Ruger M77 Hawkeye FTW Hunter 6.5 Creedmoor Hunting Rifle Review

Ruger M77 Hawkeye FTW Hunter 6.5 Creedmoor Hunting Rifle Review Looking for a 1/2 M.O.A. long distance hunting rifle? The Ruger M77 Hawkeye FTW should get some consideration. We have […]

Ruger M77 Hawkeye FTW Hunter 6.5 Creedmoor Hunting Rifle Review

Looking for a 1/2 M.O.A. long distance hunting rifle? The Ruger M77 Hawkeye FTW should get some consideration.

We have here another confused rifle. Just like the Escort shotgun from an earlier review, this Ruger is for southpaws. Yes, that is my kind of flavor. As a left handed shooter I keep on searching for gear and items that fulfill the needs of the left-handed lot. This Ruger is the new hunting rifle chambered in the 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge.

Ruger M77 Hawkeye FTW Hunter specs:

Stock: Natural Gear™ Camo Laminate
Sights: None
Barrel Length: 24″
Material: Stainless Steel
Thread Pattern: 1/2″-24
Twist: 1:8″ RH
Capacity: 4
Finish: Hawkeye Matte Stainless
Weight: 7.6 lbs.
Overall Length: 43.25″ – 44.75″
Length of Pull: 12.75″ – 14.25″
Grooves: 6
Suggested Retail: $1269.00

FRuger Hawkeye FTW Hunter 6.5 Creedmoor Hunting Rifle Review - in boxirst impressions

The first thing I noticed on the rifle is that the barrel is off center in the stock. Yes, it is still free floated, but the free floating shows more space at one side of the stock. See the picture. The left gap is ⅛” compared the 1/16” of the right side. Considering this to be one of the newest products for Ruger, that is a manufacturing flaw. I checked if there is a way to loosen the bolts and adjust the rifle. The more I evaluated the offset, it looks like the CNC machine cut the action cavity and then when cutting the barrel channel the center line was moved the 16th of an inch and there is no way to recenter it. This discrepancy does not affect the performance as shown in the result from 200 yard shooting bench.

The rifle’s barrel is threaded and has a radial compensator at the muzzle.  There are two more items that can be exchanged for the muzzle brake, a thread protector and a matching weight tube to maintain the harmonics and aim point of the muzzle brake.

Ruger Hawkeye FTW Hunter 6.5 Creedmoor Hunting Rifle Review - muzzle brake

The stock is hardwood with a full Cerakote finish. The paint job will keep moisture from affecting the wood. The color coat on the stock is even on most of the rifle, but at the more aggressive checkering, the color seems to not have adhered to the deepest portions of the grooves.

I like the sling posts that are included on the stock.

FTW?

The FTW Ranch in Texas is a hunting destination and long range shooting school. Ruger collaborated with FTW on the design and features of this version of the Ruger M77 Hawkeye rifle.

Range tests

The first time out, prepping the rifle:

I selected one of our scopes to match the caliber. I was set on a Vortex scope with a 30mm tube, but when I tried to secure the scope it was a no go. Be aware that the Ruger M77 Hawkeye FTW requires it’s proprietary ring mounts and the ones provided are for a 1 inch tube scope. *editor’s note: I find the inclusion of 1″ scope rings a bit baffling on a $1200+ rifle. Most folks spending that much on a rifle will wish to use a 30mm or larger scope.*

So, change of plans. Fortunately, Vortex Optics provided us a wide range of scopes for testing rifles and the Vortex Diamondback HP 4-16 42mm is compatible with 1 inch scope rings. I mounted the scope and shot my first groupings using the Hyskore Dual Damper shooting rest. I achieved a very decent group of 3 bullets within a half inch area shooting at 35 yards shooting American Eagle 140gr OTM 6.5 Creedmoor ammunition. Good enough for a quick try, but we were out of daylight.

Ruger Hawkeye FTW Hunter 6.5 Creedmoor Hunting Rifle Review - shootingSecond day out:

Verified the zero on the scope and my group is ¾” below the aim point at 35 yards. This will set me at ¼” or so at 200 yards according to the ballistic calculation for the 6.5 Creedmoor. So, off to the next range for verification and final 200 yard zeroing. I thought it would be easy, but ended up with me feeling like I was chasing my tail. I was on paper at 200, but could not get a respectable group. A quick check and discussion with our Chief Gear-Head and the problem was discovered. The scope rings had come loose. After tightening the scope rings voila, almost magical, a decent under 1 inch three bullet group at 200 yards.
Whoa! This is a half MOA rifle!

Ruger Hawkeye FTW Hunter 6.5 Creedmoor Hunting Rifle Review - Sub MOA at 200 yards

That is about 1/2 MOA at 200 yards

Other performance features

I measured the Ruger M77 Hawkeye FTW trigger pull weight at 4.25 lbs with our G.P.S Trigger Pull guage. 3 consecutive pulls provided the same result. This pull weight is very adequate for its intended use. If it was a bench rest target rifle I would expect a lighter pull weight. However, a hunting rifle is usually expected to have a pull weight around the 4lb mark to help reduce premature firing under the stress of the hunt.

The non rotating extractor has not failed to eject the cases, but the final motion to open the bolt has to be decisive. If I slowed down my rear pull on the bolt, the case did come off and stayed on the action, and would cause an issue with the next bullet if I was not careful to remove the obstructing case.

This rifle is not offered with a magazine, it uses a hinged plate bottom to hold the ammo. This is great when needing to remove all the ammo instead of running the bolt several times to cycle the ammo through the chamber to accomplish the task, although I am partial to magazines. Top loading is not ideal if you think you will need to quickly load more ammo. However, with a rifle as accurate as this the 4+1 capacity should be ample.

Final thoughts…

Ruger Hawkeye FTW Hunter 6.5 Creedmoor Hunting Rifle Review - JJ hunting

In the deer stand with the Ruger Hawkeye FTW

I have enjoyed testing the new Ruger M77 Hawkeye FTW Hunter rifle. With an MSRP of $1200 this is not what I consider a “budget” hunting rifle. However, what I have seen in performance makes the investment worth it. It’s performance and reliability are impressive and even with the minor flaws that I have found I would definitely recommend anyone to purchase it. Yes, our sample is the left handed version, but all of our findings should be a mirror image of the right handed version. As I mentioned before, this is a half MOA rifle. With sound shooting technique I would use this rifle for deer hunting out to easily a range of 400 yards and even more if there is a steady platform or support to increase accuracy and the right ammo is used. The new 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge and ballistics help a lot in increasing the range of this Ruger Hawkeye FTW hunter.

Gears Rating:

Gear Score
Gearswww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
The Ruger M77 Hawkeye FTW Hunter is a serious platform for mid-long range hunting. It is hard not to like a rifle that shoots 1/2 MOA groups with factory ammo.

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Dude! Where did you get that Ammo?!

The 6.5 Creedmoor ammo for this test was provided by Federal Premium’s American Eagle brand. The 6.5 Creedmoor, 140-grain OTM is a new cartridge for 2016 from AE (part no. AE65CRD1, UPC 6-04544-61801-3, MSRP $33.95).

About Ruger

Ruger FirearmsSturm, Ruger & Co., Inc. is one of the nation’s leading manufacturers of rugged, reliable firearms for the commercial sporting market. The only full-line manufacturer of American-made firearms, Ruger offers consumers over 400 variations of more than 30 product lines, from the ubiquitous 10/22® and Mini-14®, to the new and exciting Ruger American Pistol, Ruger Precision Rifle, SR-556 Takedown®, AR-556®, LC9s®, 9E® and Ruger American Rifle®.

Vortex OpticsAbout Vortex Optics

American owned, Middleton, Wisconsin based Vortex Optics designs, engineers, and distributes a complete line of premium binoculars, riflescopes, spotting scopes, tripods and related accessories. Dedicated to exceptional quality, value and unrivaled customer service, Vortex backs its products with its unconditional, transferable, lifetime VIP-warranty. Built on more than 20 years of experience in the optics industry, Vortex is rapidly emerging as a leading brand in the optics market.

About American Eagle

American Eagle® rifle ammunition offers consistent, accurate performance at a price that’s perfect for high-volume shooting. We’ve grown this already expansive line for 2016, adding some of the most popular newer calibers on the market. All feature quality bullets, reloadable brass cases and dependable primers.

Originally posted 2016-12-17 12:47:34. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

About JJ

A long time friend of Gear-Report.com, and frequent behind-the-scenes instigator…I mean contributor, JJ joined the Gear Report team in 2014 in a more formal capacity. Expect to see JJ’s ongoing contributions to reviews, while he coordinates with manufacturers and retailers to review their products.

If you want to see what it takes to make the cut here at Gear Report, look no further than JJ. Part inventor, part outdoorsman, JJ brings a wealth of experience to the Gear Report team, as well as some fancy book learning. A Structural Designer by day, JJ spends his nights and weekends on a massively broad range of outdoor and active interests. Whether making hunting knives, bamboo frame canoes, hunting platforms or various other creations, or hunting, fishing, paddling, boating, teaching martial arts, or re-engineering ammunition reloading equipment, JJ is always up to something interesting. Usually several somethings.

A native of Guatemala, JJ brings a valuable different perspective to Gear Report. We will see if we can get him to add some Spanish language content to the site, as the need for fair, trusted information on outdoor gear is not limited to English speaking readers.