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Discussion Starter #1
I finally got to the range today with Ruger American Predator chambered in .308 that I got after the New Year and hadn’t fired.

It took me so long as I’ve never had a such a bolt-action rifle and have never used a scope. I spent a couple of weeks of research and I finally settled on the Nikon P-308 with the BDC reticle. I then read about mounting a scope for a few days and decided on Burris Signature Zee med rings and thought it would be a good idea to do it right and buy a torque wrench. The torque wrench took a few days to arrive, and when it did I took a leisurely evening to mount the scope. I took my time and I think it paid off.

I bore-sighted it the old-fashioned way in my kitchen, staring down the barrel at a dot on the wall. At first I couldn’t adjust the scope down enough, eventually bottoming out, but then I realized that the trajectory of a .308 round will take it approximately two inches above what I saw looking through the barrel. I put another dot two inches above the first one and put the cross hairs on that.

I went to the range with about 50 rounds of PMC Bronze 147gr FMJ BT, and a ten-box smorgasbord, ranging from Remington Core-Lokt 150 gr to Federeal 180gr SP. S&B, Fiocchi, Hornady, PPU, and American Eagle were also in the mix.

I used the PMC Bronze to start the sighting at 50 yards. The first shot had perfect windage and was about six inches low. Shooting and adjusting, I got it pretty much right on at 50 yards in about ten rounds. Groups were about an inch, with some flyers probably due to my unfamiliarity. This is the first time I’d bench shot, and usually shoot my other rifles off hand.

I moved to the 100 yard range and continued with the PMC. I was getting 2-3” groups. I was disappointed, but then saw that I didn’t have a secure hold on the rifle and wasn’t using the rest correctly. I readjusted and finished off the PMC with 1-1 ½” groups. Most of the groups had two of the holes touching each other.

I then switched to the better stuff. I loaded three of a brand at a time into a magazine, shot carefully, recorded the results, then loaded the next three. About three shots per minute, and a couple of minutes between brands. At the end of 30 rounds, I got the target then sat down and took a look. I’d cleaned once with a bore snake in between the 50 and 100 yard ranges, and once in the middle of the mix of different brands.

Most groups were just at an inch. Quite a few were ¾”. Many of the holes in the groups were on top of each other. There was a flier here and there, but as most of my first shots hit dead on, followed by a poorer second shot, then another good shot the third time after I’d slowed myself down and took care, I assume the fliers and wider groups were due to me rushing.

For my first outing at the bench, sighting in a new rifle, getting MOA or less most of the time, I was very happy. The Ruger American Predator seems to be an accurate and durable gun. When I first bought it, I admit I was a little disappointed as compared to my Ruger 77/357, the fit and finish isn’t as nice – but then it also cost half as much as the 77/357. The magazines seem chinsy, but there was no problem with feeding. The bolt cycled smoothly and easily. The trigger is very nice, and I’ve done nothing to adjust it. It’s not the most impressive rifle at first feel, but getting MOA and bullet holes on top of each other the first time out is all I can ask from a firearm.

It’s quite a different thing shooting from a bench. Totally different pace and mindset. When I shoot my other rifles, it’s usually out in the woods, 50-100 yards, off hand, at steel targets and clay pigeons. A hundred rounds of .308 and attempting precision shots is a full day.

I just found out that there is a 300-yard range nearby. That’ll give me a good opportunity to test the BDC reticle.
 

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Just remember that if you clean your barrel in between strings you could be removing the material that helps accuracy by filling in bore imperfections.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Yes, hefting it around in your hands, the Predator looks feels like a sub-$400 rifle. I held a Tikka that cost only about $200 more and the fit and finish was far, far nicer. But working the Ruger's action, the smoothness and consistency of the trigger, and its reliability and accuracy makes it a huge value.

As far as the cleaning goes, I did a couple of hours of reading and opinions on that vary as widely as opinions on religion. I cleaned it twice, once after about 20 rounds, and again after about 30. I've read people stating that they break in a rifle by cleaning with patch and solvent between each shot; after fives shots, then ten, then twenty; after one, then two, then three, etc; and just cleaning it after done shooting. And I read the opposite saying that such exhaustive regimens actually do the barrel more harm than good. I cleaned the entire rifle after it came out of the box, twice at the range with a boresnake, and again when I got home. Other than the initial cleaning, I don't think it made any difference.

Based on the groups I got, if I improve my skills enough, it seems that this rifle could consistently get 1/2 MOA, at least at 100 yards. Once I get there, I'm going to start reaching out farther.
 
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