: Just about any rifle – and even some scoped handguns – can be used as “sniper guns”.

I spend far too much time in my local gun shop, checking out what is new and exciting, and what is used and priced right. Many times, when they are busy, I’ll step behind the counter to lend a hand with gun customers. And, I’ve heard this asked many, many times “do you have any sniper rifles?” and when that question is asked of me, I’ll point to all the long guns on the racks. This confuses people, until I explain what constitutes a so-called “sniper rifle” or “counter-sniper rifle.”

Not all sniping is done at 1,000-yards, some is done as close as 100-yards, and even the lowly .22 LR rifle, can accomplish the task of being a sniper rifle, with just a 4X scope on it – think about it. With very little training, you can sure make a head-shot on a human-sized target at 100-yards with this set-up. Is this an ideal sniper rifle? Surely not! However, it can get the job done. Any high-powered rifle, that is commonly used in deer hunting, can work as a sniper rifle – just takes some training and the use of the right ammo and you can become a sniper. Sniping is done from behind concealment (and hopefully cover, as well). Once in place, you set-up your sniper’s hide and very patiently wait for your target. Most sniping takes place at well under 500-yards. That’s easily accomplished with a high-powered rifle, with a decent scope that is properly on it. You don’t need a $2,500 scope to accomplish this task. A good 3-9×40 scope priced under a hundred bucks can suffice.

Of course, well-trained military snipers have been known to take out a target as far away as a mile, but those are not the usual distances. Rather, they are the extreme. And more often than not, shots at those distances – usually require more than one shot. In a survival situation, we have to look at a lot of different things, before we pull the trigger on someone, who is on our property – maybe they are just lost, and pose no real threat to us. If you drop them at several hundred yards away, you may face murder charges at some point, when law and order are restored – assuming it ever gets restored. On the other hand, a shot or two in the vicinity of someone on your property will more than likely send them running away. Let’s hope so – I don’t know anyone who wants to take another person’s life for no good reason.

So, back to what constitutes a sniper or counter-sniper rifle. It can be any long gun, that is capable of placing the shots where you want them to be. I’ve owned more than a few bolt-action hunting rifles, in various calibers, that could keep my three round groups right at an inch at 100 yards. Some gave me groups a little bigger, and some groups ever smaller – but not by much. A lot has to do with the ammunition, and all guns have their druthers – some shoot great with green/yellow box hunting ammo, and some don’t. It all about taking the time to do some quite deliberate tests. When you find a variety of ammo that shoots consistently in your bolt-action hunting rifle, then stock-up on it.

Ruger’s Bolt Action Rifles

Ruger has been producing some outstanding bolt-action hunting rifles for as long as I can remember – and I’m old, real old – so I can remember a long time back. My first Ruger was their Model 77 in .300 Win Mag, and it was a “shooter” no doubt about it – and to this day, I can’t remember if I sold or traded it for something else. More than likely, it was sold, when we needed some fast cash, after being newly married. Still, to this day, Ruger is no slouch when it comes to accurate hunting rifles. However, we’re not talking about “hunting rifles” per se in this article. Instead, we are talking about the Ruger Precision Rifle (RPR) – and they come in several popular calibers. I elected to have Ruger send me their RPR in .308 Winchester – and its not only a popular hunting round, but also the most popular military sniper round, as well.

JWR Adds: The Ruber RPR is also offered in the very popular 6.5 Creedmoor chambering, which was just recently the topic of a feature article in SurvivalBlog.

Ruger Precision Rifle - RPRThere’s a lot to like about the RPR, and there is about a page and a half of specs on this, but I’ll only cover \a few key specs. You can read it all on the Ruger web site. First of all, this is a bolt-action rifle that is is not designed to be a hunting rifle. But it can sure work as one, even though it is about 10 pounds unloaded without a scope – it could be carried afield for hunting. However, this rifle was designed mainly for high-powered rifle competition shooting, plain and simple. Once again, with that said, it can easily double as an outstanding sniper or counter-sniper rifle, in all respects. We have a gun that holds 10 rounds in the removable magazine. That’s a lot of firepower available if you’re sniping or counter-sniping. Barrel length is only 20-inches, but you don’t need any longer barrel than that. There is also a muzzle brake supplied, on the factory threaded barrel.

Folding, Adjustable Stock

Ruger Precision Rifle - RPROne of the main attractions on the RPR is the folding stock, that is also adjustable for length of pull and comb height. The set-up looks more than a little different than your typical bolt-action hunting rifle, that’s for sure. Overall length of the gun is 39.25-inches to 42.75-inches – depending on where the adjustable stock is adjusted at. Length of pull is 12-inches to 15.50-inches – again, depending on how and where you have the stock adjusted – so this rifle will fit just about anyone. Folded length is 31.60-inches and it is easy to fold the stock closed.

I like the Ruger Marksmanship Adjustable trigger, with a pull rating of 2.25-lbs to 5-pounds – my sample came from the factory right at 3.25-lbs and I didn’t see any need to adjust it any lighter, or heavier – the pull weight was just perfect for my use. You can read the balance of the specs on the Ruger web site, however, needless to say, the rifle offers a lot of goodies for what it is.

My Range Tests

Of course, no matter how a rifle is made, if it won’t shoot accurately, it is of no use to the man or woman behind the trigger. The nice folks at Black Hills Ammunition have kept me in ammo for my articles for more than 27 years – even during several ammo droughts, they still managed to get ammo into my hands for articles. I don’t do much reloading these days, because I simply don’t have the time. However, I formerly reloaded for .308 Winchest, .30-06, and .300 Win Mag, and I managed to come up with some good recipes for these calibers over the years. I love the Black Hills .300 Win Mag load, and I managed to duplicate their accuracy, but I just couldn’t exceed it – no matter how hard I tried, and the same goes for the .308 Winchester caliber – I could match Black Hills in the accuracy department, but never beat them. I’ve found that with their match loads, Black Hills produces some of the most consistently accurate ammo in the world.

Ruger Precision Rifle - RPRI borrowed a hi-end scope to mount on the Ruger Precision Rifle, because I wanted to squeeze all the accuracy out of this gun as I possibly could. It was a Leupold Gold Ring variable power scope–considered a benchnmark for quality, to American shooters. Targets were set-up at 100 yards, and I did a lot of walking back and forth to check my targets – no spotting scope. I also had one volunteer shooter with me, and we shot over a period of three days, and put more than 150 rounds down range. While this may not sound like a lot, it really is, when you are demanding all the accuracy you can get out of yourself and a rifle.  From Black Hills, I had their .308 Winchester 168-gr Match Hollow Point load, and their 175 grain Match Hollow point. From their Black Hills Gold (hunting ammo) I had their 18-gr Barnes TSX, 168-gr Sierra TMK and their 175 grain Sierra TMK loads. So this was a good assortment for running through this Ruger.

All shooting was done over a rolled-up sleeping bag, over the bed of my covered pick-up – not an ideal set-up, but I didn’t want to chance my windshield getting broken from the muzzle blast. Still, the set-up was fairly good – although I really needed a bipod on the RPR and I needed to go prone, to get the very best accuracy out of this rifle. But that just is not gonna happen, in my old age. It took me some time to get the adjustable stock set just the way I wanted it – this is a new type of stock to me, and it took some time to get it adjusted perfectly – I’d fire several shots, and check where the rounds were going, and make adjustments, and shoot again. My volunteer shooter was not allowed to make any adjustments after I got the stock and scope adjusted for my shooting position.

Recoil wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected it to be, but then again, the gun was over 11 pounds — loaded and with a scope on it. Still, when you are demanding your best efforts on each and every shot, it takes a toll on you, so that is one reason the shooting was conducted over the course of several days. I wanted to make sure I was giving it my best effort.


The Black Hills Gold – their hunting ammo, gave me groups slightly below one inch, if I did my part, and that’s mighty fine for a “hunting” load. I’ve had many bolt-action hunting rifles that wouldn’t give me that kind of accuracy. There wasn’t much difference between the three hunting rounds when it came to accuracy. However, the Black Hills match grade .308 Win ammo – that’s another story. The Ruger preferred the 168-gr Match Hollow Point load over the 175-gr Match Hollow Point load – not by much, but it was enough to make a “difference” in the small groups.

Ruger Precision Rifle - RPRThe 168-gr Match Hollow Point load was giving me 3-shot groups close to 3/4-inches – and I had to check several times, to make sure all three rounds were hitting the target – they were “that” close – often just one ragged hole. The 175 grain Match Hollow Point load was hot on the heels of the lighter bullet, and gave me groups just above ¾ of an inch – consistently. I could live with either round, for doing some log range hunting or counter-sniping. After a lot of shooting, I could probably produce groups as small as the 168-gr load, with the slightly heavier load – in all honesty, I think in the end, you could really call it a “tie” between the rounds. I will admit, I can’t shoot that well – all the time. It is just not in me, these days. However, I was giving this Ruger and the Black Hills Ammo, my absolute best efforts on each outing.  I did have some groups well over an inch – but that was me – pulling a shot – not the gun, and certainly not the ammo.

I believe the Ruger Precision Rifle is capable of even better accuracy than I achieved. Even though I did my best, I have to remember that my trigger finger is all deformed, and doesn’t have much feeling in it — both due to osteoarthritis. But I still did very well, all things considered.

The good news is that the Ruger Precision Rifle only retails for $1,500. And if you ask me, you are getting a lot of “sniper rifle” for that kind of money. Just be sure to test different ammo varieties, to see what gives you the best accuracy, and I know you’ll find a load that your Ruger will like. And, if all you do is want to punch paper at the range, then go for it – you won’t be disappointed with this Ruger. It is a shooter!


  1. With that kind of accuracy, that is not that much money. Hopefully is it just as reliable. In 6.5 Creedmoor, follow up shots will be even quicker as the recoil is very mild, You should be able to see the hit and adjust and be ready to fire again. It would be a very efficient rifle on the field. The barrel wear should not be as much of concern within 500 yard ranges as you only need 1.5 MOA, or so, to be accurate enough. Flatter shooting 123 grain Amax, and the SST has more than enough ballistic coefficient (.510), and the same ballistic coefficient, so they are interchangeable. It is plenty for those ranges, and it will be flatter as a result. The SST is just as accurate and a better performer on deer, yet the Amax pretty darn good on deer as well. However, the SST might be more reliable. Don’t know for sure, but the Amax make large holes for exit wounds.

    I run these bullets in a 6.5×55 M38 at reduced speeds to match the calibration on a turret scope set up for a 7.62 NATO 168 grain trajectory. Otherwise the old 6.5×55 is ballistically identical to the Creedmoor. And it is easier on the barrel as it runs at a max pressure of only 45,000psi, instead of 62,000psi for the Creedmoor. Brass in the M38 lasts forever. It is 9 pound rig with about 11 pounds of recoil, and even when it heats up, there is little change in the accuracy, that is right at MOA.
    The Creedmoor is a very nice package, and the available ammunition from Hornady is impressive with advertised ballistic coefficients approaching an amazing .7 However, if they offered it in .260 Remington, which I doubt they will, the top speeds would be greater, 50 to 100 fps faster at a lower pressures that may improve barrel life. For example the newer 6.5mm 150 grain Serria BTHP can be run out a .260 Remingtion at 2,697 fps. That is impressive. But the big deal with .260 Remington is that is uses necked down .308 cases.

    It all makes for an interesting horse race…. I would love to have that rifle. I know just what to do with it.

    1. If anybody has experimented with the Swede loaded with the new bullets out there for the 6.5 Creedmore, I’d love to see their results. I no longer have any 6.5 Swedes, but an old man can dream.

      1. The Swede barrel that can match Creedmoor velocities is the long M96 barrel with a 1:7.8 twist that can handle most of the heavy 6.5 bullets the Creedmoor typically can with it ‘s 24” 1:8 twist barrels. The Creedmoor uses a smaller cartridge up to a maximum pressure of 62,000 psi, where as the Swede uses a larger case and slower powers at a much lower maximum pressure 46,000 cup (about 50,000 psi). Hodgden lists a load of 46.3 grains of IMR4831 at 2,700 fps at a pressure of 45,400 cup out of a 24” barrel, the length of a Swedish M38 barrel. In the 29” barrel of the M96, the bullet might be 50 fps faster. They are virtually identical, but the Creedmoor is a tad faster, and because it is a modern rifle, and sold as a precision rifle, and factory ammunition is tailored for accuracy at long ranges, the rifle will likely be more accurate straight out of the box. This makes it easy for anyone one to quickly get into the long range precision game. In the right hands, a 100 year old M96, or the M38 with the 23.8” good barrel can use the same bullets loaded with RL22 power, and will perform just as well, or almost as well, or perhaps better. My M38 is bedded and free floated with the old Timmey trigger. Even with a worn throat, it will do sub MOA. I haven’t used the heaviest new bullets that could be considered ‘Creedmoor; bullets, bullets over 142 grains, but have been reloading long enough to say stick with 140-142 grain bullets, SMK, Amax, Accubond etc, and RL22. If you can not find RL22, get these powers in this order: IMR 4831, Norma MRP, or H4350. Because the Swede uses it’s long barrel, and slow powders at much lower pressures the barrels, the brass lasts forever. 15 to 20 reloads for the brass if annealed every 4th time or so. Barrels should stay good for 10,000 plus rounds, and be might #3 bores at 15,000 rounds. After 84 years, the throat on my M38 worn, yet still shoots good. The Swedish Mauser tend to be accurate when they should not be, yet each one is different. It might be the Swedish steel, or because the bullet as a long bearing surface. Who knows for sure.

        The Swedish Mausers have unfortunately gone up in price, and they are not accurized, but some do surprisingly very well in military stocks. Yet a scope would have to be mounted. It might be better to get a ‘good to go’ Creedmoor, yet a .30-06 can duplicate Creedmoor performance ballistically using 200 grain bullets, but it will have 20 to 22 pounds of felt recoil, instead of 12 to 14 pounds for the Creedmoor. However it could be that you might already have an Ought Six that is scoped. It has the added advantage that it is a common caliber round. If to used as a precision rifle, add weight by adding a bipod, and bore a deep hole or two behind the butt plate, install lead shot to 3/4’s depth, and reattach the butt plate. Then add a Limb Saver, or a sand bag. The recoil should then be tolerable if you are recoil sensitive. It may not be a precision rifle for 1000 meters, but with the right loads, it be good enough and save you lots of money and hit almost twice as hard as the Creedmoor at extended ranges. The Creedmoor is a good deer rifle, the Ought Six is for everything else.

  2. Hmmm, your comment about having sell your 300 win mag when newly married, struck a cord with me, as I did the same thing. Gave the landlord my Remington 700 bdl in a 22-250 for rent because I was short of money. Never got it back, oh well, history I guess. ( the new wife was happy I got rid of it )

  3. My RPR in 338 Lapua broke after 38 shots of factory ammo. Couldn’t close the bolt all the way so I couldn’t fold stock and remove bolt to trouble shoot it. Had to go buy a large expensive gun case to return to ruger – couldn’t fold stock to get it back in factory box. They “fixed” it, told me what parts they replaced, but wouldn’t take the time to tell me what the problem was, even when I called service dept. to ask. POOR service in anyone’s opinion. Therefore DO NOT consider folding stock an advantage, but rather a hindrance to maintenance and repair – it’s a cool gimmick. Check the web – majority of those who compare it to the Savage prefer it to ruger, and it’s 20% cheaper.

  4. I recently traded in my Ruger RPR .308 because of the excess weight and “lack” of accuracy (ie) 3/4MOA was the best I could get with Federal Gold Match) , for Ruger’s Magpul Hunter. Lighter, shorter and is actually a 1/2MOA rifle. I found the RPR stayed in the gun safe, while the Magpul Hunter actually gets put to use. The first thing I do is to remove the factory supplied muzzle breaks and install an A2 type flash hider….not nearly the muzzle blast.

  5. I have two proven sniper rifles, one a savage axis 270, scoped with a redfield 4×12.
    Another a savage trophy hunter in 308, scoped with a Nikon 3×9.
    Both have proven to be excellent sniper rifles and both have taken down their targets with 1 shot. The proof is cut and wrapped up in my freezer. 🙂

  6. Have the RPR in 6.5 Creedmoor…most 3-shot groups have been all shots cutting one another…muzzle blast and noise are brutal because of the muzzle brake… i wear ear plugs and muffs

    1. I have the same rifle. After barrel breakin, it is a consistent half inch gun out to 800 yards.
      I handload the 143 grain eld-x hornady bullet and the rifle likes them a bit fast.
      This rifle is a great, economical, and very accurate tool.
      I’ve got just under 3,000 rounds through it and am paying close attention to groups for any signs of throat erosion. So far, so good. I’m glad I bought it!

      Great write up Pat.

  7. Jima and Texas Prepper stole my thunder… muzzle brakes SUCK. I see them in classes all the time, and they blind instructors and students alike during night shoots. An aircraft strobe isn’t that bright. And the blast is a non-starter. I’d rather be kicked, than deafened! So yes, remove that stupid brake and put a good flash HIDER in it. You’ll need it with that short barrel. The military flash hider on the M14/M1A is superb if you can arrange it.
    Glad that Pat included a bit of talk about shooting down people at long range. It’s very difficult to convince a detective, a prosecutor, a jury, and a judge, that the man you shot at 680 meters was a direct and immediate threat to you. Only the military can legally shoot down people at long range, and for nothing more sinister than wearing the wrong clothing. That’s war. In any event, we’ll all have to answer for our actions someday.
    Long range shooting is like golf. Only for men.
    If you need a muzzle brake on a .308, you’re in the wrong hobby.
    Accuracy isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I have 12″ x 18″ steel plates up at the property out to 800 meters if I move back to a pasture to shoot. One day, my friend and I were shooting our Remington M700 Varminter Synthetic .308s with 168 grain match loads out to about 700m. Getting good hits became routine….and we ran out of 168s. The truck was a quarter mile walk, so one of us dug a couple of boxes of Czech 7.62 ball (144 gr) ammo out of a pack. The blue box stuff, probably 25 years old. We knew this was not going to work at this range with the different velocity and bullet weight, and the notorious 3 MOA accuracy of military ball ammunition. We shot some anyway, just to see how far off they would be. Uh, the Czech ammo hit the plate over and over again using the same come-up data. No adjustments were made to optics. We scratched our heads and called it a day.
    BTW, we didn’t know we couldn’t hit the steel with the old .308 round because the hot .264s (6.5CM, .260 Rem, etc) hadn’t been invented yet. It’s a good thing Bumblebees don’t know they can’t fly.
    Tunnel Rabbit, I’ve always wanted a 6.5×55 Swede because it looked so efficient. Maybe in the next life.

    1. Paul

      I’m old school like yourself. Submitted an very long and very boring article very early this morning about the virtues of the of the Old Ought Six, .30-06 vs. the 6.5 Creedmoor. You’ll see the old school vindicated. Good shooting 6.5×55 Swedish Mauser’s can still be found at a reasonable price, and I would prefer the well proven in battle Mauser actions to the more refined and accurate modern sporting actions and barrels. The 6.5×55 is the smarter choice in a sufficient environment, yet the popular 6.5 Creedmoor is well supported making, it easy for folks to get into the long range game. It is sweet, but why bother when .308 covers most of what is needed, and over all is the most common and smartest cartridge to own. But if you’ve got an .06′, don’t loose it, cause you’ve got more gun. That is the thrust of it, and perhaps I should used this paragraph to help wrap up article. I’m still revved up from last night….

    2. You are right, brakes suck. A suppressor (the trust route?) is a much better option. I have become a big fan of nitrided barrels from Criterion, a spinoff of Krieger. They make them for the RPR. They really shine with 3x the barrel life in a magnum rifle and you also gain some corrosion resistance. Not that I would want to get hit with the 6.5CM at 1000 yards or any distance for that matter, but what people discount at very long ranges is energy on target. Where the magnums are way ahead. God speed and happy shooting SIr

  8. Hi Paul,
    Looks my earlier response got lost in the digital ether. Submitted at 03:40 hours today a,n article that compares the .30-06 to the 6.5 Creedmoor, vindicating the old school. However, as you well know, the 7.62 NATO works just fine, and is the smartest cartridge to own. However, if I had my .308’s piled up, and had the money to play, I would choose the 6.5 Grendel in a low cost rife from Palmetto State Armory, and that could my DMR platform after a low cost version in 5.56, or better yet, a 7.62 version that would cost much more in the AR-10. The AR-10 is also a much heavier rifle and ammo package. The 35% less recoil of the 6.5 Grendel as compared to the 6.5 Creedmoor, or full power 6.5×55, is about the same or less than in my heavier 6.5×55 sporterized and glass bedded M38. And because it is a box fed semi-auto in AR guise, it could be brutally efficient in the field. There just might another article in me on that, and several other gun related topics. I am indeed a gun nut, that was disguised as a radio nut, who, to poor to buy another gun, bot radios instead. When will the madness end?

  9. Yes, I too love my .30-06.. I can tune a 175 grain bullet to do just about anything in that gun.

    I can hardly believe that at 56 I’m finally going to break down and get a .308.. Don’t ask me why. My 06 works just fine.

  10. I have liked the RPR since it came out, but it does have some short-comings. The one thing I didn’t care for was the use of so much polymer/plastic on them. But how can you beat it at that price point – a question I have been asked by a number of fellow shooters in my area – and how can you improve on it. My answer has always been the same, and I have built several of these for friends and family.

    A Savage 10TR (may be only a Canadian offereing) These come from the factory with a threaded, heavy barrel in either 20″ or 24″. Oversized bolt knob. Accu-trigger and Accu-stock. I haven’t seen one yet that won’t shoot MOA easily out of the box. I buy them used for $450-$550 Canadian. Brand new you can still find them on sale for under $700. The only down-side is those 4 round Savage magazines. So lets drop it in a Chassis so that it becomes a “Wonder Rifle” Again, a Canadian Company, MDT offers chassis from that $400 range up to about $1000 depending on the features you want.

    No it’s not an RPR, and you actually have to put in a little work to get it, but that same 10 pound gun is now an accurate action mounted/torqued in an all aluminum chassis and will perform as good, if not better than the RPR. I have built this combo, with the ESS chassis and was still able to throw a nice 4-16 Vortex scope on it and come in at about $1700 CAD (about $1300 USD)

  11. Another thing that I feel the need to point out, is that “Sniper Rifle” is another made up term by the anti-gun establishment, just like “Assault Weapon”. A sniper rifle is a rifle used by a sniper – it is not a specific type or caliber. Generally they are accurized, but no more accurate than many modern hunting or target rifles. Up until very recently the “sniper rifle” was just a re-worked Remington 700. In WW II they were ’03 Sprinfields and Garands. Canadians used .303 Lee Enfields. And the Germans used Mauser 98’s.

    I guess my point is that designating any rifle a “sniper rifle” does not imbue it with some strange and mystical power. It is now and always has been the “man behind the trigger” that makes them perform in extraordinary ways. What designating a rifle as a sniper rifle, or even counter-sniper rifle does do, is give the gun-grabbers one more thing to latch onto and try and ban. Take it from a Canadian. We’re in the middle of trying to fight a New-Zealand style ban right now.

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