Compared: Remington Model Seven LS and Ruger Model 77RSI Mark II International

By Chuck Hawks


This is a comparison of two popular, American made, .308 Winchester caliber hunting rifles. Both are lightweight models with carbine length barrels. They are often purchased for use as brush or mountain rifles, or anytime a rifle is to be carried long distances over rough country. They have been competitors in the market place for a couple of decades.

The Remington Model Seven LS

Remington Model Seven LS
Illustration courtesy of Remington Arms Co. Inc.

The Remington Model Seven is essentially a short action, carbine length version of Remington's best selling Model 700 bolt action hunting rifle. It is a conventional push feed, front locking, two-lug action with a long throw bolt lift. The basic action was designed back in the 1950's and features an exceptionally short lock time. The barrel is free floated.

The receiver is machined from bar stock and the recoil lug is a thick steel washer inserted between the action and the barrel. The bolt face is fully recessed and surrounds the case head. The recessed bolt face, plus the breech end of the barrel, plus the forward receiver ring, constitute the "three rings of steel" that contribute to the action's renowned strength. The bolt body is engine-turned, and the bolt handle is blued, an attractive combination.

The plunger ejector mounted in the bolt face is positive and reliable. A circlip inside the recessed bolt fact snaps over the rim of the case when the bolt is closed and serves as the extractor. It is not particularly strong and does not take a very big "bite" on the case. Regardless, it generally works pretty well. The reloading port is relatively small (although not nearly as small as on many European rifles), which makes for a slightly stiffer action and shorter bolt throw, but slows reloading.

Remington Model Seven triggers are user adjustable by means of two screws. (Remington warns that only a qualified gunsmith should make adjustments.) This is a good thing, as Remington's formerly excellent triggers pulls are now adjusted by lawyers, rather than shooters, and are way too heavy. Typical out of the box pull weight is something in excess of 5 pounds.

The safety is at the right rear of the action and is a simple two-position type. It is easy and positive to use, more so than the new 3-position safety of the Ruger. (But not as convenient as the tang mounted safety on the original M77RSI.) The forward position is "fire" and back is "safe." The bolt can be operated with the rifle on "safe." This is to protect those too clumsy to keep their finger off of the trigger while unloading the rifle.

The bolt release is a small, square button just in front of the trigger. The trigger guard bow is slightly enlarged forward of the trigger to accommodate heavy gloves. The bolt knob is checkered. When empty, the Model Seven action feels smoother in operation than the Ruger action, primarily due to the absence of the extra friction caused by the long, external extractor. The advantage is reversed when actually feeding cartridges, due to the friction encountered by cartridges leaving the Model Seven's magazine.

LS stands for laminated stock. This version of the Model Seven is supplied with a polished blue, carbon steel, barreled action and an attractive brown laminated hardwood stock with a hinged magazine floorplate. The release for the magazine floorplate is in the front of the trigger guard. Adjustable iron sights are supplied, along with studs for detachable sling swivels.

The basic stock design is of the modern classic type and positions the eye properly for use with a telescopic sight. The pistol grip has a moderately tight curve, and is set off by a black cap. The buttpad is solid brown rubber with a black line spacer, a nice touch that complements the pistol grip cap. The generous point pattern checkering is well executed. The slender forearm ends in a moderate schnable shape. The stock wears a satin finish.

The basic specifications for the Model Seven LS are as follows: barrel length 20" inches, overall length is 39 1/4", average weight 6 1/2 pounds, magazine capacity 4 rounds.

The Ruger Model 77RSI Mk. II International

Ruger 77RSI
Illustration courtesy of Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc.

The basic Model 77 bolt action was made possible by Ruger's expertise in investment casting. In many ways its design features were inspired by the pre-1964 Winchester Model 70 action. Like that action, the Model 77 was optimized for the hunting field rather than the rifle range. It is basically a conventional, front locking, two-lug action with a long throw bolt lift and an integral recoil lug. Ruger uses a unique diagonal front screw bedding system that they claim anchors the action into the stock more firmly than other systems. The barreled action of the M77RSI is carefully bedded in its full length stock.

The one-piece bolt uses a full length Mauser-type extractor that takes a very large bite on the case rim to help extract oversize, dirty, or stuck cases. This is what is called a controlled feed action.

The extractor design allows the bolt to pick up a cartridge from the magazine and positively insert it into the chamber (hence "controlled feed"). If you are rapidly swinging the rifle while operating the bolt, the cartridge will not become misaligned and jam the action, or be thrown from the rifle. With this type of extractor it is best to feed cases from the magazine to the chamber rather than directly into the chamber by hand, even for a single shot. This makes a controlled feed action less convenient than a push feed action at the rifle range.

The ejector is of the fixed blade type, mounted in the receiver, which allows the reloader to gently remove a fired case by hand by merely opening the bolt slowly. This is a handy feature at the rifle range and for reloaders. Pull the bolt back smartly, as when reloading in the field for a follow-up shot, and the empty case will be thrown well clear of the action.

"Old Model" M77 triggers were intended to be user adjusted, but the cheaper Mark II trigger system is not. Like the Remington Model Seven, the Ruger Mk. II trigger system was designed for lawyers rather than shooters. As set by the factory it typically breaks at a pull weight on the far side of 5 pounds with excessive creep. Knowledgeable shooters who choose the Model 77 for its other good features often have their gunsmith replace the inferior factory trigger mechanism with a quality aftermarket unit (Timney, Canjar, etc.).

The bolt is polished and left in the white. The bolt knob is smooth, which I prefer. The bolt release is a lever at the left of the rear receiver ring. I find this to be more convenient than the Model Seven's bolt release.

The safety is of the wing type, located at the right rear of the action. This 3-position safety is basically a copy of the Winchester Model 70 safety. Fully forward is "fire," fully to the rear is "safe" and locks the bolt closed, and the intermediate position keeps the trigger locked but allows the bolt to be operated to unload the chamber. I find this safety more awkward to operate than the Remington safety, but I like the fact that the bolt is locked closed when the safety is fully set. The magazine holds 4 standard diameter cartridges, same as the Model Seven magazine.

The M77RSI has a larger loading port than the Model Seven. This makes it easier and faster to reload, a matter of little importance until an emergency arises in the field.

The Ruger Model 77 is a basically sound design with some subtle design features that pass unnoticed by many novice hunters and shooters. Experienced hunters, however, recognize these advantages and have made the Model 77 a best seller.

The M77RSI International version comes with a full length Mannlicher style walnut stock. The butt stock design is of modern classic shape and positions the eye properly for use with a telescopic sight. The pistol grip has a comfortable curve, more open than the Model Seven's, and is set off by a black plastic cap. The slender forearm terminates at the muzzle in a metal cap. The buttpad is solid black rubber. The pistol grip and forearm are cut checkered in Ruger's usual rather skimpy point pattern. The overall shape and lines of this stock are about as good as it gets on a factory produced rifle.

The International comes with a polished blue metal finish and a satin wood finish. Overall, the finish is good, better than on the Model Seven LS. The floorplate is hinged, with a release mounted inside the front of the trigger guard where it is unlikely to be hit accidentally. There is a stud provided for a detachable sling swivel in the buttstock, and there is a sling swivel mounted to the forearm. This rather curious arrangement has always puzzled me. Why not provide a sling swivel at the butt as well as on the forearm?

Adjustable iron sights are provided. Even better, since most rifles will immediately be scoped, the International comes with Ruger's patented integral scope mounting system that eliminates the necessity for a separate base. Ruger rings are provided with the rifle. This is an excellent and very secure scope mounting system that other manufacturers would do well to emulate.

The basic specifications of the .308 caliber Model 77RSI Mk. II are as follows: barrel length 18", overall length 38 1/4", nominal weight 7 pounds, magazine capacity 4 rounds.

A complete review of the Ruger M77RSI can be found on the Product Review Page.

Scopes

It would be silly to purchase a lightweight rifle and then burden it with a large, heavy scope. A reasonably compact 1.5-6x, 2-7x, or 2.5-8x variable power scope or a fixed 4 power scope nicely complements either of these rifles and will suffice for any purpose to which a .308 Winchester hunting rifle should be put.

The shooting results

Test firing was done at an outdoor rifle range at a distance of 100 meters under calm conditions. Groups were fired from a bench rest with sandbags. Groups were 3-shots, and the barrels were allowed to cool between shots. Both of these models have been around for a long time and, as expected, there were no surprises.

Ammunition included Remington 150 grain Core-Lokt factory loads and handloads that drove a 150 grain Sierra GameKing bullet at a nominal MV of 2800 fps. Actual velocity is up to 200 fps less from these short barreled rifles.

There was no practical difference in the accuracy of the two rifles. Both fired groups that averaged about 1.5" at 100 meters. At one time some Ruger barrels were regarded as inferior to others, but all recent production is supplied with precision hammer-forged barrels. Anyone trying to choose between these two rifles will have to look beyond intrinsic accuracy. Which is as it should be; intrinsic accuracy is usually not the most important attribute of a big game hunting rifle.

The Comparison

The biggest plusses for the Model Seven are its adjustable trigger mechanism and 2" longer barrel. The enlarged trigger guard that makes it easy for a hunter wearing heavy gloves is also a nice touch. Because it is a few ounces lighter than the M77 International the Model Seven might be slightly less burdensome to carry long distances over rough terrain, but remember that it is slightly longer overall. Unlike ultra-light mountain rifles, it retains enough weight to be a satisfactory, but not ideal, shooting rifle. I would not want it any lighter. The extra pound added by a scope and mount helps to tame the rather snappy recoil of the .308 Winchester cartridge.

I find the Model Seven's brown laminated stock and checkering pattern attractive. It is a good looking, serviceable rifle. On the other hand, the M77RSI is clearly a deluxe rifle. The sheen of its genuine black walnut stock and the elegant Mannlicher design set it apart. It is a very classy rifle, more subdued in appearance than the Model Seven LS. The Remington is a good looking rifle, but the Ruger is the clear winner of the beauty contest.

The biggest plusses for the Ruger International are its good looks, superior scope mounting system, and its slightly greater weight that helps to reduce recoil. It is a little more comfortable to shoot, especially at the range, than the Model Seven LS. Also appreciated are its larger loading port, superior extraction and controlled feed, more convenient bolt release, and its integral recoil lug.

Its biggest flaws are the attenuated 18" barrel, which is simply too short for high intensity cartridges like the .308 Winchester, and its inferior trigger mechanism. The latter is easy to replace, but that should not be necessary on a rifle in this price class.

Conclusion

These are effective hunting rifles. Each has areas of superiority. Neither has any fatal flaws. Both are more than sufficiently accurate for all big game hunting purposes. No one looking for a lightweight hunting rifle will go wrong with either.

If I could change one thing about the Model Seven, I would like a heavier contour barrel to bring the nominal weight up to 7 pounds and provide a more weight forward balance. If I could change one thing about the M77RSI, I would lengthen its barrel to 20".

All of that said, If I had to choose one on which to spend my hard earned dollars (and I did) I would choose the Ruger M77RSI International. This should not be viewed as a negative reflection on the little Remington, but as a complement to the quality and style of the Ruger.

Note: Individual, full length reviews of these rifles can be found on the Product Reviews page.




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Copyright 2004, 2007 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.

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