Ruger M77/22 (22 Long Rifle)
- By Pete Moore
- 0 Comments
- Last updated: 27/01/2017
I’d have to say that I’ve yet to see a bad 22 Long Rifle bolt-action from the box; be it a Chinese copy of a CZ 452-2E or some upmarket Anschutz, they all seem to be able to shoot! In this they are only limited by the trigger and sight quality, providing of course they are sound and the operator knows what to do! I put most of this down to the fact that they fire a fat lead pill that swages down the small bore, so giving maximum obturation, even if the bore is bulged or less than 100%. Even an average 22 bolt-gun should be able to turn in ½-3/4” (supported) at 50 yards and easily stay on a rabbit’s head at 100, which is near maximum range to place an effective killing shot.
So if we accept that 22 bolt-guns can shoot, then what else influences our choice? Looks, capacity and in the majority of cases price are major factors. There are plenty of cost effective, entry-level rifles that are more than capable, but they don’t feel right; in fact they feel exactly like what they are. They tend to be small and basic by design; I like a rifle that feels and looks like a rifle!
Capacity is a big issue with me too, as most makes give you 5-rounds from the box with the option of a seven or 10-shot if you want it. With few exceptions these are all of the single column style, which stick out of the action. So given my requirements I opted for Ruger’s 77/22 (#7002) many years ago and have not been disappointed and I’m glad to report that even with the introduction of their more budget-priced American Rimfire, the classic, wood-stocked 77/22 is still in production; though the price has risen considerably from when I bought mine.
The standard 77/22 is available in walnut (7002) and polymer (7009) stock options with a 20” tube. There’s also a 24” targetstyle version with walnut furniture, the 7044, in truth both barrels are a bit long by British standards. Though saying that I have always meant to get it cut down to 16” but as with so many things in life; never actually got around to it! I suppose now I am used to it but will say that 4” off the tube makes for a far handier piece with no loss of ballistics! All Ruger rimfires come threaded ½ x 20” UNF as standard, which is pretty much the UKaccepted moderator fitting.
The 77/22 is styled after their fullbore M77 Mk II, so has that big rifle look and feel, and also uses the three-position safety catch of that design. Here you get forward – FIRE, middle – SAFE with bolt operation and rear – SAFE bolt locked, this control is well placed and easy to operate! Major differences are the top of the receiver is flat and not stepped as with the centrefire M77 range. It also shows three, integral scope mounting points on the receiver and a set of medium height 1” rings are included. The bolt locks up via twin lugs in the middle of the action.
Feed is by the standard Ruger 10-shot rotary magazine, which is near identical and interchangeable with their 10/22 semi-auto, though the base is flat on the 77/22 as opposed to curved. This offers the standard, flush-fit release catch at the rear of the well, though any suitable after-market extended catch can be retrofitted. They will also take a 25-round banana magazine if you want a bit more capacity; not sure why!
The standard Ruger 10-shot mag is reliable and I have some old ones that I got with my first 10/22 way back in 1997. These show the occasional stoppages, which is normally a failure of the ammunition rotor to turn to offer up the last couple of rounds. A strip down and clean and re-tension of the spring cures this. South Yorkshire Shooting Supplies offer a magazine maintenance kit that allows you to do this. The 7002 comes with a low-combed, walnut, Sporter-style stock with chequering at forend and pistol grip, a slim rubber butt pad and QD sling studs as standard.
Years ago Ruger triggers were OK but not amazing, well that’s how it was when I got mine, though things seem to have improved since then. The one in mine was adequate I swapped it for one of the proprietary drop-in units from Dayton Traister, which offers sear engagement adjustment too. Equally I could have used one from Rifle Basixs. Unlike Savage, Marlin or even CZ, which use spring kits to improve control, the Ruger requires a completely new blade.
This does need fitting, as there’s an integral shelf on its right side that needs to be reduced in height to allow the 3-way safety to work correctly. An easy job if you have the skills, but take too much metal off and the gun will fire no matter where the safety catch is positioned. So if you’re not happy, get a competent gunsmith to do the work, as with un-skilled hands it’s all too easy to turn that replacement lever into a piece of useless metal!
I shoot sub-sonic hollow points exclusively through my rifle, as and like most UK rimfires, it’s fitted with a moddy all the time. Though it performs well with just about any make of 22 Long Rifle ammo; two brands it really likes are Winchester and CBC/MagTech. It seems to do best with the Winchesters and will shoot ½” at 50 yards supported with and a tad more with the CBC. What I really like about both makes is the huge, bucket-nosed hollow point cavity on offer, which really rolls over the bunnies and hares!
Over the years I have chopped and changed glass and moderators, as this rifle is also used for testing. Currently it’s wearing Hawke’s latest Vantage IR 3-9x50 Rimfire model, which has a BDC (bullet drop compensating) ladder reticule cut for 22 subs and it works. The moddy is an A-TEC Wave, but for many years I used the old benchmark SAK can. A final item is an Eagle cheekpiece bag; apart from raising the comb height a little, the zipped side pouch holds four loaded magazines easily and a few tools etc. I prefer this to fumbling around in my pocket for a spare mag, especially when shooting from a vehicle!
Depending on what I am doing with the 77/22 a bipod is optional, I used to use a Harris BRS but have recently changed to the Javelin Super-Lite Standard unit from Spartan Precision Equipment. It uses a screw-on socket with a magnetic attachment system and is seriously light, meaning I can plug the pod in when needed, if not it’s in my pocket out of the way! Though a well sized rifle, the Ruger is neither that big nor heavy and a lovely piece for walk and shoot tactics. I am also a big fan of 17HMR and have a stainless/laminate Ruger 77/17 All-Weather, and use it a lot more for rabbits and hares these days, as it gives me near twice the reach of the 77/22. Saying that I still reckon that if I had only one choice of Rimfire it would be 22 Long Rifle! With a 40-grain sub-sonic the rifle/cartridge combo is capable of taking rabbits and hares up to 100 yards and is good medicine for foxes at closer ranges. The cub in the picture was taken down at 40 yards with a Winchester sub.
In use the 10-round, flush-fitting magazine gives a good firepower edge without any penalties, as the whole thing is inside the rifle. Mag changes, certainly with the standard release catch, can be a bit awkward with heavy gloves on, so an extension is not a bad idea. The three-position safety catch is good, as it allows you to eject a live round from the chamber knowing that the trigger can’t be operated. Ruger’s dedicated scope mounts are good and come in three heights and in 1” and 30mm options. However there’s no provision for accepting a Weavertype base short of gunsmithing, so makes fitting most NV scopes problematic!
Viking Arms Ltd, 01423 780810
CBC/MagTech ammo - Viking
Winchester 22 subs – BWM Arms Ltd,01235 514 550
Javelin Bipods –Spartan Precision Equipment, +44 (0)1892 300220
A-TEC Wave moderator – Jackson Rifles, 01644 470223
Hawke Vantage IR 3-9x50 Rimfire scope – Deben, 01394 387762