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Ruger 77/44 All-Weather

Ruger 77/44 All-Weather

Though never having fielded a traditional lever-action rifle, as their 96 series was not Winchester/Marlin-inspired, Ruger has none the less offered a large amount of 44 Magnum carbines in three action types. In the USA this calibre and short gun build is very popular amongst hunters for close range work on deer and feral pigs.

Let’s face it; 44 Magnum in a rifle platform is a powerful and effective cartridge a fact that has not been lost on Ruger. Their first gun was the 44 Autoloader (The Deerstalker) which proved very popular. It stayed on their books for an amazing 26 years (1959 to 1985) and sold in excess of 250,000 units before being discontinued…

Next came a bolt-action - the 77/44 that used the rotary magazine chassis we more associate with the rimfire Rugers. This gave way to the 96/44, which was a lever-action of the same calibre, that looked very similar to the 10/22 auto-loader. For the UK Action shooter this gun had some potential, but was let down by a 4-shot magazine only and a lack of alternative calibres, as 357 Magnum would have been a better bet for that sort of use. 

Back In Black & Silver

I tested the original 77/44 many years ago in its wood-stocked guise and to be honest had few complaints. For the UK this calibre is not normally associated with hunting, though offers some interesting possibilities as we shall see!

The new model is called the All-Weather as it shows a stainless action with black, synthetic stock. In terms of layout it’s identical to say my Ruger 77/22 and 77/17, in that it uses the flat-topped receiver build with three scope mounting points for their dedicated rings.

The 4-shot rotary magazine is the same though shows a bit of a re-design, but the release catch is still at the back, which you press up with your thumb and then hook it out at the front. Safety is by the standard Ruger 3-position lever (rear right) of the action; forward FIRE, middle SAFE with bolt operation and rear SAFE with locked bolt.

The barrel is 18 ½” with Ruger’s standard iron sights; adjustable blade up front with fold down U-notch at the rear. Weighing in at 5 ¼ lbs. and measuring 38 ½” long the 77/44 is a light and handy rifle that packs quite a punch.

Hunting Possibilities

As a hunter it occurred to me that within range limitations this little carbine could make an excellent woodland stalker; providing the energy reaches the required figures. It also might moderate easily too. Chances are its fixed build might also offer good performance, from what is an accurate cartridge even in a handgun.

Ancillary equipment consisted of some Magtech 44 Magnum ammo in 200-grain hollow point and 240-grain soft nose/flat tip loadings. On top was a Kahles 3-10x50 scope; perhaps a bit too much glass for a short ranger like this, but at least I could see what it was capable of. Given the usage something like a fixed x4 or x6 or a low power variable might be nearer the shilling!

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The magazine is a rotary like the 10/22 etc, loads to a capacity of four and is easy to fill. However, the release catch is not as finger-friendly as my 77/22 and you do have to make a real effort to operate it.

Player or Poser?

Though a powerful short-range calibre, 44 Magnum - much like others of its ilk - tends to drop off significantly as the range extends. I figured about 100/150-yards was probably sensible. Though when I felt the trigger it occurred to me that maybe 100 might be better, as it was awful; however nothing that could not be sorted.

Like all modern calibres 44 Magnum is eminently reloadable and a look at US manuals shows that data is presented for handguns and rifles. Let’s take the classic 240-grain load for example. Hornady indicates that in an 18 ½” tube you can get around 1800 fps/1726 ft/lbs, however in a 7 ½” revolver this drops to 1400 fps/1044 ft/lbs. Quite surprising as both are deer legal (on paper) given your choice of species.

Shooting prone/supported, first up was the 240 flat nose, which produced 1.5 – 2” groups, so not too bad. However, the chrono told a different story at 1575 fps/1321 ft/lbs but still more than enough for muntjac and CWD. The hollow point, which looked like a bucket, such was the size of the hole in the nose, shot tighter at around 1 – 1.5”. This load gave 1729 fps/1327 ft/lbs, which was interesting as I had expected more…

Accuracy and Performance

It occurred to me that as the 200-grainer shot tighter than the 240, then maybe a 180 might be better and able to be pushed faster too. Hornady’s 44 Mag rifle data quotes speeds of 2100/2200 fps for this weight which translate to 1726 & 1934 ft/lbs accordingly. Sierra Infinity 6 showed that a threshold speed of 2063 fps makes 1700.7 ft/lbs. Plus, given this is essentially a pistol bullet, only real life testing could show how effective or efficient it might be.

But would you want to go to all that hassle to shoot deer with a 44 Magnum, with so many better choices around? Maybe not, but doubtless a rifle/calibre combo of this type does have its place and for me it would be as a moderated gun.

With 300-grain bullets running at 1226 fps a figure of 1001.1 ft/lbs is achievable. OK not sub-sonic but the best you are going to get for small deer work and certainly a lot quieter than a moderated 223 Rem etc. But are we now getting into the realms of fantasy, but it would be interesting to see what sort of result you might get…

In terms of shootability the Ruger 77/44 is a very pleasant little rifle and with full patch loads is well behaved, quick and easy to point and accurate enough for most needs. What you do with it is entirely up to you!

We Reckon:

Interesting and unusual chassis for 44 Mag
Could make a decent woodland stalker for small deer species
Would 44 Magnum fit in with your needs?

PRICE: £830

  • Ruger 77/44 All-Weather - image {image:count}

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  • Ruger 77/44 All-Weather - image {image:count}

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  • Ruger 77/44 All-Weather - image {image:count}

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  • Ruger 77/44 All-Weather - image {image:count}

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  • Ruger 77/44 All-Weather - image {image:count}

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  • Ruger 77/44 All-Weather - image {image:count}

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  • Ruger 77/44 All-Weather - image {image:count}

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  • Name: Ruger 77/44 All-Weather
  • Calibre: 44 Magnum
  • Capacity: 4 (DM)
  • Barrel: 18 ½”
  • Length: 38 ½”
  • Weight: 5 ¼ lbs
  • Finish: stainless/synthetic


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    Default profile image
    26 Jun 2020 at 04:20 PM
  • I have had one for years and it’s taken a number of deer and a lot of pig’s out to 150 yards, most shots however are under 50 yards.
    Ive used mostly 240gn HP’s but I’ve found on the deer the 265gn interlock is the best.
    The little Ruger with a few cheap upgrades is a much better rifle, a Volquartsen target sear makes the trigger nice and really crisp, I kept the Ruger factory spring as the Volquartsen was too light for a hunting rifle.
    I shimmed the bolt for a tighter lock up and shimmed the trigger to remove any slack.
    I’ve since cut the barrel to 16.5" and had it bead blasted to a mate finish.

    It will put 3 rounds of my 265gn and 300gn reloads into around 1.5" at 100 yards now but from the factory the best I could with factory ammunition or my reloads was between 2"-3" at 50 yards.
    I found longer pills were the most accurate.

    Default profile image
    Robert Walsh
    13 Dec 2018 at 08:45 AM
  • I’m from the very northwest corner of Ohio, U.S. Within the last few years they have opened up "pistol cartridge" rifles in our line up to hunt with. Previously you could use a shotgun (slug), pistol, bow, or muzzle loader. A lot of people i know went with the very heavy, hard hitting 45-70. I have killed a deer with everything so far but a pistol- crossbow, compound bow, muzzleloader, shotgun, and now a .44 mag. Last year i shot both of my deer with the .44 and absolutely love the results! I hunt where it is very thick and your shots usually are withing 100 yards, sometimes 150. I shot a doe at 110 yards using cheap winchester white box 240 grain from wally world. Double lunged her, she ran 10 yards and dropped. I also shot my buck at 45 yards, single lung quartering away shot, he ran 30 yards and dropped. It’s all about shot placement! I absolutely love this round for hunting in northwest ohio! I’m carrying a lighter gun and shooting a lot less expensive round, with alot less lead!

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    A Bowers
    27 Sep 2018 at 06:42 AM
  • I just ordered one, I like the 44 mag over rifle bullets because it is deadly up to 125 yd then the bullet drops to the ground like a stone. My son shoots moose and never had to go over 50 yd. Safest way to go, no worry about where the bullet is going to end up.

    Default profile image
    Hilton McConnell
    29 Nov 2017 at 11:02 PM
  • I have owned one of these for about five years now. I know there are better, more efficient calibers for hunting, but I just really enjoy this little rifle. very light and handy to carry through the hills and very pleasant to shoot. I have taken 4 deer with it so far, all 1 shot kills. I really cant explain it, but I just REALLY enjoy this little gun. I use it for everything. I fact I have sold most of my other hunting rifles with the exception of my muzzloaders.

    Default profile image
    Frank L.
    18 Jan 2015 at 11:23 PM
  • I have one of the All-Weathers and really like the weight and balance of the rifle. I hand loaded some 240gr Sierra FNHPs with 24grs of H110 powder. This was the most accurate load I could make with the components that were available, I tried dozens and dozens of loads. Mine likes the hotter loads. The only issue I have is the flat nose bullets sometimes bind going into the chamber. I have yet to try Hornady 240XTPs which I'm pretty sure would solve the problem. It really is a great little gun.

    Default profile image
    T Roberge
    14 Jun 2014 at 04:05 AM
  • I figured as much.


    Default profile image
    PC moore
    02 Nov 2012 at 10:48 AM
  • One reason for guns like this is that here in indiana USA you can hunt deer with it and you can't hunt with one of the more powerful rifle calibers other than that you are stuck with using a shotgun with slugs.

    Default profile image
    J Jensen
    02 Nov 2012 at 06:09 AM
  • did I write 1984? I meant 1894..... aaah just a difference of 90 years......

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    D Brewer
    19 Aug 2010 at 01:36 PM
  • Gotta say, I think a lever gun in .44Mag like the marlin 1984 with a small 1-4x scope would make a great plinking and fun gun whilst you would be able to load it up to shoot deer, possibly sightly more easily with it's longer 20" barrel, sure there are better choices out there, but it's a novelty nonetheless, and probably good out to 100m or so..... now where's the number for the FEO......

    Default profile image
    D Brewer
    19 Aug 2010 at 01:02 PM
  • Thanks for the review... This rifle seems to fill a gap between pistol calibres allowed at a smaller club range, and shooting full bore, which at present I have no facility to do...Can you comment on the availability in the UK?

    Default profile image
    Terry Beddington
    22 Mar 2010 at 12:39 PM