September 18, 2020
Bill Ruger was my kind of person. It seemed every time I wanted something, he made it. In the early 1980s I was looking for an adult-size rimfire rifle. And, by golly, here comes Bill and his Model 77/22 rifle built to look and operate like his centerfire rifles.
The 77/22 was originally chambered to .22 Long Rifle, and according to R.L. Wilson’s book Ruger and His Guns, Ruger and his engineers had more than once considered chambering it in .22 Hornet. But the added expense of lengthening the investment-cast receiver kept the project on the back burner. However, once the company had experience with the .22 Magnum version, they felt confident to move forward with the Hornet, and by 1995 half of the 77/22 rifles produced were in this caliber.
The stock comes from the mind of Len Brownell, a stock maker hired by Ruger in the early days to help with the new centerfire M77. It’s a straight sporter stock with a black spacer and a real, honest to goodness rubber buttpad. The satin finish has been applied perfectly, and the walnut stock has no pin knots—although there is not much here in the way of fancy figure, grain or color either.
The fore-end has been slimmed for a better grip, and while there is no fore-end tip, a sling swivel and point-pattern checkering are there. The same checkering is found on the pistol grip, and the grip is finished off with the traditional Ruger pistol grip cap.
The receiver is streamlined and features Ruger’s scope mounting setup. Rings come with the rifle. There are two mounting positions behind the ejection port and one in front, and with this arrangement just about any scope can be mounted. That’s a benefit on a Hornet rifle, as serious varmint hunters might gravitate to the longer, target-type scopes. I used the slots closest to the ejection port to mount an old Leupold Vari-X 3-9x33mm scope, and it was a perfect match.
The bolt, bolt handle and knob are made from stainless and finished in a natural state. The bolt handle has a graceful turn, and the knob is uncheckered. An unobtrusive bolt release is located in the left rear of the receiver.
The twin lugs lock up tight at 90 degrees just forward of the rear scope base. Rails forward of the locking lugs are long enough to ensure a secure ride into the receiver while picking up a round from the rotary magazine. There is a massive extractor up front, and the action features a mechanical ejector.
The six-round rotary magazine fits flush with the bottom of the stock. It is released via a release that is forward of the trigger guard.
At the rear of the bolt and past the shroud, you will see a locking notch that mates with Ruger’s three-position safety. Full forward allows the gun to fire, mid-position allows you work the action on Safe, and all the way back secures both the firing pin and the bolt.
The trigger pull is nothing to write home about. It’s non-adjustable and broke at about six pounds, hardly an item to put in the credit column for a varmint gun. It was crisp, to a point, but since this is a varmint gun, I think Ruger should upgrade the trigger in this rifle.
The barrel is 20 inches long and tapers down to 0.625 inch at the muzzle, where you’ll find a removable barrel cap for the installation of a muzzle device. It is finely finished and blued. There are no open sights.
The .22 Hornet was introduced by Winchester in 1930, and the round gained popularity with varmint hunters worldwide for its accuracy and mild report. I have used it in a number of rifles over the years. The round is easy and economical to handload and fun to shoot.
The 77/22 was no exception, and it was a pleasure to work with. Factory ammunition fed through the gun with no problems, and except for the Winchester 46-grain hollowpoint, velocities were over the magical 3,000 fps mark.
Being a new gun, loading the rotary magazine was a bit rough for a short time, but it got easier as the morning wore on. The only thing I didn’t like was the six-pound trigger pull, although I got used to it.
You can see in the accompanying table that average accuracy was good. That was especially true for the Hornady V-Max load, which turned in not only the best average but also the star of the day: a 0.43-inch group.
If you’re a varminter or a .22 Hornet fan, this Ruger certainly deserves a look. The build quality of the gun is par with others in the same class, and the accuracy is better. Give it a shot.
Ruger Model 77/22 Specs
- Type: Bolt-action centerfire
- Caliber: .22 Hornet
- Capacity: 6-round rotary magazine
- Barrel: 20 in.
- Overall Length: 39.25 in.
- Weight: 6.5 lb.
- Stock: Satin-finished American walnut
- Finish: Matte blue
- Trigger: Single stage; 6 lb. pull (measured)
- Sights: None; rings supplied
- Price: $999
- Manufacturer: Ruger, ruger.com
Ruger Model 77/22 Accuracy Results