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History is what we remember…

Listening to some old Jackson Brown performances. Good melody, good vocals and poetic lyrics. I used to be a fan until he performed Steven Van Zandt’s “I Am A Patriot” and he ended up on the scrap heap with all of the other wealthy celebrities who wrap themselves in the word “Patriot” while setting fire to my country’s flag and relentlessly attack American traditional life.

I am an American patriot, although certainly not to the degree demonstrated by our young men and women serving in today’s military and in law enforcement roles. I served, like most of my friends and family, but ducking musket balls was not in any way as dangerous as surviving the chaos of modern warfare and extraordinarily long deployments.

I love our flag. Sometimes, just standing for the National Anthem is enough to bring tears of pride and remembrance of loss to my old eyes. God, I love this country. It has been so good to me and the people I love. I’ve never had excess financially, but I’ve never had to apologize for what I have had. There have been tough times, but there have also been many celebrations.

Through the good graces of God and being an American, my wife and I have had incredible lives. Our children are having incredible lives and their children are having the same. There have always been rewards for those to choose to apply themselves and support for those who struggle along the way. I only hope the nation can survive this sea of celebrity “Patriots” who hate American values, hate families, hate religion, hate other people’s freedom, and contribute nothing to America. Being selfish is not the same as being free. Anyway…

The arrival of Ruger’s gray ghost…

I’ve owned and built a good number of firearms chambered for the 223 Remington. Burned out on AR types, my current favorites are compact bolt action rifles, 18.5″ to 20″ barrel, a nice but not fancy walnut stock and blued steel. In rural Maine, they are great for dispatching varmints and, in a pinch and where legal, they will bring down white-tail deer. They are rifles that offer a great deal of utility. The Ruger Hawkeye, Varmint Target Rifle is more of a specialized type of firearm.

Ruger Hawkeye Varmint Target

Manufacturer Ruger Firearms
Model 17975
Type Bolt Action
Caliber 223 Remington
Magazine Capacity 5
Barrel Length 26“
Rifling 1:9″ 6 Groove RH
Weight 7.7 Lbs
Overall Length 46.00“
Stock Black Laminate
Hardware Matte Stainless
Length of Pull 13.50″
Drop at comb -3/8″ Bore ℄
Drop at heel -5/8″ Bore ℄
Sights Clean
Scope Mounting
Ruger Proprietary
Two Stage Trigger 4 lbs. 1 oz. (Actual)
Safety 3 Position Thumb Safety
MSRP $1,139
Also available in 204 Ruger, 22-250 Rem, 308 Win,
and 6.5 Creedmoor, the latter with 28″ barrel.

Essentially, the Hawkeye Varmint Target is the Model 77 short action with heavy contour barrel and purpose shaped stock. The wide, shallow forearm, the palm swell, tight radius pistol grip and straight comb are all features that promote accurate shooting without compromising form for reduced weight. Compared to a standard Model 77 –Ruger Model 77  Stock Comparison

Ruger Hawkeye Stock Type Comparison
Palm Swell Width 1.72″ 1.36″
Grip Swept Angle
10° 25°
Forearm Width
2.54″ 1.40″
Forearm Height
Width at Trigger
Drop at Comb
-3/8″ Bore ℄ -3/8″ Bore ℄
Drop at Heel
-5/8″ Bore ℄ -3/4″ Bore ℄

Is the Varmint Target stock appropriate for precision shooting? It depends on how you have been taught to shoot. The palm swell and shallow grip angle set the trigger finger at a correct angle and allows a firm grip without using the grip to support the weight of the rifle and losing trigger pressure control.

The high, straight comb provides steadying contact with the face even when looking through 30x optics and places line of sight though optical center.


Below, the VT’s wide forearm fills the hand makes it easier to control cant and control the rotation of the rifle when it torques on discharge. Beyond shooting from a standing position, the stocks stabilizing attributes carry over to kneeling, sitting and prone positions, as well as shooting off a rest or bipod.


For me, a right hand shooter; left hand under the forearm, elbow pointing down, butt pulled into the shoulder for support, right hand up grasping the pistol grip to stabilize for trigger squeeze, elbow pointing out… the stock works really well. Still, the weight of the VT will generally send me scrambling for a front rest of some type and a place to sit or lay down.

The two stage, adjustable target trigger is a gem. Let off was at 2 lbs 7 oz, crisp and no perceptible over travel. I usually have a lower trigger pull limit of 3 lbs 8 oz, but for this type of rifle the light pull contributed to its accuracy. Most Ruger Hawkeyes have a trigger pull in the low to mid 4 lbs.

Top loading, hinged floorplate magazine system. Easy to load and unload, especially with the three position safety to allow bolt cycling with the safety engaged. I’m good with five rounds in a bolt action rifle. I think when I find I need ten rounds for hunting I will take up fishing.

The barrel is a good one; heavy contour, target crown, precision hammer forged rifling. The muzzle is 0.693″ in diameter, in comparison to the a standard weight Hawkeye at 0.500″. The barrel floats in the stable laminated stock barrel channel.

The Ruger Hawkeye Varmint Target Rifle ships with a set of 1″, low, proprietary Ruger rings that clamp to the rifle’s scalloped receiver. They clamp solid laterally and are keyed in place longitudinally.  In this case, I needed 30mm, high rings to mount the scope, but I always keep a variety of rings handy. Ruger still offers ring swap outs when a new rifle is purchased. The exchange is made by contacting Ruger customer service.

Joe… is this going anywhere?

Sure. I wanted to first cover this terrific American made firearm and cover its features, including the 9″ twist. Where ARs tend to have rifling that looks like the twist on a drill bit, the 9″ twist would pass for middle ground, still tighter than early 1:14″ and 1:12″ standards. My intention is to run a variety of bullet weights, light to heavy, and see where exactly Elvis leave the building. So we will be back with Part II – cue suspenseful, dramatic music… Dun-Dun-Dun-Dunnnn.