While looking through a gun website I found a review of the Ruger M77 Mk2 rifle.
Bolt and action
'Plain Jane' is a term too often banded as a lack-lustre article, but without frills and adornments the M77 Mk2 is a practical, honest stalking rifle, with great built-in features.
The action closely resembles the Mauser 98 design - it has a layout of twin opposing locking lugs to the bolt and a large external extractor claw. This design has proved itself over the years - if it works, why change it?
The bolt is 6.75in long and forms a substantial backbone for the M77 action. The two locking lugs are large and cam effortlessly into their recessed pockets within the receiver walls to ensure a good strong lock-up. The extractor is large, but allows a controlled round feed, which ensures positive loading and extraction from the chamber. The receiver is machined from a solid billet of steel, which maintains excellent tolerances and incorporates the integral scope mount-bases at the top of the action. Ruger sensibly supplies a set of 1in scope rings that have a unique locking system to the rifle's action to ensure a scope will not shoot loose, even under the most severe recoil.
Ruger uses a precision hammer-forged barrel that exhibits a deep and rich traditional blueing and looks every part the stalking rifle. The contour is standard sporter profile, with a relatively steeply tapered barrel and internally the button-rifled barrel is relatively free from tooling marks. Ruger has chosen to have the barrel bedded to the stock with a slight upward pressure ring at the base of the fore-end tip channel. Some manufacturers use such a system to stabilise barrel harmonics, while others free-float a barrel. Either way, the Ruger shot respectable groups in the field tests.
Using the 1in Ruger scope mounts supplied, I fitted a well-used Leupold 3.5-10x42 scope, which suited the Ruger well. This outfit gave the .243 calibre good optics and made it into a capable deer rifle. Recoil was subdued from the well-profiled stock and overall weight of nearly 9.5lb. The bolt feels a little sloppy at its full extent, but then most Mauser-type designs do. However, when loaded and locked, the M77 felt reassuringly solid. From testing on the bench and sticks the accuracy potential of the Ruger proved to be more than adequate.
Factory fodder from Federal, Sako, Remington and RWS all shot between 1in and 1.5in. The Federal Vital-Shok 100-grain Sierra Game King load shot really well and just scraped a few three-shot groups under the inch mark. Reloads included 39.5 grains of H414, a spherical powder that produced a velocity of 2,806fps with a Hornady 100-grain Hornady SST bullet, and 44.5 grains of Vihtavuori N160 powder with a Nosler 70-grain Ballistic Tip yielded 3,455 fps. Both these loads shot 0.95in to 1in groups before the slender barrel heated up and strung out the group size.
The longevity of the M77 action design and its natural progression into this Mk2 version shows Bill Ruger got the original design in 1968 right. The M77 is a quality stalking rifle. The action is strong and reliable and I felt that I could get on with the stalk and not worry about knocking the rifle or damaging it. Quite often what I do not notice about a rifle out in the field is the best indication of its real performance. Priced at £655, the Ruger M77R Mk2 offers to first-time stalkers a good competent first rifle or to the seasoned professional a reliable workhorse.
RUGER m77 mk2
Model: M77 Mk2 Standard
Barrel length: 22in
Overall length: 42in to 44.5in
Weight: 7.25lb to 8.25lb, depending on calibre
Stock: Walnut sporter
Trigger: Single stage
Sights: Scope mounts included
Good looking rifle
No frills, a good honest solid rifle
Long bolt travel