In 2008, Sturm, Ruger & Co. introduced two new M77 Hawkeye “extreme hunting rifles” using cartridges developed by Hornady. These rifles were offered in .300 RCM and .338 RCM.
While the guns are no longer built or sold by Ruger, they are an interesting part of the company’s history. If you have one of these great rifles or are looking at buying one from a friend, this article might be of interest.
The M77 Hawkeye
The Hawkeye is Ruger’s rugged bolt action rifle platform that uses a traditional form. It’s been known by several names (see below), but it was called the M77 Hawkeye when the .300 RCM and .338 RCM cartridges were introduced.
The original M77 rifle was developed by Ruger in 1968. L. James “Jim” Sullivan is credited with designing the gun. If you’re not familiar with Sullivan, he went to work for Ruger after assisting Eugen Stoner with the development of the AR-15 from the AR-10 platform. He also had a hand in the Stoner 63 development.
While at Ruger, he was a key player in the Mini-14 development. Later, he would oversee the creation of the Ultimax 100 light machine gun for Chartered Industries of Singapore (now called ST Engineering Land Systems Ltd.)
In its RCM form, the M77 Hawkeye was a robust bolt-action rifle that uses Mauser-style controlled round feeding, a blade ejector, a fixed, top-loading magazine with a hinged floorplate and a 3-position safety.
Original M77 rifles used a 2-position safety and a plunger-style ejector. These were upgraded across the line starting in 1991.
In 2006, the rifles were upgraded with the LC6 trigger. This trigger was lighter and crisper than the original. It was at this time, the line picked up the Hawkeye name.
What’s in a Name?
During its production history, the gun line was officially known as the M77 then the M77 Hawkeye starting in 2006. In 2016, the company quietly dropped M77 from the name.
Now Ruger uses the name of 77 (minus the M) as part of its naming convention for an M77-styled rifle that is chambered for a variety of rimfire cartridges and centerfire handgun cartridges.
Confused yet? Let me give you a curveball.
From 1963-64, Ruger manufactured a single-shot handgun called the Hawkeye. It was built on the same frame as the Blackhawk and chambered for the .256 Winchester Magnum.
While .256 Win Mag might sound like a powerful rifle cartridge, it wasn’t. It was a necked down .357 Magnum that pushed a 60-grain projectile to about 2,300 fps from an 8″ barrel. With hyper-velocity ammo from Liberty Ammunition, you can get close to that with a common 9mm cartridge.
RCM stands for Ruger Compact Magnum, and the cartridges were developed by Hornady using the latest in smokeless powders to achieve long action magnum performance in a short action gun.
According to Stephen L. Sanetti, the president of Ruger, the .300 RCM in a 20″ barrel matches the ballistics of the .300 Winchester Magnum from a 24.5″ barrel. Meanwhile, the .338 RCM with a 20″ barrel is said to match the ballistics of the .338 Winchester Magnum from a 24.5″ barrel.
Because the cartridges have a shorter length, the new RCM rifles feature a short action. Short actions are generally preferred by shooters for their shorter throw, slightly faster operation and possibly being slightly more rigid when compared to a long action.
While there is nothing wrong with a long action – they’ve served shooters well for a very long time – shorter is simply preferred by many folks. I think that’s the reason why we’ve seen so many compact magnum cartridges introduced in recent years.
The Ruger M77 Hawkeye standard rifles chambered for the new RCM cartridges had the following specifications:
|Model 37109||Model 37110|
|cartridge||.338 RCM||.300 RCM|
|length of pull||13.5″||13.5″|
|weight||7.0 lbs||7.0 lbs|
|stock||American walnut||American walnut|
|MSRP (at launch)||$995||$995|
The M77 Hawkeye All-Weather versions of the rifle had the following specifications:
|Model 37111||Model 37112|
|cartridge||.300 RCM||.338 RCM|
|length of pull||13.5″||13.5″|
|weight||7.75 lbs||7.75 lbs|
|stock||black synthetic||black synthetic|
|MSRP (at launch)||$995||$995|
While all versions of the rifle had a suggested retail price of $995 when launched, the MSRP dropped over time. For example, in 2011, the MSRP for all models was $843.
End of the Line
Ruger’s final year of production for the rifles chambered for an RCM cartridge was 2012. By the end of the year, the company removed the gun from its catalog and website.
But, that wasn’t the last of the rifles in RCM.
Ruger Guide Gun
In 2013, Ruger introduced the Ruger Guide Gun: a purpose-built rifle designed for dangerous game guides. The guns featured a rugged build, express sights and cartridges with serious knock-down power.
Interestingly, the guns were made in both 300 RCM and 338 RCM. Click the above link to see my full write-up on the Guide Guns.
While the Guide Gun is still part of the Ruger catalog, the RCM cartridges are not. 2017 was the final year of RCM production in the Guide Gun line.
At this time, Hornady is still manufacturing ammunition for both RCM calibers.
For the .300 RCM, Hornady offers a pair of loads: one in the Superformance line and the other in the Precision Hunter line.
The .300 RCM Superformance load uses a 150-grain SST bullet that launches at more than 3,300 fps from a 24″ test barrel.
In the Precision Hunter line, Hornady loads a 178-grain ELD-X bullet to 2,900 fps from the same 24″ test barrel.
In .338 RCM, you have only one load available to you: a Superformance load with a 225-grain SST bullet moving at 2,750 fps.
Pricing on these rounds isn’t cheap, likely due to the limited runs Hornady has to do. Street pricing starts at around $2.05/cartridge.
Last update: May 31, 2021
3 replies on “Ruger M77 Hawkeye Rifles in .300 and .338 RCM”
I’ve got a Ruger Hawkeye in 338 RCM and I really like it ….a very comfortable rifle to shoot with a smooth trigger.
Groups are very impressive so far.
All in all its a nice durable package.
I just purchased a new 338RCM, just finished lining it in today, groups 225 sst @ 200 yds. No more recoil than a 300 ultra mag. real pleased with Andy @ East County Guns Elma Wa. For recomending this compact rifle, I think this a great rifle for hunting elk,bear and other large game in thick brushy conditions,short and light.
‘bought a .338 RCM when it first came out for crawling around through PA laurel for bear. Restocked it with a Hogue overmolded full bed block stock and free floated the bbl. Using a 2.5 x 8 leup VXIII, 200 and 225gr factory ammo shoots under an inch @ 100 yds. Recoil is on the mild side, something on the order of a lite wt ’06. Using it for everything from ground hogs to elk. Nothing has complained. Will be loading-up the newly introduced Barnes tsx 185’s. If they shoot as well as the factory loads, I’m done.