The Ruger American .350 Legend Compact Ranch Rifle is simply the best, most handy bolt-action rifle I have ever tested. It could be the ultimate post-pandemic survival gun on the market. Both the rifle and the .350 Legend cartridge may be the best gun and ammo combination ever put together.

The .350 Legend Cartridge

The .350 Legend cartridge was introduced by Winchester in 2019 as a straight-walled deer hunting cartridge that is effective out to 250 yards. However, the concept of a compact .35 caliber rifle cartridge is not entirely new.

The .350 Legend cartridge is very similar to the old .351 Winchester self-loading cartridge. This cartridge propelled a 180-grain bullet to 1,870 feet per second at the muzzle and delivered 1,400 foot-pounds of energy from the semi-automatic Winchester 1907 rifle. The .350 Legend clearly has the edge in power, propelling a 180-grain Winchester Power-Point to 2,100 feet per second and delivering 1,763 foot-pounds of energy. Further, the .350 Legend has a lot of different loadings available for it — including subsonic suppressor loads — making it far more versatile.

The Ruger American Compact Ranch Rifle

The late, great Col. Jeff Cooper was famous for his concept of the scout rifle — a lightweight, easy-to-carry bolt-action rifle. The scout rifle would utilize a powerful but commonly available chambering. The .308 Winchester was his first choice. A general-purpose rifle, the scout was capable of taking any commonly encountered game as well as providing defense against human predators. I believe the Ruger .350 Legend Compact Ranch Rifle fulfills Cooper’s mission in nearly every way without beating up your shoulder or wallet.

The Compact Ranch features the Ruger one-piece push feed three-lug bolt with a 70-degree throw. The 16.38-inch cold-hammer-forged alloy steel barrel is threaded and free floated. The Ruger Marksman Adjustable trigger can be set at any weight between 3 and 5 pounds. According to my Wheeler Engineering electronic trigger gauge, my sample came from the factory with a pull weight of 3 pounds and 10 ounces. That is about as good as it gets in terms of precision and safety. Ruger says the American Ranch rifles are capable of One MOA accuracy*. And I believe them.

*Minute of Angle — The firearm’s capability to consistently deliver a grouping at a particular distance. One MOA = 1-inch group.

One standardization agreement (STANAG) five-round magazine comes with the rifle. Nine-round magazines are available for purchase. The AR-type magazine release is located just ahead of the Ranch Rifle’s trigger guard and is easily operated with your trigger finger. An ambidextrous manual tang safety completes the controls. There are no backup iron sights.

The tan synthetic stock is trim and backed with a very nice synthetic recoil-reduction pad. The 12.5-inch length of pull was ideal for me, allowing the Compact Ranch Rifle snap to my shoulder easily.

Ruger .350 Legend Compact Ranch Rifle Specs:

MSRP:                       $549-Optic Not Included
Weight:                      6 pounds
Overall length:           34.75 inches
Muzzle threads:          ½-inch – 28 x .04-inch
Stock:                         Flat dark earth synthetic with sling swivel studs
Finish:                        Matte black
Sights:                        None — Picatinny rail installed

Why the .350 Legend Chambering?

While Ruger American Ranch rifles are additionally available in 5.56, .450 Bushmaster, .300 BLK, 7.62×39 and 6.5 Grendel, all of those calibers are in short supply with increased price tags. I chose the .350 Legend caliber precisely because the ammo and the rifle aren’t in short supply. Besides, I didn’t need a 500-yard-capable bolt gun. I needed a rifle that was light, handy and capable of hitting with authority out to 250 yards.

At the Range

I decided to test the Compact Ranch Rifle with Browning’s 124-grain FMJ training and practice load, which looks like an enlarged .30 Carbine round. At the muzzle, it’s 124-grain bullet is zipping along at 2,500 feet per second with 1,721 foot-pounds of energy. By way of comparison, a 55-grain .223 FMJ bullet traveling at 3,240 feet per second delivers 1,282 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle — and a much smaller diameter entry hole.

For testing, I mounted a Nightforce NXS 2.5-10×24 illuminated reticle scope on the Ranch Rifle and started at 30 yards free standing.

After loading the five-round magazine, I popped it into place in standard AR fashion. I worked the bolt and chambered the first round. Centering the crosshairs on the orange dot X-ring of the B27 silhouette target, I began putting gentle pressure on the extremely crisp trigger. The first round touched off and the bullet landed square in the orange dot. The zero was good with the Nightforce even though it had been on a 5.56mm AR. Recoil was quite light, and there was no noticeable muzzle flash. I smiled, knowing it was going to be a fun test.

The rest of my rounds landed in the orange dot along with the first. And the group measured 1.5 inches. The target tore in half in spectacular fashion after moving back 10 yards and taking two shots at the head. Moving to a steel silhouette target produced loud clangs and observable hits.

Moving back to 50 yards (the maximum distance available) got the same results. This turned out to be one of the most enjoyable rifle shooting tests I’ve conducted in a long time. The action cycled smoothly, and the brass ejected flawlessly.

Wrap Up

This Ruger Compact American Ranch Rifle in .350 Legend is an outstanding bolt-action rifle — perhaps the handiest, most versatile rifle/caliber combo on the market. It carries and balances superbly and points instinctively. Ruger Compact Ranch Rifle would be my first and best choice for a first-time hunting rifle for those not accustomed to recoil, including younger shooters. It’s also great for people like me who have had enough of recoil over the years.

With a sling attached, it is certainly a go-to emergency gun that won’t run afoul of most laws**. The only thing I would like to see added to the Ranch Rifle line is factory-installed ghost ring sights. But the lack of them shouldn’t make you count this gun out.

The Ruger American Compact Ranch rifle fit into my somewhat crowded safe without a hitch. I have taken this as a sign that it should stay in my care. It’s too bad Col. Cooper isn’t still around to give us his opinion. I know what mine is. Nice work Ruger!

Sources

Ruger: Ruger.com
Nightforce Optics: NightforceOptics.com
Browning: BrowningAmmo.com
Wheeler: WheelerTools.com

**Check local listings.