January 21, 2009

Ruger 77 Mark II 243 Heavy Barrel

This was an attractive $685 rifle, with a blonde-colored laminated stock sporting an extremely nice and well-done matte finish. After our initial negative experiences with the electronic Remington, the entirely conventional Ruger, with no gizz-whizzes or batteries or insulators needed to make it go bang, was most welcome. Besides .243, the same rifle is available in .223, .22-250, .220 Swift, 25-06 and .308.

All the metalwork except the sling swivel studs was finished in a semi-matte light color that Ruger calls Target Gray, which we found very attractive in contrast with the light-colored stock. The studs were blued. The 26-inch-long stainless-steel barrel was free-floated evenly all the way back to the action. (So was the Remington’s.)

The Ruger’s bolt felt a trifle stiff at first, but after cycling it a few times, it became very slick. The bolt came out and went back in easily via the Mauser-style release at the left-rear corner of the action. Ruger’s now-standard safety, on the right rear corner of the action, felt good and worked properly. The bolt body had a bump on its left side, similar to those on pre-’64 Winchester Model 70 rifles, to help smoothness. It worked fairly well when everything was new, and even better after we shot the rifle a bit.

Courtesy Gun Tests

This was an excellent rifle that worked exactly like it was supposed to. On the range there were no big surprises, only that the Ruger preferred the lighter 80-grain Winchester load, putting them into three-shot average groups of 1.0 inch. The 100-grain ammo averaged only 1.7 inches. Clearly, this varmint-type rifle wanted varmint-type bullets, and it would be lots of fun working up a “perfect” handload for it.

Wood-to-metal fit was excellent. The steel floorplate opened and closed positively to release the contents of the four-round magazine on command. The trigger pull was a dream. It broke at 2.5 pounds with zero creep, quite a nice surprise for a new American-made rifle. The Ruger literature specifies the trigger is fully adjustable, another nice feature.

We mounted an Artemis 7x50 scope in the Ruger rings that accompanied the rifle, and went straight to work. At the range we discovered a reluctance to feed rounds from the magazine into the chamber. The rounds seemed to go part way in, and then hang up on something. We had to rattle the bolt back and forth to get the rounds to go all the way in. This characteristic did not diminish during our shooting sessions. Chambered but unfired cases showed circumferential scratching halfway up the main body of the case. Close inspection revealed that the cases that hung up weren’t slipping under the “controlled feed” extractor as they came out of the magazine. Instead, they were bumped ahead of it and were forcibly held slightly downward when their rims contacted the front end of the extractor, which caused them to bind on the rear end of the chamber. The solution seemed to be to polish the rear edge of the chamber slightly, or ignore the problem and push the cartridges firmly into the chamber, and let time and wear do the work of smoothing up the feeding. Another possible solution would be to round the small squared-off lower front edge of the extractor.

Courtesy, Gun Tests

The fully adjustable trigger broke at 2.5 pounds and felt a lot lighter. There was significant light takeup, but it gave an extremely clean break. The mag held four rounds and feed was a bit problematic.

Neither the Remington nor the Ruger were light rifles. At 11.0 pounds the Ruger was a pound heavier than the Remington. Felt recoil was very slight. The Ruger’s forend was much wider than the Remington’s, and as such, offered a much larger surface for supporting the rifle over sandbags, or whatever.

On the range there were no big surprises, only that the Ruger preferred the lighter 80-grain Winchester load, putting them into three-shot average groups of 1.0 inch. The 100-grain ammo averaged only 1.7 inches. Clearly, this varmint-type rifle wanted varmint-type bullets, and it would be lots of fun working up a “perfect” handload for it. Many of the Remington’s groups were half the size of the Ruger’s, but its overall average of 0.8 inch puts it close to the Ruger, and we believe a rifle that delivers one-inch average groups out of the box shows good evidence of being able to beat that with careful handloads tailored to the individual rifle. Both of these rifles clearly invited such efforts.

Comments (8)

I have a 17 and a 243. You know that the 17 and a 270. hits the side also, oh thats right it's not center fire, but it works. The point is to make it go bang.... They are great. My 77 shoots as good as my Colt Sauer. Gubby

Posted by: George G | February 4, 2009 3:21 PM    Report this comment

I have a 243 mark II hollow stock that I have shot for several years I have nick named it "old meat in the pot" because I shoot and their is meat in the pot.I reload for it and have since bought a wood stock for it ,with glass bedding and a few minor ajustments to it that any one can do, it shoots where I put the cross hair's. I can't wait to find a 220 swift in this new heavey barreled gun. Keep shooting America.

Posted by: Richard M | January 27, 2009 10:55 AM    Report this comment

I have a lot of Ruger's. Hand gun's and rifle's. I have 3 M77 and love them. 243,270 and 17cal. They hit were I put the cross hair's. George G.

Posted by: George G | January 26, 2009 6:24 PM    Report this comment

Richard E., There's a few to many things some of us like to do to our rifles and handloads to get the utmost accuracy. It would be nice to start out with a rifle where the firing pin strikes the center of the primer, at least close. The Hornady load I mentioned is the only accurate load out of many I have tested. This would make a fine varmint rifle. For what it's worth, I love my Ruger revolvers.

Posted by: ROBERT S | January 22, 2009 10:11 PM    Report this comment

Richard E., There's a few to many things some of us like to do to our rifles and handloads to get the utmost accuracy. It would be nice to start out with a rifle where the firing pin strikes the center of the primer, at least close. The Hornady load I mentioned is the only accurate load out of many I have tested. This would make a fine varmint rifle. For what it's worth, I love my Ruger revolvers.

Posted by: ROBERT S | January 22, 2009 10:11 PM    Report this comment

Robert S., you sent your rifle, which never misfires, to Ruger so they could fix it ? What's that saying about if it ain't broke don't fix it....I own the same rifle in .17 caliber and it is a sweet piece....relax and enjoy it

Posted by: Dick | January 22, 2009 7:44 PM    Report this comment

I bought the same .243 rifle a year ago. Shoots .75 inch groups @ 100yds. with Hornady 55gr moly bullets, factory or handloads. It's puzzling, especially with the 1:9 twist, but I too, can not get good groups with the heavier 100gr bullets. Also, the firing pin strikes to one side of the primer but never miss-fires. I sent it to Ruger and they didn't fix it.

Posted by: ROBERT S | January 22, 2009 5:48 PM    Report this comment

I admit it seems a tiny bit strange to have a "varmint rifle" that comes chambered in something as large as a .308. However, I'd sure like to see an evaluation of this rifle chambered for .308. If it performs as well with the larger cartridge, it just might be the perfect bolt action companion for my M14 that I've been looking for.

Posted by: tmaca | January 22, 2009 3:28 PM    Report this comment

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