Ruger SFAR Review: A Handy 6.5 Creedmoor Gas Gun

by Vern Evans

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Ruger bridged the chasm between long-range-centric bolt guns and ARs currently battling for attention in the firearms world. That bridge is the SFAR – Small Frame Auto Loading Rifle. This rifle is a distinct mix of a match rifle and a CQB setup wrapped up in a sharp looking package.

The rifle’s most defining feature is how it packages AR-10 cartridges — the 6.5 Creedmoor and 7.62 NATO/.308 Win. — in a frame that more closely resembles an AR-15. They were able to do this thanks to its compact bolt carrier group and the use of superior alloys in conjunction with a tunable gas regulation system that maintains reliability. 

The Ruger SFAR is available with a couple of different stock and barrel length options for each. For this review, I elected to take the 6.5 Creedmoor out to play.

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Ruger SFAR Specs

  • Chamberings: 6.5 Creedmoor (tested) and 7.62 NATO/.308 Win.
  • Barrel Length: 20 inches with 1:8 twist, threaded 5/8-24 (16 inches available in 7.62 NATO/.308 Win.)
  • Overall Length: 40 inches
  • Weight: 8 pounds, 4 ounces (gun only); 9 pounds, 12.9 ounces with optic.
  • Length of Pull: From 13.37 inches to 14.75 inches. 
  • Capacity: 20 rounds
  • Trigger: Two-stage trigger with a 4.5-pound average over five tests
  • Stock: Magpul PRS Lite with adjustable LOP from 13.37 inches – 14.75 inches.
  • Handguard: Free-float
  • Grip: Magpul MOE-K2
  • Price: $983

Ruger SFAR Features and Function

My first impression of the Ruger SFAR in 6.5 Creedmoor was bemusement. It looked like an AR, balanced like a chassis match rifle but was chambered in one of my favorite all-around calibers. It didn’t have that 50-shades-of-black polymer feel to it. It was solid, substantial, metallic in all the right places and possessed a comfortable weight distribution.

The SFAR is available in a couple different butt stock configurations — the Magpul MOE SL and the Magpul PRS Lite. I elected to get my hands on the Magpul PRS Lite stock model. I liked the adjustability of both length and comb height offered on the PRS Lite. Let’s talk about the advantage there on this platform.

The SFAR in 6.5 Creedmoor has the long range ability the cartridge is known for while packing more punch at distance than the .223 Rem./5.56 NATO. Continuing that thought, matching an optic to the SFAR required the same attention to detail needed for a true long-range system. These optics generally have larger tubes and objectives and, as a result, require higher rings, or often cantilever mounts, for adequate clearance. I paired the rifle with a Burris 4-20×50 Veracity.

Here’s where the Magpul PRS Lite stock really shines. The comb adjustment feature makes proper eye alignment a simple Allen-wrench-twist away. Additionally, the LOP adjustment range accommodates a wide variety of shooters. I set it to 13.5 inches, which was a good fit for me. 

A Picatinny rail runs the full length of the top of the handguard/receiver allowing optimal scope placement and use of clip-on night vision or thermal accessories.

The upper receiver is 7075-T6 hard-coat anodized aluminum. The finish is satin in appearance, minimizing glare. The barrel is a heavy profile chrome-moly steel with a 1:8 twist, making it functional for most factory ammunition. 

The muzzle brake is a proprietary Ruger 2-port Boomer model. The large ports are perpendicular to redirect gas and minimize felt recoil. The SFAR can also be suppressed via the standard 5/8”-24 thread pattern.

The rifle-length gas system is tunable for different ammunition via the 4-position gas block. It is a simple process using the 3/16-inch wrench that’s included on the gun. The regulator is clearly labeled and easy to manipulate to achieve optimum cycling results.

The trigger is a Ruger Elite 452 2-stage trigger, which measured 4 pounds, 8 ounces on my sample. That’s right in line with the 4.5-pound trigger pull Ruger publishes in their specs.

Ruger SFAR Ergonomics

The SFAR is equipped with a Magpul MOE-K2 grip. It’s comfortable to hold with horizontal grooves running vertically up the front and rear. The sides are finished with a heavy-grit molded plastic texture. It’s a little rough on the hands under normal circumstances but helpful if moisture is present. The texture, in addition to the oversized trigger guard make for a very glove-friendly user experience. 

The handguard is a free-float construct with M-Lok attachment slots along its length for bipods and other accessories. It is not super comfortable for off-hand shooting but nestles solidly on bench bags and offers good stability.

The charging handle at the rear of the upper can be a bit of a challenge to get a hold of, depending on scope height. Having smaller hands, I was able to grasp it, but when a few men with larger hands shot the rifle they struggled to gain a good purchase on the charging handle latch on the left side of the charging handle.

The SFAR is equipped with a non-ambidextrous safety located on the left side of the receiver along with the bolt catch paddle. The mag release is on the right below the brass deflector. The mag well is generously flared to allow for easy loading.

Performance at the Range

On a crisp 26-degree Northern Michigan day I started with Hornady 140-grain ELD-M ammo. The adjustable gas port was set to 3 and the first three shots downrange resulted in perfect ejection toward the 3 o’clock position.

The gun was loud, even with hearing protection, due to the muzzle brake. However, recoil was non-existent. This allowed me to easily call my shots through the scope as my bullets struck the paper.

To check the sensitivity of the gas system I dialed it down to the “2” position with the onboard wrench. The first shot ejected the shell, but the bolt-carrier group didn’t pick up the next round. I had to manually cycle the bolt for the second and third shots. Each time the brass ejected, but on the final shot the bolt didn’t lock back on the empty magazine the way it is supposed to.

I repeated this process on a 56-degree day and in the warmer temps, the No. 2 gas port setting functioned flawlessly.

The adjustable gas block is a very useful feature on the Ruger SFAR. Many gas guns in calibers other than .223 Rem./5.56 NATO are finicky and fussy when it comes to ammunition. Being able to easily tune the Ruger SFAR provides tremendous peace of mind when shooting milder ammo in cold temperatures.

For another example of how important tuning the gas system on AR-style rifles can be, check out staff writer Tyler Freel’s review of the PSA Sabre. 

Ruger SFAR Accuracy

The range tests included bullet weights ranging from 95 grains to 147 grains. Over the course of seven 5-shot groups, the ammunition the rifle liked the most was Hornady’s 140-grain ELD-M. The two groups I shot measured .850 and 1.2 inches.

The overall average five-shot group size with the rifle was 1.57 inches. The other ammo I shot included Hornady 147-grain ELD-Match (2.25 inches); Barnes 120-grain TTSX (1.95-inch average); and Hornady 95-grain V-Max (1.151-inch average).

I shot the 140-grain ELD-Ms to 500 yards and it printed groups slightly over one MOA. Possible hunting applications based on range performance include whitetails, coyotes, varmints and antelope, to list a few.

Ruger SFAR Pros

  • Comfortable to shoot
  • Factory available ammunition
  • Full length Picatinny rail for flexible optics placement
  • Adjustable gas regulator
  • Adjustable comb/LOP
  • Shoots well with factory ammunition

Ruger SFAR Cons

  • SFAR arrived with some fasteners in the stock loose.
  • Charging handle is not ergonomically friendly
  • Safety isn’t ambidextrous

Final Thoughts on the Ruger Small-Framed AR

The SFAR from Ruger occupies an interesting niche in the rifle world. It joins a small number of other AR rifles with downsized frames that shoot AR-10 cartridges, a trend that started with the groundbreaking DPMS GII some years back. 

In 6.5 Creedmoor it is soft-recoiling and has the accuracy of a good long-range bolt gun in a portable system with 20 rounds on tap. 

Out of the box it is a solid rifle for the price point. Simple upgrades to consider are an after-market charging handle and a replacement trigger. As is, you have an outstanding rifle capable of engaging both targets and game at situationally appropriate distances with widely available ammunition. The Ruger SFAR is well executed and sensibly appointed.

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