GUN REVIEW: Ruger’s SR-762

GUN REVIEW: Ruger’s SR-762

Reaching out With accuracy and .308 performance

By Steve Tracy

The newer gas-piston design for AR style rifles keeps the chamber area cleaner and cooler than the original impingement system does. Instead of hot and dirty gas impinging on the bolt to drive the rifle’s action, a piston is driven into the bolt and the gas stays well forward. The oil you strategically placed for lubrication at the start of a training day is still there at the end, without the need to re-oil in between. Time spent cleaning your firearm is shorter as well, since carbon doesn’t get caked on the gun’s bolt.

Sturm, Ruger and Company first came to the AR-15 arena in 2009, utilizing a two-stage gas-piston design in their SR-556. That 5.56mm rifle has done very well for the New Hampshire-based firearms manufacturer, to the point where their current lineup includes seven different versions.

However, when some people think of a rifle, a large bore, shoulder fired weapon comes to mind, and that rifle is a .30 caliber. The extreme popularity of the .223/5.56 cartridge coupled with the AR-15 rifle in modern police work, both for patrol and special operations, has changed the minds of those who felt a .30 caliber was needed. The 5.56 cartridge definitely has its place and works well in many law enforcement applications.

However, .30-caliber rifle cartridges are what those large bore shooters think of when contemplating a true rifle. The .308 Winchester (or 7.62x51mm NATO) was introduced in 1952 and has served as a military cartridge, hunting round, and police sniper bullet ever since. Due to its relatively short length, it has been adapted to many short action rifles, including semi-automatics.

Ruger’s new .308 AR platform is appropriately named the SR-762. If your duties require a .308 caliber semi-auto to reach out with more ballistic energy at a longer distance, the SR-762 can satiate your desires.

The SR-762 weighs in unloaded at 8.60 pounds (compared to 7.94 pounds for the SR-556) and officers that hefted it were surprised that it didn’t feel heavier in their hands. Instead, they all described the rifle as lightweight. Its manganese phosphate, hard coated, 16.12-inch barrel has a 1-10-inch right hand twist and is fluted to reduce weight and add cooling ability. The barrel features precision rifling and is made from cold hammer-forged 41V45 chrome-moly-vanadium steel. The barrel, chamber, bolt, and piston system are all chrome lined or plated for reliability and fast cleaning. A threaded birdcage-style flash hider tips the muzzle.

The gas-piston system is adjustable between four positions. The four settings include the ability to turn the rifle into a single shot for training, standard or extreme duty conditions, and for changing the gas system to accommodate a suppressor. The tip of a .308 cartridge inserts neatly in the external adjustment knob on top of the barrel to twist to your desired selection. A two-stage piston takes some of the “smack” out of the metal on metal contact when the piston hits the bolt.

The M4-style collapsible butt stock adjusts between six positions on a mil-spec diameter tube for a length of pull between 11.50 and 14.75 inches. While any size officer can adjust the stock to fit, the recoil from sitting or prone positions warrants the addition of a butt pad to soften felt recoil. From a standing position, recoil wasn’t found to be a problem since the body rocks with the function of the rifle. The M4 stock is fine with 5.56 rounds, but the 7.62 cartridges provide significantly more recoil. A sore shoulder at the end of the day can be avoided with an additional soft pad.

The Hogue Monogrip is a comfortable rubber pistol grip and Ruger includes it on the SR-762. The aluminum forearm is rounded and comfortable when gripped due to its small circumference. Attachable rail sections are included if so needed at 3, 6, or 9 o’clock. A top rail runs the entire length from the charging handle to the gas block for simple mounting of optics. Sturdy Ruger branded flip-up sights are included and worked very well when tested out to 25 yards with either small or large rear apertures. They fold down neatly to get out of the way of magnified scopes mounted on the top rail.

The trigger pull was found to measure right at 7.0 pounds of pressure and it was precise in its let-off, which lent itself well to inherent accuracy. This is a combat/patrol rifle, not a precision target or sniper rifle with a super light pull. A good trigger does not have to be light, it has to have a crisp let-off that does not disturb the shot. The safety and magazine release on the SR-762 are standard AR, but they are not ambidextrous.

Reliability and Accuracy at 25 yards
To ring out Ruger’s new rifle, it was cleaned, lubricated, and then fired with all three of the Magpul 20-round magazines that came with the rifle in its nylon carry case. Winchester Match 168-grain, Winchester Ballistic Silvertip Hunting 150-grain, Federal white box 149-grain, Remington 150-grain, and some Lake City military match 173-grain from 1977 were all fired in the SR-762 and reliability was 100 percent. Accuracy at 25 yards with the iron sights was outstanding and the sights were dead-on from the factory.

The gun’s reliability can be attributed to the quality of the polymer Magpul magazines, the power of the piston-driven gas system, the chrome plating on the various parts, and the M4-style dual feed ramps in the barrel’s chamber. Ruger’s engineers thought everything out well when they designed this rifle.

Impressive Accuracy at 100 yards with a Semi-Auto Rifle
Thirty years ago, Minute-Of-Angle accuracy was believed to be only within the capability of manual bolt action rifles. Semi-autos, with their reciprocating bolts and looser tolerances to allow for reliability, weren’t deemed accurate enough to satisfy those who measured everything in MOA. I wasn’t expecting superb accuracy from this production rifle with its box magazine-fed semi-auto action, so I was pleasantly surprised when I started pressing its trigger.

I sighted in at 100 yards with a Burris 3-9×40 tactical scope mounted in a Burris P.E.P.R. mount. The Ruger liked the Winchester Match ammo the best and it turned it a 3/4-inch group at 100 yards. Sub-MOA accuracy from a semi-automatic .308 rifle is impressive, especially with my eye behind the glass and my finger on the trigger. I’m not a trained sniper and have never fancied myself as a true rifleman. Due to heavy snow, the 200-yard range was closed, but I firmly believe this American-made black rifle would stay at or below MOA out to much farther distances in the right hands.

The 37-year-old Lake City ammo turned in a ¾-inch group as well. While the Winchester Match ammo cost $39.99 for 20 rounds at Bass Pro Shops, the Federal white box cartridges cost only $18.99 for 20 cartridges. This less expensive (by more than half!) produced an excellent group of just 1 1/8-inch. The hunting ammo opened up to 2 inches and the Remington ammo shot about the same. It appeared that the Ruger liked heavier bullets.

Some Interchangeability with AR-15 Parts
Since many of the SR-762’s parts are directly from the SR-556 bin, plenty of items will exchange with the smaller caliber rifle. If a left-handed shooter needs an ambidextrous safety, then that’s an easy swap. The same goes for the grip, trigger, charging handle, and butt stock. The modular friendliness of the standard AR-15 carries over to its .308 big brother from the .223 version.

The hand guard on the SR-762 is permanently attached to the barrel at both the front and the rear, so swapping a different forearm onto this rifle is not going to work. While the barrel is not free-floating, it’s hard to disagree with its accuracy performance. Ruger has stated that the bullet exits the barrel before the piston system action acts upon the barrel’s harmonics.

Superb Choice
The Ruger SR-762 is a superb choice in a .308/7.62x51mm NATO semi-automatic rifle. It launches a large caliber, powerful bullet accurately to long distances while still retaining major knockdown power. The SR-762 is more accurate than is expected in this type of rifle and it deserves attention just for that attribute. In addition, it is also robust and reliable and based on the gas-piston operating system that stays cooler and cleaner than less expensive impingement system rifles.

The suggested retail price is $2,195 on Ruger’s website, but real-world selling prices are more around $1,500-$1,600. That’s a decent price for hardware that shoots sub-MOA and carries Ruger’s excellent reputation for quality and
customer service. PM

Steve Tracy is a 26-year police veteran with 24 years of experience as a firearms instructor. He is also an instructor for tactical rifles, use of force, less-than-lethal force and scenario-based training. He can be reached at steventracy@hendonpub.com

Captions:

  1. The Ruger SR-762 is an outstanding choice for law enforcement when a .308 rifle is called upon for duty use.
  2. Twenty rounds fired from a standing position at a target positioned 25 yards downrange. Reliability was 100 percent.
  3. Winchester Match and 37-year-old Lake City military match ammo both grouped at ¾-inch on the 100-yard range. Less-expensive Federal ammo still grouped at 1 1/8-inch.
  4. 168-grain Winchester Match ammo cost $39.99 for 20 rounds, but it shot sub-MOA at 100 yards.
  5. The gas-piston operating system has four settings, easily adjusted by the use of a .308 cartridge.
  6. The chrome-plated bolt doesn’t get very dirty due to the gas-piston operating system. This is after 160 rounds.
  7. Standard controls require no additional training for those officers already familiar with the AR-15 style rifle.
  8. The chrome-lined barrel is fluted for lighter weight and better cooling properties.

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