I don't care what anyone says, the economy is rough and none of us has any loose change to leave on the table. That's why, on a late November whitetail hunt in western Missouri, when Ken Jorgenson of Ruger told me how much the company's new American Rifle costs, my eyes opened wide.

"Suggested retail of $449, but I have seen them on the shelf in places for around 300 bucks," he said. With a straight face! For a made-in-the USA Ruger? What corners did you cut, what does this rifle leave on the table for that kind of money?

"Not a thing," he said. "You'll see." And I did.

The American Rifle I shot on this hunt was chambered in .30-06. Like others in this line (chamberings are also available in .22-250, .243, .270, 7mm-08, and .308), it featured a 22-inch hammer-forged barrel, Ruger's Marksman Adjustable Trigger, lightweight composite stock with recoil pad, full diameter 3-lug 70-degree bolt, tang safety, and detachable flush-fit rotary magazine and that holds four cartridges. Overall length of the '06 is 42 ½ inches, and weight is feather-light 6 ¼ pounds. Also available is a compact version chambered in .243, .7mm-08, and .308 with 18-inch barrel and overall weight of 6 lbs.

To the range we went. The rifle was topped with a Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 3-9×50 scope, and we fed it Winchester Ballistic Silvertip ammunition featuring a 150-grain bullet. The rifle showed its stuff right off the bat, producing a 3-shot, 100-yard group measuring right at an inch. "These rifles just shoot well," Jorgensen — who is a whale of a rifle shot himself — told me. And he is right. That's due in no small part to Ruger's patent-pending Power Bedding system that utilizes stainless steel bedding blocks insert-molded into the stock to positively locate the receiver and free-float the barrel.

The new Ruger Marksman Adjustable Trigger is another feature of the type normally found on rifles costing way more money. It can be easily adjusted between 3 and 5 lbs., offers a crisp release, and a passive trigger-mounted safety that positively locks the trigger for an additional measure of security over the tang safety. The tang safety can also be placed "on safe" while the bolt is cycled.

The Ruger American Rifle is accurate, carries easily, shoulders quickly, and is a joy to shoot. I have not seen a better buy in a high-quality hunting rifle in a coon's age. Check them out at your local dealer or, for more information, visit www.ruger.com or www.facebook.com/Ruger.