Originally Posted by Tnwhip
What problem were they having?
The angled screw pulls down and back. How is that bad? The recoil lug is short and thick. Maybe it could be a little longer but but it doesn't flex. I have epoxied a piece of steel where the recoil lug makes contact on my 280 ack. laminated stock for more suport and strength. I was thinking it would strengthen that part of the stock giving the lug more surface contact to push against. Steel on steel. instead of steel on epoxie and wood. I used JB weld for bedding compound. I did this after installing the pillers. Did it help anything? Didn't hurt.
Probably the biggest problem with the front action screw is most M77 owners don't know how to torque them down properly which is not the actions "fault" necessarily but then again it is not as straight forward as torquing down other actions.
If you check out post #9 in this thread, you'll see the smith ground off the lug and drilled and tapped a new hole for the front screw and replaced the recoil lug with a beefier lug between the barrel and receiver much like the Rem design.
Ruger M77 action build???
An integral lug is much more desirable but in the case of the M77 the lug is not very substantial and it is milled out in the center for the action screw, further diminishing lug contact with the bed. Proper contact between recoil lug and stock bed is critical for reliable and repeatable precision shooting as I'm sure you know based on your post and the steps you took in epoxying in the steel piece into your bed. The angled configuration also makes it more challenging to do a proper bedding job. One also needs to take a little extra care that the screw is not in contact with the stock or pillar when torqued down which is another source of problems.
If the angled front action screw was not a negative issue, why would the smith grind off the lug, drill and tap a new hole and replace the lug with a Rem style one that is not integral? My smith, who I previously mentioned as liking M77's, also drills and taps for a new action screw that is not angled. This is a fairly common practice.
Another thing I'm not thrilled about is the 2 piece bottom metal/trigger guard along with middle screw. The one piece bottom metal trigger guard design with 2 screws is much better leading to less complication. The middle screw is also a source of issues if not torqued correctly. A lot of guys learn this the hard way with many rounds of wasted ammo down range. I broke my original trigger guard because I torqued it too hard and the replacement cost me $80.
I'm not trying to slam M77's. I am just telling it how I objectively see it and what I've learned after a lot of research.
The OP asked this....
I would like to make it a shooter. I have asked several people and the general saying is that most guys won't work on a ruger action. Is it necessary to blue print this or would swapping the barrel and stock be sufficient? I don't want to break the bank but is putting a high end barrel on an untrued action pointless?
Like I said before, you can make anything shoot well if you put enough time and $$$ into it. IMO, the OP would do better to trade or sell his Ruger for something like a Howa/Vanguard or M70 which are very straight forward actions with desirable features that are important in a good action to build a precision rifle with. They need little to no messing around with other than a straight forward.
I have just had 2 rifles done on the Howa style actions and I am very pleased with them. The basic blueprint cost $325 ea. Nothing else was needed other than there was a $30 charge to remove the barrel because Howa puts their barrels in quite tight.. No special jigs, no tapping the receiver for rails, no changing the recoil lug and screw confguration. I even kept the original trigger on one because I was to tune it to a very crisp 1.5 lbs. The other I bought used with a Timney on it and i can't tell the difference. I did have large tactical knobs welded to the bolt handle which was not necessary but something I opted for.
If I do give my M77 a facelift, it won't be a practical decision, it will be a sentimental decision.