finishing a series of articles with an emphasis on high end
firearms, AR type firearms and tactical bolt action firearms,
writing about the Ruger International is a bit like coming
home. I'm not being critical of the other types of firearms, far
from it as I enjoyed each and every project. It's just nice to pick
up a very modern rifle that can conjure up forty plus year old memories of hunting
the Black Hills, or upstate New York or walking the woods in New England. It's a good
reminder that picking up a rifle doesn't automatically mean a day of
through the screens of a chronograph or having to neatly label each
and every round of handloaded ammunition to facilitate data collection.
In ancient times, when inexpensive labor, low cost
machines and surplus Mausers were in ready supply, a lot of local
gunsmiths made a good living by sporterizing large and small ring
military Mausers. While I was having rifles made with 24" barrels in
.243 Winchester for hunting deer and antelope at longish ranges, a
friend who was a much more knowledgeable hunter headed off in
another direction. He had a Model 93 small ring Mauser action weight
reduced, an 18½" barrel installed and then the barreled action
fitted to a full length, nicely grained, walnut stock. No fancy
Monte Carlo comb, no cheek piece but, as I recall, the gun did have
metallic sights and a compact, low magnification scope. In fact, in
many ways it looked a lot like the Ruger Model 77 Hawkeye
International that is the subject of this article.
With a look
influenced by Mannlicher styled rifles from Griffin & Howe,
the Ruger International model made its first appearance
during the 1968 - 1993 M77 MK I production run. The current
generation was introduced in 1993 as part of the M77
MK II product line. The change to the MK II platform brought along
several changes: a three position safety, a newly design floorplate
latch and a blade type ejector. The MK II also featured a
non-adjustable trigger in deference to a growing threat of product
liability litigation*. All and all - nice gun.
International is small. In fact, it is
the same length as a Winchester or Marlin lever action saddle
carbine, but it weighs less. For some reason, most full stock rifles
give the impression of a heavier and longer firearm. The stock, for
as plain as it is, has a very attractive, almost oil finish
appearance and the type of non-reflective metallic surfaces that
in a hunting rifle. It is a very tasteful classic look. The stock is
straight cut with approximately ⅜" drop at the comb and
⅝" drop at the heel. The thin recoil pad
is correct for the nearly recoilless .243 Winchester. There isn't
much more to say about the stock other than the muzzle tends to end up exactly where the shooter
The Ruger utilizes a slender contoured
barrel that measures a mere 0.500" at the muzzle, which contributes
to the rifle's light weight. The .243 Winchester version has a
relatively tight twist at 1:9". Remington firearms come close at
1:9⅛", Winchester is 1:10" as is Browning and most other
manufacturers. The 1:9" twist is a nice touch for stabilizing
heavier bullets for deer hunting and for achieving adequate
stabilizing revolutions per second of bullet spin from a relatively short
barrel that will produce less than maximum cartridge velocity
Model 77's action has a fixed extractor and is controlled feed; a lot like a
Mauser system. Therefore a round is grabbed when driven from the
magazine and remains secure on the bolt face all the way into the
rifle's chamber. The bolt is made from
stainless steel for better resistance to corrosion, erosion and
general wear and tear. The lower surface of the bolt is well
vented to contain and redirect hot gases in the event a case head
The International's metallic sights are useful. At
a time when many people are sticking scopes even on slug guns, it is
nice to see a company that realizes deer hunting in dense cover with
30 yards of visibility can use a good set of metallic sights that
are fully adjustable. The rear sight folds out of the way for
additional scope objective lens clearance if that is the desired set
up. The Ruger, of course comes with a set of 1" rings that mount to
Ruger's integral receiver mounts and Warne makes a set for this
application that is quick detachable.
The "U" shaped front sling swivel was a bit of a
hassle. More to the point, I had to remove the swivel from my Latigo
sling before it could be installed... which left me laying on the
floor in a pile, trying to untangle myself from all of the sling
loops and buckles. Eventually, through sheer will, I gave up and
installed a Cobra carry sling, the sling equivalent of a clip-on
of the International was a little bit different than taking down a
M77 Hawkeye with a conventional stock. There is an end cap that
secured the forearm at the muzzle and the fit of the inletting
appeared to be much tighter and needed a little parallel pressure
tapping to free the barreled action from the stock.
The barrel floats in the forearm until the very end
where the barrel channel relief ends and contact is made with the
last couple of inches of barrel. The end cap slide over stock and
barrel to lock the two together and a small screw prevents the
assembly from slipping off.
concern with full length stocks is that their long length contact
with the barrel may create odd pressure points along the barrel as
temperature and/or humidity move the wood around. The problem is
usually addressed by either gutting or slitting the barrel channel
in the forearm to make it non-responsive to environmental changes or
by installing a metal insert in the channel. The barrel is generally floated all the way to the muzzle where
an end cap loops over the gun's muzzle and a screw secures the
stock to the end cap. The idea is not to pull them together, but
rather assure their separation.
I like the Ruger approach because it offers greater barrel
protection and real support. I'm looking
forward to live fire checkout to see what kind of accuracy this
arrangement can deliver.
I was saving it for a CZ 550 custom, but...
I sorted through a bunch of scopes, trying to find
the right one for this rifle and its probable application.
Unfortunately, I found it locked up with some other accessories
designated for use with my CZ 550 full stock that is at Dennis
Olson's shop for modifications. I love that gun and I am very picky
when it comes to optics, and it is just as correct for the Ruger as
it is for the CZ.
Both the Ruger and CZ are fast handling rifles that
probably aren't going to see the far side of 250 yards. So neither
the Ruger or CZ 550 need high magnification, but they do need
a lot of illumination, a crisp image, a wide field of view and lots
of eye relief. The Bushnell Elite 6500 1.25-8x32mm fits.
Over the years I've gone through a lot of bargain
priced scopes and a few very expensive scopes and I think I have
given up on both extremes. Cheap scopes aren't reliable and lack
quality optics or coatings. Very expensive scopes don't really
improve upon mid range products. I believe gravity finally caught up
with Leupold. Their medium to low end scope performance specs
haven't kept up with competitors and their prices are eroding
rapidly. Leupold's tactical and other very expensive scopes seem
more targeted to tax payer's funded government or grant purchases.
Objective Lens Diameter
|Ocular Lens Diameter
|Range of adj.
Discount Retail Approx
I just completed a review of a Blaser R8 with a
$2,000+ Swarovski Z6 scope and, other than the Austria Corporate
headquarters, it held no field performance edge over the Elite 6500.
The Bushnell scope that went onto the Ruger is water, fog and shock
proof, nitrogen filled for positive internal pressure, Rain Guard®
HD coated lenses. It has a limited lifetime warranty and a "No
questions asked" one year replacement warranty. The optics are
Japanese and that is where the product is assembled.
The Parte Seconda Plan...
I have a lot of handload components coming in for the
second part of the project, but I didn't want to close up Part I
without a comment or two on live fire, the Ruger M77 International
and the .243 Winchester round. I ran some of my... special 100 grain
deer hunting handloads through the Ruger and a Remington, 18½" and
22" barrel respectively. The Ruger generated 2,884 fps of muzzle
velocity, the Remington 3,042 fps. 158 fps less for the convenience
of the shorter barrel and overall firearms. With a 200 yard zero the
22" barrel gun shot within 1.5"+/1 to 200 yards, then dropped -6.6"
at 300 yards. The 18½" was the
same to 200 yards, dropping -7.4" at 300 yards. At 300 yards the
short barrel gun, at 1,144 ft/lbs delivered only 142 ft/lbs less
than the longer barrel gun. The Remington is 3" longer and almost 2
lbs heavier. The Ruger seems like a pretty good trade off in any
Be back shortly with handloads and live fire
performance assessment. The .243 Winchester is an excellent round.
The Ruger is a great little gun. The Bushnell scope makes for ideal
optics. Should be a lot of fun working up handloads for this
* Ruger and His Guns, R.L. Wilson