Gun Review: Ruger Hawkeye Long-Range Target Rifle in .300 Win Mag

When it comes to long-range cartridges and rifles, the show tends to be focused on the little 6.5 Creedmoor and today’s newest paper-puncher/head-scratcher, the .224 Valkyrie. Luckily, this article isn’t focused on weak sauce rifles or light beer cartridges. Today we’re looking at a real heavy hitter that comes in the form of the Ruger Hawkeye Long-Range Target rifle chambered in the unequalled .300 Win Mag.

Why .300 Win Mag?

What’s the deal with the .300 Win Mag today? Why would Ruger release a rifle like this when we have been bestowed with God’s latest gift to mortals, the 6.5mm, 6mm, and (fill-in-the-blank-next-SHOT-Show)mm Creedmoor?

It may seem like an odd move, but there are those of us out there who don’t buy into fads, even if all the cool kids are doing it. Sure, some units in the military have been trying to adopt the 6.5 CM in a limited capacity, but that’s cherry picked news considering the vast number of cartridges that the military considers on a sometimes weekly basis. So why .300 Win Mag?

Gun Review: Ruger Hawkeye Long-Range Target Rifle in .300 Win Mag

The first consideration when looking at long-range cartridges for hunting, not just target shooting, is the general cost and availability of ammunition powerful enough to ethically bring down game at distance. The .300 Win Mag is a common, affordable round that’s inherently accurate and very, very powerful.

A round like .338 Lapua often costs two to three-time the price per round of .300 Win Mag and it is generally far more expensive to reload as well. Hornady makes some of the best bullets for long-range shooting and their ELD bullets in .300 caliber are about half the price as the heavy .338 bullets, despite having a similar effective range for most shooters and hunters. The .300 WM makes perfect sense as a balance of power and cost.

Most sensible shooters would consider it a huge positive that the .300 WM has nearly identical trajectory and energy as .338 Lapua inside 1,500 yards, depending on the load, but it can be loaded with less powder and less expensive bullets.

When compared to 6.5 CM, known for ‘blowing the .308 out of the water’, the .300 WM happily outclasses it in every single category for hunting and long-range ballistics while offering supreme versatility. The .300 WM can be loaded with bullets down in the 100gr range or up to massive 240gr projectiles and be used to reliably and ethically hunt any game alive today.

Gun Review: Ruger Hawkeye Long-Range Target Rifle in .300 Win Mag

The 6.5 fans will say that their little baby has better trajectory and less recoil than .300 WM. The .300 crushes 6.5 at any distance when using similar, high BC bullets. It’s not really fair to compare a budget hunting load in .300 to dedicated VLD factory loads in 6.5, but then again, facts have never meant much to the fans of the ‘American 6.5×55’. In short, I’m a fan of Ruger’s choice of .300 Win Mag for the Hawkeye Long-Range Target.

Firing the Rifle

The first thing that I hear people say about the .300 Win Mag is its heavy recoil. In my experience, this is overblown. The .300 WM is actually a rather easy magnum round to shoot. It isn’t the shoulder-breaking monster that some people make it out to be. In my mind the recoil is like .30-06 +P.

A good muzzle brake tames this beast easily and the Hawkeye Long-Range ships with a brake that works very well in that regard. The Hawkeye rifle here is very mild and muzzle jump is minimal.

Another problem I hear about some larger caliber long action rifles is that the factory versions usually have triggers that could be better, to put it charitably. A bad trigger can make for a bad flinch, especially on big guns.

The Hawkeye Long-Range Target ships a surprisingly good factory trigger and is unique among those from Ruger. It’s like a military two-stage and has a small amount of take-up before it breaks cleanly. I love this kind of trigger and it works extremely well on this gun.

Gun Review: Ruger Hawkeye Long-Range Target Rifle in .300 Win Mag

The Ruger bolt action employs a non-rotating Mauser-style full claw extractor, thus ensuring extreme ruggedness and reliability. Feeding is accomplished by means of detachable AI-style box magazines. The rifle ships with one and they’re readily available.

The stock is cleverly designed and incorporates several features that make the rifle both highly adjustable and comfortable to shoot. The stock has a two-way adjustable cheek piece which is easily moved front to back a well as up and down. It also has a spacer system for the butt pad to adjust length of pull to exactly where the shooter needs it. The stock is very comfortable for both prone and positional shooting.

Gun Review: Ruger Hawkeye Long-Range Target Rifle in .300 Win Mag

I did most of my test shooting at ranges of 300-1,100 yards from a bipod. The Hawkeye Long-Range Target’s composite stock includes a slotted rail integrated into the forend that makes it easy to mount accessories like my Harris BRM.

The Ruger ships with a standard 20 MOA rail for mounting an optic. I used an SWFA SS 3-15×42 in a Midwest Industries QD scope mount when range day came. This is a reliable and robust combination that I’ve used for some time on harder-recoiling rifles.

Gun Review: Ruger Hawkeye Long-Range Target Rifle in .300 Win Mag

The Hawkeye Long-Range Target features a free-floated, heavy contoured cold hammer-forged barrel with 5R rifling made of 4140 chrome-moly steel. The barrel has 5/8″-24 threads for mounting that muzzle brake or a suppressor. 

Once zeroed, I fired a variety of both match and hunting loads from Hornady over my Oehler 35 P chronograph. Groups are the average of 3, five shot strings at 100 yards.

Hornady 178gr ELD Match —  3005fps, .5”
Hornady 200gr ELD-X Precision Hunter — 2874fps, .5”
Hornady 180gr SP Interlock American Whitetail — 2990fps, 1.1”
Hornady 150gr SP Interlock American Whitetail — 3317fps, .95”

I calculated each load at distance and began shooting from a field position. I was able to obtain first-round hits at 1,100 yards on a 24×24” plate with all loads. There are, of course, significant differences in the trajectories of each load, but I found each was very accurate in this rifle.

The 178gr ELD Match produced the best groups at all ranges past 300 yards. Groups for five shots on steel were approximately 9” vertical, making them sub-MOA at that range. For reference, the 150gr SP load was far less accurate, but still managed a five-shot average of 15” vertical at 1,100 yards. Impressive for a factory gun shooting factory ammo by any standard. The right hand loads will no doubt produce even more impressive results.

Another aspect of the Hawkeye Long-Range Target rifle that’s worthy of note is its price. Stock target rifles with this feature set and out-of-the-box performance will usually start at about the $2000 mark and go up from there. The street price for this bad boy is about $1,000.00 on an MSRP of $1279.

At the end of the day we have our choices. Some of us make good ones, others not so much. The .300 Win Mag is a hell of a round and with its level of performance at an exceptionally affordable price, the Ruger Hawkeye Long-Range Target rifle is a very good choice.

Specifications: Ruger Hawkeye Long-Range Target Rifle 

Caliber: .300 Winchester Magnum
Barrel Length: 26”
Overall Length: 49”
Weight: 11lbs
Capacity: 5 rounds
MSRP: $1,279 ($1,015 via Brownells)

Ratings (Out of Five Stars)

Accuracy * * * * *
This rifle one-holes with factory match ammo at 100 yards and shoots MOA with less-expensive hunting loads. Enough said.

Reliability * * * * *
It’s a Ruger bolt action with a Mauser-style extractor. There were no issues at all. And I don’t expect there ever will be.

Customize This * * * * 
While not an AR that has rails on top of its rails, this rifle has subtle, but effective accessory mounting points and comes with a 20 MOA rail secured with #8-40 screws.

Ergonomics * * * * *
The stock is very adjustable and very comfortable. As you’d expect, the rifle’s eleven pound weight is almost all in its barrel.

Value * * * * *
Given its rich feature set and performance, the Ruger Hawkeye Long-Range Target rifle is a steal at $1000 street price.

Overall * * * * * 
This is a budget-priced precision rifle that offers long action magnum power and custom-grade accuracy. Ruger has an ultra-affordable winner in the Hawkeye Long-Range Target rifle and I’m sure you’d agree if you get behind one.

 

For more on the gun, gear, and ammo in this article, visit www.ruger.com, www.hornady.com, and www.midwestindustriesinc.com.

comments

  1. avatar dph says:

    So, I went to the Ruger website to check this out and I see Bill Ruger, Jr. passed away. Did I miss something on TTAG?

    1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

      Wow. I missed that too.
      Looks like he died last week at 79 years old.

  2. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

    ‘Groups are the average of 3, five shot strings at 100 yards.’ – Kudos for shooting 5 shot groups.

    1. avatar FedUp says:

      And averaging them instead of picking the best.

  3. avatar Accur81 says:

    Great review!! I’m one of the dinosaurs who still likes .30 cal like the .300 Win Mag (and .308, .30-06, .300 BLK and the super olde school .30-30). The .338 Lapua is cool, but sure is pricey.

  4. avatar G Shervo says:

    Wow, an article on how much contempt you have for 6.5 creedmoor. Edgy. Might have been better without all that, I dont know, turned off this reader pretty quick, and I don’t even shoot 6.5. This site has gone very much south. Most of the “articles” are just thinly veiled ads. New owners milking it worse than RF did.

    1. avatar Southern Cross says:

      I’m still wondering what 6.5 Creedmore does that 260 Remington doesn’t.

      At least with 260 you can make cases by necking up 243s or necking down 308s.

  5. avatar GaPharmD says:

    Because I want to hunt with a heavier rifle and make something more dead……………………………………………..
    ……………………………………………………………………PASS

    1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      More dead always sounds good, but at 11 pounds it’s got to have pretty limited appeal as a hunting rifle. Although it’s probably not really ethical to hit a bull elk with 600ft/lbs at 1500fps, so maybe the weight is just the price you have to pay for stretching out your range.

      1. avatar jwtaylor says:

        That’s 11lbs empty. Add a couple more fully loaded. That’s a lot, and I generally like heavy magnums. The good news is that 11lbs is heavy enough to get rid of that obnoxious brake that has no place on a hunting rifle in the first place.

        There’ a lot of knowledgeable folks that would argue that the 300 Win Mag is an obsolete caliber. No, the comparison is not with the 6.5CM or any of the other short action, non-magnum calibers. That whole comparison was ridiculous and I can only assume it was intended to be. It’s because the 300 Norma Magnum exists. Look at the side by side on those two.

        I’m a big fan of the 300WM and got to use one briefly in Afghanistan. The beauty of the 300WM, especially when loaded heavy for caliber, is that it bucks the wind well and delivers a significant amount of energy downrange, in a (relatively) light package. It, and the 7Mag, are the beginning calibers of “enough gun” even at longer ranges.

        Let’s look at even mid weight loads, like the 180 Nosler Accubond (although I would go heavier). Factory ammunition is still generating over 1,200 ft/lbs of energy even at 700 yards. That’s slightly more energy at that range than is recommended for a broadside shot on an large bull elk by Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
        And wind drift? If you zero at 100 yards, you don’t really even need to account for wind until you are past 300 yards on an elk. Even then, even if you want to count a full value 10mph wind at 600 yards, you’re just talking about 1.2 mils of windage.
        I’m not impressed at all by MOA accuracy in an 11lb bolt gun, but that means that a competent marksman who practices regularly should feel comfortable out to 600 yards on elk with this gun. I just hope they put it on a biathlon style sling to carry it up and down the mountains.

        https://fusiontables.googleusercontent.com/fusiontables/embedviz?viz=CARD&q=select+*+from+1C5o2xk_hWmBsTsTUWwoZ262XZOtOsNloF2QDW28+where+col4+%3D+60059+order+by+col0+asc&tmplt=1&cpr=1

        http://cpw.state.co.us/learn/pages/ehu-ch2-l09.aspx

        1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          Good info. But if I’m hunting elk with a .30-30 I’d go with a 170gr bullet.

          I didn’t realize anybody touted the 6.5 was a match for the Win-mag on anything but paper.

        2. avatar Erik Weisz says:

          I was thinking exactly .300 Norma and 7mag as preferable to .300wm for, well, anything really. I would throw in 7saum and the very slippery .28 Nosler as good candidates for lighter mountain-type hunting rifles with similar trajectories (superior in the .28), though they throw less energy down range. The .300 Norma Magnum is a real standout in every respect, offering something more than a lot of rounds that would be in consideration for it’s role without giving much up in any other respect. IMO, IOW – is good trade.

  6. avatar what would spock say says:

    more anti-creedmore passive-aggressive articles please! Nothing against 6.5cm I just enjoy the resulting show.

  7. avatar ESMDHokie says:

    I’ll take “guns I didn’t know I needed” for 600, Alex.

  8. avatar New Continental Army says:

    “Luckily, this article isn’t focused on weak sauce rifles or light beer cartridges.”

    God damned right.

  9. avatar Wild Bill says:

    Is it me or did Ruger make a larger version of the Bergara HMR?

  10. avatar bob says:

    While some of all these comments have truth to them. It is nice to see good calibers get some new rigs.

    I’ve been using a Ruger Hawkeye in 300 WM for about 15 years now. Here’s what I have learned.

    A spring kit in the trigger fixed that issue (enough for me), a little stock work free floated the barrel and SIGNIFICANTLY improved accuracy! This is on my All weather stainless one.
    Loading the 300 isn’t expensive like a 338 would be but it isn’t as cheap as a 308Win or 243 either.

    As for muzzle brake, I WISH I had one on my hawkeye, I like to hunt prone often with a bipod and the muzzle will clear a 5 foot circle of forest floor clean and all over me. Directing that blast elsewhere would be nice.

    As for the weight, well, I guess that depends on how much you have to carry, never seemed to bother me, but that’s more of a personal thing.

    I have to pretty well completely agree with the article, then again I understand the 6.5 stab was all in fun since the fact that the 6.5 can chamber in an AR and the WinMag is certainly NOT was left out.

    But given the need to reach out and touch things and add in that uncle Sam isn’t fronting the bill, the 300 WM fights right in there.

  11. avatar Mark N. says:

    I could never understand hunters who go after white tail with a 300 WM. Why? It is overkill. Plus most white tail hunting is under 300 yards in most of the country except out west. There is nothing but maybe grizzly and moose that cannot be taken at long range with a .270 or .30-06 (and .30-06 will take either at 300 yards), and if those calibers can’t shoot far enough, then you are too far to shoot ethically. I know a hunter who has gone every year for over 30 years to Montana with his trusty .270 (and a very expensive optic), and always bags his elk, even out to 700 yards.

    1. avatar troutbum5 says:

      I’ve seen way too many people using too much gun because they think they need it, or think it’s cool. They don’t practice, and develop a flinch because they don’t like the recoil, but by God, they NEED that .338 Ultra Mag. When I was stationed in Albany, GA, I was in the local LGS during deer season one day when a guy came in looking for a .338 Win Mag, because his .300 didn’t drop one of the giant 125 lb South Georgia deer in its tracks. Probably gut shot it, because he’d only put 5 rounds through it to sight it in and not practiced at all with that “hard kicking” rifle. The guy behind the counter and I shared a look and an eye roll, I paid for my .243 bullets and powder, and went home to reload more of my pet deer load.

      Then again, I watched a big bull elk take 3 shots from a .300 through the vitals and live 30 minutes before my friend finally managed a cervical spine shot. When we butchered him, his lungs were shredded and one round had nicked his heart. Tough old boy. I still hoist a glass to him every elk season.

    2. avatar bob says:

      I still proclaim the .270 W is the most useful and yet most under appreciated round for hunting medium to large game.

  12. avatar Jon A. says:

    Does the stock have any bedding, like a savage accustock, or will it need to have pillars installed and glass bedded. Cant find mention of this anywhere

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