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The rotary magazine bolt action Ruger made its debut in the form of the 77/22, chambered for the 22 Long Rifle rimfire cartridge in 1983. The Ruger 77/44 came along in 1997 with a wood stock and blued hardware. A synthetic and stainless version followed in 1999, which is about when most companies went stainless wacky. Production of the 44 Magnum version, the Ruger 77/44, continued through 2005 when the tides of popularity ebbed… almost broke into a little Righteous Brothers there.. and the model was no more.

In January of 2009, someone at Ruger realized the little carbine was missing from the company’s catalogue, the squirrels were put back on the threadmill and the factory began kerchunking them out again singularly with black synthetic stocks and bright stainless metal parts. The 77/44 is a tough little bolt action, nearly impervious to inclement weather, and with a barrel long enough to really light a fire under the 44 Magnum round. This year Ruger distributor AcuSport endeared itself to traditional firearm enthusiasts, certainly me, by offering a walnut and blued as a Ruger distributor exclusive version.

Ruger 77/44

Manufacturer Ruger – Newport, NH
Model Number 7401
Type Bolt Action
Caliber 44 Remington Magnum
Mag Capacity 4
Barrel Length 18.5″
Rifling 1:20″
Weight 5 Lbs 2 Oz
Overall Length 38.5″
Stock Material Walnut
Hardware Blued Alloy Steel
Length of Pull 13.5″
Drop at comb 0.5″
Drop at heel 1.0
Sights Adjustable W/E
Scope Mounting Ruger Rings – Included
Trigger 5 Lbs. 12 Oz.
Safety 3 Position – Swing
MSRP $1059

The model 77/44 is not strictly the most shortest overall length rifle in the Ruger line up, but it may be were it counts. The Ruger Hawkeye Compact rifle is only 35.5″ in overall length, 3″ shorter than the 77/44. However, the Hawkeye’s short length is achieved by shortening the barrel by 2″ in comparison to the 77/44 and shortening the stock by 1″. The 77/44 has adult length of pull and a barrel long enough to extract the potential of the 44 Magnum big bore round.

44 Mag 240 grain Rifle Load – Point Blank 171 Yards
Yards 0 50 100 150 200 250 300
Velocity – fps 1934 1716 1518 1345 1203 1095 1017
Energy – ft.-lbs. 1993 1569 1229 964 772 639 551
Momentum – lbs-sec 2.05 1.82 1.61 1.43 1.28 1.16 1.08
Path – in. -1.5 2.1 2.8 -0.3 -8.2 -22.2 -43.3

In a place like woodland, rugged terrain Maine, where a typical shot at a white tail deer might be 40 yards to 50 yards, a 44 Mag generating these types of ballistics would be good for any larger game. In fact, loads up to 300 grains would still have an effective range of 150 yards or so, falling off a bit in terminal energy, but picking up momentum and penetration.

Not like a typical bolt action

This photo borrowed from a previous 77/17 article that appears on Real Guns, the 77/44 is essentially the same; both quite different from more typical bolt action designs.

Ruger M77 rotary magazine firearms have a non-rotating breech block, the equivalent of an extended bolt head, 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 twin locking lugs are aft of the breech block and rotate with the bolt handle when the action is closed, cam locking its lugs into the aft receiver ring.

The Model 77/17 17 Hornet, like the 44 Mag version, 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 is also home to a large and, yes, even ominous ejector that rides smoothly in the groove on the flip side of the bolt. The result is a very fast, slick bolt stroke with positive and reliable feed and ejection.

The rotary magazine make the best use of the space available, holding 4 rounds while remaining flush with the stock for a clean fit. Spare magazines can be loaded and tucked away in a jacket pocket in case the game encounters wasn’t as initially intended.

Above, more receiver detail. There are three scalloped cuts in the receiver for Ruger rings; two aft, one forward. The control surface for the three position safety can be seen just aft of the bolt handle.

Overall, the rifle is very light, very fast handling, but it is also very balanced and the simple blade front and wing back are ideal for close in shooting. Since we’ve already covered the synthetic version of the 77/44, we’ll stop for a bit, put together some ammo and gather some factory ammo and see how the walnut stock version compared to the synthetic/stainless version in Part 2.

Ruger’s 77/44 Rotary Magazine Carbine Part I
Ruger’s 77/44 Rotary Magazine Carbine Part 2

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