While the tactical black of so many rifles seems to be popular these days, I still have a special appreciation for a traditional, bolt-action rifle with a quality wood stock and and a leather sling that rides comfortably over your shoulder. Most modern classics in the bolt-action rifle category owe their heritage to the Mauser Model of 1898. Some subsequent designs and variants include the Springfield Model 1903, the Winchester Model 70 introduced in 1936, the Remington 700 introduced in 1962, and finally the Ruger M77 introduced in 1968.
The Ruger M77 Hawkeye is the third major variation of Ruger's bolt-action platform and was introduced in 2006, following the M77 Mark II which had been introduced back in 1991. The Hawkeye retains the three-position safety of the M77 Mark II, which allows you to operate the the bolt handle with the safety on, and also introduces the LC6 trigger system.
My experience with Ruger triggers on the M77 Mark II series was that they are usually crisp, with a slight bit of creep and trigger pull that could be used at a local tractor pull. Our traditional and all-weather, stainless M77 Mark II rifles are now perfect after some quality trigger work. The LC6 trigger system of the Hawkeye is by far one of the crispest triggers I've ever pulled out of the box, but the four to five pound trigger pull is still a bit heavy for my personal taste. This gun isn't a precision bench-rest rifle, but in the field I prefer a two to three and a half pound trigger pull to balance safety and precision.
The steel floor plate is nicely contoured to the underside of the stock and the flush floor plate release is set into the front of the trigger guard where it is easily, but not accidentally pressed. Being a life-long Ruger fan, I couldn't help but add Ruger's traditional, padded leather sling to the sling studs. I also like that the knob on the investment cast one-piece bolt and bolt handle is easy to grab and manipulate, but doesn't stick out to far from the side of the action.
The American walnut stock is well-finished, with good quality checkering on the forearm and pistol-grip style wrist... I just love the wood grain of a good looking walnut stock. Ruger adds their red, soft-rubber recoil pad which does a nice job of letting you firmly mount the gun while softening the recoil, depending on the caliber you're shooting, which in this case is .308 Winchester.
Some folks are not big fans of Ruger's proprietary scope rings, but I have found that when a scope is properly mounted and they're Lock-Tite'd in place, there is nothing short of destroying the gun that will cause those rings or the scope to move. This rifle has a Bushnell Elite 5-15x 40mm scope with a one-inch tube mounted on it.
Now... I'm no Carlos Hathcock or Chuck Mawhinney... but we've had our Ruger M77 Hawkeye in .308 Winchester for three years now and it is sighted in at 200 yards with Federal's Vital-Shok ammunition using 165 grain Sierra Game King Boat-Tail Soft Point (BTSP) bullets. This gives us about a two-inch high hit at 100 yards and about a nine-inch drop at 300 yards. While the gun does excellent from a bench rest... setting the the forend of the rifle on a fence or log... This ol' guy can keep five shots in three...or so... inch groups at 200 yards all day long... and that is good enough for me and white-tail deer or similarly sized game.
There are a lot of good bolt-action rifles out there, and I've been looking forward to seeing how Ruger's new American Rifle stacks up against the Savage design and others... but if you're looking for a classically styled rifle built like a brick outhouse with precision, state-of-the-art manufacturing technology...
You should head out to the field with a Ruger M77 Hawkeye Standard Rifle...