The Ruger M77 was originally based around the Mauser 98 (in another attempt by Ruger to recreate a legendary firearm in modern times) although several changes were made to the design. L. James Sullivan designed a slightly different bolt, which meant that (although the M77's bolt action mechanism is virtually identical to the Mauser system) the Mauser style blade ejector could be modified to be a simpler plunger type system which is more reliable than the full Mauser solution.
Safety is dealt with by two position tang mechanism which allows the M77 to be loaded while also meaning that the M77 has less chance of accidently discharging. A new trigger system was also developed with the M77 that is designed to produce a smoother pull. Scope mounts are also installed directly into the receiver, preventing the need for picatinny rails to be installed (which could require constant attention to prevent loosening.
Yet one feature of the original Mauser 98 remains, the angled screw which holds the action to the stock. The temptation for most bolt action rifle makers is to use a screw straight through the underneath of the action, potentially affecting the movement. Ruger have maintained the angled screw on the M77 which has the effect of angling the action slightly downwards without affecting the action movement.
The M77 uses a variety of ammunition and cartridges ranging from Ruger's own .204 calibre cartridge to the .416 Ruger, with various models using other calibre cartridges throughout the range. Nonetheless, whatever particular cartridge is used with M77, the ammunition is fed from either a three, four or five round integeral box magazine.
The Ruger M77 has been in production since the 1960's and the world has seen several versions enter production. In general there have been four major off-shoots of the M77, with a couple of these having their own individual off-shoots. The M77 has also had left-handed and right-handed versions produced, largely due to the fact that it is a bolt action rifle which means that the bolt handle must be accessible to the shooters hand.
in chronological order of release the M77 variants are:
M77 Mark II Edit
A virtually complete redesign of the M77 occured in 1991, with the M77 Mark II being the result. Many original features were retained, although the safety, trigger and bolt were all redesigned with the introduction of a more efficent three position safety, which allows the user to load and unload the chamber with the bolt locked (as well as prevent accidental discharge). This mechanism allows the bolt to move while the safety is on to let the user unload the M77 Mark II safer than they otherwise could
From 2006 the M77 became the M77 Hawkeye (often simply referred to simply as the Hawkeye). The focus of the changes, apart from the name, were to the trigger which was redesigned to combat issues with the older trigger. This new trigger became known as an LC6 Trigger and has seen installation on other (custom made) Ruger firearms. The stock was also refined while there were no other changes made to the original design.
The Hawkeye Standard is the most basic version of the M77 Hawkeye range (ie the, now, basic M77 rifle) with a walnut stock and 24in long, steel alloy, barrel (although some are sold with 22in barrels) and all of the original features of the Hawkeye. Calibre sizes range from the .204 Ruger cartridge to the .338 Remington Magnum with both left and right-handed versions of the Hawkeye Standard available.
Information displayed at the top of the page referres to the Hawkeye Standard.
Hawkeye AfricanEditThe Hawkeye African is the largest calibre version of the Hawkeye, with calibre sizes ranging from the .223 Remington to Ruger's own .416 Ruger cartridge. All Hawkeye Africans are manufactured with 23in barrels and all but one version of them are fitted with Ruger's own Muzzle brake system (designed to reduce the effect of recoil). The stock is manufactured from walnut and the sights consist of a blade/bead front sight and V-notch rear sight.
The Hawkeye All-Weather is a lighter version of the Hawkeye Standard, with a black synthetic stock and stainless steel barrel and receiver. The same range of calibre sizes (to the Hawkeye Standard) are available for the Hawkeye All-Weather while the various furnishings are highly polished.
A shortened version of the Hawkeye Standard, with a 16.5in barrel. Calibre sizes offered include the .223 Remington, .243 Winchester and .308 Winchester cartridges while the most common rifling ratio is 1:9in. The Hawkeye Compact is among the lightest of the Hawkeye versions.
A Laminate version of the Hawkeye Compact (named unsuprisingly the Hawkeye Laminate Compact) is also available, with a black laminate stock.
Hawkeye Magnum HunterEdit
The Hawkeye Magnum Hunter is, unsuprisingly, the Magnum version of the Hawkeye, and is only chambered to fire the .300 Winchester Magnum. The Hawkeye Magnum Hunter is designed to be stronger than the Hawkeye Standard and is fitted with Ruger's own muzzle brake system to reduce the impact of recoil.
Hawkeye PredatorEditThe Hawkeye Predator is specifically designed as a varmit hunting rifle, with a smaller range of calibre sizes offered. The Hawkeye Predator is fitted with a target trigger rather than the LC6 Trigger, as well as a laminate stock.
The Hawkeye Sporter is a mid-weight version of the Hawkeye, with an identical range of calibre sizes and a choice of two barrel sizes (either 22in or 24in).
.30 06 Cal SAR (Search and Rescue) RifleEdit
The .30-06 SAR (Search and Rescue) Rifle is a specially designed version of the M77 chambered to accept the .30-06 Springfield cartridge. The SAR M77 was developed for use by Canadian search and rescue teams and has a shorter 14.5in barrel and a folding orange stock (which also has a section to hold six additional rounds of ammuntion). A unique case is also distributed with the SAR M77 for use in finding the firearm if it is dropped by parachute to a group in danger.
Gunsite Scout RifleEdit
Ruger, having teamed up with the Gunsite Training Centre, released the Ruger Gunsite Scout in 2011 to fulfill the role of a scout rifle (as determined by Jeff Cooper, a former US marine). Chambered to accept the .308 Winchester the Gunsite features a 16.5in barrel and has a muzzle flash suppressor and picatinny rails fitted as standard, along with a larger 10 round magazine option that can be ordered.
The Ruger M77 is a popular choice in the bolt action rifle market, largely due to the large amount of variety in each of the versions of the M77. The use of modern materials to reduce weight, combined with the constant modifications and refinements to the design, has meant that the M77, like most of Ruger's other products, is renowned for its quality and reliability.