A rifle that traditionalists can enjoy while benefiting from new calibres and a modern finish, the M77 is the best of both worlds, says Bruce Potts in his review for Shooting Times
If there was an award for the best long-lived modern rifle action, other than the Mauser 98, it would certainly go to the Ruger M77. Bill Ruger imagined a sporting rifle without compromise yet featuring the accuracy and reliability you would expect from a hunting arm, and the M77 was born.
Essentially a modified Mauser bolt-action design, as most rifles were back then, Ruger’s investment casting system for the action helped achieve his goal of cost-effectiveness and high production without compromising on quality.
Since 1968, the M77 Hawkeye range has undergone many improvements, which this new model embodies. It offers instant visual appeal with its lovely profiled walnut stock, which is bound to attract the traditionalist, with the modern twist of a Cerakote finish to shrug off even the worst British weather. So it looks good and plays hard.
You still retain the old-style hinged floorplate magazine system, free-floating barrel for optimised precision, adjustable LC6 trigger, Ruger’s unique bedding/angled stock screw fittings for consistent accuracy and a foolproof safety attached to that lovely, reliable bolt operation. You can add a few modern upgrades too; a versatile one-piece Picatinny rail instead of Ruger’s integral design for example.
Finally, the Cerakote finish that microbonds to the metal has a tan-coloured finish that really complements the walnut stock. All this will cost you a very reasonable £1,350.
M77 Hawkeye – Need to know
- Manufacturer Ruger
- Model M77 Hawkeye Cerakote
- Type Bolt action
- Overall length 41.85in
- Barrel length 22in
- Calibre 6.5mm Creedmoor
- Length of pull 13.5in
- Weight 7lb
- Finish Tan Cerakote finish to metalwork
- Stock Walnut Sporter
- Magazine Hinged floorplate
- Sights None, one-piece Picatinny rail
- Trigger LC6 unit, adjustable
- Price £1,350
- Importer Viking Arms, 01423 780810
The Ruger M77 Hawkeye Cerakote in depth
That Cerakote is tough. Rub a pound coin on it and it barely marks it. Out in the field, it shrugs off dirt and water and it has great non-reflective qualities. The Hawkeye is a rifle that traditional stalkers can appreciate while benefiting from new calibres and modern metal-coating techniques — the best of both worlds.
The button-rifled and hammer-forged barrel is 22in, so a sensible length for good ballistics in 6.5mm Creedmoor. The design is hard-wearing but still keeps the rifle trim at 41.85in, and it is free floated up until the swamp of the barrel. The slender Sporter profile with slightly flared muzzle accommodates the 15×1 metric thread and supports the rear of the fitted sound moderator. It’s a nice touch.
The investment cast action is very Mauser-like, being strong and reliable with its controlled round-feed mechanism where the extractor claw holds the rim of the cartridge throughout its manipulation. The usual opposing twin locking lugs provide a vault-like lock-up, so it feels safe even with stiff reloads.
Ruger has foregone its scope-mounting system for the one-piece Picatinny rail, which is attached atop the action in place of Ruger’s own mounting system. This is a good decision as it offers a more versatile modern scope fitment. In 6.5mm Creedmoor, it’s ideal for deer or fox with the scope or night-vision kit.
The magazine holds five rounds and is the simple timeless hinged floorplate, loaded from the top and unshot rounds released by a lever in the trigger-guard. The newer single-stage LC6 trigger is pretty good and adjustable, but as it was set at a sensible 3.55lb, I left it be. The safety is typical Ruger/Mauser, bolt-shroud-mounted with three positions: forward and the rifle can fire; central and the rifle is safe with the bolt still capable of opening; and back to lock.
Finally the stock, which, on a Ruger, just feels right and handles really well. Yes, it’s walnut, but it’s sealed against the elements and well inletted for consistent accuracy.
There is no cheekpiece, but the comb is high enough for comfortable scope use. The standard length of pull is 13.5in and the stock is finished with Ruger’s trademark red rubber recoil pad. The best part is the well-cut chequering, which really bites as it should for assured grip.
This is a perfect blend of an old-style bolt-action rifle with a classic walnut stock that beds the modern-day barrelled action clad in the almost indestructible Cerakote finish. Accuracy for a factory rifle was good, and in the field we harvested a roebuck, so in my book it has fulfilled its remit as a good stalking rifle.
- Accuracy Very consistent with all ammo 17/20
- Handling A well-balanced sporting rifle 17/20
- Trigger Reliable with a predictable let-off 17/20
- Stock Smart walnut stock and chequering 17/20
- Value Spot on, considering Cerakote finish 17/20
- Overall score A great blend of the traditional and the modern 85/100
In the field
I fitted the ZEISS V8 2.5-20x56mm optic, so I had the ultimate low-light scope, a superb stalking rifle and in-vogue Creedmoor cartridge, too.
The Federal 95-gr V-Max shot three-shot 1in groups at 100 yards for 3,149fps and 2,092ft/lb energy. The Hornady 129-gr SSTs achieved 0.95in groups at 2,805fps and 2,254ft/lb. The Winchester 125-gr XP gave 2,796fps and 2,170ft/lb combined with 0.75in centre-to-centre groups.
I wanted to fine-tune some lead-free reloads, so an alternative diet of Edinburgh Rifles’ 100-gr Fox Classic Hunter launched by 41.5 grains of RL15 powder produced 3,018fps/2,023ft ft/lb. Its 118-gr Peregrine lead-free bullet gave 2,904fps and 2,210ft/lb with 44.0 grains of RL17 powder. Both loads shot 1in groups.
We were off to Scotland for end-of-season roebucks to complete a cull and the Hawkeye, with 100-gr Fox reloads, proved a delight to handle. Despite it being a wood-stocked rifle, I felt no disadvantage in the Scottish gloom as it is well sealed, and that tan Cerakote finish is as good at concealing against prying eyes as it is forming a corrosion-proof barrier.
A perfect cull beast emerged just as the light broke through the forest canopy. It was an easy solid aim of the Ruger and excellent ZEISS optics that secured the venison that day.