The Ruger Hawkeye Compact Rifle live fire exercise was a welcome break from days of heavy snow fall, even if slip and slide treks to post and retrieve targets and to set up equipment were required. The first part of the exercise was to assess the influence of the rifle’s short 16.5″ barrel in comparison to some of the more typical 243 Winchester barrel lengths. The ammunition was pulled from controlled lots that are logged as used specifically for this purpose.
|243 Winchester Handload And Factory Ammunition Velocity Comparison|
|Nosler||Ballistic Tip||95||2.700||LR||Re 19||45.5||2817
|Prvi Partizan||Soft Point||100||2.650||LR||Re 19||45.5||2744
Great, lots of velocity numbers, but what do they mean?
|Best Zero Results 100 Grain 2805 FPS MV
|Near-Zero – Yards||25||Mid Range – Yards||133|
|Far-Zero – Yards||235||Max Ordinate “||+3.0|
|Point Blank – Yards||250|
|Best Zero : Range 0 – 300 yards|
|Velocity – fps||2805||2698||2594||2492||2393||2296||2201|
|Energy – ft.-lbs.||1747||1616||1494||1379||1271||1170||1076|
|Momentum – lbs-sec||40||39||37||36||34||33||31|
|Path – in.||-1.50||1.20||2.70||2.92||1.73||-0.97||-5.33|
|Best Zero Results 100 Grain 3168 FPS MV
|Near-Zero – Yards||28||Mid Range – Yards||149|
|Far-Zero – Yards||264||Max Ordinate “||+3.0|
|Point Blank – Yards||281|
|Best Zero : Range 0 – 300 yards|
|Velocity – fps||3168||3053||2941||2831||2723||2619||2516|
|Energy – ft.-lbs.||2228||2069||1920||1779||1647||1522||1406|
|Momentum – lbs-sec||45||44||42||40||39||37||36|
|Path – in.||-1.50||0.95||2.48||2.99||2.43||0.69||-2.32|
In terms of trajectory and reach, inside 300 yards the differences are not meaningful. With optimized zero, the difference between point blank range for long and short barrel is only 30 yards, but even then the holdover difference at 300 yards is only 3″ greater for the short barrel rifle.
If there is a meaningful difference between short and long barrel performance it would be in kinetic energy and, to a lesser degree, momentum, two indicators of penetration potential. But it is important to remember that the short barrel rifle was never intended to be a standard for 300 yard hunting and inside 200 yards there is not a practical difference between short barrel and long barrel performance.
The Ruger Hawkeye Compact Rifle has little recoil, none that would bother a young or small shooter, even with its light six pound weight. Accuracy is as good as longer barrel versions and the sharply tapered barrel is pretty rigid. All of the handloads and factory loads issue shot under 0.8″ with some as small as 0.3″ at one hundred yards for three shot groups, making it more than accurate enough for a hunting rifle. While I can see that everyone in social media can routinely shoot 1/4″ 5 shot groups, on horseback and riding side saddle with a snub nose revolver, I would hazard a guess that the Ruger can produce greater accuracy than most of the people who shoot them.
The stock felt balanced and it shouldered comfortably. I kind of handles like my 1895 Guide Gun, one of the most intuitive point and shoot rifles I own. Trigger pull was light enough and very clean. Drop at the comb and heel worked well with the included medium rings and the installed moderate magnification Leupold Scope.
Flash – Bang!
Ejecta comprised of bullet and primer residue, burned and unburned powder, exit the rifle as the as the bullet leaves the barrel. The small particles travel faster than the bullet for a short distance and powder continues to ignite. The result is heightened muzzle flash from a short barrel and erroneous chronograph readings if the rifle is too close to the chronograph. The departing small particles trip the first photocells prematurely and dissipate, leaving the slower moving bullet to trigger the second photocells. The result is inaccurately low readings.
A more obvious characteristic of the Ruger Hawkeye Compact Rifle loud report. Why might that be? In the example below, peak pressure happens within the first 2.25″ of bullet travel. As the bullet continues down the barrel, the exposed bore volume increases more rapidly than the gas volume generated by the burning powder, causing pressure at the heel of the bullet to continuously falls. The longer the barrel, the lower the pressure when the bullet exits and the lower the report. In table form, it looks a bit like this –
|243 Winchester 100 Grain Sierra|
The Ruger Hawkeye Compact Rifle for woodland hunters is a good choice. A quality, traditional firearm in a compact form virtually anyone from a young to mature hunter could put to good use. Performance measured by velocity and trajectory is penalized by the rifle’s short barrel, but not within the context of intended applications. Certainly a rifle worth a look.