Sturm, Ruger & Company, better known simply as Ruger, has always made quality, reliable firearms. There was a time in the past, however, when many American gun owners did not show enthusiasm for the company because of its less-than-stellar stand on the Second Amendment. For example, Ruger voluntarily limited handgun magazine capacity to ten rounds long before any such law was passed.
That was then and this is now, and for the last several years Ruger has shown unwavering support for the Second Amendment by their actions, contributions, customer service after the initial sale, and the products they offer the American consumer, including high-capacity pistols and carbines. The latest in this line-up is a new AR-type rifle chambered for .308 Winchester (7.62x51mm NATO)—the SR-762.
Before we go any further, some may be wondering if another AR-type rifle— even one chambered for .308—is really necessary. Silly question—of course it is.
The .308 is a true high-power rifle cartridge that is capable of hitting a target at 1,000 yards or more and is a popular choice for medium-size game and most large animals in North America. The AR platform has proven itself time and again in tactical roles as well as for self-defense. Coupled together, the two become a dynamic duo capable of speaking with authority at long range.
Tipping the scales at over 8.5 pounds unloaded and without optics, the SR- 762 is not light, mostly because of the larger receiver and bolt needed for the .308 cartridge. On the other hand, it is still lighter out of the box than some 5.56mm carbines when equipped with lights, lasers and suppressors.
Like the SR-556 introduced several years ago, the SR-762 uses Ruger’s patented chrome-plated two-stage piston system. While controversy remains whether a piston-operated gun offers any significant benefit over the traditional gas-impingement system, it is generally accepted that a piston system runs cooler and cleaner, and thus may have a longer life.
The gas used to operate the SR-762 can be controlled with a four-position regulator (also chrome plated). Set at 0, the gas is completely closed for operation as a single shot for when a suppressor is used. More gas is let in at position 1, with the most gas at position 3.
The SR-762 features a precision-rifled chrome-lined barrel. The barrel is cold hammer forged from milspec 41V45 chrome-moly-vanadium steel. The flutes on the 16½-inch barrel run from just ahead of the chamber to just before the gas block. These flutes provide extra surface area for cooling, reduce weight, and increase barrel rigidity.
A Mini-14/SR-556-type flash suppressor is employed via 5/8″x24 threads at the end of the muzzle. Twist rate is 1:10. Both the bolt and one-piece bolt carrier are chrome plated. The rear of the bolt carrier is slightly oversized and radiused to ensure a snug fit inside the receiver extension (buffer tube). Ruger marked Samson flip-up front and rear back-up iron sights are standard.
The collapsible six-position M4-type stock is mounted on a milspec diameter receiver extension. Length of the rifle with stock collapsed is 34.75 inches, 38 when fully extended. This translates into a length of pull of 11.5 to 14.75 inches respectively. A Troy 1913 Picatinny rail is permanently attached to the flat-top upper receiver and extends the full length of the handguard.
The handguard is what Ruger refers to as a lightweight Adaptable Handguard. It is drilled and tapped for additional rails at the three, six and nine o’clock positions. Two 2½-inch rail sections are included, as are three plastic fingergrooved handguard covers. The pistol grip is a Hogue® Monogrip® and, although I’m not usually big on pistol grips with finger grooves, the Hogue fits my hand very well and is comfortable.
The SR-762 comes complete with three 20-round PMAGs, sight adjustment tool, softsided case with Ruger logo, manual, and locking device.
I assembled 100 rounds of each of the 12 loads listed in the accompanying table (with the exception of the Samson load, as I only had 60 rounds of this ammo on hand). I used mostly premium ammo, but also included brass-washed steel-case FN (circa 1974) armor-piercing ammo and U.S. M80 ball. Ammunition To Go provided Coltbranded zinc-plated steel-case Barnaul (Russian) ammo. DKG Trading Inc. was kind enough to supply me with 200 rounds of the Australian Outback brand match ammo they import.
Some may question the use of what is usually thought of as lesser quality ammo. Although it appears the shortage of ammunition may be ending, availability is still not what it once was, and many shooters may be forced to shoot less than top-shelf fodder due either to availability or budget constraints. My idea was to run the new Ruger as hard as possible within a short time frame to bring readers as comprehensive a report as possible.
To begin, ten rounds of each load were chronographed using a PACT Professional model chrono to establish velocity for each offering. As much to break in the rifle as anything else, I set the regulator at “3” for this portion of the evaluation.
In preparing to see what the SR-762 was capable of in the field, I mounted a TangoDown ACB-4 Bipod using one of the included rail sections.
In keeping with S.W.A.T.’s full disclosure policy, I must report that the front BUIS supplied with the rifle would not snap into place when raised. Since the front sight cannot be seen when using a magnified optic, and I did not use the iron sights for the accuracy portion of the evaluation, this did not affect the outcome of the testing. I informed Ruger of the problem and received a replacement front sight within a week.
For an optic, I chose the new Redfield Revolution/TAC™ 3-9X40mm. The Revolution/TAC features a Rapid Target Acquisition® lockable eyepiece that provides substantial eye relief. Scopes that require a close eye relief on .308 and heavier calibers have often left me with “scope eye”—that cut above the eye that was caused when the recoiling scope met my flesh. The TAC-MOA™ reticle has stadia lines on the horizontal and vertical crosshairs set at two minute of angle (MOA) increments for holdover and range estimation. Heavy knurled ¼-MOA knobs allow precise adjustments, and the clicks can be felt and heard. I mounted the Revolution/ TAC using the excellent Leupold Mark 2 Integral Mounting System.
Settling down to fire the SR-762 from prone, two things became readily apparent. The first is that the rifle has a fairly long, heavy pull. According to my RCBS trigger pull scale, the trigger broke right around 8.25 pounds. While I was hoping for a lighter trigger, I’m accustomed to “service” triggers, and it was quite manageable once I got used to it.
Second was the large amount of dust at the muzzle when fired. While the Mini-14/SR-556-type flash hider suppressor is very good at its intended purpose—suppressing muzzle flash—it comes in a distant second to the A2- type flash suppressor in terms of reducing the dust signature. This is because the bottom of the A2 is solid.
Neither of the above is a deal breaker by any stretch of the imagination, but if I were to employ the SR-762 in a tactical role, I might refit the flash suppressor with an A2 type.
Loads fired to evaluate accuracy were fired from prone using the TangoDown bipod. Five-shot groups were fired from 100 yards. The Redfield Revolution/TAC was left on 3X, using the “aim small, hit small” philosophy.
Anyone who has been around ARplatform rifles much has likely heard the saying, “Nose to the charging handle,” and this is the technique I use. I could feel the recoil against the tip of my nose, but it was not painful. But in the mirror that night, my nose looked like that found on a skid-row rummy—swollen, bright red, and with a few broken blood vessels.
Setting “2” worked well with all but two loads—Hornady 178-grain boat-tail hollow point (BTHP) and the 149-grain M80 ball. Both of these loads required turning the gas regulator up to “3” for reliable functioning.
Six of the tested 12 loads were sub- MOA, with Remington 168-grain BTHP taking top honors with a .51-inch group. Black Hills 175-grain BTHP was a close second at .64 inch. Rounding out the top six were Federal 168-grain BTHP, Barnaul 168-grain FMJBT, Australian Outback 168-grain BTHP, and Winchester 168-grain BTHP.
Somewhat predictably, the two worst loads were the military ball and AP rounds, both going just a tad over two inches.
On a side note, I have always been one of those shooters who’s looked down on “cheap steel-case” Russian ammo. With the Barnaul zinc-plated
rounds coming in at number four overall, the difference between it and loads three and five could only be seen when the target was laid flat and calipers used to measure the groups. Additionally, at $12.95 per box of 20, it costs roughly half what premium loads currently sell for. It’s a viable alternative for those who might not otherwise be able to afford quality ammo.
Overall, the groups were pretty impressive for a 16½-inch barreled AR, rivaling many bolt-action rifles with longer barrels. At the end of the first day, nearly 200 rounds had been fired through the SR-762 with nary a bobble except for turning up the gas regulator on the above-mentioned two loads. I was also beginning to feel the cumulative effects of recoil from that many rounds in a short time period.
I decided to finish the rest of the evaluation over the course of three days. The objective, as it should always be, was to get in quality practice, not just burn powder and make little holes in the atmosphere that fill right back in.
I personally don’t see much use for so-called torture tests. I don’t fire hundreds (or thousands) of rounds in the routine course of practice or training without swabbing the bore and relubricating the firearm. So keeping things realistic, I ran a few patches down the bore of the SR-762 and reapplied lube to the bolt and carrier after the first 500 rounds.
To complete the evaluation, I enlisted the help of my son Flint, grandson Austin, and a friend to get other opinions on the SR-762 as well as run it hard and save my nose from additional gin blossoms. It was fired with the Redfield scope, iron sights, and with and without the bipod. A variety of drills were conducted, including positional shooting from 50 to 100 yards and shooting on the move from 50 yards to contact. The latter became real interesting with the recoil of the .308. Between the four of us, we fired the entire 1,160 rounds I had set aside for this article.
Operation of the Ruger SR-762 was flawless, and not a single malfunction was experienced.
As well as it performed, there are a couple of things I’d change or add to make this rifle even better. It has been said that a sling to a rifle is as a holster to a handgun. The sling attachment at the rear of the stock is the only sling attachment point. I’d like to see Ruger include a front sling swivel that could be attached to one of the included rails.
Second is the stock. While completely serviceable, there are better choices available than the M4 stock. It’s no big deal with .223/5.56mm, but the .308 round has much more energy, and the hard plastic buttplate can become painful if a lot of shooting is done at one time. If I were to buy the rifle—and I just might—I would replace the M4 stock with a Magpul ACS.
Other than those minor criticisms, I found the SR-762 good to go.