Ruger 77/44 Bolt Action .44 Magnum All-Weather Rifle


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

September 15, 2009




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The Ruger .44 magnum rifle is back! Introduced a few years ago, the bolt action 77/44 rifle was a handy little carbine, and has proven itself in the fields and woods in the hands of deer hunters. It is especially popular where the deer grow large and the hunting ranges are relatively short, like in the Eastern and Midwestern United States. In those areas, big-bodied deer prevail, hunters like quick-handling carbines that hit hard, and the 77/44 fills the bill perfectly. Anyway, after being dropped from the catalog for a while, the trim little thumper is back in production, in an All-Weather variation that should prove to be very popular with hunters. The little 77/44 wears a black synthetic stock, and the barrel, receiver, scope rings, and trigger guard are made of stainless steel. While on the subject of scope rings, Ruger includes them with their centerfire rifles to mate up perfectly with their integral scope bases which are machined into the top of the receiver. This is a very strong, solid scope mount system, and including it with their rifles saves the owner at least fifty bucks, and also saves the trouble of having to find bases and rings to match the rifle. It is a great idea that I would like to see other rifle makers adopt. The 77/44 wears a very good set of open sights, but for me, my hunting rifles wear scopes. I can place my hits more precisely with a scope, and that makes me a better hunter. I use open sights on my hunting revolvers, but keep the ranges close, as I know my limitations.

The black synthetic stock is relatively lightweight compared to a dense wooden stock, and has checkered panels on the pistol grip and forearm to assure a solid grip under adverse weather conditions. The stainless steel wears a satin finish that contrasts nicely with the black stock, resulting in a really good-looking little carbine. Ruger lists the weight of the 77/44 on their website at an even six pounds, but mine weighs in at five pounds, seven ounces on my scale, which is usually pretty darn accurate. With an eighteen and one-half inch barrel, the overall length is only thirty-eight and one-half inches. The length of pull measures thirteen and seven-eighths inches, and the 77/44 balances perfectly and comes to the shoulder like a svelte English bird gun. That makes all the difference in the woods. Hunting dense woods and along the edges of fields requires a gun that jumps to the shoulder almost instantly. A heavy rifle is slow into action, and while such a rifle might be just fine while hunting from a stand which overlooks a long field or power line, a light, quick-handling carbine with plenty of power is best in the thicker stuff, and that is where a carbine like the 77/44 is greatly superior to a longer, heavier, ill-balanced rifle.

I have to admit that I have never paid much attention to the Ruger .44 Magnum rifles before. Ruger has had handy little .44 magnum carbines in production almost steadily for over four decades now, and I have never spent much time behind one, or given much thought to the concept, usually focusing upon lever actions, full-sized bolt guns, and single shots. However, a handy bolt action such as this 77/44 has a lot of merit, and as soon as I picked it up, I was sold on the concept, with the reservation that I would have to see how well it shoots first. I love rifles, but if they are inaccurate, I have no use for them.

The .44 Magnum has proven itself plenty capable of taking medium and large game for over fifty years now, when fired from a good handgun. From an eighteen inch rifle barrel, the .44 magnum is even more of a good thing. Compared to a standard revolver, you will gain between 300 to 400 feet-per-second (fps) firing the same full-power .44 Magnum load from the rifle barrel, due to its closed breech and longer tube. I tried several different factory loads and hand loads from the 77/44 rifle’s barrel to check for velocity, and every load posted a significant gain over what I usually get from the same ammo when fired from a sixgun.  The Ruger’s magazine limits cartridge overall length, just as a revolver’s cylinder does, but I was still able to load bullets as heavy as 320 grains, crimped into the crimp groove, and still fit inside the magazine. Keith style bullets, with their long noses, usually will not work in the 77/44 magazine when loaded into magnum cases, but LBT style cast bullets fit well, feed well, and hit hard. For heavy, tough game like large hogs, I like a heavy cast lead bullet. For lighter game like Southern whitetails, I prefer a good hollow point, and there are many good ones on the market. Chronograph results are listed in the chart below, with velocity readings taken at a distance of twelve feet from the muzzle. Velocities are listed in feet-per-second (fps). Bullet weights are listed in grains. Powder weights are also listed in grains. Velocity readings were taken on a calm, muggy day with an air temperature in the eighty-five degree Fahrenheit range and a relative humidity of eighty-two percent, at an elevation of approximately five hundred feet above sea level. JHP is a jacketed hollow point bullet. JSP is a jacketed soft point bullet. WFN is an LBT-style hard-cast lead bullet with a wide, flat meplat. LFN is a truncated cone flat point cast lead bullet. 

Factory Loads


Bullet Weight Velocity
Cor-Bon JHP 165 1710
Cor-Bon JHP 240 1862
Cor-Bon JHP 260 1693
UMC JHP 180 2151


Bullet Bullet Weight Powder / Charge Velocity
Cast Performance WFN 320 20 grains H-110 1503
Cast Performance WFN 300 20 grains H-110 1488
Tennessee Valley LFP 300 20 grains H-110 1530
Cast Performance WFN 300 22 grains H-110 1625
Cast Performance WFN 320 22 grains H-110 1599
Tennessee Valley LFN 300 22 grains H-110 1677
Hornady JHP 250 22 grains H-110 1605
Cast Performance WFN 320 8 grains Trail Boss 890
Tennessee Valley LFN 200 12.1 grains AA-5 1463

From the numbers listed above, it is obvious that this Ruger 77/44 carbine packs a considerable punch. However, recoil is not punishing at all. The stock is very well-designed and comfortable. All Handloads functioned perfectly, feeding well and exhibiting no signs of excessive pressure. The 260 grain Cor-Bon load seemed a bit on the warm side for this particular rifle, with a very flattened primer, and sticky extraction. For a mild-recoiling load that still has plenty of punch for lighter game, without destroying any meat, that 320 grain Trail Boss load is a dandy, exhibiting very good accuracy, relatively low noise, and mild recoil.

For accuracy testing, I gathered together several .44 Magnum loads, both factory stuff and my handloads, firing for groups at ranges of fifty and one hundred yards.  The 77/44 carbine exhibited very good accuracy from the bench, despite a heavy but crisp trigger pull that measured five and three-quarters pounds. This trigger pull is fine for the woods, but from the bench, I do much better with a much lighter pull. However, putting a target grade two pound pull on a rifle meant for hunting the thick brush would not be a good idea, and the trigger pull as is would serve just fine. Groups at fifty yards measured from just over half an inch to one and one-quarter inches, depending upon the load chosen. At one hundred yards, the smallest groups measured one and one-quarter inches, with some loads opening up to just over two and one-half inches. All of the jacketed bullet loads performed very well, grouping under one and one-half inches, which is very good accuracy, and leaves the hunter no excuse if he misses his game out to at least one hundred and fifty yards.

I mounted a dandy little 1.25 to 4 power Trijicon AccuPoint scope atop this 77/44 carbine.  The AccuPoint has a post reticle with an illuminated point at the top. The brightness of the red point is adjustable with a sliding cover atop the fiber optic illuminator, allowing the intensity of the glowing red point to be adjusted to suit the lighting conditions. In total darkness, the red point is illuminated by Tritium. The unit is always “ON”, and never needs batteries.  At the lowest power setting, it is very fast; quicker than any open or aperture sight, and the shooter can leave both eyes open. Adjusting the power  up gives greater magnification for longer shots. It is the perfect scope for a rifle of this type, and its trim dimensions fit well on the 77/44 rifle.

The Ruger 77/44 is a fine little carbine. Light, handy, and powerful enough for any game in North America. With five shots of.44 magnum power, and keep in mind that this carbine is much more powerful than a .44 Magnum revolver, it can handle most any hunting need imaginable at short to medium ranges. The 77/44 is built to resist all kinds of foul weather, built to last, and built in the USA.

Check out the full line of Ruger products here.

Also, for a limited time, Ruger is throwing in a very good Carhartt jacket with the purchase of any Ruger bolt action rifle, to sweeten the deal just a bit more. You can also get info on that at Ruger’s website.

For a closer look at the Trijicon premium optics, go to

To find a Ruger dealer near you, click on the DEALER LOCATOR at

To order the 77/44 online, go to

Jeff Quinn

NOTE: All load data posted on this web site are for educational purposes only. Neither the author nor assume any responsibility for the use or misuse of this data. The data indicated were arrived at using specialized equipment under conditions not necessarily comparable to those encountered by the potential user of this data.  Always use data from respected loading manuals and begin working up loads at least 10% below the loads indicated in the source manual.

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


Trijicon AccuPoint scope.





320-grain Cast Performance lead bullet fits well into the magazine when crimped into the upper crimp groove.



Left to right: Tennessee Valley 300-grain lead flat point, 300-grain and 320-grain Cast Performance lead gas-check, 250-grain Hornady JHP.



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Click pictures for a larger version.


Trigger guard is made of stainless steel.



Scope mount bases are integral with the receiver.





Bedding pillar in synthetic stock.



Magazine release.





Four-shot rotary magazine fits flush with the bottom of the rifle.



Open sights consist of bead front and folding rear.



Three-position safety.



Sling attachment studs.