Ruger No. 1 Light Sporter Lever-Action Centerfire Rifle



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Ruger No. 1 Light Sporter- Designed for classic hunters and collectors alike, the Ruger® No. 1 Light Sporter Lever-Action Centerfire Rifle features a strong, yet simple falling-block breech mechanism with an artillery-style breech block and under lever for reliable performance with a classic appearance. The sculptured receiver provides a rigid support for the barrel, stock, and breech block, while a sliding tang safety is highly visible and intuitive to operate for superior reliability. The ejector mechanism delivers maximum leverage at the point where the ejector engages the cartridge case for reliable ejection and can be adjusted to provide extraction only for hunters and shooters who want to keep track of their brass casings for reloading and quick cleanup. The precision-machined and integrated scope mount provides a stable mounting surface for scope rings (included). A cold hammer-forged barrel delivers impeccable accuracy, coupled with long-lasting durability and performance. Plus, a sporting-style buttpad offers superior comfort and improved control, while factory-installed sling swivel studs readily accept a variety of aftermarket sling swivels for added convenience.

Strong, yet simple falling-block breech mechanism
Artillery-style breech block
Under lever design
Sculptured receiver supports for the barrel, stock, and breech block
Sliding tang safety
Adjustable ejector mechanism
Precision-machined and integrated scope mount
Cold hammer-forged barrel
Sporting-style buttpad
Factory-installed sling swivel studs
The Ruger No. 1: A Masterpiece of Simplicity
William Batterman Ruger is best known for his innovative mind in the firearm industry. Many say he was the finest firearm designer since John Browning, and few would argue that declaration. Many Ruger gun aficionados may not be aware that in addition to his phenomenal gun-designing skills, Ruger was also a very successful industrial designer whose investment-casting business supplies precision cast parts to the automotive, aerospace and golf industries as well as general manufacturing businesses. Ruger, however, was above all else a true Renaissance man.

He was a devotee of classic cars as well as classic firearms. A gifted mechanical mind, Ruger was largely responsible for the continuing of classic firearm designs well past their original manufacturing lives. His first commercial success, the Standard Automatic Pistol, was a rimfire redesign of the famed Japanese Nambu pistol of World War II. Ruger recognized the superior ergonomics of the Nambu and made them the foundation of his first pistol. Its success is legendary, and it—in its MK IV form—is still being manufactured 67 years later. Ruger No. 1 Light Sporter

So in 1966, this Renaissance man brought to the sporting market a single-shot rifle like few American shooters and hunters had ever seen. At the time, the vast majority of American shooters wanted bolt-action rifles—repeaters—to carry on their hunting adventures. Why in the world would anyone want to handicap themselves with a single-shot rifle? The answer was twofold: beauty and simplicity. The Ruger No. 1 took off like a wildfire and remains a steady occupant in the long-gun market some 49 years henceforth.

Based on the English Farquharson falling-block rifle of 1872, Ruger’s iteration features the same internal hammer, falling-block action and overall styling of the British rifle. The renowned classic stockmaker, Lenard Brownell, designed the two-piece stock for the No. 1. Ruger wanted to lighten his new single-shot rifle—during its pre-production time it was called the “Victorian”—and make it with a trimmer profile. Ruger engineers Larry Larson and Harry Sefried rose to that task by locating the hammer centrally and moving its spring onto a hanger that projects forward of the receiver and serves as a fastening point for the fore-end and the ejector spring.

Like its English predecessor, the No. 1 is bull-strong. Brownell said that, during its development, he tried several times to blow one up but never succeeded. As such, the No. 1 has been offered in no fewer than 47 chamberings, from the .204 Ruger to the .450/400 Nitro Express. The number of wildcats and custom chamberings must be many times that factory amount.

A tang-mounted sliding safety that blocks both hammer and sear from movement takes care of most safety concerns. It is unobtrusive and operates easily with the shooting-hand thumb. If it has a fault it would be that with some models the front of the safety lever sticks above the flute in the breech block and receiver where the fired case is ejected. Sometimes the case hangs up on this projection, and one must turn the gun over if a quick reload is needed. Fortunately, it is an easy fix with a small cut-off wheel and some cold blue.

With no magazine in the receiver, the No. 1 can be made with a longer barrel and still stay within the physical length of traditional bolt-action rifles. That gets a few more feet per second out of the bullet and makes for a very handy rifle to carry on the mountain. Those of us who have hunted with a No. 1 have never found its single-shot status to be an impediment in any hunting situation. Ruger No. 1 Light Sporter

Perhaps the only fly in the No. 1’s ointment is its reputation for inconsistent accuracy. I have never had an issue with any of the three No. 1 rifles I have owned over the years. Each produced acceptable hunting accuracy, including a .22-250 Remington varminter that kept 52-gr. Hornady hollow points in less than .75″ at 100 yards all day. Others have had problems with accuracy in a No. 1. I believe that most of the problems associated with accuracy were due to barrel quality that was a problem issue for Ruger years ago. I have not seen or heard any recent problems with No. 1s.

The No. 1 has been made in several configurations, mostly differing in barrel length, weight and fore-end treatments. It remains a part of the Ruger stable, though it is down to nine model variations chambered from .223 Remington to .450/400 Nitro Express and available exclusively through Lipsey’s, the Baton Rouge, La., distributor.

What started as a dream of Bill Ruger nearly a half century ago remains one of the most iconic sporting rifles ever made. The Ruger No. 1 is the instrument of the rifle connoisseur. It is for the person to whom the hunt is as much about the tool as the game being hunted. The No. 1 is not for the hunter for which the rifle is nothing more than a tool, like the hammer in a carpenter’s tool box. The man who hunts with a No. 1 probably enjoys hand-rolled Cuban cigars, cognac from France and dry-aged rare steaks.

Gun Review: Ruger No. 1-A in .30-06 Springfield
My dream rifle is currently in the hands of Kiote Corporation. Although it will be significantly modified, it started its journey as a Ruger No. 1-H in .375H&H Magnum. Almost as soon as I shot the 1-H, I realized I had a problem . . .

I liked the rifle. I really liked the rifle. And I was going to ship it off for the next six months. What’s a man to do? Well, he’s to head back to the same place he bought the first one and pick up another. This time a 1-A chambered in .30-06.

Everything you read about the No. 1 says it’s a single-shot Farquharson style rifle. That would be John Farquharson of Daldu, Scotland who patented his rifle in 1872. In the end, the Scott didn’t make very many of his own rifles, probably less than 1,000. But he inspired many more.

Over the years, manufacturers have copied the design’s basics. The Ruger No. 1 — with its single shot falling block action and internal hammer — certainly found inspiration in Mr. Farquharson’s firearm.

The only other thing the two rifles have in common: their general dimensions. The Ruger No. 1’s internals are fully modern — or at least they were in 1966 when the rifle made its commercial debut.

The Ruger’s genesis began in what must have been one of the most awesome Yukon territory hunting trips in modern history. The attendees were no less than Bill Ruger, Robert Chatfield Taylor (creator of the .416 Taylor), legendary hunter and writer Jack O’Connor (above) and one of the preeminent stock makers of his time, Lenard Brownell (not to be confused with Mr. Robert Brownell of Brownells.)

Bill Ruger told them all that American hunters would appreciate a high quality, affordable single shot rifle. This was not the age of the single shot. This was very much the age of the modern bolt action rifle. All of the folks with whom Ruger was hunting were famous for their contributions to the bolt action rifle and bolt action rifle hunting.

The hunters agreed that there was a market for Bill’s brainchild. Several ended-up helping with the project.The Ruger No. 1 was an instant success; it has remained a solid sales performer for Ruger ever since. Like the Farquharson, the No. 1 inspired other manufacturers. If you hunt with a Thompson Center Encore (above), a Dakota 10, the Mossberg SSI-1, a newer Browning 1885, you can thank the No. 1 for the single shot revival that either created or kept those models going.

Bill Ruger put Brownell in charge of the No. 1 project. Beyond fashioning a rifle with classic beauty, Lenard Brownell created one of the strongest, if not the strongest, rifle actions ever made. “There was never any question about the strength of the action,” Brownell pronounced, “I remember, in testing it, how much trouble I had trying to tear it up. I never did manage to blow one apart.”

In fact, many reloading manuals have separate loadings for the No. 1; it can withstand far greater pressures than other actions. In some cases, such as the 45-70 Government, the No. 1 has been known to take pressures that are literally double the SAAMI maximum.

For most calibers, this is overkill. Literally. Hot loads will likely lead to a target that’s just as punched or an animal that’s just as dead as a target shot with a lighter load. Only with a lot more pain in your shoulder. And a less precise shot.

Over the years, the No. 1 has been chambered over 50 different calibers including .204 Ruger, 6.5×284 Norma, .38-55 Winchester, .404 Jeffery, .458 Winchester Magnum, 9.3×74mmR and .450/400 Nitro Express. Ruger currenty makes very few models available each year. Ruger only widely distributes one caliber a year, and it’s a different caliber each year. There are a few others that are TALO exclusives each year.This year it is the .450 Bushmaster in stainless steel with a 5R cut 20′ barrel (above). That’s kind of a weird one, but to each his own. If you want a caliber that’s not on this year’s list, look to the used market. With a few caliber exceptions, the availability is vast. After all, Ruger’s been making this rifle for over 50 years.

This rifle above is the 1-A: the “Light Sporter” model with a 22″ barrel and an Alexander Henry style fore-stock. In case you’re wondering, Alexander Henry was yet another 19th century Scottish gunsmith. (What is it with these dudes?) Famous for his hunting rifles and shotguns, Mr. Henry eventually became gunmaker to the royals.

Mr. Henry preferred an angled groove cut into the front of his fore-stocks. Perhaps he designed his rifle for bracing on a bag or shooting sticks, or wanted to incorporate a tactile reminder for the shooter’s hand position. Anyway, Bill Ruger’s boys copied the feature. Ruger No. 1 Light Sporter

Ruger ships the No. 1-A in .30-06 Springfield with scope rings, a hex key to attach the rings, and sling studs to attach to the detachable studs. The scope bases are built into the rib of the rifle, into the barrel itself, as is the front and rear sight. There’s nothing to add to mount a scope and get hunting. Nothing sits on the receiver. That’s because the receiver is extremely short.

The short receiver means that the barrel gets to start sooner, bringing the weight back to the center of the rifle. This Ruger No. 1-A’s full length is closer to a bolt action rifle with an 18″ carbine length barrel. When I have my 26″ barreled 375H&H finished it will have the same overall length as a long action chambered Remington 700 with a 22″ barrel.

With its lighter 22″ barrel, this .30-06 points like a stick and hits like a hammer. The balance point is immediately in front of the receiver. As the gun only weights seven pounds, I can carry it all day with ease. It’s also very fast to the shoulder and easy to balance off-hand or from the kneel, where most of my hunting shots take place.

The falling block action is just like it sounds. A light tug on the lever releases the breach block which falls down behind the chamber. The single round is then slid forward into the chamber.

After spraying a tiny bit of Rogue American Apparel Gun Oil into the action, the No. 1-A’s action was exceptionally smooth. The top of the block is grooved and polished to act as a ramp for the round into the chamber. It works well; I didn’t have to place the tip of the round into the chamber carefully at all. To extract and eject the round, pull the lever back again.

The spent cartridge tends to deflect off the safety (now pushed forward) and fall to one side. If that annoys you, you can remove the ejector spring and set the rifle for extraction only. You’ll have to reach forward and pick up the cartridge from the ramp. If you’re using the No 1-A as a target rifle, it’s a feature not a bug, keeping your brass clean and unbent.

The default ejection mode is wonderfully efficient. With a little practice, I could shoot, angle the rifle down, release the action, pull a fresh cartridge from my jeans pocket, drop it into the chamber, bring the rifle back up and close the lever. I could unload and load a new round in a total of 4 1/2 second, from shot to shot. Not bad, and I have no doubt I could make that a lot faster.

I had no trouble loading and unloading the No. 1-A. Nothing jarred loose, nothing got stuck.The rounds never failed to easily load into the chamber, and they never failed to extract and eject cleanly.

The falling block action isn’t particularly simple, but it’s extremely robust. I put 400 rounds through the gun so far. I’ve never had a problem with it of any kind.

The safety is a simple: a toggle that slides forwards and backwards on the tang behind the receiver. The raised bar in the center of the safety grabbed the meat of my thumb, gloved or not, and slid on and off with ease. The action’s lever and tang mounted safety render the No. 1-A ambidextrous. Ruger No. 1 Light Sporter

The trigger broke right at three pounds; it was a single break, without creep or slack. The trigger shoe is gently curved and textured for a solid placement whether or not you’r wearing hunting gloves.

Certain No. 1 models sport better wood than others. This is one of the others. While the grain’s straight and strong, but it lacks color and contains little to no burl or swirl. The shoulder stock and fore stock are checkered, but it appears a bit shallow. The stock makers who can upgrade wood for the No. 1 are not cheap, but quality rarely is.

The No. 1-A’s bluing is a dark blue, almost black. The polish is not terribly shiny, but I could see my reflection in the receiver. The entire finish was even, without tool marks or chattering, inside and out.

The No. 1s has a reputation for inconsistent accuracy between rifles. The two No. 1’s in my possession are not not the first I’ve shot. I’ve seen them shoot sub MOA, and I’ve seen them shoot twice that. My 1-H Tropical shot 1 3/4″ five round groups at 100 yards. As did the test gun chambered in .30-06 — and half that as well.

The rifle’s accuracy varied dramatically depending on the round. The store-bought Hornady American Whitetail 150gr SP round shot a perfectly consistent 3/4″ five-round group on average for 20 rounds. The Nosler Trophy Grade 180gr Accubond was the worst shooting round, grouping at an average of 1 3/4″.

All the other cartirdges I shot — including the Federal 150gr SP Non-Typical, Hornady Superformance 150gr SST, Hornady 168gr ELD Match, Federal 150gr Vital Shok, and Winchester 180gr Ballistic Silvertip — punched paper at just over 1″ groups. There was basically a 1/2″ gap between all of those rounds and the 180gr Accubond. What can I say? Every barrel is an environment unto itself. Ruger No. 1 Light Sporter

I shot all those rounds using an Atibal Nomad 3-12 scope dialed to 11 (literally) mounted with a set of Ruger rings. The No. 1-A comes with a set of target-style iron sights. The rear sight folds down to clear a scope. It’s elevation adjustable by unscrewing an insert and moving it up and down. It’s also windage adjustable by drifting the sight.

The front sight is a problem. The teeny tiny dull brass disk is great for getting small groups under bright light.

Shooting under the indoor lights at The Range at Austin, taking my sweet time, I was able to get regular 2.5 to 3-inch groups. That puts me in the breadbasket of a white tailed deer out to about 300 yards. Only it’s pretty rare that I get to shoot at deer in a bright shiny day where both my target and my rifle are well lit. Most of the deer I want come out when it’s almost too dark to see.

On a cloudy afternoon, shooting outdoors on my home range, the Ruger No. 1-A’s front sight was all but worthless. It’s too small, and too dull. I shined it up all I could, and I was still shooting 6″ groups at 100 yards, making that my effective range. I highly recommend replacing that tiny dull bead with something a little larger and a whole lot brighter.

The Ruger No. 1-A in .30-06 is a light, maneuverable, reliable and accurate (when scoped) rifle and enough gun to take anything in North America. Its balance and power have made it my go-to gun for woods stalks in the Hill Country. But well beyond it’s objective capabilities is the gun’s pure class. It will take down game with one shot placed with precision and care. Ruger No. 1 Light Sporter

I don’t think I’ve ever had an animal take two good shots with a quality hunting round and live very long. I recently had dinner with Craig Boddington. The best known living Cape Buffalo hunter says he’s seen maybe two or three animals that required more than a single shot to put down.

Most of us that hunt know that. And yet we want that “anchoring” shot, or that missed-entirely-time-for-the-next- round shot available, just in case. But there’s something deeply respectful in the resolve to constantly aspire for one shot, one kill.

The Ruger No. 1 is the tool that gets you to that commitment. It’s not a firearm for everyone. It’s a firearm for the hunter that’s patient, knowledgeable of his prey and confident in his equipment and abilities.

Long after his death, Bill Ruger’s Ruger No. 1 lives on. It’s still a great rifle. And consider this fair warning. If you walk into deer camp with a Ruger No. 1, people expect you to only need that one shot. Practice. This rifle will not disappoint. Make sure you don’t either.

Specifications: Ruger Model 1-A in .30-06

Stock: American walnut
Sights: Bead
Barrel Length: 22 inches
Barrel Material: Alloy steel
Barrel Twist: 1:10″ RH 6-groove
Capacity: 1 round
Finish: Blued
Weight: 7 lbs.
Overall Length: 38.5 inches
Length of Pull: 13.5 inches

Ratings (out of five stars):

Style and Appearance * * * *
With its long lines, swoops and swirls,Bill Ruger called the No. 1 “The Victorian” during it’s development.

Customization * *
Detachable swivels and rings included. Anything else will cost you dearly.

Reliability * * * * *
All five stars and then some. Reloading manuals devote entire sections to the No. 1 to take full advantage of the rifle’s Herculean strength.

Accuracy * * * *
Fed most rounds, the Ruger No. 1-A will shoot 1MOA or better. That said, results with store-bought ammunition vary from 3/4″ to 1 3/4″.

Overall * * * *
The No. 1-A’s less-than-ideal front sight and standard wood keep it out of the five star category. But it’s a reliable, accurate, easy-handling and distinctive rifle that forces you to take your time, slow down, and pay attention. In the woods, that’s worth the price of the admission. And then some. Ruger No. 1 Light Sporter


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