By Bruce Potts
Friday, 07 March 2008
Ruger M77/22 rimfire sporter rifle review: The Ruger M77/22 rifle has the feel of a centrefire, but the light, sporting profile of a rimfire.
Ruger M77/22 rimfire sporter rifle review.
Ruger has earned respect among shooters all over the world for its robust, innovative and well-priced rifles, which are designed for real and practical use.
The M77/22 model has many attributes of its big brother, the M77 Mark 2, but it has a charm all of its own.
This rimfire feels sturdy and well-proportioned and comes with an option of classic walnut stock and blued steel or more weather-resilient stainless steel with plastic or laminated stock choices.
With this range of options, Ruger caters for any eventuality.
Accuracy in the action
The action is a sturdy unit, complemented by a good barrel and strong bolt design. Steel is used in the action, which is finished in a semi-matt blue to the top bridge, with polished sidewalls, though stainless steel options are available.
There are three integral proprietary Ruger scope-mounting slots to the top of the action that allow good, strong adhesion between mount and rifle.
The bolt is a chunky item, well-made and of stainless steel as standard. With a length of 6in, it is split in two halves, with the front half having twin guiding rails to the sides that stop the bolt binding in operation and provide smooth snag-free travel.
The rear section of the bolt has two large locking lugs. When the bolt is open, these are parallel to the front bolt guides, but when closed the twin lugs lock down vertically to the action providing a solid, strong lock-up. The bolt handle is short, with a polished semi-round knob, nicely raked for a firm hold, and it gives room for even the largest eyepiece.
This attention to detail is reflected in the accuracy of this rifle, but the bolt-release lever on the left side of the action is just too small and fiddly to operate.
This model features a 20in sporter-profiled barrel with a 0.56in diameter at the muzzle. This is supplied already threaded with a ½in UNF thread for sound moderator use from the factory, so the actual threads are all well cut and re-blued to maintain integrity with the overall finish of the barrel.
The finish is satisfying and will please traditionalists and, as previously stated, stainless options are available. Being non-free-floated along its length did not seem to affect performance in terms of accuracy.
Trigger and safety
These days, most triggers tend to have a heavy factory setting. The M77/22 is no exception in this regard and the feel of the trigger is really quite firm to release.
There is no external adjustment unless you strip it and replace some parts. After-market trigger units are available, such is the popularity of the rifle. Units from Rifle Basix or a good gunsmith can be dropped in as, in my opinion, a bit of tinkering is desirable.
The safety is a three-position lever design.
Ruger has a knack for fitting elegant woodwork to its rifles and this rifle had a classic style and proportioned walnut sporter design with 13.75in pull length, no cheekpiece and a gently rounded fore-end.
Cut chequered panels adorn this and the pistol grip area with an inset Ruger logo to its base. The quality of the wood is standard, with tight-lined grain and a reasonable colour.
The solid black recoil pad is nicely soft and tactile, sling-swivel studs are fitted and the wood is finished in a subtle matt lacquer.
Fit and finish around the metalwork is tight, though there is no bedding for the barrelled action.
Magazine and options
This Ruger has its 10-shot rotary magazine - as used on its 10/22 semi-automatic rimfire rifle. This allows a good capacity for a sporting rifle all in a small design profile.
Reliability is normally good, though feed problems can arise from ingress of dirt or accumulation of waxy deposits from the bullets themselves. Here, too, after-sale options are available but only a few misfeeds occurred during field tests and these were when the magazine was at full capacity.
This is usually due to pre-set spring tension not being absolutely correct - it can be re-corrected by disassembly of the magazine but be warned, it is tensioned.
Supplied with the rifle was a Brugger and Thomet sound moderator. This was 152mm long, with 30mm girth and screw-cut to match the barrel threads. With subsonic ammunition the report was nicely muted, though there was a resonance from the thin moderator walls. The unit was, nevertheless, still very light at 102g when I weighed it.
As is no surprise for a Ruger, accuracy was good at the 50-yard test range.
Despite the blustery conditions, the Ruger shot some consistent groups.
I fitted a BSA Sweet 22 scope, ideally suited to the Ruger.
Though its turrets are calibrated for high-velocity ammunition, the scale is still very usable with subsonic rounds.
The best groups came from a trio of rounds, Eley Xtra Plus, Lapua Subs and Winchester subs, which all shot under 0.5in for five shots at 50 yards. For a slim-barrelled sporter profile rifle, that is commendable indeed. It provides more than enough accuracy for head shots on rabbits up to 75 yards. Eley as usual shot some tight 0.4in groups and gave a velocity of 1,032fps and 95.1ft/lb energy from the 20in barrel. Other than a couple of sticky rounds in the magazine, the M77/22 functioned flawlessly and really was a nice rimfire to shoot or equally to sit and admire in the woods when the rabbits were not playing ball.
Bags of potential
Priced towards the upper end of the rimfire scale, the M77/22 still gives excellent value for money. Build quality is good, as is the accuracy and reliability in the test.
With the options of stainless and synthetic designs, this rifle gives a genuinely good choice for any rimfire shooter - it has the feel of a centrefire rifle but the weight of a light sporter. Supplied with 1in dedicated scope mounts, it is a definite winner as is the pre-threaded barrel, essential on a sporting rimfire these days.
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