The Ruger M77 Hawkeye Compact Magnum is a bolt-action hunting rifle chambered in .300 Ruger Compact Mag. and .338 Ruger Compact Mag. The Compact Magnum is one of 14 models in the Hawkeye series and is the magnum version of the Compact, which is the smallest of the series. However, the Magnum has a longer barrel than its sister rifle at 20″ and the overall length varies depending on the stock. The two stocks are the walnut stock (39.5″) or black synthetic (40″). Either way it weighs 6.75 pounds.
What separates it from standard Hawkeye models, other than being specifically magnum, is it has sights. An adjustable U-shaped rear sight and a brass bead front sight. It also fires Hornady’s .300 and .338 RCM, which are comparable to .300 and .338 Win. Mag., but are better suited for shorter barrels.
Otherwise it has common features to the series such as a solid steel bolt that uses a Mauser-type round feed extractor, which chambers rounds smoothly and ejects them effortlessly. The Magnum has a steel floor plate that opens for easy loading. The floor plate also fits flush with the stock. The Magnum has a 3-position safety that allows shooters to open the bolt and load the rifle with the safety engaged. And, it has a rubber recoil pad.
The Compact Magnum is also available in a left-hand model. Ruger recommends the Hawkeye Compact Magnum for hunting large game.
|Sights:||Adjustable rear sight and brass bead front sight|
|Features:||Left-handed model walnut only|
Mauser-type feed extractor; steel floor plate; three position safety; LC6 trigger; and studs for sling swivel
|Scope:||Drilled and tapped for scope mounts|
|Twist:||1 in 10"|
|Length of Pull:||13.5"|
|Overall Length:||(Walnut) 39.5"|
Ruger has had a certain approach to gun design throughout its history which shines through in the Model 77. What Ruger has always been very good at is taking a classic design and unabashedly updating and improving it. The Mini 14 is a scaled-down M-14; the Mark I pistol clearly started out as a hard look at the ergonomics of the WWII-era Luger; and the Model 77 is Bill Ruger’s take on the Model 98 Mauser.
That Mauser heritage is visible even at a glance. The huge claw extractor provides absolutely reliable feeding off of the magazine even in the unlikely event that you find yourself shooting it upside down. Most deer hunters are unlikely to value that feature much, but that trait of the ‘controlled round feed’ system has made the Mauser a favorite of dangerous game hunters for over a century. This feature puts the Model 77 squarely into potential ‘lion medicine’ territory.
Other mechanical and ergonomic details follow the Mauser pattern. But even if you’ve never heard of a Mauser before, this is still a very thoughtfully made rifle. With dovetails for mounting a scope machined right into the receiver, you won’t need to buy a scope base and you will find that you can mount a scope that much closer to the barrel.
Model 77s made in the last few years are uniformly accurate and will tend to put five shots of the right ammunition into a one inch hole at a hundred yards. Older rifles on the used market may perform somewhat less uniformly. Ruger was formerly sourcing their barrels from multiple manufacturers (while making the actions themselves) and this led to somewhat differing tolerances. One used Model 77 might throw five shots into three inches while another could give you five shots into half an inch. There is just no telling. Fortunately, Ruger wised up to this problem and assumed tighter control of barrel production. A brand-new, off-the-shelf Model 77 will absolutely give you better accuracy than you really need for any kind of big game hunting and plenty of varminting.
Like the other ‘7’ bolt action rifles (the Model 77 was so named as an impish nod towards the competing Remington Model 700 and the Winchester Model 70), Ruger’s bolt action centerfire is available chambered for a wide variety of cartridges in short, long and magnum length actions. It is also available in various levels of finish, ranging from a steel and synthetic ‘Alaskan’ model, to versions wearing circassian walnut and folding ‘express’ sights.
A Model 77 does not start as cheap as Remington’s competing Model 700, but then the fit and finish is also superior to a low-end 700. Ruger’s intended market is probably the experienced hunter who has already been around the block with less expensive rifles and wants to move up in the world. If you are just starting out, it might not be a bad idea to cut to the chase and pick up a Model 77.