What is the thinking behind the Ruger 77/44 or 77/357? Combining the long range accuracy of a bolt with a revolver cartridge seems counterintuitive. I guess, why would I buy one over a lever gun in the caliber?
What's even stranger is, if I don't understand the point of the comination, why do I want one so badly
It is compact and lightweight. There are very few moving parts. It has irons and a solid place for optics.
Is it better than a lever gun? Not really. In almost all aspects a Marlin lever in .44/.357 will beat out the Ruger in a bolt action.
They are also pricey compared to the Marlins.
No idea why you would want one other than to simply have it *if* you are comparing it to other offerings.
If you look at it all on its own, you have a nice little rifle that makes you treat the pistol rounds like rifle rounds (low rate of fire, low round count), if you reload it is super easy to police the brass and it is minimalist in design/function.
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Long range and pistol cartridges should not be used in the same sentence.
After about 75-100 yard the bullets going down fast. Handgun rounds are designed with low section density. So you can have a decent sized bullet and still have managable recoil from a handgun.
Hornady's Ballistics calculator. 240gr bullet 1600fps .15 B.C. Assuming you using iron sight roughly 3/4" taller than the barrel. B.C. is ballistic coefficient. This factor makes a huge difference. It's a combination of aerodynamics and weight per bore surface area. the ratio of weight to bore is called sectional density. Basically the bigger the bore the more drag. The more wieght per bore size, the more interia to keep the velocity going. Handguns have a really low S.D. versus rifle bullets. The B.C. for the 44 mag is the hornady flextip bullets. the B.C. for the .30-30 os the 150gr remington cor-lokts Round nose. Slightly worse than average B.C. for .30-30. With a hornady 160gr flex-tip and the powder they use, bullet drop would be 6" at 200 yards and the 100ft-lb mark would be a bit past 150 yards. Basically, I gave the 44 mag a bit of a break in comparison.
0 yards 1600fps 1360ft-lbs
50 yard 1400fps 1050ft-lbs 1.8" high
100 yards 1225fps 800ft-lbs 0"
150 yards 1100fps 651ft-lbs 8" low
200 yards 1020fps 550ft-lbs 22" low
.30-30 150gr 2150fps .19 B.C.
0 yards 2150fps 1550ft-lbs
50 yards 1950fps 1250ft-lbs .8" high
100 yards 1750fps 1026ft-lbs 0"
150 yards 1575fps 825ft-lbs 3.5" low
200 yards 1400fps 675ft-lbs 10" low
My standards. 1000ft-lbs at range to ehtical take down whitetail deer. The states that limit which rounds you can use go by this number. I stop at 150 yards with scopes and 100 yards with iron sights. However, my other limit is 6" bullet drop. Why? Aim right at the top of the back with 6" bullet drop, it's a good center of the vital zone hit.
1000 ft-lb limit 50 yard with 44 magnum. 100 yards with .30-30
6" bullet drop limit 140 yards with 44 magnum, 175 yards with the .30-30
I still will keep my .30-30. I have moved up to .450 marlin. I would prefered 444 marlin, however, there was a killer deal on a stainless steel browning BLR and I couldn't pass it up.
I personally have no use for a pistol caliber bolt gun.
I had one, 77/44 and it was the only truely inacuruate rifle I have ever seen. No matter what I fed it I was flat out keeping all the bullets into a diner plate patern at 100m and that was with a 3 to 9 leapold scope that has since proven to be deadly acurate on a 308. Not saying they are all that bad, but this one was a good deal less acurate than my ruger super blackhawk revolver.
I would love a good acurate boltaction in either 44m or 357m but want be buying one of these again.
I bought one four years ago because it was offered to me at half the going rate. I had zero interest in one before then, except maybe to suppress. I have a suppressed 77/22 that is the most often used gun I own and have often thought a big brother by SRT or John's Guns might be nice.
Really, I have little interest in pistol caliber carbines except as fun guns. If I'm going to carry a rifle, it might as well shoot a rifle caliber. I do have some, but mostly for just goofing around. I thought I could suppress this one or ditch it for a profit.
It ended up staying. The first thing I noticed, and still it's best feature, is the weight. It hardly weighs a thing. I think it's 5.25 pounds.
That number takes some thinking or comparing to appreciate.
That's light. Real light. My Browning .22 takedowns are tiny, but weigh within a few ounces. My Marlin 1894 .41 Mag feels a lot heavier. It's only around 6.25 lbs itself, so isn't heavy by any means, but a pound when you are talking this size is a lot.
It's like carry a .22, that hits a lot harder.
This light weight is what got me thinking more serious about the 77/44. As I said, I don't usually have much use for pistol caliber carbines, but the weight of this one makes things different. My lightest .308 is a Steyr Scout. Mine is heavier than it could be because of the scope and the stock filled with compass, fire steel, etc. Even with all that, it is still only around a pound more than most pistol caliber lever actions. I'll carry an extra pound to get the .308 and a stock full of tools.
But the 77/44...now we're looking at a hair over two pounds difference. That is definitely noticeable, and often enough to matter.
I'd still rather have the .308 for almost anything, but the weight difference is enough to make me stop and think. Around here, I could be in close cover or wide open fields. If I know I'm going to be in close cover, there is no real reason not to carry the lighter 77/44.
It's ease of carry got me thinking about the 77/44 as a bug out or shtf rifle. Pretty odd choice, and I'm far from convinced, but there are some points in it's favor.
-First, is obviously the weight. If I/we are on foot, every ounce counts.
-Second, it is efficient. It uses very little powder, so it can stretch that commodity. Even my heaviest loads use a little less powder than my .223 loads. I have plenty of light loads worked up that use around six grains, so will get close to 1200 rounds from a pound of powder.
-It is versatile (within reason). No it's not going to be good at 1,000 yards, but that's unlikely anyway. I have loaded ammo from 140 grain cast gallery loads to 330 grain ones that are getting close to low end 45-70 range. I've loaded it with jacketed, cast, roundball, and shot. It can use a huge range of powders. Anything that can be used to load pistol cartridges will work, plus some of the faster rifle ones. I could load it with black powder if I really had to.
-It is stainless, which shines like a beacon but can be covered. It won't hurt if the weather is bad. Might not be bad if I do have to use black powder.
-The synthetic stock is hollow, and accessible by phillips screws in the buttpad. I can probably get a lot in there, like fishing gear, fire starting supplies, and the ever useful trash bag.
-It's a really simple and easy to maintain rifle. The bolt comes out easy, then comes apart with a nail-like object. The pieces are pretty substantial. The ejector is a big chunk of metal sticking up from the trigger housing, and I bet could be replaced with a screw if it should be broken. With general purpose loadings, the .44 Mag is a lot lower pressure than most rifle cartridges, which may help longevity (maybe not but it can't hurt). The bore is so big that a stick can be used as a cleaning rod if needed.
Like I said, I'm not sold on that idea, but there are some points in it's favor.
Regarding accuracy, it can do OK, but OK depends on your standards. And it is a little picky. My accuracy expectations and demands aren't as high for this kind of rifle as for some. It will be used for deer-sized game up to maybe 100 yards, or smaller stuff a lot closer. In the worst-case shtf scenario, human sized targets should be relatively close too. I just don't see the need for half MOA from it.
Let's put it this way: It does as well as my AK, at least to 100.
But while I have got just every bullet of the many I've tried to shoot acceptably, it didn't always happen right off. Sometimes it took a little tinkering. It wasn't a big experiment or anything, but it would give "almost groups" with some loads- where it shot three in a knot then sent one this way and one another. Most of that was helped with trigger and bedding work (the stock is not the stiffest). I managed to get just about every bullet/powder combo to do OK or better, but sometimes there was a "sweet spot".
I have had rifles that would shoot anything. I've had them that would shoot nothing. This one will shoot some things but not others, which is not so bad once you know what it likes.
The magazine limits cartridge OAL, which my not let some heavy bullets fit. I have not found any, but I know of others who have. The two heaviest I shoot are the Hornady 300 XTP and a cast from an old SSK mould of 330 grains. They work, but I have to use the highest crimp groove.
From what I have seen, if it fits in the magazine, it will feed. I have two .44 wadcutter moulds (113 and 208 grains) and it feeds them fine. Same with everything else I've used.
And speaking of cast bullets: Mine has a pretty big bore of .430 to .431 and that sounds average for them from hat I can gather. I size my cast bullets to .432" to shoot in it. Guns are more forgiving with jacketed, but if buying cast bullets of the "standard" .429-.430 size, don't get your hopes up.
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What kinda groups are you getting out of your rifle barryin? As I said the one I had might do a 6inch group at 100yards if all the planets were alined and that was after a fair bit of load development. I got a 30/30 and a 357 lever guns both with aparture sights and they will do a 3 to 4 inch group all day, recon a bolt gun with a scope should at least be able to halve that group and a 44m should be good to lobe shot on target to about 200m. If I a ruger 77/44 could do all this I would have one in a heart beat, loved the one I owned till I tryed to make it shoot. mine may have just been a dud
For five shot groups*, I have managed to get almost every bullet I've tried into 2.5 to 3 inches. The better ones are right around 2". Maybe that doesn't sound that great, but I think it's OK for what it is. A couple of bullets have still defeated me, but I haven't given up. Some took more work than others to get there, believe me. And I don't always get to choose the velocity range. Bullet A might shoot well at top end loads, but Bullet B might do best in the moderate range. So far, I've been lucky in that the better accuracy velocity has mostly matched the bullet's need (for example, the 270 grain cast FP likes it at just over 1700 and the 140 grain gallery bullet likes it under 1000).
I do all the preliminary testing at 50 yds- the better ones there get checked again at 100. This keeps me from bugging my eyes out trying to shoot groups at 100 with a 4X scope for something that won't do it anyway. I usually have a target at 50 anyway, for testing cast bullets in other rifles (Since the cast bullet POI might be very different from the jacketed zero, I try them first at 50).
I mostly shoot cast because I have a lot of .44 moulds, but I've used 240 and 300 XTPs, and 240 Nosler jhp.
*Now, if we talk four shot groups, it changes. My notes for this rifle is full of asterisks by the group sizes, with a side note saying it made a 4+1 group. A typical example would be a 50 yard test with four in 1-3/8" with a fifth making it 2-1/4". This got better after some trigger work (showing I was causing my share) and some bedding changes (showing the not-so-rigid forend was causing it's share).
Still, I guess it's not a five-shot rifle anyway. By that, I mean I'd have a hard time thinking of a time a 77/44 would be fired more than once or twice at a time when used for it's intended purpose. I maybe should start shooting three-round groups with it, but I just can't do it.
Before I do much more, I should replace the trigger. I helped mine, but it's still in desperate need. There is only so much that can be done when shooting groups with that trigger on such a light rifle. What little I did was a big help on the target. I have a Spec-Tech trigger in my 77/22 and it is wonderful. It looks like it should fit the 77/44. I don't know why I haven't bought one for it yet.
I have seen one other 77/44 user at the range. He is one of the regulars and I've shot his rifle a couple of times. His does a little better than mine from what I can tell. His has a 2-7X scope, but I don't think that's it. It also has a wood stock which (in this case) I don't think flexes as much on the bags as my synthetic.
There is also the observation I have that Ruger rifles seem to either shoot really well or not-so-well, with little in-between. Maybe it's just me, but every one I've had, regardless of action or caliber, either shot so well I had to brag to everyone I saw, or so bad it had to go away ASAP. Two of the most accurate sporters I've had were Rugers, and I expected neither to do well (one was a 77 International) but some of the crummier ones were Rugers also. It's been either all or nothing. This 77/44 might be the only one that falls somewhat in the middle, although for a pistol caliber, I think it does pretty well (but more on that later).
When I bought mine and was waiting for it to get shipped, I checked around online for accuracy reports and found two extremes- either shocking success or disappointment. Typical Ruger rifle it sounded to me. The percentages of non-shooting ones did seem to be higher with these 77/44s though.
Just throwing it out there:
I have read on rimfire forums that the 77/22 responds to bolt shimming. The play in the two-piece bolt can be taken up with shims, which supposedly helps. I assume that if it works there, it will help on the 77/44. I have not tried this yet, however.
I had actually thought the play might help. There are a lot of hardcore accuracy people who think the squareness of how the case head meets the boltface is a big factor in accuracy. I have heard some of them explain part of the Savage bolt action accuracy comes from the pinned-in bolt head's small amount of "float" lets it square up to not-so-square case heads. I wondered if that's true, it might be part of the AR-15's accuracy, and that got me wondering if it was an asset on the 77/44. Apparently not.
I don't have the highest hopes for accuracy in pistol caliber rifles anyway. I say I don't like pistol caliber carbines much, but I seem to have had several over the years. None were tackdrivers by the wildest stretch. None- whether bolt, lever, or semiauto. If I hit 2" anywhere near half the time with one, I felt like I had really done something. For whatever reason, .357s seem to do best of what are considered regular pistol calibers.
But while they don't shoot that great, I don't think super accuracy is really needed here. Most are meant to pop a deer at under 100 yards (usually well under 50, or maybe 25) which isn't all that demanding. I think 2.5-3" is OK for the intent. And, I suppose, the bigger the bullet, the farther apart they can be!
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