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Ruger M77 Hawkeye

Ruger have now replaced their M77 Mk II range of fullbore rifles, with a model that’s the same but subtly different too. Join Pete Moore as he checks out the M77 Hawkeye

Now being officially termed as an ‘old git’ my memories of Ruger fullbore rifles go right back to the original M77 Mk 1. Action-wise it was/is a copy of the Mauser M98, which is probably the wellspring for the majority of US and European-manufactured sporting rifles. The large, external sprung extractor and twin lug bolt being a design that’s hard to beat.

Ruger, however gave it their own personal touches with an ambidextrous, tang-mounted safety catch, a cranked and scalloped bolt handle and cleaned up the bolt shroud. The resultant Mk I was a huge success for the company and in terms of popularity in the USA was right up there with Winchester and Remington. I owned the heavy barrelled M77 T (target), which was one hell of a shooter. My friend Edward Horton (Director) of Viking Arms Ltd (Ruger importers) still has a Mk I International with full-length Stutzen-style stock and rates it highly to this day.

Ruger are also experts in investment casting and believe it or not, all their fullbore and rimfire receivers are made this way. They also offer their own, dedicated scope mounting system that requires no rail or other separate bases, as they attach directly to the top of the action. Available in normal and high mounts, they include a set of 1” as standard with every rifle with the option of 30mm if you so desire as extra. Given the cost of fitting out say a Remy 700 with decent mounts this represents good value for money too.

Mk II

Ruger eventually moved the M77 fullbore design forward into the Mk II; essentially the same rifle, but with a revised safety catch arrangement. Gone (sadly) was the tang-mounted unit to be replaced with a Winchester-type swinging lever on the right of the bolt shroud. This gives three position: forward – FIRE, middle – SAFE with bolt operation and rear – SAFE with the bolt locked. Not quite as fast or slick as the Mk I but the ability to unload in safe mode is certainly useful.

Ruger also took the opportunity to re-think some of the stock/model options with a black synthetic design that I have never liked, due to its permanently fitted stirrup swivels and horrible, dished-in butt section. The M77 T got a complete face lift with a new heavier, 26” barrel and a very nice, heavy laminate stock, which resulted in the Mk II VT (Varmint Target). On this model they also introduced a finish called Target Grey, which is a sort of alternative stainless. They also offer full stainless steel guns, which I always thought visually came off a bit flat looking and soon marked up. Naturally blue and walnut was also available. The Mk I and Mk II could only be filled through the action and showed a hinged magazine floor plate; to my knowledge Ruger has never offered a detachable magazine system in a centrefire bolt-action. The now obsolete 77/44 in 44 Magnum being the only exception, which was a bit specialised.

In the UK the M77 Mk II represented a solid and well built rifle at reasonable money, however - with the exception of the VT - the one gripe was the heavy trigger. From the box this was not the lightest thing around and certainly did affect performance. I currently own three Rugers; a VT in 204, plus 17HMR and 22 LR rimfires, all of which have had replacement triggers fitted.

Hawkeye

This year Ruger announced that with the exception of a few models from their Mk II Specialist range - VT, Ultralight, International and Frontier, they were replacing the M77 Mk II series with the new M77 Hawkeye family. 

I first saw the rifles at the IWA show and they looked just like the Mk IIs mechanically. However, the stock design appeared subtly different, and better for that matter, and I was also told that they now all featured the new Ruger LC6 trigger unit. LC standing for light and crisp! A wise move indeed, as in the US this seems to be the way forward with sporting bolt-actions. Savage started this off a few years ago with their Accutrigger, which offered a decent, factory-set unit on some selected models. They then put it on all their guns. Remington followed suit this year with their own improved mechanism the X Mark Pro Trigger, which like the Accutrigger really makes a difference. So it would seem logical that Ruger has done the same and it’s likely that Browning will also follow suit…

You will see the new Hawkeye range covers as much ground, if not a bit more than the M77 Mk IIs did, as follows:

Standard wood/blue

Standard Hogue rubber over-moulded on two calibres only

All-Weather stainless synthetic

African wood blue

Alaskan Hogue rubber, blue or stainless

Most exciting are the Alaskan and African models in the new 375 Ruger chambering. The former is a 20” with Hogue, rubber, over-moulded stock and the latter a 23” with traditional walnut. As well as wood/blue Ruger offers two versions of the Standard in 270 Win and 30-06 Springfield with Hogue stocks in a choice of green or brown. Initially I was sent a 243 stainless/synthetic for a brief look, which proved to be a good rifle and certainly a cut above a comparable Mk II version in finish, build and performance. This had to go back all too quickly, but I also asked for a 25-06 Standard, which I chose for two reasons. Firstly the calibre is an interesting one and second this rifle shows a slightly heavier barrel, as perhaps befits the calibre. A friend of mine has a VT in 25-06 and swears by it. I will also be getting the African later, which should prove to be a highly cost effective big bore for those that need this sort of heavy artillery…

As Standard

The Standard is a true wooden gun, showing the re-designed stock with its slim and flexible forend. As it sits this is not a rifle to put a bipod on, though QD studs are fitted front and back. Initial testing was done off a range bag to ascertain performance. At a latter date I borrowed a Hogue (long-action) rubber over-moulded unit, which free-floats the barrel and provides a lot more to get hold of. The new Ruger synthetic is actually quite good and though tight up on the barrel, it’s pretty rigid in the forend and there’s even enough meat to allow a semi free-flat to be carried out.

The first aspect of this rifle you notice is the finish, which I really like, as opposed to the shiny blue of the Mk II. Ruger describe it as Hawkeye Matte Blue, but it’s a flat black that’s nicely counter pointed by a matte stainless bolt. The stock is subtly different with a more rounded shape to the sides. The timber is walnut and quite nice too, with aggressive chequering panels on the side of the forearm and the pistol grip. Length of pull is not bad, which including the slim, red, rubber recoil pad gives a measurement of 13 ¾”.

The action is standard M77 with the 3-position safety catch and bolt release lever on the rear left. Likewise the hinged floor plate, though cosmetically Ruger has their eagle logo laser-engraved on it, which again is a nice touch. The 24” barrel on this 25-06 shows a medium/tapered profile and, though not as heavy as that of the VT, is nonetheless good and rigid.

On the Pull

Most noticeable is the new LC6 trigger. It looks little different to the standard unit but this one broke at a crisp and readable 3 lbs with virtually no creep. I like them set a bit lighter, but from the box I have no complaints as it’s a vast improvement over the Mk II unit. Taking aim and keeping the cross hair on the aiming point whilst you take up the weight and make the shot was not a problem. So most useable from the off and in truth no need to spend money on getting it sorted.

The Hawkeye was shot off a range bag with a butt support and I used a number of brands of ammo and reloads, which included Remington 100 and 120-grain SP, Winchester 87-grain Ballistic Silver Tip and Federal 100-grain Ballistic Tip. Reloads used Sierra 100, 117 and 120-grain soft and hollow point bullets. The scope was a Swarovski 3-10 x 42 A Habicht, which offered a #4 reticule at a latter date I fitted the new MTC 3-12x44 Mamba.

Most noticeable was that the Ruger did not like any of the 100-grain fodder, either factory or reloads. Best results were split between the 120 and 117-grain Sierras, which were both printing cutting/touching groups at 100 yards, which I thought pretty amazing for a standard M77 action. Without doubt the Hogue stock and LC6 trigger made the difference, that and the medium weight barrel too. The Winchesters shot about ¾”, which was not too bad given they were the lightest bullets of all.

In terms of calibre, I suppose you could liken 25-06 Remington to a hot 243 Winchester. Capable of throwing bullets from 87 to 120-grains at better speeds with more energy. Plus the long slim shape tends to penetrate well. It is however a bit of a barky calibre and I’d get the muzzle threaded for a brake or moderator. Also bullet selection as to species is important, as the 87-grain Winchesters were cracking on at around 3400 fps. This makes for a superb, flat-shooting fox gun, but on a deer carcass damage might be a little extreme.

There's not really a lot more to say. In my opinion the new M77 Hawkeye is certainly an improvement on the old M77 Mk II. The wooden stock is very much as expected and where this my gun, then something from Hogue or H-S Precision would be fitted. General build is better and slicker, but what makes the gun is the new LC6 trigger. As the plain truth is; if you can keep the sights on the target and consistently and easily release the shot - that’s what really counts. So respect and kudos to Ruger for making what is definitely a better mousetrap…

I would recommend that you go on the Ruger website to see what the Hawkeye range has to offer in terms of calibre, barrel length etc.

Though I do look at custom guns from time to time the bread and butter of the hunting gun tests, and what people mainly use, are without doubt standard factory models. I was talking to a custom gunsmith I know and he said that he would not touch a Ruger as they do not shoot and are hard to make so. I felt this was a bit snobbish and dismissive, as if this 25-06 Hawkeye can produce what is in effect ½” groups at 100 yards then it has a deal of potential. Imagine performance with a better stock and synthetic bedding?

Technical Specifications
Name Ruger M77 Hawkeye Standard
Calibre 25-06 Remington (on test)
Capacity 4
Barrel 24”
Finish matte black
Stock walnut sporter
Iron sights N
Extras 1” Ruger rings supplied
Rifling 6-grove, 1-10” RH twist
Weight 8 ¼ lbs
Length 44 ¾”
Price £675

All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates

Distributer information
User Comments
  • This is a really good to-the-point review, although I miss a test of the 7mm rem mag at long range. I own one of those, and it´s an excellent universal rifle, from light FMJ to heavy big game SP:s

    Comment by: Fredrik Bergman     Posted on: 17 Feb 2010 at 10:40 AM

  • Yes I need to get on to a few of the quicker 7mm magnums in terms of gun and cartridge tests. I'll see what I can do...

    Comment by: pete moore     Posted on: 17 Feb 2010 at 11:47 AM

  • Gday Pete,

    Was I reading right ? you were shooting the Hawkeye in 25-06 with a Hogue stock you had fitted ? The reason I ask is Im about to purchase a full length bedded Hogue for my Hawkeye in 25-06 also, and am wondering if you remember which barrel profile the stock you used was. Im seeing they make a standard profile and a varmint profile and noted you had said the 06 has a heavier barrel profile than is standard. I now own 2 Rugers, a M77 MK2 and the Hawkeye and found your review great reading thanks.

    Comment by: Ben     Posted on: 09 Jun 2010 at 06:52 AM

  • Hi Ben
    As I recall the 25-06 fitted in to the standard barrel channel. However,I'd be inclined to go for the Hogue with the full-length aluminium bedding block in a Varmint profile. The reason; you will have a more rigid forend that will fully, free-float the tube. In the end I bought the 25-06 Hawkeye and picked up a laminate VT, long-action stock, which turned out cheaper than the Houge and rock solid too.

    Good luck
    PM

    Comment by: Pete Moore     Posted on: 09 Jun 2010 at 10:10 AM

  • I love my rugers!- 300 win mag mkll and 25-06 hawkeye, HOWEVER, MY 25- 06 with NEW LC6 trigger probably bites the big donkey schlong more than my mkll did - TONS of creep and 5 1/2lbs stock - IMHO just replace the frigger - I've heard you can get new springs for the hawkeye that will crispin/lighten $12 brownells but...anyway, why don't they get with the program and make the frigger friggin' adjustible...might sell a few more rifles...sorry...just bought the new hawkeye and hoped for a frigger improvement ...BUT... I do like my rugers though...just clean'em in the river ever so often and they shoot nomatter what...you guys know what I'm talkin' about...I'm out

    Comment by: troy Ortego     Posted on: 22 Oct 2010 at 11:00 PM

  • I have the Ruger MKii Ultralight, it is a wonderful gun ! This summer coming I am hoping to buy one of the new Ruger m77 Hawkeyes with the SS barrel and action and the synthetic black stock.

    Comment by: Tristen. Fraser     Posted on: 03 Feb 2011 at 07:53 PM

  • I think you will be pleased with it, as the Hawkeye though still an M77 Mk II is subtly improved.
    PM

    Comment by: peter moore     Posted on: 04 Feb 2011 at 09:47 AM

  • I just bought the all-waether in a 22-250.Waiting for the lisence...I wish some could tell me if this is a moa rifle.Wouding a buck can get a expencive hobby.We are only aloud to shoot head shot for it is for the expport market.shooting up to 80 plus a night and wounding half of them can shatter a good reputation

    Comment by: Toby from africa     Posted on: 21 Oct 2011 at 08:22 PM

  • Like any modern factory rifle the M77 Hawkeye is capable of good accuracy given the ability of the shooter and the ammunition you use. I assume as you come from SA and from what you do you are a meat hunter?

    If this were my rifle then I'd buy a representitive cross section of ammo and shoot the gun from a rest (not bipod) to see what works best. It should be able to hold 1 MOA, but given most factory ammo is around the 50 to 55-grain mark and probably more for varmint shooting with frangible bullets you are going to need to shoot tight for a head shot...

    PM

    Comment by: peter moore     Posted on: 22 Oct 2011 at 08:33 AM

  • Thanx a lot peter.I currently hunt with a musgrave 308.The problem i have is the bullet trigetory.at night when they are close to get to this rifel is perfect.but when the distance is hard to gess...
    My friend has a waetherby vangaurt in a 22-250.I was looking for one but could not find one.So i asked the shop owner wht he could recoment he show me the ruger.and i liked it.I''ll be in tough when i get it.It could take up to 3mounths for a license ...
    Have a nice day..

    Comment by: Toby from africa     Posted on: 22 Oct 2011 at 05:10 PM

  • dose the all weather hawk eye in 223 have aluminium bedding blocks

    Comment by: Alan     Posted on: 01 Nov 2011 at 09:01 AM

  • Not to my knowledge

    Comment by: peter moore     Posted on: 01 Nov 2011 at 09:10 AM

  • are aluminium bedding blocks necessary to have in the synthetic stocks .And do you need to float rifles with synthetic stocks.

    Comment by: Alan     Posted on: 02 Nov 2011 at 12:08 AM

  • Well compairing the T3 Tikka Left hand bolt, to this new Ruger M77 Hawkeye left hand bolt wood laminate -both in a 30-06 caliber and stainless steel barrel is tough.
    I love the look of the Ruger with the laminate wood stock! I have a wonderful stainless scope that would work well with this and I m not a fan of the plastic stock and butt on the T3. Yeah its light but I just dont like it. I also dont like the plastic clip on the T3. So far Ive just held theT3 and played with it at the sporting goods store but, I hunt in extreme crappy Idaho weather and I want no failure. Then I read how accurate the T3 has been out of the box and that keeps my attention. Researching the New Ruger M77Hawkeye, I had heard the old MKII trigger pulls were not that great. Im staying away from Browning BLR's because of their crappy wait forever trigger pulls. Im relieved the LC6 on the Ruger sounds like a good fix!!! Ive only looked at the Ruger Hawkeye on-line and have not been able to handle it yet. Most important to me is accuracy, reliability, and trigger pull. ANY GOOD ADVISE ON THE TWO OF THESE GUNS IN COMPARISON? Im all ears!!! Thanks Deb

    Comment by: Deb M     Posted on: 26 Feb 2012 at 09:55 PM

  • I am retired and took a job in a small gun shop for several years. Worked part time for guns and ammo. I ended up with many hours and lots to choose from. The only problem was no time to shoot. I now have in the safe, A MKI 30/06, a MKII 7X57 w/boat paddle stock, A MKII .22 hornet, A 220 Swift, A Hawkeye .308, a nice heavy barrel MKI 22/250 and a M77/.22lr.
    I have been able to work on a few handloads for the Hornet, the 30/06 and the 7X57. So far all are in the one and a half inch group areas. I feel they will do much better with more work at loading bench. I have completly retired and now have more time so am looking forward to working out good loads for all the rifles
    The .22lr is a tack driver with almost any ammo. It had a awful trigger pull when I got it but 15 min. with a small file and dremel tool and I had a fine smooth 2lb trigger pull. It outshoots a Kimber, CZ 453 and about even with a Browning .22lr A-Bolt.

    Comment by: Jim     Posted on: 24 Oct 2012 at 06:00 PM

  • Sounds good, I too am a big Ruger fan and over the years have amassed far too many rifles:

    10/22
    M77/22
    M77/17
    Gunsite Scout Rifle 308
    Hawkeye 25-06
    338 RCM compact
    Hawkeye African 375 Ruger
    mk II VT 204 Ruger

    I dropped Rifle Basixs triggers into the ones that did not pull that well, though most of the Hawkeye period centrefires have been good enough. Reloading, sometimes it comes right other times you have to work at it...

    Good luck and safe shooting
    PM

    Comment by: PC moore     Posted on: 25 Oct 2012 at 10:06 AM

  • Ruger rules= (1) 17,(1)22 (1)22hornet,(1) 223,(1) 44 carbine (1) single six

    Comment by: steve freeman     Posted on: 25 Dec 2012 at 04:39 AM

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Ruger M77 Hawkeye
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Ruger M77 Hawkeye
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Ruger M77 Hawkeye
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