Ruger M77/22 Magnum All-Weather
Long term fan of 17HMR rifles, Pete Moore decides to see what the 22 Magnum might have to offer in the form of a Ruger bolt-action…
Since getting into the 17HMR (Hornady Magnum Rimfire) thing a good few years ago I find myself using this fast and flat shooting rimfire for most rabbit/hare-type work. Apart from when I need to be 100% quiet, my 22 rimfire hardly comes out of the cupboard these days! However, we should not forget that the base case for the HMR is the old 22 Magnum and over the years I have received many comments from users that feel it’s a better calibre than the HMR. Fact, sour grapes or ignorance we shall see in Part Two of this feature, as I now have a Ruger M77/22 M All-Weather that is the same rifle as my 17HMR. So I have in effect a level playing field to test these two cartridges.
The correct name for the 22 Magnum is the 22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire or WMR as it’s called and until the introduction of the 17HMR it reigned supreme as the most potent rimfire calibre. Introduced in 1959 by Winchester it is in fact a lengthened version of their earlier 22 Winchester Rimfire (WRF) which was made for their Model 1890 rifle. Unusual was the fact that at the time of its launch Winchester did not even have a gun chambered for the WMR…
The All-Weather might be considered as Ruger’s grade 1 rimfire rifle, as it comes in a laminate stock with a heavier, 24” barrel in a finish they describe as Target Grey in 22 LR, 17HMR, 22 Mag and 22 Hornet. The 22 Magnum (K77/22-VMBZ) shows brown furniture and it was interesting to note that my much older 17HMR version came with a standard stainless finish in a grey stock.
The rifle came pre-threaded ½”x20 UNF, which is a good selling point and as ever is supplied with Ruger’s, standard, 1”, low scope rings. No real surprises, though I do find the American preoccupation with fitting rimfire rifles with long barrels a bit hard to understand. My 17HMR came with a 24” tube, which I cut down to 20 ½” with no ill affects on velocity or performance. At 24” with a moddy up front, as that’s how you are going to use it, the 22 Mag is a bit on the long side with an overall length of 43 ¼” and a weight of 7 ½ lbs (unscoped). If this were my rifle I would loose 4” off the tube right away!
Ruger are to be congratulated on their generic M77/22 chassis, which now supports the following calibres 17HM2, 17HMR, 22 LR, 22 Magnum, 22 Hornet and of all things 44 Magnum! The build offers a 3-position safety – forward FIRE, middle SAFE with bolt operation, rear SAFE bolt locked. The receiver is level on top, unlike the stepped build of the centrefire M77s and offers three scope mounting points as opposed to two. This I have found useful on some occasions for optics with shorter or longer than normal body tubes or eye relief issues.
Feed on the 22 Mag is 9-rounds and unsurprisingly uses the same magazine as the 17HMR version. This capacity in a flush fitting box design is another great selling point over other makes. The release is by a flat catch at the rear of the well. Also useful is the fact the magazine can be disassembled for cleaning and maintenance.
Typically the triggers can run from average to fair and generally could do with lightening up a little or even replacing, which is what I have done with my Ruger 77/22 and 77/17. The test rifle’s was not too bad in terms of its break, though was a bit on the firm side, which showed up in the scope. I had a Rifle Basix’s unit for the M77 so dropped that in to give best performance.
Though it may not matter to some users; the M77 rimfire series offers a big gun feel, with none of the cramped and basic build some other makes do.
Scope & ammo
I fitted what is fast becoming one of my favourite rifle scopes – a Schmidt & Bender 3-12x50 Zenith (illuminated) with their No.7 reticule. Though a 1st focal plane system the proportion on the thickness of the cross hair is good, which means you can whack it up to X12 and still be precise on the aim point. I initially tested it on my 17HMR last year and low light performance was superb.
Ammunition went to Remington with their 33-grain V-MAX and 40-grain hollow point loads and Hornady’s new 30-grain V-MAX. The first two are old standbys but the last is the newest, lightest and fastest of the 22 Magnums, which seeks to offer maximum speed.
For moderation I opted for the Wildcat Growler, which is a reflex (over-barrel) design. Not really that different on a 17HMR rifle in comparison to other makes, but in the slower 22 Mag the effect was good. Plus the shorter, outboard length was much appreciated.
Being a stainless barrel I was wondering if the 22 Mag would react the same as my 17HMR All-Weather did when new; in that after about 15-shots accuracy went from ½ to 2”+. This could be restored by a good clean, but as a symptom persisted for about 200-rounds until I assume the bore ran itself in. So I took a cleaning kit JIC, but I’m glad to say I did not need it.
Shooting was done at 100-yards off a forward bag with a butt rest. Recoil was marginal as you might expect and of the three rounds the Ruger seemed to show a slight preference for the 40-grain Remy HP. But to be honest there was not a lot in it, with the rifle keeping it around the inch with a best of ¾”. Compared to mine and other 17HMR guns I don’t think the 22WMR is as inherently accurate as the 17, which tends to be able to print ½” supported.
However, and to be fair; on paper and in prefect conditions is a far cry from shooting twitchy rabbits off the wing mirror under a lamp. I will get into ballistics and real time abilities in the 17HMR V 22 WMR in Part Two. But suffice to say that the ammo I used in all cases even though showing considerably lower launch and terminal velocities, all bettered the energy offered by both the 17 and 20-grain HMR loadings. Here are the muzzle figures:
Type 22 WMR Range Speed (FPS) Energy (ft/lbs)
33 Remy V-MAX 00 2014 297.2
40 Remy HP 00 1879 313.5
30 Hornady V-MAX 00 2142 305.6
Type 17HMR Range Speed (FPS) Energy (ft/lbs)
Hornady 17 V-MAX 00 2519 239.5
Hornady 20 HP 00 2353 245.8
There is little doubt in my mind; even as a 17HMR aficionado and serious user, the 22 Magnum still has a lot of potential and is probably a far better for an on the spot fox buster for a rimfire. Plus offers a wider choice of bullet weights and types from 30 up to 45-grains.
That not withstanding the Ruger All-Weather still in my opinion makes a good choice if you are after a well made and proportioned rimfire of any calibre. Certainly not the cheapest, but still an excellent tool.
• Good feed system
• Built like a real rifle
• Barrel too long
|Name||Ruger M77/22 All-Weather (K77/22-VMBZ Spl)|
|Threaded||½ x20 UNF|
|Weight||7 ½ lbs|
|Extras||Ruger, 1” rings included|
All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates