204 Ruger Pro Staff Review

The 204 Ruger is high on my list of the best varmint rounds available. When I heard

Smith Tactical & Defense was introducing the 204 Ruger into their line of production

rifles, I just could not wait to get some range time with that cartridge.

Test Rifle: Smith Tactical & Defense “PT” Series (Forged) setup with 15” Precision EXL

Handguard, 22” Heavy Target Barrel (Fluted) and Rifle Length Gas System. The rifle

was configured with their Match Grade Trigger, UTG rubber armored Bi-Pod, UTG 8-

32x56 scope w/ etched reticle, and the Luth-AR MBA-1 stock.

Testing Conditions: I am a member of the local range where there are up to 300yd

targets. The weather was clear and cool (upper 50’s) but rather breezy (15-20mph

gust). So the temps were perfect for testing, but the variable winds were certainly a

challenge as the ranges increased. I also like to use real life scenarios, so rather than

shooting from a sled or bags, I used the Bi-Pod and also made hot and cold barreled 3-

shot groups. For the Cartridges, I wanted to give some options. I started with readily

available store bought ammo as well as some of my various hand loads. The targets are

posted below and results are as follows.

100 yards:

Hornady Superformance Vmax 32G (store bought)

Average Velocity: 4003FPS

Low MOA (cool barrel): .504”

High MOA (hot barrel): 2.652”

Average MOA (real life): 1.402”

Nosler Varmageddon 32G / Hodgdon CFE 223 - 31.0G

Average Velocity: 4105FPS (too hot / excessive pressure)

Low MOA (cool barrel): .451”

High MOA (hot barrel): 1.128”

Average MOA (real life): .791”

Nosler Varmageddon 32G / Accurate 2230 – 27.5G

Average Velocity: 4029FPS

Low MOA (cool barrel): .433”

High MOA (hot barrel): 1.384”

Average MOA (real life): .741”

300 yards:

Hornady Superformance Vmax 32G (store bought)

Average Velocity: 4003FPS

MOA (real life from bi-pod): 1.927”

Nosler Varmageddon 32G / Hodgdon CFE 223 - 31.0G

Average Velocity: 4105FPS (too hot / excessive pressure)

MOA (real life from bi-pod): 1.44”

Nosler Varmageddon 32G / Accurate 2230 – 27.5G

Average Velocity: 4029FPS

MOA (real life from bi-pod): 1.44”

Observations: The rifle proved to be extremely precise and easily capable of producing

sub MOA three shot groups at 100 yards. As in real world hunting situations the groups

do expand as the barrel tempuratures increase, as you would expect. Allowing time

between shots for the barrel to cool and allowing the barrel to become cold between

each 3-shot group appeared to be the key to tight MOA groups. I have expressed my

interest in comparing test results from this rifle being fitted with a Bull Barrel (this test is

coming soon). At the 300 yard range, I would have preferred a calmer day as I expect

the gust did have an effect on the 32 gram Varmageddon bullets with their low "Ballistic

Coefficient" (BC) being easily blown around by the wind. Honestly, more time at the 300

yard range would be needed to be able to draw any conclusions and the use of bags at

that distance would certainly have a positive effect.

Summary: The Smith Tactical & Defense rifle chambered in Ruger 204 is bound to be a

hit! It is very precise, has a great feel and balance and no sloppy rattles (which is a big

deal when handling other brands). The Match Grade Trigger is smooth and breaks crisp

with a short reset and while I personally prefer a 2 stage trigger, this trigger is certainly a

huge improvement over any other production trigger that I have used and less than half

the cost of my old favorite. I was also quite impressed with how stable the bi-pod was

and how clear the glass on the UTG scope is and the adjustable turrets and side focus

were really handy. The Luth-AR stock is ultra-adjustable and easy to find the exact

“sweet-spot” on your shoulder that works best. In my opinion, this rifle setup just as it is

would be very good for the guy going after a ‘yote or some ground hogs or just ringing

some steel.

Availability: This new chambering is a stock rifle in the Smith Tactical lineup and can be

ordered as: PT1-UP- .204RUG-HFL- RL-PREXL (the bull barrel version mentioned is

also available). Add the Match Grade Trigger (STD-1100) at order time and they will

install and test before it leaves the factory. The Bi-Pod and Scope are also available but

not listed on the on-line store. Email for that inquiry.

- Paul Mitchell

PRECISION / TACTICAL UPPER .204RUG-HFL-RL-PREXL

$1,025.00Price

PRECISION / TACTICAL SERIES LOWER ASSEMBLY

$325.00Price

© 2023 by SMITH TACTICAL & DEFENSE.

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