I wasn’t sure if I was going to look at the Ruger M77/17 17 Winchester Super Mag. Being familiar with the Ruger rotary magazine rifles in everything from 22 Long Rifle to 44 Mag, I knew the Ruger rifle was more than capable, but I had heard and read so many critical comments regarding the cartridge and its pairing with the Savage B Mag certainly didn’t raise my expectations. I finally arrived at the conclusion that if Ruger thought the round was worth an investment, there must be more to the Winchester Super Mag.
|Manufacturer||Ruger Newport, NH|
|Type||Bolt Action 90º Lift|
|Magazine||Rotary 6 Rounds|
|Barrel Length||24.00″ Heavy Profile|
|Length of Pull||13.50″|
|Drop at comb||1/2″|
|Drop at heel||5/8″|
|Scope Mounting||Ruger System Rings Included|
|Trigger Pull||5 Lbs 10 Oz|
|Safety||Thumb 3 Position|
Further detail – M77 Rotary Magazine Rifle Manual
The Ruger 77/17 17 WSM is built very much like the 77/17 17 Hornet centerfire version. In fact the differences are minimal with just enough to accommodate the physical cartridge differences; barrel, breech block assembly, firing pin, striker spring, extractor, and magazine. Overall, the 17 WSM version of the 77/17 feels and shoots like a centerfire rifle.
Mechanical influences of the 17 WSM
The M77/17’s rotary magazine capacity is six rounds, the same as the centerfire 17 Hornet and three rounds less than the rimfire 17 HMR; the result of the 17 WSM’s size. Above, the17 WSM left, 17 HMR right.
The 17 WSM case is based on a necked down 27 caliber nail gun blank, rather than the 22 WMR case used as the basis for the 17 HMR. A brief comparison between the 17 WSM and 17 HMR:
The capacity is based on actual wet measurement and grains of H2O. The 17 WSM is only approximately one grain smaller than the 17 Hornet and it operates at substantially higher pressure than other modern rimfires.
Some notes on the Ruger Model 77 Rotary Magazine rifle design…
The Ruger 77/17 has a particularly smooth action and a short throw… the aggregate motion required to move a bolt from forward and locked to open and back to a closed breech. Bolt lift is a traditional two lug 90° with a non-rotating breech block forward of the locking lugs that rides atop rails machined into the rifle’s receiver.
When the bolt handle is rotated closed, the beech block is pressed up against cartridge, securing it in the rifle’s chamber. The Model 77/17 17 WSM utilizes a single hook extractor and a fixed ejector.
The bracket at the front of the trigger guard that supports the back of the rotary magazine also forms a large ejector that rides in a groove on the underside of the breech block.
As illustrated below, the action has a flat bottom with large perpendicular and parallel contact surfaces to unite the action with the stock. The two are clamped together with the aid of the trigger guard assembly with more contact surface area than a typical bolt action rifle.
The stock is secured to the action with a forward screw that passes through the magazine well liner, through the stock and into the boss beneath the front receiver ring. The aft magazine support, that is mounted to the rifle’s trigger guard, interlocks with hooks that are integral to the bottom side of the action. Combined they form a hinge. The trigger guard is rotated up where it is anchored with a fastener at the aft trigger guard. The result is a very tight bond of the action, stock and trigger guard that is not going to move around in use. The barrel floats to the very end of the forearm where there is a small support rise that forms a contact pad.
Wonderful, Joe… Blah, blah, blah. How did it shoot?
The Ruger 17 WSM’s trigger pull was a little heavy, but the trigger had zero creep, it broke cleanly and there was minimal overtravel. The M77/17 is not a lightweight, but it does feel balanced and it handles well for a rifle with a 24″ heavier profile barrel. Recoil is virtually non-existent, report is sharp, although not as loud as a higher capacity centerfire, but certainly more substantial than other rimfire rifles.
Left to right, 3 shot 100 yard groups; 5/8″, 1/2″ and 5/8″. All three groups shot with Winchester Varmint HV 20 grain. The last three rounds recorded 3075 fps, 3100 fps and 3074 fps on the chronograph. Temps in the high 60s, dead calm all shooting was done from a rest.
Prior to working with the Ruger, and after logging a good deal of shooting experience with the 17 HMR and 17 Hornet, I could not see a gap wide enough to support a third cartridge. After shooting the 17 WSM for a bit, the separation became more obvious. There is 600 fps separating the 17 HMR from the 17 WSM and 600 fps separating the 17 WSM from the 17 Hornet.
For someone who owns none of these three, the 17 WSM might be enough to skip the other two. It is substantially more powerful than the 17 HMR and much less costly to shoot than the 17 Hornet for non-handloaders. I don’t believe the 17 HMR is a cartridge people select for low power rimfire plinking as a replacement for the 22 Long Rifle, so more power with the 17 WSM would be a good thing especially if the cost differential remains as it currently is… a couple of bucks.
The 17 Hornet, for all of its velocity edge, is a 200 yard round with any noticeable wind is kicking up. Under those conditions the 17 WSM will do as well and it might be a bit quieter if that is a concern. The 17 WSM of course can’t be reloaded, but then there isn’t that broad of a selection of 17 caliber component bullets and few powder types are truly suitable for the 17 Hornet.
So what is the concluding thought? The 17 WSM is for real and worth owning, on its own or part of a 17 caliber trio. The Ruger versions are good ones.