Ruger M77 Mark II 6.5 Creedmoor Target Rifle


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

November 23rd, 2009




This rifle has been a long time coming. I first expected the 6.5 Creedmoor Mark II to arrive in time for me to take it out for some long-range shooting back in June at the NRA Whittington Center near Raton, New Mexico, but it did not arrive in time. That is just as well, because the ammunition did not arrive either. The rifle finally arrived a couple of months ago, but I have been awaiting the arrival of ammo and dies. Finally, the ammunition arrived from Hornady, and I was able to get down to shooting. Not the long-range shooting that I had wanted to do, but I did get in quite a bit of bench time on my own range with Ruger’s Mark II Creedmoor.

The 6.5mm Creedmoor was developed to give target shooters a 6.5mm cartridge that could use those wonderfully-long .264 diameter bullets in a cartridge that did not exceed the overall loaded length of the .308 Winchester cartridge. This allows the six-five to function through .308 length bolt action and semi-auto rifles. The Creedmoor case is shorter than the .308, reducing powder capacity when compared to the .308-based .260 Remington cartridge, but allowing those long bullets to be seated without intruding upon the powder space within the cartridge. The result is a cartridge that is well-suited for long-range target shooting, yet has relatively mild recoil, and operates at moderate peak pressure.

The Ruger Mark II wears a semi-heavy twenty-eight inch stainless barrel that has a one-in-eight-inch twist to stabilize those long 6.5mm bullets that fly so well. The barreled action is free-floated into a target style laminated wood stock. While built for easy handling from the bench, the Mark II would also be well-suited for long-range varmint and medium game hunting, and is thus equipped with sling swivel studs for that purpose. The sling is also used in some target positions, so the studs are a welcome feature.  The wide beavertail forend and straight-comb stock are excellent features for a target rifle, and the laminated stock should prove to be very stable.

The Mark II wears Ruger’s two-stage target trigger, which is set at the factory for optimum performance. However, the trigger on this test rifle was not nearly as light nor as smooth as the same style of trigger that I recently reviewed on the .308 Tactical Hawkeye. The trigger pull of this Creedmoor needed almost four pounds of pressure to release, while the Hawkeye Tactical released crisply at barely over two and one-half pounds. The trigger on the .308 was also much smoother. Despite Ruger’s warning in the instruction manual to leave the trigger alone, I did fiddle with the adjustment screws a bit in an effort to improve the trigger pull, but it was returned to its factory settings, as I could not lighten the pull any. In use, the trigger pull did smooth up appreciably after shooting a couple of boxes of ammunition through the rifle.  The bottom metal is all stainless steel on this rifle. No plastic or aluminum parts will be found. The magazine holds four cartridges, and the floorplate releases easily by pushing in on the lever machined into the front of the trigger guard.

For accuracy testing, I mounted the superb Leupold VX-3L Long Range scope with their Varmint Hunter’s reticle.  This is an excellent scope, and mounts low to the bore and still lets in plenty of light. The 56mm objective has a dished-out section at the bottom to allow it to mount as low as a scope with a 40mm objective bell.  The reticle has a design that allows for several hold points for various ranges, and has windage leads built in as well. This scope is built upon a 30mm tube, and I mounted it atop the Ruger’s integral scope bases using Leupold 30mm Ruger compatible rings. With scope and rings attached, the package weighs in at eleven pounds, nine ounces, which is about two pounds heavier than just the bare rifle.

With no loading dies available, I was limited to using two factory Hornady loads, and they proved to be very accurate, testing at limited range. I only had my one hundred yard range available to me during testing, but the Mark II would cloverleaf five rounds into tight clusters at that range. The sample rifle displayed a preference for the 120 grain A-Max loads, grouping them better than it would the 140 grain A-Max ammunition. Recoil is mild, extraction easy, and the cartridge cases were not even warm to the touch after firing. Hornady holds the pressures to a moderate level, and they also list load data on the box of ammunition. I clocked the speed of the bullets at a distance of ten feet. Air temperatures hovered around the fifty-five degree Fahrenheit mark, at an elevation of approximately five hundred feet above sea level. The 140 grain ammo clocked in at 2719 feet-per-second (fps), and the 120 grain ammo clocked 2843 fps. These numbers are  below what Hornady lists for a twenty-eight inch barrel, and the velocity can be increased, but the goal should be for decent velocities with good accuracy. There is no need to try to push it. We have the .264 Winchester Magnum for that. The velocity of the 6.5mm Creedmoor is plenty to assure long-range performance, and still give excellent barrel life. I dearly love the performance of my 6.5mm Grendel, and the Creedmoor exceeds the performance of the Grendel handily.  Those long, slender bullets glide through the air effortlessly, and the performance really pays off at extended ranges. The Mark II is a target rifle that is competitive, right out of the box. Bolt on a good scope, buy some Hornady ammo, and it is ready to go.

I am not a benchrest shooter, and am therefore not qualified to claim any expertise on the subject, but I do know that this Ruger Mark II 6.5mm Creedmoor is set up properly to deliver long range performance. It is very easy to shoot well from a bench with this rifle. Aside from its target shooting abilities, the Mark II is still handy enough to use for hunting from an elevated stand. I would not want to wag it through dense brush, but from a fixed position, it would serve well for what is commonly called a “beanfield rifle”. That term refers to an accurate rifle built for long-range hunting of whitetail deer from an elevated platform. In this type of hunting, the shots are long, and the rifle must be accurate to assure a clean kill. There are many good 6.5mm hunting bullets on the market, such as the Hornady SST and the Nosler Ballistic Tip that are ideal for use on Southern whitetail deer. Just as I am finishing up this review, the Hornady 6.5mm Creedmoor dies are now shipping, so handloading target or hunting bullets for this cartridge is now an option.

The Ruger Mark II Target Rifle is an accurate, reliable, and easy to shoot rifle. It is built to deliver at the target range, and doubles as a good hunting rifle for limited applications. Like all Ruger firearms, it is built from quality materials, is affordable, and built in the USA. Check out the full line of Ruger products here.

For the location of a Ruger dealer near you, click on the DEALER FINDER at

To order the Mark II online, go to

To order the excellent Hornady ammunition, bullets, and dies, go to

For a closer look at high quality American-made optics, go to

Jeff Quinn

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


Jeff was favorably impressed by the performance and accuracy of the Ruger M77 Mark II 6.5 Creedmoor target rifle.



Leupold's VX-L target / varmint scope.



Scope was mounted using Leupold 30mm Ruger-style rings.



Hornady factory ammo proved to be very accurate in the Ruger.



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Author bench-tests the Ruger M77 Mark II 6.5 Creedmoor target rifle.



6.5 Creedmoor cartridge (left) compared to .308 Winchester (right).



Two-stage target trigger.



Heavy-duty integral recoil lug.





Free-floated barrel.



Flat-bottomed forend.



Heavy 28-inch barrel is finished off with a recessed target crown.



Bolt release.



Massive claw extractor.



Laminated wood stock.



Three-position safety.



Swivel studs.



Magazine floorplate release.