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September 11, 2007

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Dear Dr. Gun Nut

Recently, I bought a high-grade factory varmint rifle in .204 Ruger. I paid $1,000, which was considerably below list. However, it does not shoot worth a barrel of old hog s**t. I've tried two or three brands of ammo, but nothing prints better than 3 inches. What should I do?
--Dissapointed In New Jersey

Dear Disappointed: A good varmint rifle these days should put 5 shots in 1/2 inch, so you have a real problem. I've shot a number of rifles of the kind you bought, and they all gave fine accuracy, so it's safe to conclude that there is something terribly wrong with that gun. It could be the bedding, or it could be the barrel, or it could be both. However, considering the care with which these rifles are made, I think it's something more sinister--Satan, perhaps.

My advice is to bail out. Sell it, and take your beating like a man. The factory might be able to make it shoot better, but I don't think they'd be able to get it anywhere near it should be. You could spend a bundle on re-bedding and installing a new barrel but that would almost certainly be throwing good money after bad, or something.

Nope, it's time to say aloha, auf weidersehen, au revoir, and adios. Better luck with the next one, and this time, get it in a real varmint caliber like the .223.


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Believe it or not, I get 3/4" groups with my Marlin 1895 in 45/70! Sure makes that varmint rifle look like crap -- espescially at 3 times the price!




Okay, now I'm curious. I've heard two extremes on opinions regarding Ruger rifles. I was interested in buying one in about a year, probably a M77 in .270. I've the triggers aren't so hot, but I can work with that. I want a seperate blog so I can hear opinions on the subject.

In addition, does this dissatisfaction extend to the 10/22's and Mini-14's as well?

MR. B in VA

1. Who is the rifle made by?

2. What kind of scope do you have one it?

3. what are you shooting off of?

4. Who installed the scope?

My dad has a ruger in 204 and it is a tack driver .300" 5 shot groups at 100 yards.

I had a Ruger varmint in 220 Swift (The only real varmint cartridge) This rifle would print sub .5" groups at 100 yards all day long. I once put 10 threw a nickle at 100 yards.

I now have a remington 700VLS and it will print .411" 5 shot groups at 100 yards.

The best rifle in the world will shoot like crap if you put a crap scope on it. You can go and buy a $2000 cooper and stick a $50 BSA scope on it and it will not shoot as good as if you put a quality scope on it.

The only thing a mini-14 is good for is proping a door open. unless you want a rifle that shoots like a shotgun.







Dave P is right: get rid of that thing! If you start messing with it, having the crown recut and all, the modifications will be obvious and you'll get even less money for it. It's also been my experience that Ruger-supplied barrels aren't the most accurate. Hammer-forged barrels are internally stressed from all of that hammering, and as the barrel heats up it can writhe like a snake. Button-rifled barrels are better and broach-cut barrels the best from the standpoint of stress. Your rifle probably suffers from a number of maladies, however--bad barrel, barrel not square with action, locking lugs not mating evenly, and possibly bad bedding. I think you should get a Model 700 Remington in .223. Those rifles are usually superbly accurate and you won't burn out the barrel in a hurry. But don't screw around with a sow's ear trying to make it into a silk purse. You could spend $500 on that rifle and it could still shoot like a shotgun. Once you get your hands on a really good rifle, you will forget all about that Ruger!

Midnight Banjo

Personally, if I had that kind of trouble I would be calling a buddy of mine that is a gunsmith and talking to him about the troubles. Sometimes it's not what you know, but who you know. He's made a real tack driver out of my Rem. 710 chambered in 30-06.

Shoot more, shoot more often!
(BTW - anyone know who said that?)

Clay Cooper

The 204 Ruger is another one of those Gee Wiz cartridges is only good for critter busting. Not legal for deer in any state. I say send it back for warranty repair and get it fixed. If you want the oddball keep it or cut your loss and get you a 22-250! 40 grain 22-250 is around 4100fps. With a lung shot, a 55 grain @ 3800fps will drop a deer!

Midnight Banjo

Oh yeah - I generally use my old trusty Rem.22 as a varmit gun and as a plinker. I just love to watch peoples faces when I bring the target back from 100 yds with the middle gone!

Shoot more, shoot more often!

Besides, Ruger is a pain in the ass for accuracy warranty repair!

Dr. Ralph

Regarding Ruger rifles... Almost every M77 I have seen was a tack driver. Same with the 10/22's. The Number 1's can be really bad or really good. Every Mini 14 I have seen shot like a shotgun. Mr. B has some very good advice. Use your Mini 14 to prop open the door and check your scope. Probably half the problems people have with inaccurate rifles can be traced back to scopes or scope mounts. Use Leupold steel rings and bases and buy a scope that costs as much as your rifle is my rule of thumb...

Midnight Banjo

Dr. Ralph,
About the scope costing as much as the rifle, the leopold that I have on my Rem. 710 cost quite a bit more that the rifle!

Dr. Ralph

Midnight Banjo that's great! If you can buy an inexpensive gun that really shoots by all means splurge on the scope. My .257 Wby. Vanguard cost $399- and after discovering what it could do at 200 yards I put a Kahles on it that was twice the price. What I meant to do was repeat Mr. B's warning not to go cheap on optics or mounts. Ruins accuracy every time.

Rocky Mtn Hunter

As I;ve said all along, these new calibers are selling tools only. On your 2004, try losing the front screw a l/4 tune on teh forearm, if helps, losen another l/4 tu4n. Sounds as if bbl/stock are to tight. Your first mistake was not buying a 223, but thats history now. So if this don;t help, find a dealer who will trade with you. Try to save some of your $$$ at least. But, a 223 or 22-250 in Rem 700 will shoot any day better than a 204 by Ruger in my experience.PS; Try the dollar bill trick. enter a bill between the bbl and forearm, if will not slide back to bolt, thats your problem. Again, if that be teh case, loosen the bolt a tad.If all else fails, I;d let Ruger know my problem. Hopefully they will trade guns or at least give you some pointers. Was this a new gun when you bought it? if so, go back to the dealer and raise H---//////


My personal opinion is that he should get a new one free from the manufacturer and they should take the old one back and figure out what is wrong with it to see if they have a flaw in their manufacturing somewhere. Any good firearms company should stand behind their guns and probably do.

Midnight Banjo

I've only had to have one gun worked on under warranty. All I can say is that despite what model you buy, Remington goes out of their way to make it right. I would think that Ruger would make it right with you if for no other reason than to protect their reputation, and to keep posts like your's from being "common" concerning their product.

Good luck!


Sounds like some great advice out there from people who have had some accuracy problems in the past? It also sounds like many who have never owned a .204 giving advice on a round without ever owning one. Someone explain to me why a 223 is better? Flatter shooting? No! More accurate? Debatable? Ammo may cost less but maybe a refresher of a few topics ago where it was mentioned of an alledged shortage? Cheap ammo only exists if it is accessible to buy. A real varmint round? There doesn't exist a prairie dog/gopher/jack rabbit/wood chuck that will reproduce after soaking up a v-max or a ballistic tip from either of the rounds or the other choices for that matter. My experience with the 204 is that they have a longer break in period than other small rifle choices. 204's are also a great coyote round, it'll flatten them when hit right and won't leave a fur damagine hole on the other side. 204, 223, 22-250, swift, so on and so forth, they all have their pro and cons! What fun is it with only 1 choice of cartridge? Variety is what adds to the many joys of gun ownership and this this blog too.
Good day!

Clay Cooper

Dr. Ralph you say buy a scope that costs as much as your rifle is my rule of thumb? I wouldn’t say that! Take a scope and place it on a solid rest. Look thru it and move your head up, down and all around. Simmons will fail and the BSA I have found pass my little accuracy test. Leopold is my #1 choice in scopes. Biggest bang for the bucks and they stand behind there warranty and in no way would I buy another Redfield!

Clay Cooper

Get a little crosswind and the 204 goes to hell. 223 is not near as flat shooting as the 22-250 and the 220 Swift is about 200 fps faster but has a shorter barrel life than the 22-250. Average it all out the 22-250 is my first choice. The 22-250 is legal for deer in some states Arizona, New Mexico, Louisiana etc.The 204 Ruger, NOT!

Hey SDBob you going to eat those coyotes? My 338 Win Mag guts them and skins them all with one shot!

Clay Cooper

O’What the? Get’Ya a 25-06 and be over it!

Mr. B in VA

I just purchased a new scope for my varmint rifle a Leupold VX-II 6-18x40mm. It set me back about $400. The scope it replaced cost me half of that. But I could still shoot .411" groups out of it. Go figure a $200 scope doing that. It was a weaver KT-15 one of the best fixed power scopes out there. Without getting in to high end compatition scopes.

You get what you pay for in optics on the market today. I would never pay the price they want for any of the europen glass even though they are good. I prefer to get american glass Burris and Leupold.

Have you seen the article in the newest American Rifleman Hunting with tactical scopes. Stupid if you ask me.

Back to the story at hand. The 204 Ruger is a great varmint round. That is what it was designed for. Personaly I would never use a 223 or any 22 cal centerfire for big game hunting. There are much better cartridges for that.

You would not believe the ammount of 20 19 and 17 cal wildcats out there devloped by varmint hunters. the "Sub caliber" group has a different way of thinking that normal every day shooters.

Mr. B in VA

I really wish people would stop touting that the 220 Swift has a short barrel life.

I had a 220 Swift that had well over 3000 rounds threw it with no visable sign of barrel wear. and still shot as good and the first day I shot it.

That myth came from a time when the steel was not as good as it is today. Take care of your barrel and your barrel will take care of you.


I thought we had already identified the one quarry for which that .204 Ruger is suitable; that frickin' Gecko with the lame British accent!
The correspondent's rifle is not even good for that, gecko's have small heads, need accuracy.

SD Bob

Yo Clay Cooper!

I only eat those coyotes after I pole axe em with my 300 win mag spittin ballistic tips. That combo will skin and gut them as well.

Blue Ox

Yeah, ditch the .204. The rest of youse can bang the drum all you want about your .220, your .223 and Coop's beloved 22-250. If the rifle works for ya, then hey, it's all good 'cause there's meat on the table in the end. Now go ahead and laugh if you want, but there's an old bolt-action Marlin #783 in .22win-mag on my gun rack that has put more meat on my table than all my other guns combined. I've taken everything from mice and chipmunks to coyotes, and even a few deer with it. (no, I don't eat the mice.)
Works for me.

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