hunting appears to play a very specific role in how animals elect to
locate themselves on an expanse of wooded acreage. As an example,
deer graze on our lawn in the middle of the day and routinely pose
while my wife is taking their pictures for the grandkids. Wild turkeys occupy our driveway to
the density and frequency of a 1960's
student sit in and not even the close proximity of truck tires or a
blaring horn will cause them to budge. Curiously, coyote, crows and ground squirrels
stay greater than .22 Hornet distance away, which is why fast 0.224"
guns serve a useful purpose.
The idea of bullets traveling faster than an SR-71,
ability to reach way, way... way out there to tag a varmint that is
thumbing its nose at me is appealing. Some 0.224" guns are extreme.
Hot handloads for my .220 Swift's sometimes produce rolling thunder
and, possibly, some rainfall in addition to ultra high velocity. The
gun has a near mandatory
barrel change after every ten rounds and it does weigh something on
the order of a hundred to two hundred pounds,
empty. The Predator, chambered for the .22-250 Remington is, by
comparison, an ultra light that can come within
six yards of the Swift in point blank range.
Ruger Model 77
Sturm, Ruger & Company. Inc.
HKM77R-Z - 17121
*8 lbs 4 oz.
|Drop at comb
|Drop at heel
None - Scope Rings Included
*2 lbs. 3 oz.
Retail $794 Member's Price $754
Actual weights and measures
Tables are good for numerically defining a rifle, but tables
aren't well suited to expressing the character of a rifle. It is
often a blend of subtle tangibles, and more subjective
factors, that combine to produce a favorite firearm. What does that mean,
Joe? All I'm saying is that if I need to rid the little house on the
infestation, I could accomplish that task with a Savage Edge,
a gun I could buy for under $300. But I don't think I would wrap up
a long week at work, excited about spending a Saturday at the range
with the same
gun, or showing it off to friends.
I'm not a snob, I'm just not under twenty five years of age and
raising a growing family anymore. So, while I may still not buy
extravagant firearms, I do buy guns that are a bit more nicely
finished, offer some unique features and have a more distinctive
appearance. I think this is where the Predator fits well.
Two different paths to a similar result...
could have just as easily used a Ruger Mark II Target rifle as the
Remington VS SF II... if I had one handy, to illustrate the
difference between the Predator and the more traditional look of a
The Remington is a bit heavier, it has a two inch longer barrel
and the barrel's muzzle diameter is considerably larger at 0.810"
compared to 0.625". The Predator has a sporter like stock cut
slender at the forend 1.625"and grip area 1.265", where the
Remington has a broad 2.240" forend and a palm swelled 2.025" grip.
The heavy barrel shank of the Remington is 1.240" compared to 1.160"
for the Ruger, the muzzles measure 0.815" and 0.625" respectively.
Again, the intent of the prior comparison
is to delineate the differences between a heavy barrel target/varmint
rig and moderately heavy barrel sporter,
the Predator. From a performance standpoint, I don't believe these
two types of guns are separated by much and group sizes between
these two types of factory guns would
be very similar under field conditions. My personal take on the
Predator is that it combines varmint/target rifle like performance
with sporter rifle like handling. Neat.
had a screw driver handy...
or out, the Ruger utilizes high quality castings and machined parts.
No plastic to be found. The laminated stock fits the action and
barrel like a glove. The bottom of the barrel channel is cut to
assure no barrel contact other than at the forearm tip where the
last inch or so makes full metal to wood contact. The sides of the
barrel channel do make full length contact with the barrel and apply
pressure uniformly. The action inletting on this example is very
clean with the exception of just a bit of... wood fuzz in a
non-contact area, This cleaned up with a thumb nail scrap.
The magazine box has
an aft spacer to bring the nose of each cartridge to the proximity
of the feed ramp while still allowing maximum cartridge length
loads. The floor plate release is embedded in the front of trigger
guard; handy but still protected.
As seen in the
picture, left, the Predator comes with a fully adjustable two stage
trigger, which is quite a departure from historical Ruger hardware.
Ruger's description: Two stage, light, crisp, with no overtravel is
The Ruger M77 Hawkeye
Predator... has a really long name. Beyond that it has a three
position safety; on bolt locked, on bolt unlocked and fire.
The Predator utilizes
Ruger's proprietary scope mounting system that secures scope rings
directly to the rifle's receiver. Rings are clamped and keyed to
positively locate even the largest optics. Aftermarket suppliers
also offer ring sets for the Ruger.
As is the case with
all Model 77 Hawkeye models, the bolt handle is scalloped to clear
oversize scope eyepiece's without requiring the use of very high
Ruger has a non-rotating extractor and features controlled round
feed. During the time I spent with the rifle, feed was positive and
reliable. Bolt rotation is 90° as
is the case with most two opposing lug locking systems.
For all of the times I've worked with
this system, small centerfire or .416 Ruger, they all feel the same,
smooth, substantial and solid lock up.
Winding down Part I...
The Ruger M77 Hawkeye
Predator is an interesting combination of stainless and laminate
that most people would think of as attention grabbing, yet it is
somehow a very conservative looking firearm. Might be the muted
tones of the bead blasted stainless and satin finished multi-colored
stock. The Predator has the heft of varmint rifle, but handles like
a sporter. The gun's balance makes it comfortable to carry and hold
on a target. The trigger is a big plus, very clean and thankfully
adjustable. It will be interesting to see how all of this comes
together during live fire - Part II... which is not yet another U.S.
tour by the Rolling Stones, but rather one man's attempt to alienate
his distant mountain dwelling neighbors.
While I was finishing
up the photo shoot for this part of the Ruger review, I got to
wondering what happened to all of the wild turkeys today. Not one
showed its homely face. Just about then, a good sized red fox came
trotting up the driveway, broke into the tree line and followed the
exact path the turkeys normally follow every morning. Smart fox.
The Ruger M77 Hawkeye Predator Part I
The Ruger M77 Hawkeye Predator Part II