Ruger Model 77 Compact with Trijicon AccuPoint 3x9 Scope
 

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn

February 10th, 2004

 

 

 

Hunters and shooters these days have an almost endless variety of quality rifles and scopes from which to choose. The low-end bargain scopes available today are better than many of the expensive scopes of a few decades ago. Also, rifles are becoming more and more accurate, right off of the dealerís rack. Part of this can be attributed to better ammo, but it is mostly due to shooter demand. Hunters want a rifle that will shoot small groups at the target range, but most do not put in the necessary practice to place a shot quickly and accurately in the field. Still, it is comforting to know that the rifle will do its part if the hunter does his.

To achieve this high degree of accuracy, many hunters are carrying afield rifles that are too heavy.  Many hunters go into the woods each fall carrying a rifle that is better suited for long-range varmint hunting than for a quick shot at a whitetail deer. A few years back, a couple of custom rifle makers started to build guns which are referred to as "bean field rifles", and there definitely is a place for these. The bean field rifle was developed for hunters who shoot deer from a fixed position at long range, often across large soybean fields, hence the name. The rifles are basically fairly heavy, long-barreled, powerful, and capable of fine long-range accuracy.  They are the perfect weapon for shooting accurately at long distances from a steady position.

The problem is that most hunters do not hunt from a fixed position, or elevated shooting house, at extreme range. Most deer hunting takes place at much shorter range, with the occasional long shot thrown in just to make it interesting. For instance, where I hunt it is mostly thick hardwoods interspersed with red cedar trees, with only the occasional shot down a long clear-cut power line right-of-way. While a rare three hundred yard shot is possible, most shots are within one hundred yards, and many are under twenty-five yards.  One of my stands overlooks a long power line, with a maximum possible range of almost four hundred yards, but I see more game on the way to this stand than I do after I get there. I have hunted from that stand with a ten pound twenty-six inch barreled .25-06, but it was very unwieldy and slow to mount if I jumped a deer on the way in. The fact is, too many hunters are using a similar rifle, and missing shots at game because of it. I have since sold that .25-06, because it was more of a handicap that an asset.  Across a bean field, it would have been perfection, but for a quick shot at a moving deer, it was like swinging a pig on a shovel.

For  general purpose big game hunting, one needs a rifle that mounts like a fine English shotgun; quickly and instinctively. For generations, the .30-30 lever action Marlin or Winchester carbine was the definition of the deer rifle. They are light, handy, and quick to the shoulder. While there are still thousands of the little carbines that bring home the meat each year, and the old thirty-thirty kills much better than most give it credit, many hunters want a rifle that will reach out and shoot flatter for that occasional long shot. Usually, they end up carrying a rifle that is much too heavy and ill-balanced to optimally do the job.

Thankfully, there are a few rifles on the market that combine the light and handy balance of a lever action carbine with the flat shooting ability of a modern bolt action. One such rifle is the subject of this article. Ruger makes a wide variety of good bolt action rifles. There is most likely a configuration of their Mark II to suit the needs of any shooter, but the jewel of the bunch for the modern deer hunter is the Mark II Compact.

The Compact combines light weight, fast handling, and good accuracy into one very compact package. "Compact", while not an extravagant or fanciful name, aptly describes the attributes of this rifle. The Compact is built on Rugerís short action, and is chambered for the .223 Remington, .243 Winchester, .260 Remington, 7mm-08, and .308 Winchester cartridges.  All except the .223 are excellent whitetail deer cartridges, and where hunting laws allow, even it will suffice with the right bullet. I would love to see the .358 Winchester added to the lineup as well, for it is a superb short action cartridge for larger game such as elk and moose.  Notice that I stated short action, and not short range. The .358 is often categorized as a short range cartridge, but that just ainít so.  With the right bullet, it shoots as flat as most modern non-magnum cartridges.

To achieve its light weight and good balance, the Compact wears a slender sixteen and one-half inch barrel, that tapers quickly from 1.15 inches at the chamber to .525 inch diameter at the muzzle. The length of pull measures just twelve and nine-sixteenth inches, resulting in a quick-mounting rifle, even when wearing a heavy jacket. The overall length of the little rifle is a bit shorter than a yardstick; measuring just thirty-five and one-half inches.  The stock is slender, and on the test gun, is made of laminated wood. Also available is a walnut stock version.  The test rifle is made of stainless steel, and thankfully, the trigger guard and floorplate are made of the same. Like all of Rugerís bolt action rifles, the Compact is supplied with their excellent scope rings which attach to the built-in bases. The Compact is also furnished with sling swivel bases, as every hunting rifle should be.

The Mark II action has a ninety degree bolt lift that easily clears a low mounted scope. The action is of the controlled-round feed system that carefully guides the cartridge into the chamber as it slips under the claw extractor from its position in the magazine.  The action will also close on a round that is dropped onto the follower for those who like to single-load when shooting from a bench rest position. The Compact has the Mark II three-position safety that, in its rearmost position, locks the trigger, sear, and bolt handle. In the middle position, the safety locks the trigger and sear, but allows the bolt to be operated. In its fully forward position, the rifle is ready to fire. The sample rifle tested  had a very crisp trigger that released with a pull weight of four and three-quarter pounds.  The floorplate latch is recessed into the front of the trigger guard, and is almost impossible to accidentally release, yet still easily opens to empty the magazine. The sample rifle was chambered for the .260 Remington cartridge, and weighed in at a svelte six pounds and two ounces, without scope.

For testing, I mounted one of the better hunting scopes that I have encountered in a long time; the Trijicon 3-9x40 AccuPoint.  The AccuPoint, besides having excellent optical qualities, has a tritium powered aiming point for very low-light conditions, backed up by an adjustable fiber optic system that allows the user to easily adjust the brightness of the aiming point for any and all lighting conditions, all without batteries.  The aiming point sits atop a heavy post reticle, and proved extremely quick to get on target. I used the scope in conditions from bright sunlight to pitch darkness, and everything in between. With this scope, if you can make out the target, you can take the shot. The reticle is always visible. Unlike a battery powered dot scope, the tritium aiming point is always on, and the ability to adjust the brightness to match the lighting means that the target is never washed out by a too-bright reticle. The power ring on the AccuPoint tracks precisely and easily, and the optics will focus clearly as close as six feet away.

The Ruger Compact was test fired using Remington 140 grain Core-Lokt pointed soft point ammunition at a distance of one hundred yards. Accuracy of this factory load is very good in this rifle, with each group fired measuring less than that magic one inch. From the short barrel, the ammo chronographed 2410 feet per second.  Functioning was perfect in the Mark II action, as expected.  The magazine holds four rounds, plus one in the chamber. The overall fit and finish of the rifle is excellent.

The Ruger Compact is one of the handiest little bolt action rifles available. As can be seen in the photo, it is shorter than two of my favorite lever action thirty-thirty carbines, but shoots much flatter for that occasional long shot, without being heavy and cumbersome. It is also lighter than either of those two lever action carbines. With the Trijicon scope mounted, the Compact is six ounces lighter than the scoped Marlin .30-30 pictured. The .260 also shoots much flatter and has a better sectional density than does the thirty-thirty. The Ruger Compact allows better ballistics without sacrificing quick handling. It is one of the better all-around deer rifles available.

Check out the full line of Ruger products here.

Look at the entire line of Trijicon optics at:   www.trijicon.com.

Jeff Quinn

 

For a list of dealers where you can buy this gun, go to:



Got something to say about this article? Want to agree (or disagree) with it? Click the following link to go to the GUNBlast Feedback Page.

Click pictures for a larger version.

 

Ruger's Model 77 Compact rifle in .260 Remington, coupled with Trijicon's AccuPoint 3-9x40 scope sight, is one of the best all-around deer rifles available.

 

 

Ruger's three-position thumb safety is positive, practical, and easy to operate.

 

 

The handsome Ruger M77 features a ninety-degree bolt lift that easily clears a low-mounted scope.

 

 

Ruger's tried-and-true integral scope mounting system continues to be among the best available, and is included in the rifle's purchase price.

 

 

Trijicon, the leader in tritium sight systems, has successfully adapted the revolutionary technology for low-light hunting conditions. Their AccuPoint scope features an excellent tritium-powered aiming point that is fully adjustable for brightness and uses no batteries. If you can see the target, you can take the shot!

 

 

The floorplate release for the Ruger M77 Compact is recessed into the trigger guard for easy and quick operation.

 

 

Ruger's hard rubber butt plate is simple and effective.

 

 

The Ruger Model 77 features a controlled-round feed system for perfect feeding and extraction every time.

 

 

Remington's 140-grain Core-Lokt factory ammo proved to be an accurate performer, consistently grouping less than 1" at 100 yards from the short Ruger barrel.

 

 

The Ruger M77 Compact / Trijicon AccuPoint combo is shorter, lighter, and flatter-shooting than Jeff's favorite .30-30 lever guns, and is an excellent all-around hunting combination.