I recently had a chance to examine and shoot the new Ruger Guide Gun. Based on that, I believe the Guide Gun to be one of the very best, yet most affordable, dangerous-game rifles available today. I realize that’s a pretty tall claim, but there’s not a thing on this gun I would change, and I honestly can’t say that about any other rifle I can think of.
First off, it has the most basic requirement for a DGR in that it is a pure Mauser controlled-round feed action. Not that that is a mandatory feature, but it is generally considered the most foolproof, and therefore the best choice when facing critters that can stomp, claw, gore or chew you. The entire barreled action is matte finished stainless steel, including the action screws and hinged floorplate. It is the most non-reflective
finish I’ve seen, yet it’s very attractive. Another highly desirable feature on a DGR is that it should have a sturdy set of open sights, and here, too, the Guide Gun shines. The windage-adjustable rear sight is a standing leaf of solid steel with a shallow “V” and a vertical white stripe below. The front sight is of the barrel band type — the strongest kind — that’s quick to acquire and match up with the rear’s white stripe. For sling attachment there are two options, one of which is barrel-band mounted, a desirable feature because it keeps your off-hand from being bruised by recoil. If one prefers a stock-mounted stud, the forend is set up with a threaded nut in the barrel channel. One need only remove the filler screw and replace it with a standard swivel stud.
The Guide Gun is offered in six chamberings: .300 RCM (Ruger Compact Magnum), .300 Win. Mag., .30-06, .338 RCM, .338 Win. Mag. and .375 Ruger. All models come with a radial muzzle brake that can be replaced with a non-rifled barrel extension of the same length and weight, so that if the brake isn’t desired, replacing it with the weight won’t change barrel harmonics, i. e., point of impact. If neither is desired, a thread-protecting muzzle cap can be used. Barrel length with the cap is 20 inches; with the brake or weight in place it’s 21.5 inches. The gun sent us for review was chambered in .375 Ruger. When bench testing I used the muzzle brake, which tamed recoil considerably. For hunting, however, when I’m not wearing hearing protection, I want nothing to do with muzzle brakes.
Obviously, the Ruger folks believe a guide gun should be no less than a .30 caliber. Were I guiding for (or hunting) the big bears, I’d want one of the .338s as a minimum, and for Africa, the .375. For those unfamiliar with the RCM-series of cartridges, they were developed for Ruger by Hornady to duplicate or surpass the performance of full-length magnum cartridges like the .375 H&H and .300 Weatherby, but do it in a standard-length (.30-06) action. They succeeded admirably. In fact, the .375 Ruger not only matches the ballistics of the H&H, it surpasses it by 140 fps with a 270-grain bullet, and by 130 fps with a 300-grain slug.
The stock is a tri-color black/brown/green wood laminate fitted with a reinforcing cross bolt just behind the recoil lug — another “extra measure” feature. To accommodate different climates (clothing thickness) and statures, the stock comes with three butt plate spacers that, when added or removed, allow pull lengths to be adjusted from 13-3/4 inches to 14-1/2 inches in ½-inch increments. Without question this is a highly desirable feature, but what I don’t like about it is the change in the butt section that must be made to achieve it. It’s strictly a cosmetic thing, though, and I guess I could live with it.
On the range the gun shot superbly. With one of the new Burris C4 scopes mounted, using the matching matte-finished Ruger stainless rings that come with the gun, I was getting 3-shot clover leafs ranging from .7-inch to 1.1 inches with the 270-grain Hornady loading, and almost as good with the 300-grain round nosed load.
When I said earlier that I’d change nothing on this gun, I take that back. The one change I’d make on this particular model would be to make the bolt handle ½-inch longer and bend it upward about the same amount. Right now I think it hugs the stock too closely, and in a crisis situation, you could miss it on the upstroke of the hand. A longer and less angled handle would make that less likely. Oh, and I would definitely offer it in .416 Ruger. The .375 version is a great choice for the hunter, but if I were the guy backing him up, I’d want the .416. The Ruger version matches the .416 Rigby and .416 Rem. Magnum, and it does it in a standard-length action. The Guide Gun carries an MSRP of $1,199, and what a bargain it is.– Jon R. Sundra