GUN TESTS GRADE: B+
There are any number of ways to make a rifle lighter. One of them is to make everything smaller, and that is what Ruger did with the Hawkeye Compact. The barrel is thin, with a diameter at the muzzle we measured at less than 0.53 inches, and the barrel is only 16.5 inches long. That makes it very easy to get in and out of a vehicle at the ranch or in a deer blind. Shorter barrels also tend to provide less velocity. The Ruger, for example, showed velocity drops of 10% to 14% versus the Winchester Model 70 Featherweight and its 22-inch barrel. The shooter has to decide what is most important; energy, range, or ease of handling. All three are important considerations.
|Action Type||Bolt, 2 Lugs|
|Overall Length||42.25 in.|
|Barrel Length, Twist||22.0 in. ,1:12 in.|
|Overall Height w/o Scope Mount||6.8 in.|
|Weight Unloaded||6.9 lbs.|
|Weight Loaded||7.25 lbs.|
|Action Finish||Matte Stainless|
|Barrel Finish||Matte Stainless|
|Magazine Capacity||5 Rounds|
|Magazine Type||Internal Box|
|Drop at Comb||0.5 in.|
|Drop at Heel||0.75 in.|
|Length of Pull||13.75 in.|
|Receiver Scope-Base Pattern||Winchester Short Action|
|Trigger Pull Weight||3.1 lbs.|
The Ruger’s receiver and the barrel are both blued steel, showing a nicely polished finish. The bolt body and handle are stainless steel with a matte finish. The bolt shroud is also blued. The action is a classic Mauser style with the expected controlled-feed bolt. The bolt has a massive extractor claw that keeps control of the cartridge from the instant it pops out of the magazine until it rests safely in the chamber. We measured bolt throw at 90 degrees, but a concave bolt handle kept it well clear of optics. Actual bolt throw was somewhat rough, especially while standing and running the bolt from the shoulder, but the bolt smoothed out some.
Feeding was very positive, but that also meant that all feeding had to be done via the magazine. The shooter should not try to single feed this rifle by laying a round on top of the follower and then closing the bolt. That places undue stress on and can actually damage the extractor. The bolt release is on the left side of the receiver, and the safety must be moved to the forward or middle position to remove the bolt. The safety is the three-position style with forward being Fire, the middle being Safe with the bolt unlocked, and the rearmost being Safe with the bolt locked. The ejector is pinned in the action and hinges up into play through a slot in the bolt as the bolt is moved to the rear.
The internal box magazine sports a solid-steel follower and alloy bottom metal. The floorplate release is accessible but well recessed. Of the rifles tested, the Hawkeye Compact’s trigger was the heaviest, a still very acceptable 3.8 pounds. We did not experience any overtravel, but our shooters occasionally detected just a hair of creep. The action has scope bases machined into the top of the receiver, and the rifle ships with a set of sturdy 1-inch rings, which saves the shooter quite a few dollars.
The stock is a pleasing piece of straight-grained walnut with checkering sharp enough to be usable wrapping around the forend and the grip. Wood-to-metal fit is good, and the barrel came in firm contact with the forend for the entire length. Modern Hawkeye rifles also add in an extra action screw (for a total of three). The third screw inserts at an angle and, when tightened, draws the action even more firmly down into contact with the stock.
There is a thin recoil pad that provides a modicum of recoil reduction. This is not the pad you would want on a 300 Winchester Magnum, but this isn’t a 300 Win. Mag., is it? Still, we liked the Remington’s pad better. Length of pull on this rifle is only 12.5 inches and overall length is a short 35.5 inches, making this a very good rifle for smaller people or smaller spaces. Ruger fits the stock with a pair of sling-swivel studs, along with a nicely engraved floorplate.
Our Team Said: The Hawkeye Compact functioned perfectly with all rounds tested, but shot the largest groups of the four rifles we tested. That being said, average group was a very acceptable 1.37 inch for all groups shot, and the Hawkeye Compact definitely showed a liking for the reduced-recoil Hornady SST. Average group with that round was almost exactly 1 inch. This little rifle just begs for a compact 2-7×32 scope, a truck or a horse to ride in/on, or a new shooter to teach.
Written and photographed by Joe Woolley, using evaluations from Gun Tests team testers.
VALUE GUIDE: BOLT-ACTION RIFLE SCORES
|Browning X-Bolt Micro Midas 22-250 Rem., $879||Dec. 2019||A||Our Pick. This is a trim rifle made for the small-statured or still-developing hunter.|
|Howa Model 1500 Youth 22-250 Rem., $529||Dec. 2019||A||Best Buy. With youth- and adult-length stocks available, this is a great rifle.|
|Bergara B-14 B14S104 22-250 Rem., $879||Dec. 2019||A||Designed with the full-sized hunter in mind, this would be a great companion on a coyote hunt.|
|Browning X-Bolt 035395291 6mm CM, $2400||Aug. 2019||A||A superior varminter that could shoot in competition.|
|Howa 1500 H-S Precision HHS62203 6mm CM, $1220||Aug. 2019||A||This is a great all-around rifle at a reasonable price.|
|Barrett Fieldcraft Rifle Threaded 6mm CM, $1929||Aug. 2019||A-||This is a super-lightweight precision build you’ll want to take everywhere.|
|Savage 110 Scout 57139 450 Bushmaster, $829||July 2019||A-||Best Buy. The Savage Axis proved accurate, reliable, and fast handling. Adjustable LOP.|
|Ruger Scout Rifle 6830 7.62 NATO, $1139||July 2019||B+||The Ruger Scout comes closest to the original Scout rifle concept, but it falls short due to weight.|
|Mossberg MVP Scout Combo 7.62 NATO, $780||July 2019||B||Not a true interpretation of the Scout Rifle concept. Accurate, well-handling short rifle at a good price.|
|Savage 110 Apex Storm XP 57344 6.5 CM, $605||June 2019||A-||Best Buy. The Savage Axis proved accurate, reliable, and fast handling. Adjustable LOP.|
|Mauser M18 M18065P 6.5 PRC, $628||June 2019||A-||Accurate and reliable. Expensive compared to the others.|
|Savage Axis II XP Rifle 57289 6.5 CM, $400||June 2019||B+||A credible and accurate rifle for hunting. Superior stock treatment.|
|Ruger 77/44 Model 7401 44 Remington Mag., $754||May 2019||A-||The 77/44 offers accuracy and power in a lightweight rifle. We disliked the magazine.|
|Ruger American Rifle 6903 Standard 308 Win. $382||Dec. 2018||A||Light enough, accurate enough, and inexpensive enough for us to want to keep it.|
|Savage Axis II XP 57095 308 Win. $411||Dec. 2018||A-||Best Buy. It works well, is accurate enough for hunting, and it is affordable.|
|Savage Model 12FV 18393 308 Win., $420||Dec. 2018||A-||Most accurate rifle tested. Modest recoil. The rifle never failed to impress us.|
|Mossberg Trophy Hunter 308 Win., $240||Dec. 2018||C||Overall, the rifle was worth the modest price, but there are better choices.|
|Uintah UPR-10 Bolt AR-10 Upper 6.5 CM, $1295||June 2018||B+||Capable of very good accuracy, this was a dream upper in need of a little refinement.|
|Ruger American Rifle Ranch 06968 300 Blackout, $420||May 2018||A-||Shot well both suppressed and unsuppressed. Short length would make it handy.|
|Remington M700 SPS-T 84205 300 Blackout, $680||May 2018||A-||Shot well in 300 BLK supersonic and subsonic.|
|Savage Arms 10PT-SR 22356 308 Win., $550||May 2018||B+||Good build. It did shoot sub-MOA with one round. We loved the handle and AccuTrigger.|
|CZ-USA CZ 527 Youth 03050 7.62x39mm, $650||Mar. 2018||A-/B+||Grade A- for adults; Grade B+ for youths. We would trust it to work for a lifetime.|
|Browning A-Bolt Micro Hunter 7mm-08 Rem., $578||Mar. 2018||A-/C+||Grade A- for adults; Grade C+ for youths. Too much rifle and recoil for younger shooters.|
|Savage Axis II Compact 22230 243 Win. $490||Mar. 2018||B/A||Grade B for adults; Grade A for youths. Clear winner as a youth rifle.|
|Desert Tech SRS-A1 6.5 Creedmoor, $4495||Nov. 2017||A||Test results proved the SRS-A1 is at the top of the rifle-quality pyramid.|
|Ruger Hawkeye Mark IV VT 17980 6.5 CM, $1139||Nov. 2017||B+||Rough bolt action, but in terms of accuracy, the Hawkeye deserved an A.|
|Legacy Sports Howa HCR 6.5 Creedmoor, $1450||Nov. 2017||C||The HCR should grade higher based on its ergonomics and simplicity.|
|Remington M700 SPS 85538 308 Win., $600||Oct. 2017||B+||This short rifle isn’t the most accurate, but the overall handling is superb.|
|Remington Model 700 SPS 84218 308 Win., $606||Oct. 2017||B+||Hard to find a production rifle that is capable of greater practical accuracy.|
|Savage Axis 19223 308 Win, $240||Oct. 2017||C||Accuracy wasn’t the best. The rifle was dogged by a heavy trigger that we fixed.|
|Remington 783 85847 308 Win., $340||Mar. 2017||A||Best Buy. This was the most accurate rifle tested, and there were no demerits.|
|Remington 700 SPS 85538 308 Win. $655||Mar. 2017||A-||There are few rifles that are as handy as this one.|
|Savage Axis XP 19231 308 Win., $390||Mar. 2017||B||Accuracy wasn’t the best, but accuracy was acceptable with the provided riflescope.|
|Mossberg 100 All-Terrain Rifle 27230 308 Win., $200 (Used)||Mar. 2017||C||The rifle did not misfeed. We liked the cheek rest. The primary problem was accuracy.|
|Thompson Center Compass 10071 22-250 Rem., $399||Feb. 2017||A||Simple, straightforward, and inexpensive. Delivered sub-MOA groups with all rounds.|
|Browning X-Bolt Micro Midas 22-250 Rem., $860||Feb. 2017||B+||This is a super-handy rifle for the whole family, and it can fit just about anywhere.|
|CZ USA 557 Sporter 04806 243 Win., $792||Feb. 2017||B+||The 557’s refined looks belied its rugged durability. Heavier weight did not tame recoil.|
|Legacy Sports Howa Mini Action 6.5 Grendel, $855||Feb. 2017||C||This otherwise top-grade rifle was spoiled by weak magazine retention.|
|Ruger Precision Rifle 18008 6.5 Creedmoor, $1599||Nov. 2016||A||Ruger took an already good gun and made it a touch better.|