Ruger M77 Compact .223 accuracy issues


Brad Johnson
August 6, 2007, 02:54 PM
I just got a Ruger M77 compact in .223. I took it out for the first time over the weekend and was sorely disappointed.

The best group of the day averaged just under two inches with most being in the 2.5-3" range. As the barrell heated the groups opened up to a sickening four inches. This is with five different brands of ammo in bullet weights from 50 to 55 grains.

I've done all the basics - loosen an retorque the scope and stock mounting screw, scrub the barrel shiny clean, check the crown for nicks and dings, etc. The groups did shrink a bit towards the end of my 100 rd break-in session. Also, the first few rounds from a cold barrel were usually the best. Even a little heat in the barrel resulted in rapid expansion of group size.

I am used to my Win M70 .30-06 that will regularly print groups under 3/4", so maybe I am expecting too much. Do I just need to keep shooting the thing and hope the groups shrink as the barrel smooths up and wears in?


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Old Poet
August 6, 2007, 03:25 PM
I'll assume that you are testing the Ruger in pretty much the same way you shoot the M70.
Have you looked at your stock?
Is it a laminated or walnut stock?
How's the action and barrel fit?
You may simply have a bedding issue.

I've had several Rugers and Winchesters that simply needed to be rebedded to improve accuracy.

August 6, 2007, 03:28 PM
I would try one more range trip to make sure that it is still shooting large groups. If it is I would call Ruger and arrange to have the rifle shipped back to them. I own several m-77's and they are all great shooters. I have a Frontier that shoots insanely small groups with a high powered scope mounted over the receiver. My friend's compact .223 is also a tack driver. I don't think you are expection too much at all. That gun should easily shoot into and inch or better.

My best guess would be not enough or too much presure on the barrel from the stock.

I know it sucks to send back a new rifle, but at least Ruger stands well behind their products. They will make it right.

Hope this helps,


Brad Johnson
August 6, 2007, 04:14 PM
I'll assume that you are testing the Ruger in pretty much the same way you shoot the M70.

Yes. I even went so far as to totally bag it, effectively taking me and my shooting style out of the equation.

It is the laminate/stainless version of the Compact. Visually the action and barrel fit seems to be very precise, although I can see where the stock is contacting the barrel slightly in several places. Before I ship it back I may try sanding down the stock a little to relieve the fit. I may also try a bore mop and some Flitz on the barrel to see if maybe it's just rough rifling that's the problem.


August 6, 2007, 06:05 PM
So be careful sanding... Ruger may then want to charge you for a new stock.

I would call them first.

Good Luck,


August 6, 2007, 06:20 PM
This sounds like pretty typical Ruger accuracy to me.

Brad Johnson
August 6, 2007, 06:44 PM
I know that the Mini-14's have a bad rep for accuracy, but the standard M77's I've been around have always seemed to shoot pretty average (say 1.5" or better).

Maybe just shooting the darn thing will help smooth it out a little.

Oh, forgot to ask before - any opinions on the fire-lapping kits that are availabl? Worth the money and effort or waste of time and funds?


Doug Kennedy
August 7, 2007, 05:08 PM
gun Tech,

Please tell me more. I have a 22 hornet 22.250 and 220 swift in a ruger. They shoot much better than my savages. The Ruger have a hammer forged barrell with cut rifling vs button rifleing in a savage

August 8, 2007, 11:56 AM
What type of ammo are you using and is it factory or reloads including bullet weights.My 77/22Hornet was not accurate with facory ammo or reloads in 45 grain. Working with the Hornady 35 grain bullets accuracy improved. Next I tried LIL" Gun and sp primers and it is very accurate. My point in my rambling is to try different brands of factory ammo and if you reload for the 223, work with these. Byron

Brad Johnson
August 8, 2007, 12:11 PM

I tried PMC, Hornady, Remintion, Black Hills, and Federal ammo in weights from 50-55 grains.


Doug Kennedy
August 8, 2007, 12:41 PM
Brad do you reload? If you do try 26 grains of H335 and nosler 55 grain ballistic tip load.

Brad Johnson
August 13, 2007, 11:23 AM

I went after the crown with some Flitz and a bore mop, working on it until the last inch or so of the bore was sparkly clean and mirror-shiney. I also gave the rest of the bore a few strokes to polish up leftover tool marks. I also loosened and retorqued all the stock and scope mount screws (again).

Back to the range and it seemed to have settled in some. Completely bagged, as before. Using PMC 55gr the first few groups were in the 1.3-1.8 range vertically (it was stringing horizontally due to a stiff crosswind). I switched to Black Hills 52gr and the groups went to 1.1-1.4" vertically. As the barrel heated the groups opened up to a sickening 2.5-plus inches.

But then I picked up a box of Remington/UMC 45gr JHP's. Bingo! Groups immediately shrank to under an inch, averaging right at .9 vertically with a few single-hole four and five shot clusters (I was shooting 10-shot strings). And that with a barrel hot enough to fry eggs on. I figure with a clean, cold barrel and little wind I could easily print consistant groups in the .6-.8 range. Pretty darn acceptable for a box-stock rifle and production ammo!

Oh, I tried some Black Hills 68gr Match. Don't bother, at least with the Ruger's 1:12 twist. Not a single group under 5"

The extreme sensitivity to wind drift, something that simply wasn't an issue with my .30-06, is something I'll have to work on getting used to. That should come with time.

I may have a go at the trigger to get rid of the slight creep and to crisp up the break a bit, but otherwise I think I have it dialed in.


Brad Johnson
August 16, 2007, 12:47 PM
Quick question...

I'm familiar with Winchester and Remington triggers, but not Ruger. Is the trigger group on the Ruger M77 adjustable to any degree, or is it something that has to be pulled completely apart and polished internally?

Also, truing the muzzle crown is relatively inexpensive. Any thoughts on having it done "just because" or should I expend my efforts and dollars elsewhere?


August 16, 2007, 12:56 PM
Ruger's 1:12 twist

Well, there's your answer right there. 1:12 barrels prefer bullets in the 40-50gr. region, generally speaking.

August 16, 2007, 02:31 PM
If it isnt the twist rate that is screwing with it then there may be too much pressure pushing against the barrel from the stock. I have heard that the bedding screws on rugers m77 are really sensitive so you may want to experiment with that.

August 16, 2007, 05:48 PM
They are pretty easy to install and are a huge Improvement of the stock Ruger trigger... Recrowning is another good idea.

I would still send it back to the factory first. All of these things will make Ruger not want to work on it.

A friend just had a problem with a Rem 700 VS that would not shoot. He tried everything to make it shoot and nothing worked. He was just about to have it rebarreled or recrowned. I told him to send it to Rem first. He did and Rem determined that the rifling was improperly cut. They replaced the bbl for free and now it shoots into .5 inch @ 100 yards, or atleast the test target suggested that.


August 16, 2007, 05:56 PM
recently I tested a ruger and savage side by side (sand bagged) and found (these two) shot equally tight groups. I would call ruger. they will do whatever it takes to make you happy. 1-1.75 moa is about what you should expect from new mid-priced bolties

August 16, 2007, 09:00 PM
Well, there's your answer right there. 1:12 barrels prefer bullets in the 40-50gr. region, generally speaking.

Wrong, they prefer 45-60

My M77 ultralight in .223 shoots .5" - .7" now that I've floated the barrel, with cheap federal factory ammo. I hope to improve on this with handloads.

August 16, 2007, 10:07 PM
Oh, I tried some Black Hills 68gr Match. Don't bother, at least with the Ruger's 1:12 twist. Not a single group under 5"

Brad, Did I tell you I tried some 68gr BTHP's in a M77 once? They were handloaded to run 2600fps from my Mini-14. Well, Mini-14 has a 1:9 twist, but the M77 has a 1:12 like your's. The Mini-14 shot 'em real nice, but from the M77, they keyholed at 50yds and patterned like a shotgun.

I recall some guys on other boards saying their 1:12 twist guns will stabilize anything up to 62grs, but I haven't tried them. Hornady's 55gr SP seems to work real nice handloaded for the M77.

August 16, 2007, 11:14 PM
make sure the bbl channel is not touching anywhere, you have to test this, both cold, and hot, after shooting about 20 rounds through it. also, I like to add a little pressure pad, up front under the bbl, between the stock. go to Home despot, and go to the cabinet drawer and fixture section, get you some of
before you decide where exactly to put it, start at the tip of the stock, shoot a group, 5 shots, with a full one minute between shots. then move the pad backwards, the width of the pad. Reshoot; you should find a sweet spot somewhere in the first inch or two, under the bbl.

August 16, 2007, 11:17 PM
oh yeah, you can also try diff tightness on the take down screw. I have a stupid little kids rossi, in 17 hmr, tried all 11 diff types of ammo, and two were hunting acceptable, but nothing to write home about. then I started diff torque on the front take down sling(screw). It turns out, that the rossi likes none, I mean loose, no tension at all, the bbl just resting on top of the little pad. and then it was shooting lights out. sub moa at 100 yds, with a 90 dollar kids rifle!!!

August 16, 2007, 11:24 PM
2" for a compact Ruger? That's about right for that particular gun.

August 17, 2007, 02:48 AM
Well, evidently some of you guys missed where he said that after a little polishing and load experimentation, he got it down to under an inch consistently, which is pretty good by anyones standards.

As to your trigger question, no, they aren't adjustable. The new Hawkeyes apparently have a substantially improved trigger, but still aren't user adjustable. If you think this is a rifle your gonna keep around, I think the Timney would be a good investment. Timney makes an excellent, proven product, and I would actually recommend installing them on any rifle for which they make a trigger for.

Brad Johnson
August 27, 2007, 01:41 PM
Well, looks like I finally have it dialed in. The whole "wind drift" thing still sticks in my craw a little but I guess that's the nature of the beast when 45 grainers are the order of the day.

All shots were with Remington UMC 45gr JHP. Range was 100 yard. Wind was at 90 deg directly across the range (right to left on the targets) at 10mph with gusts to 12. Ambient temp was appx 92 deg F.

After getting everything zeroed I cleaned it thoroughly, fired two fouling shots, then let the barrel cool for about half an hour (until my calibrated fingertips told me it was at ambient temp).

This is the result. First five shots out of the cold barrel. Wind drift is pretty serious, but the vertical spread is nice and tight. 0.59" from a stock barrel using factory ammo is definitely good enough for a general-purpose varminter!

The one pulled shot was the result of a guy next to me sighting in a 300 Win mag. I was just on the trigger when he touched one off and it smoked me - major flinch and an unintentional letoff.

After enough rounds that the barrell was uncomfortably warm to the touch. The vertical spread has opened up noticeably. 0.72" still ain't bad.

And to the point where the barrel was hot enough to fry eggs on (immediately painful to the touch with an accompanying red mark on the skin). At around 3" it is still minute-of-coyote, though I wouldn't really be comfortable with a shot over 100 yds at this point. However, I seriously doubt I'll ever be taking a shot at a 'yote with the barrel this hot. This was mostly to satisfy my own curiousity about the gun's behavior when pushed to the extreme.


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