Ruger M77 Hawkeye Long-Range Hunter in 6.5 PRC Review

The Ruger M77 Hawkeye Long-Range Hunter in 6.5 PRC can handle anything in the lower 48.

Ruger M77 Hawkeye Long-Range Hunter in 6.5 PRC Review
Photo by Mark Fingar

Most riflemen I know are always on the lookout for one rifle that can do everything. While no such rifle exists, Ruger’s latest M77 Hawkeye, the Long-Range Hunter, is a production rifle that can best handle all hunting needs in the lower 48 states. The combination of rifle and cartridge are what make this possible.

Barrels & Actions

Looking at a couple key specifications shows the rifle is the right size and weight for almost every type of hunting. It weighs 7.2 pounds, so it’s not super lightweight, but it is light enough to pack around the mountains. Its barrel is 22 inches long, a couple inches shorter than what we’d normally see paired with any magnum cartridge. However, the 6.5 PRC cartridge chambered in Guns & Ammo’s test rifle was designed to work well in short barrels. There is negligible velocity loss in a 22-­inch 6.5 PRC barrel.

The Long-Range Hunter’s 22-­inch barrel has a 1:8-­inch twist, so it also works with all 6.5mm bullets up to and including Hornady’s new 153-­grain A-­Tip. It’s a hammer-­forged stainless-­steel creation that has a lighter, sportier contour. The barrel contour bells out at the muzzle to provide enough shoulder for a muzzle brake or suppressor to reliably seat against. This is one of my favorite features on this rifle.

Ruger M77 Hawkeye
The radial brake on the Long-Range Hunter directs the blast in all directions perpendicular to the muzzle. (Photo by Mark Fingar)

Muzzlebrakes are great for shooting a bunch, but suppressors are a life-­changing experience that more shooters embrace everyday. Suppressors remove the muzzle blast each of us must endure when the rifle fires. When comparing recoil and muzzle blast, muzzle blast is more responsible for bad shooting habits and missed shots. It needs to be eliminated first, so suppressors are a must.


The problem with putting a suppressor on a hunting rifle is that most hunting barrel contours don’t leave enough material around the muzzle to provide a stable shoulder for a suppressor to seat against. Without a robust and square shoulder as a clearly defined stop, the suppressor can become crooked when it hits the end of the barrel’s threads.


Getting a custom barrel contoured for a hunting rifle with a bell-­shaped muzzle is difficult and expensive. In fact, a guy would probably be limited to a heavier contour with flutes to cut weight. However, Ruger offers up a hammer-­forged stainless-­steel barrel with what looks like the ubiquitous and time-­tested hunting contour. The only difference is the slight bell at the muzzle that makes it so suppressor and muzzlebrake friendly.

Ruger M77 Hawkeye
The Long-Range Hunter is built on the M77 Hawkeye action. This is the only M77 with controlled-round feed. (Photo by Mark Fingar)

The action Ruger pairs with its barrel is the M77 Hawkeye. The Hawkeye is different from other M77 actions because Hawkeye models are true controlled-­round feed (CRF). When the cartridge leaves the detachable box magazine, the case rim slides up under the bolt’s external claw extractor. The cartridge is either being held by the magazine or the extractor. At no time is a round floating around in the action.

Ruger M77 Hawkeye
The Long-Range Hunter uses the reliable AICS-pattern magazine. The spacer has been removed to accept the long 6.5 PRC. (Photo by Mark Fingar)

While I remain unconvinced there are any feeding reliability advantages of CRF actions, I am a huge fan of the monstrous extractor. The M77’s extractor is a large piece of spring steel that grabs about twice as much of the case rim as most push-­feed actions. Extractors don’t break often but they do on occasion, and I’d hate to have one break on an important or expensive hunt.

The best way to prevent any extractor trouble is to make it large as Ruger did with the M77. Ruger also chamfered the front of the extractor so that it slips over cases dropped into the action. Should a guy need one more round than the magazine can hold, he can just drop it into the receiver and run the bolt home. The chamber allows the extractor to slip over the case rim without damaging either the extractor or the case. Not all CRF actions can make this claim.


Ruger M77 Hawkeye
Photo by Mark Fingar

Prep & Shoot

The Long-­Range Hunter comes with a full-­rail scope base that gives the shooter more scope-­mounting options than other models. The rail allows for use of whatever rings the shooter has on hand, so it’s easier to get the right height for whatever scope you care to mount. The rail section also allows for ring placement anywhere along its length. This makes it easier to set proper eye relief.

There are four No. 8-­40 screws that hold the scope base in place, ensuring that even the heaviest scopes won’t move the base under recoil. The base also has a 20 minute of angle (MOA) bias. The bias tilts the scope downward at the objective lens and points the scope’s internal erector assembly towards the top of the objective lens when zeroed at 100 yards.

Using a biased scope mount makes sense when shooting at longer ranges. Instead of a zeroed scope in a no-­bias mount having available adjustments of 50 MOA up and 50 MOA down, the biased mount allows for 30 MOA up and 70 MOA down. This extends the range to which the shooter can dial to hit his target.


Ruger M77 Hawkeye
The three-position safety allows for safe bolt manipulation in the middle position and locks to a bolt slot when at the rear. (Photo by Mark Fingar)

Ruger puts their LC6 trigger on the Hawkeye Long-­Range Hunter and it’s an excellent choice. Unlike most modern rifles, the LC6 trigger is not a self-­contained cassette type. This means that the trigger is not encased by two metal plates that make maintenance difficult. The LC6 is an exposed trigger where, once the barreled action is removed from the stock, the shooter can access the trigger, sear and springs.

Ruger M77 Hawkeye
The rifle comes with Ruger’s excellent LC6 trigger assembly. Aftermarket springs are available to reduce the pull weight. (Photo by Mark Fingar)

Field maintenance of the LC6 is a snap. Some brake cleaner to blast out gummed-­up oil and debris followed by a light oil is all it needs to function reliably after a couple years of hard use.

The LC6 pull weight sits right around 6 pounds, which is a good weight for field work. However, that may be too heavy for some. The good news is there are aftermarket trigger springs available that take almost no mechanical ability to install. The simple construction of the LC6 allows for spring replacement by pushing a single pin out of the way. The lighter spring is available from erniethegunsmith.com and costs $7. It’ll cut the pull weight almost in half. Of course, Timney Triggers makes an excellent aftermarket trigger for the M77, as well.

The final unique component of the Long-­Range Hunter is the stock. The stock is made from laminated wood that has a spackled two-­tone finish. The finish looks good and offers some texture. The stock weighs only 2.2 pounds and a lot of the weight is in the rubber buttpad and spacer-­adjustable length of pull system. I’d leave the stock alone. It makes a fine choice for general hunting use.

Ruger M77 Hawkeye
The length of pull can be adjusted by using optional spacers and placing them between the rubber buttpad and the stock. (Photo by Mark Fingar)

I took this rifle and cartridge combination with me on an antelope hunt in Colorado last fall and it worked beautifully. The rifle is light and handy. Even chambered in 6.5 PRC, it has very little recoil. The lack of recoil is attributable to the muzzlebrake, but even with the brake removed, recoil was minimal. This rifle begs to be used with a suppressor, and it’s a goal of mine to start doing all of my hunts with a suppressor on my rifle. It’ll keep me from going deaf and every guide appreciates the effort, too.

I managed to take a nice pronghorn buck at just under 200 yards with Hornady’s 143-­grain ELD-­X bullet. The animal was facing me angled slightly to my left. He only required one shot and it entered his chest on the right side. It angled across his body and exited just behind his ribs on the left side. Death was immediate.

Ruger M77 Hawkeye
Photo by Mark Fingar

I love the 6.5 PRC because it’s like a 6.5 Creedmoor Magnum. It shoots all the same great bullets (there’s such a wide selection of really good 6.5mm bullets these days) a few hundred feet per second faster. This makes it a flat-­shooting and low-­recoiling cartridge that has plenty of penetration for even a large bull elk. When loaded with an appropriate bullet, the 6.5 PRC is a great choice for everything from coyotes to elk, and it won’t beat you to death doing it.

Ruger has done an excellent job in developing the Long-Range Hunter. It has achieved a sub-MOA-accurate rifle that’ll easily handle deer and antelope at whatever distance the hunter is confident in shooting. When it comes to elk, I’d keep my shots inside 300 yards. All this in a rifle that’ll sell across the gun shop counter for right around $1,000.

Ruger M77 Hawkeye
Notes: Accuracy is the average of five, five-shot groups at 100 yards. Velocity is the average of five shots across a LabRadar chronograph placed adjacent to the muzzle.

Ruger Hawkeye Long- Range Hunter

  • Type: Bolt-action
  • Cartridge: 6.5 PRC
  • Capacity: 3+1 rds.
  • Barrel: 22 in.; 1:8-in. twist
  • Overall Length: 42.25 in.
  • Weight: 7 lbs., 3 oz.
  • Stock: Wood laminate, painted
  • Grips: Textured
  • Length of Pull: 13.5 in., adjustable with spacers
  • Finish: Stainless steel/Hawkeye Matte Stainless
  • Trigger: Ruger LC6; 5 lbs., 13 oz.
  • Sights: None
  • MSRP: $1,280
  • Manufacturer: Ruger, 336-949-5200, ruger.com

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Feeding Your Firearms with Aguila Ammunition

Feeding Your Firearms with Aguila Ammunition

A group of competitive shooters talk about new products from Aguila , the Aguila Cup, and everyone's favorite new guns launched at the 2019 SHOT show.

Hornady 6MM Creedmoor

Hornady 6MM Creedmoor

Tom Beckstrand and Neal Emery of Hornady highlight the 6MM Creedmoor ammo.

Century Arms Introduces a Heavy-Duty AK Rifle

Century Arms Introduces a Heavy-Duty AK Rifle

Chambered in 7.62x39mm with components machined from extremely durable S7 tool steel, a chrome-moly 4150 barrel and a carburized 4140 steel bolt.

Armscor Semi-Auto Shotguns

Armscor Semi-Auto Shotguns

We look at the new shotguns from Armscor - the VR80 and the brand new bullpup VRBP100.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Whether you're going hunting or to the range, hitting your target is more fun when you have a zeroed rifle scope. Here's how to sight in your rifle scope setup in five quick-and-easy steps. How-To

How to Sight In a Rifle Scope in 5 Steps

Craig Boddington - June 04, 2018

Whether you're going hunting or to the range, hitting your target is more fun when you have a...

How-To

9 Commonly Misused Gun Terms

Kyle Wintersteen

"Assault weapon." Sixteen-round "clip." A box of "bullets." When it comes to guns and gun...

Some guns are easier to work with than others, but the Ruger American Rifle doesn't require an engineering degree to tinker with; here's a look at some upgrade options to take your Ruger American to the next level, and make it something a bit different. Accessories

Top Ruger American Rifle Upgrades

Philip Massaro - March 15, 2018

Some guns are easier to work with than others, but the Ruger American Rifle doesn't require an...

The Winchester .350 Legend straight-wall cartridge is ideally suited for hunting hogs and deer; here's everything you need to know to make it work for you. Rifle

.350 Legend Cartridge: Everything You Need to Know

Tom Beckstrand - April 02, 2019

The Winchester .350 Legend straight-wall cartridge is ideally suited for hunting hogs and...

See More Trending Articles

More Reviews

Besides the accuracy and great trigger, the stock's adjustability and comfort are why the Benelli Lupo deserves consideration. It embodies every quality for which Italy is regarded for while being accurate and distinctively modern.  Reviews

Benelli Lupo Review

Eric R. Poole - June 09, 2020

Besides the accuracy and great trigger, the stock's adjustability and comfort are why the...

Rifles and Optics Editor Tom Beckstrand shows you the new 110 Elite Precision and the features that make this bolt action rifle unique. Reviews

Review: Savage Arms 110 Elite Precision

Tom Beckstrand - May 21, 2020

Rifles and Optics Editor Tom Beckstrand shows you the new 110 Elite Precision and the features...

The B&T APC9K Pro platform demonstrated why it was selected for U.S. Army security personnel, and it was fun to shoot. To that end, it would also serve civilians extremely well in home defense or personal defense roles. Reviews

B&T APC9K Pro Pistol Review

Eric R. Poole - July 01, 2020

The B&T APC9K Pro platform demonstrated why it was selected for U.S. Army security personnel,...

The steel frame, competition ready Walther Q5 Match SF Pro features a lightened slide, a tacky wrap-around grip, stipple-like texturing, three 17-round magazines and a flared magwell. Reviews

Walther Q5 Match SF Pro 9mm Review

Eric R. Poole

The steel frame, competition ready Walther Q5 Match SF Pro features a lightened slide, a tacky...

See More Reviews

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Guns and Ammo subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now