Ruger Hawkeye Compact 37139 308 Winchester

This rifle has a short length of pull and a 16.5-inch barrel, this could be a great truck gun or an outstanding rifle for a smaller shooter.




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 TypeBolt, 2 Lugs
Overall Length 42.25 in.
Barrel Length, Twist 22.0 in. ,1:12 in.
Overall Height w/o Scope Mount6.8 in.
Weight Unloaded6.9 lbs.
Weight Loaded7.25 lbs.
Sight RadiusNA
Action FinishMatte Stainless
Barrel FinishMatte Stainless
Magazine Capacity5 Rounds
Magazine TypeInternal Box
Drop at Comb0.5 in.
Drop at Heel0.75 in.
ButtplatePachmayr Decelerator
Length of Pull13.75 in.
Receiver Scope-Base PatternWinchester Short Action
Trigger Pull Weight3.1 lbs.
Safety3 Position
WarrantyNone written
Telephone(800) 333-3288
Made InPortugal

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.


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