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Gun Review: Ruger 77-Series 77/44 Bolt Action Rifle

Midwestern hunting is some of the very best in the world. Here in Michigan we have the most beautiful rural landscapes of anywhere in the country and deer hunting to match. The .450 Bushmaster has become the heir apparent to these lustrous hill and dales and has been steadily replacing the competition. Today, though, we’re going to be taking a look at something modern, but a bit more classic: the Ruger 77-Series 77/44 rifle in .44 Magnum.

There aren’t many guns that I’m truly taken by these days. I find that I spend my time with guns that are interesting, but rarely practical. Most just don’t quite do it for me. When I put my hands on something, I can almost instantly tell if it’s worth it or not. When I put my hands on the American-made Ruger 77/44, I knew right away that it was an extremely worthwhile gun.

If I were to describe this pistol caliber rifle in one word it would be ‘handy.’ The bolt action Ruger 77 rifle is lightweight, compact, and shoulders naturally. It has all the features of a classic, but at the same time is modern in its execution. It has a detachable rotary magazine, flip-up rear sight, and a safety on the bolt. For most deer hunters, young or old, there is hardly a better option.

Gun Review: Ruger 77-Series 77/44 Bolt Action Rifle

Most hunting in the Midwest happens at close ranges, usually inside 200 yards, with most shots taken on deer being at about 35-100 yards. The last shots I took on deer were inside these distances, as were the last dozen or so deer I have seen shot in my proximity.

The 77/44 is a most suitable gun for these circumstances and the .44 Magnum cartridge is exceptionally mild when shot from a rifle. The .44 Rem Mag round is superior to .357 Magnum in this type of gun due to the higher bullet weight for equivalent recoil.

The difference between the other .44 Magnum Ruger guns I have reviewed recently and this one are like night and day. The most powerful offerings I tested in the revolvers displayed high recoil and blast and weren’t particularly comfortable to shoot. The same loads from the 77/44 were so easy to shoot that even very young hunters could easily handle them.

Gun Review: Ruger 77-Series 77/44 Bolt Action Rifle

That’s a huge advantage of this rifle. A young person is often handed Pop’s old slug gun and told to go to town. The massive recoil of a 12 gauge doesn’t teach a youth about the fundamentals of marksmanship or hunting. Instead, it can give them a nasty flinch and the occasional black eye from a poorly mounted scope. Those things aside, a traditional slug gun is often too heavy to use well.

The 77/44 is very easy to handle and operate, even by someone with limited hand and wrist strength. The bolt is smooth and effortless to open and cycle. Cases eject easily and clear the action without an issue. I have hardly seen a bolt gun that’s so light and easy to use.

Gun Review: Ruger 77-Series 77/44 Bolt Action Rifle

The gun feeds from Ruger rotary magazines. You can load these rotary magazines and keep a spare in your pocket or load from the top. This is a little difficult, but can be easily mastered. The rimmed cases make it so that you have to push them down and in towards the rear, unlike a rimless case that you can just push right in. The magazines hold four rounds, plus you can load a fifth in the chamber. I like that the rotary magazine prevents the rims from binding and creating a jam.

Aiming the rifle is accomplished with either the attached iron sights or a scope. The gun comes with a set of scope rings. I opted to use the gun just as it came with the iron sights. They were right on at 50 yards, which is where I tested the gun for accuracy and velocity.

Accuracy listed is the average of three, five-shot groups at 50 yards. Velocity shown is the average of five shots fired from a distance of eight feet over my Oehler 35P chronograph.

Buffalo Bore 270gr JFN——————————–1786 fps, 2.75”
Buffalo Bore 225gr Barnes XPB ———————-1740 fps, 2.1”
SIG SAUER 240gr V-Crown—————————-1641 fps, 2.75”
Black Hills 240gr JHP———————————–1746 fps, 2.5”
Black Hills 300gr JHP———————————–1373 fps, 2.5”
Black Hills 160gr HoneyBadger————————2034 fps, 1.8”
Hornady 240gr XTP————————————–1825 fps, 3”
Hornady 300gr XTP————————————–1357 fps, 3.4”
Hornady 225gr FTX————————————–1781 fps, 1.9”

The general accuracy was around 2.5” with iron sights at regular deer hunting distance with all ammo tested. The 77/44 has a clean, crisp trigger and I was happy with this performance. I like that the gun shot to essentially the same point of aim regardless of the ammo used at most ranges. The ability to just grab a box of .44 Magnum ammo and hit the field is extremely appealing.

Gun Review: Ruger 77-Series 77/44 Bolt Action Rifle

Another point worthy of consideration is the low cost of ammo compared to other hunting calibers. The .44 Rem Mag can be bought in great volume and also reloaded inexpensively.

.44 Special ammo can also be used and I played around with several types from SIG and Black Hills. This isn’t a long range rifle anyway and although the trajectory is wanting, the recoil and noise are extremely low and a young shooter can learn easily with minimal discomfort while using the same gun that will be used on opening day. Even with the popularity of lever actions, a pistol caliber rifle isn’t for everyone, but it is a very viable choice.

I love what Ruger did with this gun. The rifle is a joy to shoot and carry afield and it’s the envy of many from what I have seen. When I was testing this gun prior to deer season a few weeks back, I received all sorts of comments about it.

The 77/44 is legal for use in Michigan’s shotgun zones, but is little-known due to the .450 Bushmaster taking the spotlight in these hunting areas. I think this is a better and more logical option for a lot of hunters in close confines due to the 77/44’s fast handling and low noise levels compared to a 12 gauge or a .450 rifle.

Do yourself a favor and check one out at your local gun store. You won’t be sorry you did.

Specs: Ruger 77 Series 77/44 Bolt Action Rifle 

Caliber: .44 Remington Magnum, .44 Special
Capacity: 4+1 Rounds
Barrel Length: 18.5”
Overall Length: 38.5”
Sights: Front bead, rear adjustable
Length of Pull: 13.5″
Twist rate: 1:20
Weight: 5.2lbs
MSRP: $999.00

Ratings (out of five stars):

Accuracy * * * * *
This is a well-made, rock-solid little hunting machine. The gun shoots well with everything I put through it and it is ready to go right out of the box. I like that I can just grab a box and sit in a close blind with it and never have to guess about my shot.

Reliability * * * * *
I had no issues with the gun. It cycled reliably with everything I put through it. The detachable rotary magazine is a big factor in making this pistol caliber rifle reliable.

Ergonomics * * * * *
This is a traditionally stocked rifle that handles like a dream. The bolt knob is in the right place, bolt throw is short, the trigger is crisp with a clean break, and the sights come right up on target naturally. I love how the 77/44 gun handles.

Customize This * * *
Unfortunately, there is not much that can be done to this gun to alter it aside from adding a sling or optics. I don’t see why you’d add more than that, but some people get bummed about accessories.

Aesthetics * * * * *
The 77/44 is a nice looking gun and shares lines with both the larger Hawkeye rifles and some of the rimfire rifles Ruger offers. I love the look of blued stainless steel and a walnut stock, but it’s also available with a synthetic stock if you want to go that way.

Overall * * * * *
For the discerning outdoorsman and casual rifle shooter alike, this is a solid choice. If you already own a .44 Magnum revolver, the logistics are very simple. I think that the fast handling, low recoil, and ready-to-rock disposition of this fine, pistol caliber hunting rifle make it an excellent pick for the woods and trails alike.


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  1. Nice rifle. I have the better deer gun IMO. I have a 1974 Ruger Deerslayer. Look that one up! Handles like a 10/22 only .44 mag. 2.5 Weaver scope for Minnesota brush. Not so good for Antelope in Wyoming.

  2. I have a 4+1 semi auto, limited capacity and really slow to reload keeps it out of the SD plan other use it and drop it.
    If Ruger came out with semi rather than bolt with higher capacity magazines I would buy one.
    As much as the 9 mm carbine is appealing 44 sounds even better.

    • Ruger did! The Deerslayer is a 5+1 semi-auto that looks like a 10/22. Problem is they quit making it. Wife loves this gun. Side by side with a 10/22 looks almost exactly the same except for the bore and loading gate like a shotgun. Same style stock , barrel band and butt plate. Very low recoil and low noise level.

  3. “The .44 Rem Mag round is superior to .357 Magnum in this type of gun due to the higher bullet weight for equivalent recoil.” – Huh? Since when did a .44 mag and a .357 Mag have equivalent recoil?

    • The barrel on a .44 Magnum rifle is larger diameter than .357 Magnum and has to weigh more than an equivalent barrel for .357 Magnum. Is that extra weight enough to result in the same recoil impulse as the equivalent rifle in .357 Magnum? Perhaps.

      (.44 Magnum bullets produce more recoil than .357 Magnum bullets because .44 Magnum bullets are substantially heavier. However, if the .44 Magnum rifle sufficiently outweighs the .357 Magnum rifle, then FELT recoil will be the same.)

      • Possibly true comparing Ruger 77 bolt actions. For typical lever-actions, Chuck Hawks got results less encouraging for the .44 mag.

        “The remaining important factor to consider is recoil. Here are approximate recoil figures for the cartridges we have been comparing in typical rifles. From top to bottom these rifles are: Marlin Model 336 (.30-30 and .35 Rem.), Marlin 1894C (.357 Mag.) and Marlin 1894 (.44 Mag.) (Caliber, bullet weight at MV, rifle weight – free recoil energy in foot pounds.)

        .30-30, 150 at 2390 fps, 7.0 lb. rifle – 11.3 ft. lbs.
        .35 Rem., 200 at 2050 fps, 7.0 lb. rifle – 14.5 ft. lbs.
        .357 Mag., 158 at 1830 fps, 6.0 lb. rifle – 6.5 ft. lbs.
        .44 Mag., 240 at 1760 fps, 6.5 lb. rifle – 13.1 ft. lbs.
        The .357 Magnum in the neat Marlin 1884C carbine is the least powerful of our comparison cartridges and also kicks the least, by a wide margin. This is a point worth remembering when shopping for a young shooter’s first centerfire rifle. On the other hand, the .44 Magnum is no bargain in terms of recoil, since it kicks more than a .30-30 and delivers substantially less ballistic performance.”

      • uncommon_sense, you wrote, “The barrel on a .44 Magnum rifle is larger diameter than .357 Magnum and has to weigh more than an equivalent barrel for .357 Magnum.”

        Exactly the OPPOSITE is true. The barrel on a .44 Magnum rifle is always lighter than the barrel on a .357 Magnum rifle, because the outside diameter is the same, but there’s a much bigger hole bored through the .44 Magnum rifle. If you don’t believe me, check the specs on the Ruger website for their Model 77. The 44 Magnum version weighs 5.2 pounds, but the exact same rifle in .357 Magnum weighs 5.5 pounds! (44 Magnum) (357 Magnum)

        The smaller the caliber, the heavier the barrel, because the outside diameter (the barrel blank) is the same, but small caliber barrels have a smaller hole bored in them so they’re heavier.
        I’ve owned the same lever-action rifles in .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum, and 45 Colt, and the .45 Colt was the lightest (biggest hole), .44 was nearly as light, and .357 Magnum was the heaviest.

        Personally, I don’t think 44 Magnum has “mild recoil” in a lightweight rifle, like the polymer version of this Ruger 77/44 which weighs only 5.2 pounds. They have more recoil than a .308, and they’re lighter weight, so the “felt recoil” is much more than a .308.
        I owned a single-shot 44 Magnum that was extremely light, and it kicked like a 12-gauge shotgun (well, like a 12-gauge shotgun firing birdshot, not slugs, but still, nobody would call a 12-gauge shotgun’s recoil “mild”). Heavy .44 Magnum loads are similar recoil to .454 or .460 loads, which are anything but mild. Did you know that a .44 Magnum from a rifle is powerful enough to kill an elephant, and has killed elephants on numerous occasions?
        I added a muzzle brake to my lightweight single-shot 44 Magnum, and that tamed the recoil a lot.
        Call me a recoil wimp, but I prefer a .308 or 6.5 Creedmoor, less recoil and much longer range.

  4. Sadly, I cannot afford this particular Ruger rifle. Instead, I purchased two break-action rifles (from different manufacturers) in .44 Magnum and added nice $200 Nikon 2-7×32 variable power scopes. I will get straight to the point: .44 Magnum rifles with scopes are a fantastic platform for hunting white-tailed deer out to at least 100 yards.

    One rifle likes Fiocchi 240 grain jacketed softpoints which exit the muzzle at 1520 fps and group 2 inches at 50 yards. The other rifle likes Winchester 240 grain jacketed softpoints which exit the muzzle at 1720 fps and group 1.5 inches at 50 yards.

    Most everyone knows that stout .44 Magnum loads with softpoints or hardcast bullets pack a lot of wallop coming out of a rifle. What most people don’t know, however, is that stout .44 Magnum loads are pretty darned quiet out of a 22 inch barrel. To put this in perspective, a friend happened to be hunting about 400 yards away from me: he had no idea I was there or what I was shooting. I found out later that he heard my gunshot and thought I was shooting .22 Long Rifle. In fact .44 Magnum out of a rifle is so quiet that a single shot does not produce any ringing in your ears if you are wearing a thick knit cap.

    • I just wanted to post the obvious; a 12 gauge slug can easily do more for less within the same range. But the .44 being quiet out of a rifle is new to me.

      • Matt,

        To be sure, a 12 gauge shotgun shooting a 1 ounce (437 grain) slug at 1,600 fps packs even more wallop than a .44 Magnum rifle. Of course you pay for that 12 gauge wallop with deafening blast and heavy recoil. You really have to shoot a .44 Magnum rifle to appreciate the significant reduction in both recoil and blast compared to a 12 gauge shotgun.

        With respect to white-tailed deer hunting, I will never go back to 12 gauge for four simple reasons:
        (1) .44 Magnum is more accurate than shotgun slugs.
        (2) .44 Magnum cartridges are less expensive than shotgun slugs.
        (3) .44 Magnum produces WAY less recoil than 12 gauge.
        (4) .44 Magnum produces WAY less blast.

        • daveinwyo,

          If you are a good marksman you can place your shots such that you don’t really waste any meat at all!

          In our case my eldest child and I both placed our shots just below the horizontal centerline of the deer and about 2 inches behind the front legs. As far as I can tell, the only meat that we damaged was the small muscles between ribs which we often toss out anyway. (Recovering the meat between ribs takes a lot of work for almost no meat.)

      • Matt,

        Here is some more context to how relatively quiet .44 Magnum is out of a rifle. This year I was hunting in a tree stand facing my eldest child who was 1 mile away on open ground facing toward me. There terrain is pretty much flat with a slight dip (maybe 30 feet) and a few small trees between us. My eldest child fired almost exactly in my direction and the shot was barely noticeable.

        Or how about this: the property owner was inside her home when my eldest child shot that doe. My child was only 155 yards away from her home and shooting at about a 30 degree angle away from her home (although still firing in the general direction of the home). The home owner did not hear the gunshot from inside her home.

        Given that you can purchase a .44 Magnum break-action rifle brand new for about $250, it is a no-brainer as far as I am concerned.

  5. Great little gun. Knocked down a spike first time out with it. Too expensive for what it is and for some reason Ruger cut out a big dovetail on the underside of the barrel. 200 gr XTP bullets and H110 work really well. Cloverleaf groups at 50 yds. 1″ groups at 100yds. The 357 stainless steel version is on sale right now at a couple online sights for $700 and change. If you get the wooden stock version of either caliber, take the gun apart and finish sealing the magazine well before it absorbs moisture and swells.

  6. In my comment above, I mentioned that stout .44 Magnum loads out of a rifle produce a lot of wallop. Here are some numbers that make that point.

    My rifle that likes Fiocchi 240 grain softpoints has a muzzle velocity of 1,520 fps. At 100 yards that bullet is still moving at 1,206 fps and has 776 foot-pounds energy.

    My rifle that likes Winchester 240 grain softpoints has a muzzle velocity of 1,720 fps. At 100 yards, that bullet is still zinging along at 1,354 fps and has 977 foot-pounds energy.

    Of course the proof is in the pudding. My eldest child placed a perfect double-lung shot on a BIG doe (4.5 years-old, 156 pounds on the hoof) broadside this year at 72 yards. The bullet impacted at about 1,280 fps (about 800 foot-pounds energy) and was a complete pass-through, making a 7/8 inch diameter hole through both lungs. That doe ran about 50 yards before falling over dead.

    And I was blessed to put a perfect double-lung shot on a really big buck (3.5 years old, 210 pounds on the hoof) broadside this year at 60 yards. The bullet impacted at about 1,500 fps (about 1,200 foot-pounds energy) and was also a complete passthrough as well. That bullet obliterated both lungs. Amazingly, that buck ran about 130 yards before keeling over dead.

    Bonus: those heavy .44 Magnum bullets will not deflect significantly on small branches within 20 yards of your target. And they cost less than traditional center-fire rifle rounds!

    In spite of having extremely accurate bolt-action rifles in .243 Winchester and .270 Winchester, I will use my .44 Magnum rifles EVERY TIME if my shots are limited to 100 yards or less. I like big holes, guaranteed pass-throughs, and no hearing loss.

      • (snicker)

        No, the chronograph was obviously not attached to the animals. I did measure muzzle velocity with a chronograph (attached to a camera tripod) as well as the distance of the shots. And I know the bullets’ ballistic coefficients and weights. Thus, ballistic calculators will tell you the muzzle velocity at any distance down range.

        So, the impact velocities that I stated are according to Hornady’s ballistic calculator for the distance of our shots.

    • You have a CVA Hunter??? Those things are awesome. Mine is also very quiet with no recoil and inexpensive to shoot. That being said, I have shot two 200+ lb. whitetail bucks with the .243 and that ammo is getting pretty cheap these days, too. Both shots made minimal exit holes. I used 100 grain bullets, which many people will claim are too small for big whitetails.

      • Natty Bumpo,

        I have an H&R Handi-Rifle in .44 Magnum and the equivalent Rossi rifle in .44 Magnum. The only significant differences between them: the H&R has a fat barrel with no iron sights and the Rossi has a standard barrel with iron sights. I think I paid $200 for one of them and at most $250 for the other.

        I really like the fact that they are inexpensive, simple/reliable, and accurate enough for hunting out to 100 yards. As long as I don’t let them rust, about the only thing that could ever go wrong is for the hammer spring to fail which is a cheap and easy fix. They should be in service to my immediate family and my descendants for 100+ years.

        And they have already produced three deer for my family. I expect them to produce dozens of deer over the next several decades.

        As you stated, recoil is mild and they are easy to shoot. Unless someone is unable to afford such a rifle (which would cost about $350 with a cheap scope), I don’t know why anyone would continue to hunt with a 12 gauge shotgun.

  7. Pretty much the recoil same story with the .45 Colt. Even heavy 250 grain loads have hardly any more recoil than a .223 out of my Winchester with a 24″ barrel, and 300 grain rounds are available. No they do not have the punch of a .44 mag, but they can do the job out to 100 yards quite well. Plus the long barreled lever actions have a relatively huge capacity (14 rounds).

    [Not that I am bragging on the Winchester 92. The modern ones like mine have a “rebounding hammer” powered by an ungodly stiff hammer spring. The trigger pull must be comfortably north of ten pounds.Fortunately, there is something of a remedy. I’ve eliminated the rebounding leg in the firing mechanism, so the hammer acts as it should, but I still need a lighter Wolff spring to drop the weight down to around 5-6 lbs.]

  8. That accuracy data doesn’t really prove anything useful… 2-3″ inch groups at 25 yards with iron sights must be almost entirely the shooters fault.

  9. I had one of these in the 90s’. It was stolen out of my safe and I have always missed it. I plan to purchase one in the coming year.

  10. Ruger, please bring back the great little 96/44 carbines! Lever guns with modern characteristics and quick handling. Oh, and the .22 versions would be great also.

    • 96/44 only lasted a few years production for a reason. They kicked harshly and were odd looking. They quickly took them out of production.

  11. I have to take exception to your comment about Michigan having the most beautiful rural areas in the country. Literally every rural part of the country that’s not tediously flat like the Midwest is more beautiful. The hunting is nice though, and I look forward to using my newly built .450 for the first time.

  12. 77/44 very nice guns started my daughter off shooting one when she was five years old. Bought my older daughter a 77 in 7 mm-08 at 8 years old and my younger daughter took it over later. So I had to purchase another gun for my older daughter. But now I own the 77/44 and it ain’t leaving.

  13. I have the Ruger 77/44 with the black synthetic stock. I added a Leupold 1×4 scope and a para-cord sling. The syn-stock is very light making the gun a little muzzle heavy so I did add an 8oz recoil reducer in the rear of the stock to give it better balance and a Limb Saver recoil pad to give it a longer pull. I love this rifle for hunting or just for fun on the range. I wanted the .357 but at the time I couldn’t find one, then a .44 just kind of fell into my lap … I couldn’t turn it down … glad I didn’t!

  14. Being a total Ruger-fan-boy, this is a rifle that I really want to lust after, but for me there’s one glaring problem (IMHO) with this rifle. It’s built on a .308 length action. It’s the same 38.5″ as my .260 Hawkeye RSI and an inch and a half longer than my Marlin 336BL (all three with 13.5″ LOPs). There’s enough room in that action for a .308 round PLUS a 9mm Luger with a little room to spare. Otherwise it’s probably an outstanding firearm, but one I’ll probably never buy just because of this one nit pick.

    • Correction, there’s enough room for a .44 magnum and a 9mm round.

      And those are all 18.5″ barrels.

  15. My son’s first hunting rifle was the stainless 77/44 with synthetic stock. It really is a handy rifle. Never shot a deer with it that didn’t drop where it stood. His certainly is not a MOA rifle, but always gets the job done.

  16. One of these with a red dot would be great for pigs, deer, home defense and practice at the range without raising LEO eyebrows. Been saving for a stainless one in either .44 or .357 and it will be mine one day

    • Have the stainless 77/357 with synthetic stock with a Redfield 2-7 scope on it. Will hit a golf ball from 50 yards every time from 5 different loads with no scope adjustment. Easy to modify butt pad to make easy access to hollow stock for emergency items. I like handgun/rifle sets, 44 mag has too much recoil/muzzle blast for me. 158 gr JSP & JHP have considerable power from the 18.5″ barrel, which by the way is the optimal length for the .357; loose velocity shorter or longer.

      • Yep, the 77/357 and the way to go.

        Factory AE 158 gr. SP or 180 gr. HDY XTP/HP handloads will take deer out to 150 yds no problem (w/ the 2-7x33mm Leupold scope).

  17. what I would like is if they came out with this rifle in the 357remmington maximum caliber. with a 5 round magazine and a 10 round excessary magazine as well. that would be a nice rifle, and flatter shooting than the 44 mag with a little more range. and to the best of my knowledge the deerslayer was only a 4+1 semi auto rifle. unless they revamped it later on to make it a 5 shot. but the 357 rem max round is a good round for a rifle/carbine. they should not let the round die because of flame cutting in a handgun.

  18. in case someone does not know, the 357 remmington maximum round was the 357 mag elongated. it was ment for a ruger Blackhawk revolver that was also elongated. it was also chambered in dan Wesson revlvers. but the round had problems with flame cutting on the top strap of the frames and was discontinued. but it would have had no such problems in a rifle.a nice ruger blt action or a leveraction would have been nice and handy . light recoil. and even handier if it was in a carbine. and of course higher velocities than a handgun. and would still be good even today

  19. It’s way past time for Ruger to get rid of the integrated dovetail mounts and go with integrated Picatinny 1913 rails.

    Also, in that rifle I would rather see it in a .454 Casull and then be able to shoot +P .45 Colt and normal .45 Colt as well.

  20. I love everything about this gun except the price. That’s about 400 too high for this gun. I see this gun being used where straightwall cartridges are required. I’d rather have a lever action .44 which would deliver the same performance down range with more capacity and a faster cycle. All for less money.

  21. I myself used the 450 bushmaster in Michigan; but noted the meat damage of shots on shoulders. I picked a Ruger M77/44 up and realized it is a legitimate *250 yard deer gun (* = lots of practice with right ammo with a ballistic compensated scope and excellent wind conditions.) Ammo is far less expensive than sabot slugs and so much easier to carry into the field.


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