Ruger Precision Rifle in .223 and Huskemaw 5-20x50 Blue Diamond Scope Review
By John Johnston
In May 2015 while taking the long range course at the FTW Ranch in southwest Texas I came across a rifle I had never seen. At first, I thought it was an AR but on closer inspection I saw the bolt action and the label of “Ruger”. I lifted it up off the rack for close inspection and the first thing I noticed was the weight. As I was checking out this new rifle, one of the instructors came in and asked that I take no photos of this rifle and not write about it. I was sworn to secrecy till the rifle was released to the public. When I got home I contacted Ruger and pre-ordered one in 6.5 Creedmoor. There is an article on that rifle in the Long Range Hunting archives.
Over the past few years due to the popularity of the RPR, they have sold as fast as Ruger can get them out the door. Shooters absolutely love these rifles. The only problem is the cost of the ammo. Even though the Hornady 6.5 Creedmoor ammo is reasonable, the cost of the practice sessions can get expensive. Listening to the precision rifle shooters and the general public Ruger recently came out with the RPR chambered n .223/5.56 Nato.
RUGER PRECISION RIFLE IN .223
Ruger used their same action as in the other RPRs. In fact the only things changed were those required to shoot and load the .223/5.6 Nato rounds. The muzzle brake was even kept. At 9.8 pounds not including the rings, scope or ammunition this rifle is not exactly one most of you would want to carry all day in the field hunting. That is appropriate since it was designed to be used for precision rifle shooting/practice. As I worked the bolt for the first time on my new one, I could not avoid feeling a little disappointed. It felt like there was gravel in the action. After a good cleaning and greasing, it was a little better. I had heard from other RPR owners about quality control problems. Mine was so rough I cannot imagine a Ruger quality control person would have let go out the door. As I shot the rifle it became a little smoother but the roughness was still very noticeable. However, it did not affect the rifles capabilities.
For many years I have wanted to try out the Huskemaw scopes. For this project I chose the 5-20x50 even though the folks at Huskemaw suggested a lower power scope for a .223. After I explained to them I wanted the higher power mode because I wanted to get the best accuracy out of the RPR and it would be tested at long range targets, they sent a scope for me to use. Before I mounted the scope I took it out on my ranch at sunset to see how it performed. I found the glass was very good with apparent quality coatings. It gathered light very well. The clarity was right up there with some of the best scopes. Using Burris Extreme Tactical (my favorite rings) 30mm rings I mounted the Huskemaw. I found the eye focus was fast and easy. I sighted it in with some 52gr. ammo I had, just to get it on paper.
HORNADY 75gr. ELD-M
I had on hand three brands of .223 ammunition with heavier bullets to take advantage of the 1-7” twist of the 20 inch barrel. I started with the 69gr. Blackhills ammo. At one hundred yards this ammo shot right there at the ½ MOA mark, sometimes slightly larger and at other times it shot a little smaller. The smallest group was .430”. The next up was one of my favorite .223 manufacturer’s, HSM, 75gr. Match ammo. Again it bounced around the ½” mark with 3-5 shot groups. With the scope set at 20x it was easy to get the best accuracy out of the RPR plus it was just plain enjoyable to shoot.
Next up was Hornady’s 75gr. ELD-M. I had been up to the Hornady plant for the coming out party of the new ELD bullets, so I was curious how this ammo would perform in the .223 line. Again the groups bounced around the ½” mark but the smaller groups were tighter and I was able to shoot several groups in the upper .3’s. The best group I shot was .368”. That left a big smile on my face.
SETTING UP THE HUSKEMAW
One of the advantages of the Huskemaw line is the custom turret which they call the RFBC turret. They used to give the buyer of one of their scopes two free custom turrets. Now they dropped the price of the scope and charge $50 per custom turret. To get the information to make this turret I was told to sight it in at 100 or 200 yard, my choice, and then go out in 100 hundred yard increments and sight in the scope. I was to count the elevation clicks to get it on target. It seems that instead of 1/4 or 1/8 MOA per click, the Huskemaw uses 1/3 MOA per click, for whatever reason I found this hard for my old brain to process. I did as I was instructed out to 400 yards. When I called this in to order my turret, they compared my figures with their computer program and they pretty much matched. I also gave them the velocity of the round, the BC plus my environmental factors. When the turret arrived I found the maximum elevation on the turret was 650 yards.
To really test this combo out, I went down to the Best of the West Range in Liberty Hill, TX. I had not been there in a little over a year so I had to pay my dues plus I was informed I would have to qualify again for long range shooting. Qualifying consisted of shooting under the watchful eyes of the range master. The only problem for me and this rifle, was the maximum distance I had to shoot was 750 yards. The scope was calibrated to 650 and had no hash marks on the reticle for a holdover.
I had an idea. So off I went to the firing range and found the range master. He asked what I was shooting and he expressed a lot of skepticism that I could do it with a .223. I had 8 shots to get 3 hits at each steel target at the ranges of 300, 500 and 750 yards. The 300 took 4 shots, the 500 took 7 shots and the 750 took 4 shots. Because of rain I did not get a chance at 1000 but I truly believe the rifle and ammunition could do that easily. The Huskemaw turret was right on the mark for the different distances.
Opening of deer season in Texas is the first Saturday of November. As I sat in a pop up blind opening Sunday I was thinking about a possible article entitled the “Worst Opening Weekend In My Long Hunting Life”. The acorns were a couple inches deep, there was a full moon and it was 93 degrees the day before. I was fighting mosquitoes and gnats. It was a little foggy but as I looked up, at 154 yards out was a nice older buck. He was feeding on some corn and quartered slightly away from me. I turned the scope to 150 yards and put the cross hairs behind the shoulder blade as I really aimed for the far shoulder. I squeezed the shot off and the buck dropped in his tracks.
Yes I had shot a Texas size buck with a .223. Also, I used a match bullet to take him. First of all I have shot many deer with a .223 and never lost one. Second, I do not make it a habit to hunt with match bullets but I had seen what the ELD-M bullets did in ballistic jell and had confidence in the bullet. It did not let me down. The ELD-M took out the lungs, liver and spine. There was no exit.
The RPR in .223 is the perfect practice rifle for the precision shooters. Because the stock is adjustable, the rifle is heavy and has a muzzle brake; this rifle in .223 would be great for starting a young shooter off a bench. There is practically no recoil. I hope Ruger does a little better job with their quality control. The Huskemaw scope is one of the best scopes in its price range. I would like to see elevation hash marks on the reticle and use 1/4 or 1/8 MOA clicks instead of 1/3. The Hornady 75gr. ELD-M is now my go to .223 round for my fast twist rifles.
For those that shoot long range, I believe we will see more manufacturers using a fast twist in the .22 caliber center fire rifles. I am already looking for a fast twist .22-250. Bullet makers, in their quest for higher BCs, are stretching out their bullet designs, thus making heavier bullets. This will make long range shooting more enjoyable.
After twenty-five years with a major law enforcement agency, John Johnston retired to the hill country of central Texas. His law enforcement career was diverse with assignments with the tactical/motorcycle unit, patrol, and criminal investigation. After retiring, writing became his calling. He started with a newspaper column, which he still writes, and then he moved up to major magazines in the area of shooting and hunting. He is known for his unbiased product testing and evaluations. Having a full size range from 25-450 yards next to his home was his dream come true. 2010 marked his fiftieth anniversary in the hunting, shooting and reloading sports. You will notice his writing style is quite relaxed and he prefers to write like he is speaking to you around a camp fire. John welcomes questions and comments whether good or bad. You can reach John at [email protected].
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Ruger Precision Rifle in .223 and Huskemaw 5-20x50 Blue Diamond Scope Review
By John Johnston - The Ruger Precision Rifle in .223 is the perfect practice rifle for the precision shooters. Because the stock is adjustable,...