Firearm for Fun: Ruger Model 77 RSI International
By Carl Swanson
A year ago I purchased a Ruger Model 77 RSI chambered in .308 Win. The experience which initiated this purchase was a shooting session with a friend's Japanese Type 99 rifle. The Type 99 rifle had aperture sights, handled well and shot extremely comfortably from the offhand shooting position, my personal favorite. I decided thar I wanted a similar bolt action rifle for some offhand range fun.
After handling several different brands of full length (Mannlicher) stocked rifles, I purchased the Model 77 RSI as a shooter, with no thought to using it for hunting. I mounted a New England Custom Gun (NECG) Model N-100 (made specifically for the Ruger 77) aperture sight on the rifle. I have not altered the rifle in any other way, not even glass bedding it as I frequently do my hunting rifles.
The handling qualities of this rifle are even better on the range and in the field than were presaged by handling it in the store. The sling attachment is ideal for carrying the rifle, allowing minimally obstructed movement with minimal snagging even in the woods when the firearm is shouldered and one is moving through heavy cover. The length and weight provide a rifle which is very well balanced. The dimensions of the 77 RSI buttstock, wrist and forestock provide excellent ergonomics which aid in the firearm's handling qualities.
The fine Model 77 RSI handling and balance becomes evident while carrying the rifle afield in the ready position, during snap shooting and in offhand shooting. It points quickly, and the stabilization effect offered by the full length stock becomes evident in the snap shot and offhand shot ability of the rifle to "settle in" quickly. This is especially evident after physical exertion, when one is slightly winded.
The accuracy of this rifle is impressive. I did the initial offhand sighting in at 100 yards. The groups were so tight (around 2 - 2 1/2 MOA) that I fired a few strings over sandbags. The shots are always inside the front bead. In fact, two of four 6 shot groups (I usually shoot in multiples of three for my accuracy checks, due to three shots being the lowest number yielding a geometric pattern) over the sand bags hovered at the magical 1 MOA.
At two hundred yards, the front bead obscures about a 4 MOA area. On my good days, the rifle will shoot 12 to 18 shots into 4 MOA at that distance from the offhand position. This is all with the factory front sight and the NECG aperture sight. My eyes and the large bead preclude tighter shooting. I may file the bead down in the future, but I do use the rifle for hunting, so the factory bead remains for now.
The functioning has been flawless. There was no initial bolt roughness or binding during the cycling process, no failures to pick up rounds from the magazine, and no inadvertent releasing of the floor plate. The trigger is not the lightest, but creep is virtually non-existent, with a crisp let off not hampered with any drag or stacking immediately prior to release. Anyone used to a single stage military trigger will have no problem with this trigger.
Quality comments on the rifle/sight combination
The wood to metal fit is better than seen on most mass produced rifles these days. The metal finish is also better than average. The checkering is sharp with no discernible sloppiness at the edges and no fading of the checkering in the pattern.
The NECG N-100 aperture sight is well made, adjustable, seems durable and is a very usable aftermarket purchase for the Ruger rifles. I also have one on a Ruger Model 77 All Weather rifle.
Those who have actually read this and paid attention have probably noticed that I did carry the rifle afield in spite of purchasing it for range use only. It handled so well I took it hunting last year.
Notes regarding my specific rifle
It is actually not quite 38 1/4 inches long, being a stretch to get over 38 1/16 inches in length across my tape. Also, the weight of my rifle is about 6.92 lbs instead of 7 lbs. Perhaps my tape and scale are not as accurate as Ruger's, but overall, the rifle certainly is represented fairly in the Ruger catalogue.
The walnut stock is not especially well figured. Also, it seems that filler and stain may have been employed. This is a cosmetic observation only, and not likely to cause deterioration as the rifle is used or the stock exposed to field conditions.
Summary and Recommendation
I would classify this rifle as well worth the money. A decent bolt action surplus rifle of similar configuration (carbine, full length stock) in good shape is about the same cost, and this is a new rifle with Ruger backing up its serviceability. You will have to drop about $85 for the NECG aperture sight, but it installs without tools in the Ruger Model 77 rear scope ring mounts. Once installed it is adjustable, simple and sturdy. This combination has provided a very field capable and durable set-up.
Note: A complete review of the Ruger M77RSI can be found on the Product Reviews page.
Copyright 2005 by Carl Swanson. All rights reserved.