Ruger M77 Hawkeye and 10/22 Tacticals
Pete Moore checks out two very different rifles from Ruger, both linked by a common theme
I had been waiting for Ruger’s Hawkeye M77VLEH, better known as the Tactical for some time, but when the package arrived it also included their 10/22VLEH, which though a rimfire semi-auto none the less has a lot in common with the centrefire. Pondering on this I decided to do them together as both generic models are familiar, it’s just the furniture and potential ability that differs.
The M77 Hawkeye is the third incarnation of their highly successful centrefire, bolt-action rifle series. Based on the generic Mauser 98 action with a top-loading action, twin-lug, forward locking bolt and sprung, external extractor the series differs by the fact that the original (M77) had a tang-mounted safety. The second (M77 Mk II) did away with this for a 3-position lever at the rear right of the action, which gives Fire, Safe (with bolt operation) and Safe (locked bolt). The third and current gun (M77 Hawkeye) is similar but with the better LC6 trigger and improvements on finish and stocks.
Last year Ruger added two more guns to this family in the form of the Predator and Tactical, I tested the former earlier this year and apart from its 3-colour, laminate stock the most noticeable aspect was the latest, 2-stage, adjustable Target Trigger.
In truth the design has changed little over the years. The most notable aspects of the Tactical are its short and heavy 20” barrel, Target Trigger and Hogue, rubber, over-moulded stock. The idea is to offer a tactical/precision rifle that though aimed at the police marksman would also appeal to the sports shooter too.
Hogue offers two types of over-moulded stock, which only differ internally. The first and cheapest has aluminium pillar beds in a reasonably rigid synthetic chassis with the rubber moulded on to it. The second has a CNC-machined, 7075 billet, aircraft aluminium block that completely surrounds the action and extends full length into the forend. Of the two the latter is the better bet if you want a rock solid platform and I assumed given the role of the rifle it would be this one, but it’s not!
Externally the stock shows a straight comb, palm swells, well shaped and hand-filling pistol grip and varminter-style forend, with Hogue’s signature cobblestone texture for added grip. The barrel channel is available in standard and heavy (varmint) profiles and the Tactical features QD sling studs with two up front so you can move the bipod further back for more stability. At 40” overall it’s a handy package! Weigh-wise at 8 3/4” lbs it’s heavy but not that restrictive in terms of handling and shootability. As standard, Ruger include their 1” ring/mounts and a Harris BRS bipod.
There are three calibre options:
Model 7188, 223 Rem, 1-9” twist 5-round capacity
Model 17140, 243 Win, 1-9” twist, 4-round capacity
Model 7189, 308 Win, 1-10” twist, 4-round capacity
I had the Model 7189, though I do like the rifling twist for the 243 as that will allow the heavier 105-107-grain bullets, that seem to perform better at longer ranges, which will not stabilise in a 10-twister. The same twist rate in the 223 should allow it to use 55-65-grain bullets, maybe even 69s. To this I fitted a Leupold 4.5-14x50 LRT with M1 turrets; one of my favourite tactical scopes. Ammo consisted of Hornady’s 155 and 168-grain TAP FPD that uses their A-MAX bullet, which is equally effective on the range or against deer, again I’m a big fan. Plus the 170-grain, RWS Geco soft point load.
The Tactical was shot off a range bag then the bipod using both front and rear positions to see if there was a discernable change in point of impact, which there was not. First impressions go to the trigger, which gives a medium take up followed by a short and crisp release of around 2-3 lbs, doubtless aided by its smooth/broad blade. Of the three loads the 155-grain TAP proved the most accurate, punching a cool ½” with the 168-grainers not a lot behind and the Geco printing sub-1”, so all good. One thing that became apparent was the rather odd and floaty feel shooting off the bipod, which required a bit more shooter input to get a rock solid position.
The extra weight of the Tactical package definitely got rid of that familiar 308 snap often encountered on lighter rifles in this calibre. Over the chrono the 20” tube gave some interesting readings. The 168 and 170-grain loads showed averages of 2525 fps/2377 ft/lbs and 2450 fps/2265 ft/lbs accordingly, which was expected. However the 155s only improved on that by around 100 fps at around 2650fps/2400 ft/lbs. But as can be seen, plenty enough energy and accuracy.
For Good rifle with serious potential in a practical choice of calibres
Against Feel the full-length, alloy, bedded stock would be more suitable
Verdict A long overdue model from Ruger, but it would be nice to see it factory threaded
|Name||Ruger M77 Hawkeye Tactical|
|Calibre||308 Win (on test)|
|Weight||8 ¾ lbs (un-scoped)|
|Hogue rubber over-moulded stock||Yes|
|1” rings included||Yes|
|Name||Ruger 10/22 Target Tactical|
|Type||Calibre 22 Long Rifle|
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