Ruger M77 Hawkeye .223 Rem. Rifle

By Randy Wakeman

Ruger Std. M77 Hawkeye
.223 Ruger HM77R Hawkeye Standard rifle. Illustration courtesy of Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc.

If I graded the Ruger Hawkeye all by itself, it would have easily gained a rating of "nice rifle," or perhaps "very good rifle." However, for this review I had a CZ rifle and a Savage rifle on hand for comparison and in some areas the Hawkeye suffered by comparison. This illustrates the value of head-to-head comparisons with a critical eye

For example, this M77 Hawkeye features Ruger's new LC6 trigger (standing for light and crisp). It is not a bad trigger and it has no discernible take-up so I can go along with the crisp designation. However, it breaks at about four pounds eleven ounces, which is definitely not light enough.

The LC6 trigger is not awful, but it is clearly inferior to both the Savage Accu-Trigger and the CZ single-set trigger. It is the type of trigger I would appreciate on an upland shotgun, but not on a centerfire varminter. Again, while better than many triggers out there, it suffered by comparison.

Aesthetically, the Ruger is pleasing to the eye. The Ruger's stock easily had the best grade of walnut of the three rifles I had on hand, with distinctive grain and mineral streaks. The red rubber butt pad looks classy.

I was ambivalent about the Ruger's matte blue metal finish. It is nicely done, but Ruger's previously standard polished blue has generally been excellent and is more attractive.

The action is an investment cast, controlled feed type with a nicely turned, stainless steel bolt handle for good scope clearance and has been covered in detail in previous Guns and Shooting Online reviews. (See the Product Reviews page.)

I mounted a Burris Signature Select 3-10x40mm scope on the Ruger Hawkeye, using the supplied Ruger medium rings with no hassle. I have absolute confidence in the Ruger rings. I also appreciate that the rings come with hex head caps, not the old flat blade screwdriver slots that were previously a bit of a hassle.

The Hawkeye has an internal, staggered cartridge, sheet steel, box magazine of the Mauser 98 type with a hinged floor plate. The floor plate release and trigger guard are very nicely done. There is no attempt to free-float the barrel; it maintains essentially full wood contact all the way from the tip of the fore end to the action.

The Ruger stock has better lines than the blockish CZ, much nicer wood and integral scope bases that are easy to work with. However, it handles slower and heavier than the CZ and Savage rifles to which I compared it.

The Ruger, as tested, was roughly a 1.5 MOA rifle. Some folks might feel that 1-3/4 inch groups are okay at 115 yards with bulk ammo and a light barrel. (For many purposes, it is. -Editor) That might cut it for deer and big game hunting, but not when the goal is to place a bullet into the center of a coyote's five inch kill zone at 250 yards.

I tried a few other types of custom and premium ammo to see if the Ruger would suddenly come alive, but to no avail. I never did get it to the one MOA level at 100 yards I want in a varmint and small predator rifle.

At the end of the day, I appreciated the Rugerís strong action, attention to build detail, nice wood, scope rings and clean lines. Its handling, trigger and out of the box accuracy, not so much.

Note: Several additional Ruger M77 rifle reviews can be found on the Product Reviews page.

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Copyright 2009, 2016 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.